Dark Shoujo is my fav anime genre since its created for girls who like the darker side of things and therefore deals with more matured themes, love stories tend to be more twisted and tragic and bishonen haunted and tortures.
1 – Death Note – if you haven’t seen this, then why not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s one the best Anime’s ever made and to me just the perfect mix of all the things I love. Death Note is so good I have tattoos based on it that’s how great t2 – X/1999 – Classic dark Clamp at its very best and this anime did it justice. I am a huge Clamp fan have every anime and manga they have produced. I do prefer their dark stuff such as Tokyo Babylon and X. X itself takes place 10 years after Tokyo Babylon and includes the key characters but in a much bigger affair, the end of the world. The story is of two sides the Dragons of heaven and the Dragons of Earth, one side believing that humanity should not continue as they have abused the planets and their rights to be the dominant species and one side believes there is still hope for humanity. Now for any series which is counting down till the end of the world and the fight for the apocalypse you can imagine the darkness and pain that flows throughout this series. There is a host of interesting but tortured characters and nothing is set in stone. So many relationships, feuds, misunderstanding, hatred, love and need. I personally since being a fan of TB was very invested in the relationship between Seishirou and Subaru, these two men have the most tortured and messed up relationship and it’s the most romantic tragedy I’ve seen played out. Their relationship was cursed from the start and only destruction was ever going to redeem them. he iconography is for this series. The series is a rather complex game of cat and mouse between too intelligent and brilliant characters, Kira and L. Kira is our anti-hero, is he a visionary, is he a murderer, is he justice or is he a god. L is our hero, mad, brilliant and eccentric. To describe in full the entire goings on this series is quite difficult as it has all the twists and turns you expect of a great murder mystery thriller, even Sherlock Homes himself would have found this difficult to solve. Once you add the supernatural element into the mix it takes on a whole new level of excitement and danger. The basic plot is that a shinigami (a Japanese death god a bit like a grim reaper) is bored of just ferrying dead human souls and wants to mix it up a bit, so he “accidently” drops his Death note into the world of the living where it’s found by Light a son of a detective. He too is training to be a great detective but is sickened by the world and the amount of criminals that get away with their crimes. He discovers the Death Note has the power to kill the person whose name is written in it and so begins a twisted tale as he takes on the role of Kira punishing those he believes are guilty. But soon there are so many unexplained counts of seemingly natural deaths amongst the criminal population that the government decides that it no coincident and L is called in to solve the case of Kira. It’s a battle of wits between the two each trying to escape the other made only worse by the fact that Light’s father and therefore himself end up on L’s team where he is trying to stay one step ahead of the game. Throughout the series things only get more complicated and intense, the uses, rules and tricks of the death note are explored. Another death note is uncovered, L and Light form a strange friendship and respect for each other, Shinigami get involved and the very question of is it all right for one man to play god with the lives of humans even if they are criminals.
The added layer of social commentary is brilliant I love tales that ask those types of questions, we all feel at some point that criminals get away with things they shouldn’t, their punishments don’t always fit the crimes, many get away with murder literary and a lot of the time the prison system doesn’t work but do they still have any rights whose place is it to judge then. You can neither agree nor disagree with Kira but his god complex is a little too far and as with anyone that gains that kind of power it can corrupt you. I personally am an L fan he is just a bit weird and out there a completely unique individual so intelligent yet socially un at ease. There are a host of interesting characters that get involved in this and the series has a great look. The character designs are great and the world is a dark and scary place. Also helping the series is the fact that the opening and closing themes are done by my two fav j-rock bands, the beautiful and awesome visual kei band Nightmare and the greatest metal band out there Maximum the Hormone (I love this band have all their albums and they are just awesome!!!!!). I also love the use of the shinigami lore, I’m a big fan of this very Japanese mythology and this series has some great designs for the Shinigami’s. As with any show that features two attractive males of equal standing that have such a twisted and close relationship you can also slash this series but for once I was so involved with the storyline and how they out wit and manipulate each other I had no time for yaoi thoughts. This for me is very rare but this series is just too good, real edge of your seat, can’t stop watching and very intelligent.
Also not worthy is there are also 3 films based on the death note franchise the first 2 follow the manga and are a more condensed version of the anime. They miss out from a lot of the major characters and they change the ending to fit this but they hold the spirit of Death note perfectly both in tone, intelligence, suspense and the relationship of L and kira. They play out that beautiful cat and mouse game and are cast well. The graphics for the shinigami are a little too CGI but you forgive it for the fact that it’s still good and capture the essence of Death Note. The 3rd film is L change the world which is the tale of L and his last case after the incidents of Death Note and while no longer containing the supernatural element it is a good thriller and interesting film worth being part of the death note verse.
2 – X/1999 – Classic dark Clamp at its very best and this anime did it justice. I am a huge Clamp fan have every anime and manga they have produced. I do prefer their dark stuff such as Tokyo Babylon and X. X itself takes place 10 years after Tokyo Babylon and includes the key characters but in a much bigger affair, the end of the world. The story is of two sides the Dragons of heaven and the Dragons of Earth, one side believing that humanity should not continue as they have abused the planets and their rights to be the dominant species and one side believes there is still hope for humanity. Now for any series which is counting down till the end of the world and the fight for the apocalypse you can imagine the darkness and pain that flows throughout this series. There is a host of interesting but tortured characters and nothing is set in stone. So many relationships, feuds, misunderstanding, hatred, love and need. I personally since being a fan of TB was very invested in the relationship between Seishirou and Subaru, these two men have the most tortured and messed up relationship and it’s the most romantic tragedy I’ve seen played out. Their relationship was cursed from the start and only destruction was ever going to redeem them.
They’re not the only characters that go through so much pain the series is full of doom and gloom but in the most beautiful way you can possibly imagine. How to explain the plot, well it starts with 3 friends Fuuma, Kamui and Kotori, they find out Fuuma and Kamui find out that destiny is cruel and they are placed on opposite sides of this war as the leaders of their respective groups of Dragons. Each dragon has a special ability all come with powers based on various spiritual, religious and mythological teaching of Japan. This queues some amazing battles as mystic magic’s do battle. The one interesting this is how set in eastern spirituality this series is based and Christianity is not seen as a saving factor western religion has not place in this apocalypse.
Apart from amazing character designs in true Clamp fashion you have beautiful costumes, fantastic battles, social commentary, the exploration of eastern religion and mythology and human drama exposed and intensified by the desperate situation these characters are in. One thing I admire about Clamp is they have never feared taboo subject matter and always display this in the relationships of characters; you will find gay, lesbian, transgendered, incest and age gaps. Clamp believes love is love no matter age, race or gender and this power that makes their character fight and carry the burden of their fates. Clamp is also very strong on the theme of destiny and fate and has some of the strongest iconography of any studio out there. You will see the use of all their symbols and design traits throughout this series as well as other typical Clamp icons such as characters with one eye. If you want to see clamp at their best this is the place to start you can’t get any more intense than the apocalypse and you won’t find many series more beautiful or tragic than X.
3 – Gensomaden Saiyuki – This is a great series that been going on for years and yet they still haven’t made it west. This is another retelling of a very famous and popular Chinese tale of a priest and his companions travelling west to solve a mystery that is plaguing their home. If you’ve ever heard of Monkey you’ll know the story and if you’ve ever seen Dragon Ball now you know where that story comes from. The Buddhist monk Sanzo keeper of holy scroll hears a plea for help and releases Goku the Monkey king from his prison in the mountain. Goku who has forgotten his past life is taken in by Sanzo and the two are tasked with a mission. The mission involves a strange phenomenon that is changing the normal race of Youkai into murdering animals. Once Youkai and Humans got along but now something is upsetting this balance and Youkai are going made. Add to the team Gyojo, all round ladies’ man but also what is considered a child of taboo. And Hakkai mild mannered healer and Gyojo’s best friend after he rescued him. What makes me love this series is that it’s basically beautiful boy angst fest and I won’t deny that it is a yaoi fan dream. Four hot guys travelling together forming very close relationships while angsting like you would never believe. I mean Sanzo comes from an abused past, witnessing the murder of his ,master and then man that raised him, Goku was involved in the great war of heaven and imprisoned into the mountains for going against the gods, Gyojo is half Youkai after his mother had an affair with a human and then his Older full blood brother kills her and tries to kill him and Hakkai was in love with a woman that turned out to be his sister but they decided to run away and live as lover till she was kidnapped causing Hakkai to go mad and kill 1000 Youkai to get to her for her to commit suicide in front of him. The travel and try to get over their pasts but it haunts them, there’s a lot of ran in this series to make sure we all remember how depressed these guys are. They however form friendships and well put their lives on the line for each other to fight berserk Youkai and try to solve what is causing their world to go crazy. Along with more hidden secretes from their past and a whole other life they all lead together in heaven many years that cost them their lives before being reincarnated into this story.
As I said you can slash this series, me it’s all about Gyojo and Hakkai, ever since Gyojo found Hakkai dying in the road they have been close plus the line from Gyojo “you’re the only man I’ve ever taken to my bed” which I like to read into lots. Other interesting things about the series are unique character designs that can be explained as droopy eyed bishonen and a very interesting editing style. A lot of layering it used, screen halving and colour filters. Also flash backs using a TV static look and for the time slight cgi on certain scenes. Another great thing is the songs used as all four of the male voice actors are also singers they released a lot of albums and songs for this series as well as the openings. Also of interesting note is the fact that our heroes that if you remember contain a monk are all chain smokers, heavy drinkers and gamblers and sanzo’s weapon of choice is a gun so not your typical monk plus with all the killing, incest and homoerotic not your normal bunch of hero’s. The series itself is a lot of fun sometimes light heard and funny sometimes violent and battle filled and then there is the crushing angst and personal drama, me for one loves a tortures bishonen.
4 – Kuroshitsuji – As I have already reviewed this series in the past I’ll let you just go back and ready why its amazing and you should be watching it!!!!!!!
5 – Xxxholic – Yes another Clamp but as I said they are my fav studio out there because they do cater for both my sense of aestheticism, themes and characterisations. XXX is a mix of social commentary and supernatural mystery. It is based on a young boy called Watanuki and his ability to see the spirit world. This ability causes him all kinds of problems including the crushing wait of responsibility as ghosts are asking him to help them finish their unfinished business. He one day ends up and the house of the time witch (a nice little cross over with the tusbasa verse) Yūko Ichihara, a witch who owns a wish-granting shop. Watanuki requests to have his ability to see spirits removed and as payment, Yūko hires him to work in the shop, resulting in his encounter with various supernatural encounters. It’s through these encounters that we see such things such as humanities desire and greed and how many supernatural being pray on these things. What starts out as a fun almost detective story soon gets darker and Clamp more mature themes start to play out, fate and destiny are a big part as Yuko explains that the person Watanuki believe he loves isn’t what he thinks, one person will bring him tragedy and one person that he doesn’t suspect will bring protection and love. The other protagonist of the series is Doumeki and school friend of Watanuki that he does not like and can barely get on with. Doumeki though cares strongly for Watanuki and even though he is a man of little words and is often stern and cold has sacrificed more of himself than Watanuki knows to protect him. These boys are bound by fate and now blood as the things in the dark get more dangerous and aggressive. I like this series because I like how Japanese mythology and spiritual beliefs are played out, it’s interesting to a westerner to see the array of spirits and magic’s that both guard and infect the human world and what happens when you are aware of how human actions can affect this supernatural world. This series also makes sure we understand that greed and desire as well as sadness can be targets of supernatural involvement and people can be abused and abuse these supernatural factors.
This series still has a very clam feel to it buts it’s the first to have a different style, while much of the iconography is the same as well as motifs both visually and thematically the character designs are different. They are longer and world has more angles but is also full of darkness as well as beauty and tragic love. I am very much looking forward to seeing where this series will go and the journey of the main characters as their destiny plays out.
Check out the My Yaoi, Shonen ai, Boys love Slashable anime list!!
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