Animation as a medium allows for the bending of reality in many interesting and sometimes disturbing ways. Anime has no shortage of shows that use the medium to deliver creepy, tense atmospheres and narratives, if only for a few scenes. Usually, such scenes are found in shows that fully commit to that tone, but this isn’t always the case.
Even in shows that tend to adopt a bright, wholesome atmosphere, there are occasional sharp tone changes that drop the mood considerably. Whether it be by putting a character in unusually serious danger or simply making the audience’s skin crawl, even the most wholesome anime might feature moments that are anything but.
7 Every Bob Team Epic Segment – Pop Team Epic
When it comes to comedy anime, bizarre gags are an exceedingly common way to elicit laughs. Pop Team Epic is a consistently bizarre show with no shortage of strange gags, but for the most part, the show keeps its visuals bright and cute, partially to juxtapose with its wacky humor.
Occasionally though, the visual style switches to ‘bob team epic’, an alternative art style for skits that uses gross, off-putting animation. These segments remove any shred of wholesomeness from the show and are often the hardest to watch.
6 Mob Hitting 100 – Mob Psycho 100
Despite its focus on ghosts and psychic powers, Mob Psycho 100 is quite often a wholesome story about a young boy trying to find his feet in the world. While he’s a powerful psychic, Mob is always insistent on striving to be good at things like physical fitness and remains kind to everyone he comes across.
It’s because of his good nature that seeing him truly angry shifts the show’s tone immensely. When he reaches his emotionally overwhelmed ‘100’ state, he becomes cold, reserved, and extra powerful. Gone is the kindness and smiles of the usual Mob, and instead he becomes this terrifying, merciless being that destroys everything around him. The real terror in these moments isn’t even that he’ll lose a fight, but that he might not be able to return to his sweet self afterward. And the way he’s rendered in this state only adds to its mysterious, creepy appearance.
5 Sucy’s Mind Monster – Little Witch Academia
Studio Trigger is well known for its dynamic, bombastic productions with mind-boggling action scenes. They’ve released more slice-of-life and calm anime as well though, such as Little Witch Academia. LWA is a series that specializes in fun, bright comedy and occasional displays of powerful, dangerous magic.
In one episode, for example, Sucy’s attempt to cook up a potion that will make her a powerful witch, backfires, putting her in a coma and slowly devouring the school in mushrooms. While inside Sucy’s mind, Akko saves several parts of Sucy’s personality that were about to be killed off. Following this, they all go to a movie theater, where the film morphs into a horrific scene of the whole school being destroyed by the growing mushrooms, with all their friends dying terrible deaths.
While Akko is stunned, one of the Sucy’s she had saved starts to laugh maniacally, before morphing into a malformed, all-consuming monster that has to be stopped from consuming all of Sucy’s mind space.
4 Angela’s Stalker – Carole and Tuesday
There are a lot of anime that focus on music, and the lives of musicians, but Carole and Tuesday puts particular emphasis on the music industry. While the show is mostly a fun, coming-of-age story with beautiful songs and funny scenarios, this portrayal of the music industry and its worst aspects leads to some disturbingly realistic scenes.
In episode 19 for instance, Carole and Tuesday’s music rival Angela is being stalked by an anonymous online troll. Her mother asks her producer, Mr.Tao, to help investigate the stalker before he makes a move on Angela. While she prepares to go on stage at a festival, the stalker is revealed to be one of the security guards, and is seconds away from shooting Angela, just as many crazed fans have done in real life. Luckily Mr.Tao is able to save her at the last second, but the possibility of something bad happening to Angela fills the episode with a sense of dread.
3 Chloe Gets Kidnapped – Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a sweet, funny, and sometimes raunchy anime that sees the dragon Tohru coming to earth to live with Kobayashi, a mild-mannered salarywoman. While she comes alone at first, more and more dragons come to live on earth as well, adapting to life with humans.
The youngest dragon, Tohru tends to take on a childlike role in the series, and in season 2, visits America after a fight with Kobayashi. On the trip, she makes a new friend, Chloe who is also running away from home.
Things take a turn for the worse though when Chloe is kidnapped. While her imprisonment doesn’t last long, the danger in this scene is very realistic. Child endangerment is a lot more relatable to the audience than dragon fights, so for a while, it almost feels like the show has suddenly switched to gritty crime drama, and the audience can’t help but cringe at the thought of Chloe being harmed.
2 Luluco Goes To Hell – Space Patrol Luluco
Like Little Witch Academia, Space Patrol Luluco is one of Studio Trigger’s more comedic projects, focusing on a young high school girl performing odd jobs for the ‘space patrol’. Even when there are threatening aliens invading, the show tends to stay quite cheerful and comedic.
Near the end of the series, however, Luluco’s teammate Nova is revealed to be a traitor, leading to Luluco breaking her heart and dying. What follows is a somber sequence in hell itself. The landscape uses a lot of photorealistic elements, with red limbs and bones sticking out from everywhere. The tone and atmosphere are like nothing else in the show and really show off just how broken Luluco is at this stage.
1 Kyoya’s Lesson – Ouran HighSchool Host Club
Ouran HighSchool Host Club is a mostly lighthearted romantic comedy series that sees Haruhi Fujioka spending time with the various members of her school’s host club. There is a moment in the series though, that leaves a bad taste in a lot of fans’ mouths.
While at the beach, Haruhi encounters some women being harassed and attempts to help them before being tossed into the river by their assailants. After saving her, the boys from the club berate her for trying to help the women on her own, arguing that she’s a woman and wouldn’t be able to defend herself against strange men.
One of the boys, Kyoka, takes this lesson even further. In a deeply uncomfortable scene, he seems about to assault Haruhi, but backs off, supposedly trying to demonstrate to her how vulnerable she really is. Considering that the episode had already touched on issues of harassment, something so crass from one of the show’s core cast members comes off as incredibly disturbing, leading to many fans to decry this as the absolute worst episode of the anime.