Top 15 Dark Fantasy Manga of All Time

Dark Fantasy Manga
If you need a little darkness in your life, these manga should be more than enough.

Monsters of the night have a unique kind of charm that's not for everyone.

There's a strange appeal in the world of dark fantasy where bloody fights and dangerous creatures are the norm. It's like watching a train wreck: disturbing but you just can't tear your eyes away. These 15 dark fantasy manga are perfect for late night reading when the line between what's real and what's not is just the tiniest bit more blurred.

15. Vampire Juujikai

Vampire Juujikai imageAll alone, the vampire king seeks his queen.

Long ago there was a vampire queen so powerful that she nearly destroyed the world, and so the humans sealed her away until they knew they would be able to kill her. The vampire king, Strauss, has abandoned his kingdom in search for his queen, and as he roams he is targeted by both the humans and dhampirs (half-vampires). What drives the humans to so desperately hunt for the queen, however, is not something anyone could have predicted.

You'll like Vampire Juujikai if...

  • You like vampires
  • You like romance
  • You like action

14. Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied image

After escaping a government facility, Lucy will do whatever she can to hold onto her freedom.

Lucy is a mutated species known as a “Diclonius”, born from human experimentation. The defining features of her kind are horns and dangerously powerful invisible telekinetic hands. One day, Lucy seizes a chance to escape from the people holding her captive, but during her escape she receives an injury that causes her to develop a split personality. She is found by Kouta and Yuka who find themselves caught up in a world of secrets and death as the government uses every means at their disposal to capture Lucy.

You’ll like Elfen Lied if…

  • You like psychological themes
  • You like gore
  • You like government conspiracy plots

13. Madoka Magica

Madoka Magica imageAll it takes is a wish to become a magical girl, but with that wish comes great consequences.

In a dream, Madoka Kaname sees a girl, a strange cat-like creature, and a world that looks like it is ending. The next day, the very same girl from her dream enters her school as a transfer student, and later the mysterious cat-like creature appears before her asking for help. Madoka is warned by Homura, the girl, to ignore Kyuubey, the creature, but Madoka and her best friend Sayaka decide to help it anyway. Kyuubey offers the two a chance to become magical girls at a price, but the duties of a magical girl and the risks they must face may be more than they are ready for.

You’ll like Madoka Magica if…

  • You like magical powers
  • You like tragedy
  • You like morally gray characters

12. Uzumaki

Uzumaki imageThe people of Kurouzu-cho are in danger of spiraling into madness.

Kirie Goshima and Shuuichi Saito live in the town of Kurouzu-cho where strange, spiral-related events have begun to occur. Many of the town’s citizens are cursed with an obsession with spirals that is all consuming and destructive. Shuuichi wants to leave the town with Kirie, but the spiral doesn’t appear to want to let them go.

You’ll like Uzumaki if…

  • You like horror
  • You like curses
  • You like episodic plots

11. Petshop of Horrors

Petshop of Horrors imageCount D won't be held liable for whatever happens if a contract is broken.

Count D owns a pet shop that is home to a variety of creatures, many being of the supernatural sort. Customers can only leave the shop with one of his mystical pets if they agree to a certain contract, and if they break it, what happens next will be completely their own fault. The animals of Count D’s shop and the people who buy them offer a look into the many complexities of human nature.

You’ll like Petshop of Horrors if…

  • You like strange and magical creatures
  • You like ambiguous characters
  • You like questioning human nature

10. Claymore

Claymore imageClare fights for revenge, but for how long can she be fueled by rage?

In a medieval island humans must beware of Yoma, shape-shifters that take on the form of humans and crave human flesh. To fight these monstrous, The Organization created human-Yoma hybrids called Claymores that share the Yomas’ mysterious and demonic powers. Clare is a low ranked Claymore on the hunt for vengeance, and in her pursuit of it she learns about the world ranging from lessons about friendship to sinister truths about the very organization she hails from.

You’ll like Claymore if…

  • You like intense battles
  • You like demons 
  • You like supernatural abilities

9. Hellsing

Hellsing imageTo defeat a great evil humanity will need the help of Alucard, the most powerful vampire of them all.

Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing is the leader of an organization dedicated to destroying the undead and other supernatural beings that pose a threat to the country. She is guarded by Alucard, a vampire who has sworn loyalty to the Hellsing family, and the family butler, Walter C. Dornez. Along with the introduction of Seras Victoria, a police officer, is the introduction of more frequent and suspicious vampire attacks. The truth behind the attacks is a disturbing one, and it is up to Hellsing to put the dead back in the ground where they belong.

You’ll like Hellsing if…

  • You like vampires
  • You like historical settings
  • You like blood, gore, and action

8. Black Butler

Black Butler imageThe secret to Ciel's strength may have to do with the butler who is always by his side.

A past tragedy has left Ciel Phantomhive the head of the Phantomhive household and therefore the “Queen’s Watchdog”. While Ciel may be but a child, his enemies soon realize he is a ruthless force to be feared. Accompanying him is his butler Sebastion, a demon of extraordinary abilities. Together the two tackle the supernatural mysteries and dangers that threaten England and slowly discover the truth behind the mysterious circumstances that shroud the deaths of Ciel’s parents.

You’ll like Black Butler if…

  • You like demons
  • You like late 19th century aesthetics
  • You like mysteries

7. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland imageEscaping what awaits them will require planning from the smartest of Grace Field House's orphans.

Life couldn’t be better for the orphans of Grace Field House, or so they think. One day, two of the orphanage’s brightest decide to break its only rule: don’t leave the orphanage, and in doing so they discover a terrible truth about their existence. If they want any chance to escape their horrifying fate, the children must make full use of the intelligence that Grace Field House has been so carefully cultivating to outwit their foes.

You’ll like The Promised Neverland if…

  • You like psychological thrillers
  • You like demons
  • You like fights for survival

6. Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul imageKen Kaneki didn't choose the ghoul life, the ghoul life chose him.

Ken Kaneki was an average university student until an unfortunate accident turned him into a half ghoul. Ghouls are creatures who walk among humans, but eat their meat and hunt them with their supernatural abilities. Ken is helped with transitioning into his new life by some of his city’s friendly ghouls, but not all ghouls are as eager to welcome him into their society. From this point on, his life is thrown into chaos as he finds himself caught up in a conflict between an organization dedicated to fighting ghouls and his new friends. To make matters worse, he has also become the target of ghouls from all over Tokyo.

You’ll like Tokyo Ghoul if…

  • You like ghouls
  • You like gore
  • You like realistic characters

5. Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro imageHe's one of the few things that can threaten the sorcerers, and that's why the sorcerers want him gone.

Kaiman is a man who was transformed by a sorcerer into a being with a lizard’s head. He is on the search for his real identity and violently attacks all sorcerer’s with the hopes of discovering if they are the one who disfigured him. Kaiman’s actions catch the attention of “The En Family'' who send men to kill him. As Kaiman hunts while being hunted, the unnatural world where he and the sorcerers dwell slowly begins to change.

You’ll like Dorohedoro if…

  • You like post-apocalyptic settings
  • You like interesting character designs
  • You like steam-punk aesthetics

4. Pandora Hearts

Pandora Hearts image

As he tries to escape The Abyss, Oz begins to learn the truth behind why he ended up there in the first place.

The Abyss is a realm home to monstrous creatures known as “Chains”, and is spoken of in stories meant to scare children. Oz Vessalius, heir to the Vessalius family, did not believe in the existence of the Abyss until his coming-of-age-ceremony where he is condemned to the Abyss by the Bakersville Clan for a crime he didn’t commit. In an attempt to escape, Oz forms a contract with a Chain named Alice who can take on human form. With his sights set on returning home, Oz enters a world of mystery, tragedy, and despair.

You’ll like Pandora Hearts if …

  • You like the supernatural
  • You like tragic backstories
  • You like detailed manga

3. Death Note

Death Note imageThe fight between Light and L will determine the fate of justice in the world.

Light Yagami is a genius and bored high school student who discovers a Death Note dropped by Ryuk, a god of death. The notebook explains how to use it and its function, which is to kill those whose names are written in it. Initially, Light doubted its powers, but it’s not long before he realizes its abilities are legit. He becomes “Kira” and decides that he will bring justice to the world by executing criminals with the Death Note. However, not all agree that he should have the power to decide who lives and die, so L, a renowned detective, is brought in. The two must use every trick they have to outwit each other, and then some, if they want to be the one to emerge victorious

You will like Death Note if…

  • You like mystery
  • You like strategy
  • You like morally ambiguous characters

2. Made in Abyss

Made in Abyss imageTheir adventure into The Abyss will be far more dangerous than they could have anticipated.

Riko is an orphan whose mother is a legendary Cave Raider, an adventurer who braves descent into the mysterious Abyss that holds strange artifacts but also curses those who enter it. One day, Riko discovers a robot that looks like a human boy, and dubs him Reg. Sometime later, Riko receives a message from her mother that she is waiting for her at the bottom of the Abyss. Riko is determined to find her mother and heads toward the dangerous Abyss with Reg, prepared to risk whatever she must.

You will like Made in Abyss if…

  • You like adventures
  • You like unpredictable plotlines
  • You like mysteries

1. Berserk

Berserk image

Just when he thought he found a leader he could trust, he is betrayed.

Guts survived a traumatic childhood, and eventually became a renowned mercenary. However, one of the few he believes he can trust chooses to betray him and his comrades, and now Guts is on the run from demonic beings. Guts sets off on a quest of vengeance to destroy the one who brought him and so many others misery and misfortune.

You’ll like Berserk if…

  • You like military themes
  • You like gore and destruction
  • You like violence

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