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14 Anime With Insanely Dark Humor

Updated June 24, 2019 4.6k votes 1.3k voters 75.8k views14 items

Humor can be a fantastic coping mechanism for dealing with the most painful parts of life. It may seem distasteful to crack jokes about suicidal teachers, socially isolated teenagers, or souls who get tortured in Hell, but sometimes that's the only way to cope. Anime with dark humor isn't for the faint of heart or the easily offended - but if you're into it, it's some of the best comedy out there.

Examples of standout black humor anime include Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, which follows a teacher who repeatedly tries to take his own life and persuade his students to do the same - all while managing to turn the whole thing into a giant joke. There's also Welcome to the NHK, a show in which a twenty-something suffering from paranoid delusions that keep him locked in his home tries to figure out how to rejoin society. If you want something a little more musical, there's Detroit Metal City, which depicts the extremely violent world of a death metal band.

All of these shows shake down their subjects for every ounce of humor they have to offer. You might leave them feeling unsettled, but you'll probably laugh, too.

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  • Kids Are Held In A Campus Prison In 'Prison School'
    Photo: J.C.Staff

    When you hear about a group of students being held in a campus prison and being tortured by their classmates using both physical and sexual methods, do you think that this is going to be prime comedy material? If you answered no, you haven't seen Prison School. This anime takes an inherently unsettling premise and turns it into something that's both super lewd and super hilarious.

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  • Chihiro Furuya is totally obsessed with zombies - in fact, what he wants most out of life is a zombie girlfriend. When his suicidal friend Rea is accidentally transformed into a zombie after drinking a potion that she thinks will take her life, and then getting into an accident, he thinks his dream is finally coming true. And it is, sort of - it's just that life with a zombie girfriend is a lot grosser and weirder than he could have possibly imagined. This might not sound like prime joke material, but Sankarea makes it work. 

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    Itoshiki's Despair Is A Source Of Humor In 'Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei'

    Itoshiki's Despair Is A Source Of Humor In 'Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei'
    Photo: Shaft

    Teaching isn't exactly the world's easiest job, but most teachers don't take their professional and existential stress as far as Nozomu Itoshiki - also known as Zetsubou-sensei or Mr. Despair - does. Itoshiki is constantly moved to abject misery at the slightest inconvenience and declares his plans to take his own life on a daily basis. These plans are often loudly screamed about in front of his high school students. 

    This could easily be the subject of deeply depressing drama, but instead, all of the despair is depicted with scathing humor. 

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  • 'Hôzuki no Reitetsu' Is Literally Set In Hell
    Photo: Wit Studio

    Hell is the perfect setting for dark humor, and Hôzuki no Reitetsu takes full advantage of this. Hozuki is King Enma's assistant in a bureaucratic version of Japanese Hell. His job involves coordinating the various sectors of Hell, making sure that sinners are appropriately tortured for their sins, and making sure Enma doesn't screw things up. The show has no qualms about depicting the extremes of human suffering and turning this into comedy gold. 

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