In many people's minds, darkness is associated with evil, while light is associated with good. It's not just colors and shades, either - spooky imagery like shadows and bones, and demonic attributes are all considered signs of a nefarious personality.
Dark anime heroes flip this notion on its head. Sometimes, these characters' aesthetics aren't meant to be transgressive - it's just that traditionally speaking, Japan has different associations with colors like black and white than the Western world does. But in many cases, these characters are meant to be ironically designed. Some of them are anime heroes with dark powers, like Fumikage Tokoyami from My Hero Academia, who controls a sentient bird-shaped shadow that lives in his body. Others, like Umehito Nekozawa from Ouran High School Host Club, simply don a dark aesthetic without boasting any particular powers.
Which of these spooky anime characters are your favorites?
Elias Ainsworth - 'The Ancient Magus' Bride'Photo: Wit Studio
What kind of personality do you expect from a gigantic being with a cow skull for a head, who is frequently bedecked in black clothing? Probably not a socially awkward guy whose personality is less like an intimidating monster and more like a walking dad joke. Sure, his nebulous past does involve eating human flesh, and sure, he can be overprotective of Chise to the point where it's a problem, but overall this egregiously creepy looking mage is just trying to help.78871Love this character?
- Photo: Brain's Base
Celty is a Dullahan, which is an Irish fairy with a detached head that's heavily associated with death. She comes to Japan in search of her stolen head, and she conducts her search aboard a possessed black motorcycle. Dark mist emits from her headless neck, and she can control her own shadows to do everything from creating a protective shield to fighting others. Despite all this, she's a generally well-meaning person who has a cheerful and amiable personality. In fact, she's one of the more normal characters in Durarara!!56747Love this character?
- Photo: TMS Entertainment
Saki Hanajima dons a gothic aesthetic on a daily basis. Outside of school, she dresses in ornate black dresses, veils, and other gothic clothing. In school, she does wear her uniform, but she still paints her nails black. She does this because when she was a child, she accidentally hurt someone using her psychic powers in response to brutal bullying. The black clothes are both a symbol of penance and a symbol of pride. Though many people assume she isn't because of her appearance, she's a good person who dedicates herself to helping others.777100Love this character?
Umehito Nekozawa - 'Ouran High School Host Club'Photo: Studio Bones
When Umehito Nekozawa first appears, he seems creepy as all get out - he wears a dark hooded robe and a black wig, and he carries around a cat puppet that he claims can be used to curse people. There are reasons for his strange behavior, however. Rather than actually being an agent of darkness, he suffers from photophobia - he's so afraid of any form of light besides candlelight that he passes out when exposed to it. As a result of his phobia, he hasn't been able to learn how to socialize - all the curse stuff is just a way to keep himself emotionally safe.67182Love this character?