Otaku has a special place for fantasy manga; it’s a double bonus when they are dark fantasies. So, on your popular demand, I have brought a list of dark fantasy manga recommendations for you. There will be action, bloodshed, gore, and thrill, so let’s begin the list.
12. The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland Follows the story of three genius orphans: Emma, Norman, and Rey. They spent their lives cheerfully in the orphanage without knowing its true colors. Instead, they considered the caretaker, Isabella, their only family. From the beginning, the reader can quickly feel something is off about the orphanage.
After a specific time, an orphan was sent out of the orphanage in the name of adoption. Conny was the orphan whose turn to get adopted came, and she left, saying her goodbyes. Emma and Norman followed her secretly to return her toy to her. When the kids crossed the gate, they saw something shocking. Their nightmare turned to reality seeing the dead body of Conny being eaten by the monsters.
The kids ran to save their lives and kept this a secret. From then on, they plan an escape and start working on their planning. The manga focuses on the geniuses of the kids and how they bravely face different situations. Whether they escape or not, they will be found by you, so don’t waste a second and get to reading.
11. Demon Slayer
Demon Slayer is a dark fantasy manga, but it’s usually loved for its action and characters. Demon Slayer revolves around demon slayers slaying demons. Unfortunately, all the demons are not on an equal level in terms of powers. The story progresses by introducing different powerful protagonists and antagonists.
The manga displays the life of Tanjiro Kamado, our MC. He has a tragic life where demons destroy his happy family. He vows to avenge his family’s death by killing the threat Muzan himself. Besides his only family, his sister, Nezuko, has turned into a half-demon. He must find a cure for her.
DS starts with Tanjiro losing his family; then, the story progresses with him training to be the best Demon Slayer. If you are a shounen lover, then you’ll love this manga. The art, writing, characters, and pacing is likable!
10. Jujutsu Kaisen
JJK is full of sorcery and action with a lot of OP characters. It got its popularity mainly from its heart-stealing characters and action. You can guess the amazingness level from the side characters’ popularity; for instance, Gojo Satoru. Yuji Itadori is the main protagonist of the show, who ends up engulfing Sukuna’s fingers and becomes his vessel. As for Sukuna, the name is famous for many reasons, mainly being the king of all curses and the strongest among all.
At first, the Jujutsu sorcerers decide to kill Yuji to kill Sukuna; it is necessary to kill its vessel. However, Yuji comes out different from their expectation as he can easily gain control of his body and doesn’t let Sukuna control him. So, Gojo Satoru, the top Jujutsu sorcerer, decides to train our boy. Yuji starts training, and the story progresses with different adventures and actions. The story eventually gets better at pacing and engagement. The fights with different curses and characters are enjoyable experiences!
9. Death Note
Were you looking for mystery-based dark fantasy manga? Death Note is a complete package for those looking for something similar to Sherlock Holmes. Light Yagami, aka Kira, is a student with serious issues with injustice.
His sole wish is to make the world a peaceful place to live in by terminating every evil being, i.e., a bad human. Then, finally, he gets a chance to punish the bad guys. The Death Note is a notebook that comes in various specialties. One among them is to write a name on it, and that person dies. A shinigami named Ryuk accompanies Kira in his work.
There are supernatural, horror, and thrilling elements, so prepare for it. A chain of murders begins, which creates chaos in the world. All the investigative officers are looking for answers, but there is no clue about the murderer. Kira was a genius, and imagine a genius having a Death Note!
If you are in for the genius mindset, then be glad Kira isn’t the only genius in the story. There is another character named L who gives tough competition to him. They both start planning to beat each other by using their above-average brains, leaving everyone in awe, whether on screens or off screens.
There are different emotions that the reader experiences throughout the manga. It does get sadder at some points, but it’s rich and tasteful overall!
8. Tokyo Ghoul
I can bet even if you haven’t read it; you know the face of the MC with a mask. Tokyo Ghoul is about Ken Kaneki, an average boy living his life normally. However, his encounter with his friend Rize made his life worse. The girl betrayed him and revealed her true colors of her as a ghoul, which didn’t do any good to Kaneki.
After the deadly encounter, Kaneki’s life changed completely. He was turned into a half-ghoul. Unwillingly he had to feed on human flesh to survive. He meets certain ghouls who teach him about the norms of ghoul society. The entry of different OP characters makes the story amusing.
There is significant character development in Kaneki’s character. His way of brutally giving the opponents hard times is famous in the otaku world. If you are a fan of action and horror, then my lord, don’t even think of missing this one. It also includes psychological thrillers, which makes it a perfect dark fantasy manga.
7. Black Butler
Black Butler highlights the unique life of Sebastian, the butler of Ciel. Ciel is the kid who has faced brutality to its extreme. After the death of his parents, he was treated as a slave. However, the story becomes intriguing when Ciel makes a contract with Sebastian, aka the demon. It was decided that the demon would kill Ciel only if he gave him his soul in return.
Finally, Sebastian becomes his butler, who looks after him like his parents. Whenever Ciel is in trouble, the handsome butler lands to save him. It’s also a revenge story full of action. Don’t consider it a typical manga; it is full of humor, and the relationship between Ciel and the butler is praiseworthy.
The plot is elaborate, with perfect twists and turns. The manga art makes the story up to the mark. It is remarkably drawn, and they have added minor details to it, making it worthy.
A long list of elements makes it a must-read, including psychological aspects, arts, action, mysteries, humor, and plot twist. Revealing any more than this would spoil the fun and entertainment for you. So, let us just stop here.
6. The Rising Of The Shield Hero
It’s another spectacular manga highlighting violence, betrayal, humiliation, action, and isekai fantasy. Naofumi is the MC, but he doesn’t enjoy people’s hospitality. He suddenly gets summoned to a different world where he faces the brutality of the people. He was one among the four heroes who were summoned.
Unlike others, he had only the shield as a weapon. Therefore, he was termed a shield hero. No one had high expectations, and people would start teasing him for no reason. Naofumi faced betrayal, humiliation, and whatnot. Humiliation had become a part of his life, and he felt heartbroken, losing all his hopes.
He bought a slave who was a demi-human named Raphtalia. Unlike others, he never treated her like a slave. The duo starts their journey together and wins multiple battles earning the respect and love of the same people.
The character development, writing, pacing, and design are praiseworthy. However, it might not be good for kids as it includes violence and other dark themes. Otherwise, it’s the best dark fantasy manga to spend time on!
5. Parasyte the Maxim
Shinichi, the show’s main character, is an ordinary school student. However, with the invasion of mind-controlling Parasites, his life takes a sharp turn. These parasites were the aliens who came to earth to control the world.
They started their heinous plan by entering people’s bodies to control their brains. Shinichi was a lucky guy, and the parasite who entered his body couldn’t control his brain. The parasite became part of his hand instead. Otaku admires the unique chemistry of the parasite and its host and how they work together to save humanity.
Shinichi attains supernatural abilities with extraordinary strength and abilities. However, he doesn’t remain a normal human being after the incident. There is action and suspense, and the plot is intriguingly wacky!
The art is eye catchy with neatness and simplicity. Trust me, dude, you won’t regret reading it, and this is all I can say!
4. Attack On Titan
Nothing can beat Attack On Titan when it comes to giving goosebumps to its audience, regardless of age. AOT has earned its reputation both in the manga world and anime worlds. However, the concept of giants was never so spellbinding as this masterpiece.
The story is set in a world where people don’t live an ordinary life under the fear of giant titans. Instead, they have imprisoned themselves by building a wall around them to avoid the invasion of Titans to their places.
One day their nightmares come true when titans break the walls and start sufficing their hunger with human flesh. Eren Yeager was one of the protagonists who witnessed the gruesome murder of his mother in front of his eyes. After the incident, he joins the military with his friends. At the start, Eren is weak in almost everything he used to do. However, the author has beautifully developed his character throughout. He amusingly goes from being the weakest to the overpowered character.
The story of AOT is not that simple and is full of twists, mystery, and suspense. Each chapter is full of thrills! If you haven’t read this one, then you have read nothing!
The manga community would have killed me if I didn’t mention Berserk on this list. Berserk is the iconic dark fantasy manga. Guts is a born warrior; his birth wasn’t normal. His being born from a hanged mother says it all.
Guts learn swordsmanship and are trained as a mercenary by a mercenary leader. His life was never so easy, and the start of the manga highlights the harsh realities of Gut’s life. Guts earned his name by defeating many powerful characters and became fearsome to people with time. The plot engages with Griffith’s entry, which deals with Guts over a duel. Guts leave the duel, and as a result, he serves Griffith’s band of the hawks.
The plot gets complex as the author keeps adding twists and turns with the entry of new characters. All these encounters and ups and downs result in the character development of Guts. The manga is best if you want action, swordsmanship, harsh realities, and fantasy. Though, if you are violence intolerant, then skip this one swiftly! There is bloodshed, violence, tragedy, and different dark themes so read at your own risk, my lord!
2. Chainsaw Man
It’s another frenetic manga with a lot of potentials. I am sure you must have heard of Chainsaw man’s anime adaptation, as its teaser has recently taken the internet by storm. Denji’s our handsome boy and the manga’s protagonist.
His life wasn’t on good terms with him, and he was occupied with different troubles. He had to pay the debt, which was impossible for him, but he found a way through it. He worked for the Yakuza to pay the debt, but they weren’t worth it, and he was betrayed. While our boy is almost dead, Pochita, a devil dog whom Denji saved, comes to his help and fuses with him.
His fusion gives the hero a second chance to relive, not as an ordinary human but as a hybrid called CHAINSAW MAN! His journey begins as a devil hunter with a lot of bloodshed and gore. The action is deadly, and there are a lot of dark themes in the manga. Finish the manga before the anime ends; otherwise, you’ll be loaded with spoilers everywhere! (XD) The art and writing style is palpable, and there are numerous reasons this manga is ardently loved worldwide.
1. Hell’s Paradise
It is the epic, and the darkest fantasy manga one can read. The plot begins with Gabimaru, aka the hollow, a fearsome assassin who is being executed. No matter what kind of deadliest methods the executioner uses, it doesn’t work on him. Gabimaru’s will to live is so strong that nothing can make him die. The boy refuses to admit that. Nevertheless, his love for his wife is the major reason he wants to live!
Things become interesting with the entry of Asaemon; she gives Gabimaru a second chance to live, but at a cost. To live, he will have to go to the death-dealing Island to find the elixir of life. There will be many others like him who would have the same goal.
He will have to compete with them along with facing the dangers of the Island. The Island is said to be mysterious and is nothing less than welcoming death! This manga has a special art style, and one is amazed to see it. There are some scenes with gore, but that’s what makes it darker. The characters are loveable; Gabimaru himself is a cold, emotional guy with a kind heart. Sounds contradictory, and I know it; the author has beautifully designed each character.
Hell’s Paradise is the best dark fantasy manga in my opinion, and it’s soon getting its anime adaptation, keeping fans on their toes.
Final words on dark fantasy manga
Consider yourself a true otaku if you have read all of them already! Consider yourself lucky enough to read them if you haven’t read them! Dark fantasies are always a gem and a rare species like them for their rarity. However, everyone has different reasons for preferring a dark fantasy. Therefore, I haven’t mentioned dark shounen fantasies only. So I hope you enjoyed the recommendation, and If yes, don’t forget to let me know your thoughts!