How horror helped anime shows hit mainstream

In 2013, at a time when Game of thrones and The walking dead were at the peak of their popularity, a shōnen action anime titled The attack of the Titans created and rocked the anime world to its core, skyrocketing in popularity and penetrating mainstream audiences. Spectators who vaguely knew the name Naturo were suddenly watching this spectacle. It’s not hard to see the appeal of the general public, with a European-like setting, an apocalyptic story putting humanity on the verge of annihilation, a lot of shock and horror, plus enough deaths. to compete with the aforementioned live action shows. The attack of the Titans, In some ways, it feels like the culmination of a long drawn-out trend: an action anime using horror imagery and tropes to heighten sense of danger and become a huge hit. While anime shows have certainly become big staples of pop culture in the past, the horror action anime trend of recent years has helped anime break into the mainstream, a creepy creature. at a time.

Horror and animation have a long history in common, from Walt Disney’s Silly symphonies and the works of the Fleischer brothers, to Japanese animes like GeGeGe no Kitarō. Mmore often than not, the horror boiled down to using the supernatural as a catch-all for the ghouls the hero could hit in every episode. Sure, YuYu Hakusho, and Bleach, or even Vampire Hunter D deal with supernatural elements, but these are mostly used for superficial flavor in stories that follow set formulas where the hero never loses. This makes horror difficult because no one is ever really in danger. In the mid-2000s, shows like Death threat Where Monster supported long-running compelling stories of serial killers with cat and mouse thriller as they avoided being captured and continued their killings. They didn’t scare either the audience or the characters, but used suspense and dark imagery to keep the tension going.

However, what makes a show like The attack of the Titans, or more recently Demon slayer and Jujutsu kaisen The unique thing is that they follow the formula of winning anime shōnen (shows aimed primarily at teenagers) to a T, and then apply it to the horror genre. They have fiery protagonists with searing determination, friendships that aid the hero in his quest, a set of powers they can train to improve upon, and a sense of optimism despite enormous adversities. Both Demon slayer and Jujutsu kaisen started out as a manga in the popular Shônen jump magazine, which has a very strict and established formula resulting in many successful series such as One Piece, My Hero Academia, Naruto, and Hunter x hunter.


When the tried and true formula is applied to a horror setting, innocent wide-eyed teenage protagonists can be mercilessly killed in the first few episodes, tragedy and blood are as common as the flu, and power-ups are not. simply obtained through training, but rather they are paid dearly in the permanent wounds and scars that the hero bears for the remainder of the story. The villains are not cartoonish but menacing and menacing. When we first meet Eren in The attack of the Titans or Tanjiro in Demon slayer, they’re stereotypical kids with big dreams and loving friends and family. They know they live in a dangerous world, but for them it is all a long way off until the first episode brings tragedy home and completely shatters their illusions.


Eren discovers that the world is cruel, that good people can die for no reason, and with victories come horrible losses. Tanjiro finds time and time again that sometimes the heroes just don’t win, the villain runs away and nothing can be done about it. From the outset, the shows place our idealistic shōnen protagonists in situations where victory seems impossible. The public may think that the main characters cannot die; they can. Even if they survive, the show throws enough danger and death upon them that they feel like anything can happen. If the protagonist is genuinely scared and in an impossible situation, audiences think he can be defeated and die a gruesome death.


Speaking of macabre, these three shows deal with enough nightmarish imagery and gore to satisfy even hardcore horror fans. Take Jujutsu kaisen, a show that delves into everything from body horror to cosmic horror, with a protagonist who level up literally swallowing the grotesque fingers of a dead demon and is constantly threatened with having his body take hold of said demon , forcing his own friends to execute him. While the series still relies on fight scenes, battle tournaments, and practice arcs to tell the story, each episode is filled with grotesque creatures and unsettling imagery not played out for laughs, but to make you crawl. skin – while finding moments of lightness and awkwardness typical of shōnen anime.

With Demon slayer back for season 2, The attack of the Titans bowing with its final season, and a popular new horror manga shōnen getting anime adaptations like Man with chainsaw, there has never been a better time to be an anime and horror fan.

Demon slayer The Entertainment District Arc Episode 2 will be available on December 12, 2021.

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