In the vast realm of anime, where genres can range from whimsical fantasy to heart-pounding action adventures, there exists a shadowy corner that caters to those with a taste for the enigmatic and the mysterious. That is noir anime, where brooding atmospheres, morally ambiguous characters, and intricate plot lines converge to create an intoxicating blend of suspense and style.
There are many anime shows that have successfully captured the essence of this dark and evocative genre. From smoky back alleys to neon-lit cityscapes, these anime productions keep you on the edge of your seats.
Baccano! is a standout noir anime that defies conventions and delivers a frenetic and captivating narrative unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Set in the 1930s, this gripping series weaves together a complex tapestry of intertwining storylines, immersing you in a world of gangsters, immortality, and supernatural phenomena.
With its non-linear storytelling and an extensive ensemble cast of colorful characters, Baccano! Keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It offers a wonderful mix of suspense, crime, fantasy, and dark humor.
Akira is a seminal masterpiece that is often severely underrated. Set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, Akira presents a dystopian vision of a city on the brink of collapse. The story follows Kaneda, a young biker gang leader, and Tetsuo, his best friend, as they become entangled in a web of government conspiracies, psychic powers, and existential dilemmas.
What sets Akira truly apart is its groundbreaking animation and visual design. With its detailed and meticulously crafted cityscapes, breathtaking action sequences, and stunning use of color, the anime remains a visual feast even by today’s standards.
8 Darker Than Black
Darker Than Black is a great anime to watch if you are a fan of action, noir, and the supernatural. Set in a world where mysterious gates have appeared, altering reality and granting individuals superhuman abilities, the series follows Hei, a stoic and enigmatic protagonist known as a Contractor.
In this dark and atmospheric universe, Contractors are individuals who have traded their humanity for extraordinary powers, but at the cost of losing their emotions. Hei, accompanied by a diverse cast of characters, navigates the shadows of a clandestine world as a skilled assassin, taking on dangerous missions while uncovering the secrets behind the Gates.
7 91 Days
91 Days takes you on a riveting and revenge-fueled journey into the heart of the Prohibition era. Set during the tumultuous years of the 1920s, this noir anime immerses you in a world of organized crime, vendettas, and a relentless pursuit of justice.
The story centers around Angelo Lagusa, a young man consumed by a thirst for revenge after witnessing the brutal murder of his family. Adopting a new identity, he infiltrates the Vanetti family, a powerful mafia organization responsible for his loved ones’ demise. There, he gets entangled in a dangerous game of alliances and betrayals.
6 Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue is a haunting and psychologically intense anime that blurs the line between reality and illusion. The story revolves around Mima Kirigoe, a former pop idol who decides to pursue a career as an actress.
As Mima transitions into the world of acting, her grasp on reality begins to crumble. Haunted by a mysterious stalker and plagued by disturbing visions, her perception of herself and those around her becomes increasingly distorted.
5 Ergo Proxy
Ergo Proxy is perfect if you want a thought-provoking anime that will make you think about existential questions and societal dilemmas. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, where humanity is confined to domed cities, the story follows Re-L Mayer, an investigator.
When a series of mysterious murders occur, Re-L finds herself in the middle of a web of secrets that lead her to question the nature of her world and her own existence.
If you want another gripping and psychologically intense anime, Monster is for you. The series takes you on a captivating journey through the twisted mind of a serial killer, and the doctor is determined to stop him.
The story revolves around Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant neurosurgeon torn between his ethical duty and a fateful decision. When faced with a choice that could save the life of a young boy or the mayor of the city, Tenma chooses to save the boy. That sets off a chain of events that changes the doctor’s life forever.
3 Ghost In The Shell
Set in a world where cybernetic enhancements and virtual reality are the norm, Ghost in the Shell follows the elite law enforcement unit known as Section 9, led by the enigmatic Major Motoko Kusanagi. As they investigate high-profile cybercrimes and terrorism, the series delves into profound philosophical questions surrounding consciousnesses and the nature of the self.
Ghost in the Shell seamlessly weaves together elements of crime noir, political intrigue, and philosophical musings, creating a thought-provoking narrative that challenges your understanding of what it means to be human in an increasingly technologically advanced world.
2 Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass is set in a futuristic Japan, where advanced technology can instantaneously measure a person’s mental state and determine their propensity to commit crimes. The anime follows the members of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Akane Tsunemori, a young inspector, must navigate a morally complex world where personal freedoms are sacrificed in the name of preventing crime. Akane soon starts unraveling disturbing cases, which expose the flaws in the seemingly utopian system.
1 Cowboy Bebop
One of the greatest 90s anime, and also one that seamlessly blends sci-fi, western, and crime noir together, is that of Cowboy Bebop. Set in a futuristic world where humanity has colonized other planets, and interstellar travel is a reality, the anime follows the misadventures of a group of bounty hunters.
Led by the enigmatic and charismatic Spike Spiegel, the crew of the Bepop navigates the vastness of space, pursuing lucrative bounties while facing their own personal demons. Cowboy Bebop offers one of the greatest endings in anime, as well as one of the most memorable quotes You’re gonna carry that weight.
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