Best Dark Fantasy Manga With No Anime Adaptations
The fantasy genre is an all-encompassing one simply because there are just so many different types of stories that easily fit within the “fantasy” classification. For example, there are action, adventure, romance, mystery, isekai, horror, comedy, & even dark themes that all work incredibly well in a fantasy universe.
Dark fantasy stories & manga, in particular, are the focus here because a lot of them just haven’t had the pleasure of being adapted into anime yet. So, let’s look at some of the best examples of manga in the dark fantasy subgenre that absolutely deserve their own anime.
7/7 Dai Dark
First up let’s start things off with a relatively fresh manga called Dai Dark that comes from the same genius mind as another dark series, Dorohedoro. Q Hayashida is the author of both these series, though any fan of Dorohedoro could immediately guess that based on the art, general tone, & absurd setting of Dai Dark.
Now, for those who aren’t aware or haven’t experienced her previous work, Dai Dark is a story set in space all about a boy named Zaha Sanko. Zaha Sanko is a native of “Dark” a dimension that only exists inside black holes, who ends up being chased around the universe based on some gr& rumor that using his bones with grant a person any wish they desire. From here, Zaha just tries to eke out a living in the vast nothingness of space alongside his Package of Darkness, Avakian, & has to constantly fight off people aiming for his bones using his blood-like weapons of Darkness to get their bones as nice bones are essentially currency in the Dark realm.
6/7 Solo Leveling
Next up is a bit of a loophole, as Solo Leveling is absolutely a dark fantasy series without an anime adaptation, but there is one currently being worked on for it. Still, the artwork is so absolutely stunning in the original manwha that people should still read it first before watching the adaptation. Solo Leveling is part of the fantasy genre that seems to be very popular in Korean manwha & webtoons where the world goes through some sort of massive change that brings dungeons, character classes, levels, & all sorts of other fantasy/video game tropes into existence. And, out of all the dungeon-themed manwha out there, Solo Leveling is by far the most popular.
Sung Jinwoo, the main character of the series, starts off as so many other isekai protagonists do, as a weak & pitiful fighter with Huge dreams. But, through one hellish event that leaves Jinwoo trapped in a mysterious dungeon, Jinwoo is blessed with a “double awakening” in the form of this sort of magical “player” system. This system presents Jinwoo with quests constantly that can grant him all sorts of rewards, his own shop full of purchasable items, & so much more.
5/7 Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint
Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint has a lot in common with Solo Leveling, as both of them are South Korean webtoons or manwha that deal with a world changed by the appearance of some fantasy element. But, while Solo Leveling focuses a lot more on dungeons & levels, ORV is built around another common Korean manwha trope, the use of incarnations. Basically, these are historical or mythical existences, human or otherwise, that became so powerful or renowned during their life that they become a god-like deity. Some common examples are characters like Sun Wukong, angels like Metatron & Micheal, the Greek Pantheon of Gods such as Zeus or Hades, & so on.
In this setting, Earth has suddenly become a survival game built around entertaining these incarnations, which for humanity means that suddenly their lives are constantly in danger & all sorts of magic, monsters, & mythical creations have now become real.
Only one character knows exactly what’s happening or what will happen next & it’s a simple salaryman by the name of Kim Dokja. And, the only reason Mr. Dokja knows this is because these events are exactly the same as the ones that happened in his favorite web novel he had been reading for most of his life. The story snowballs to some pretty absurd proportions & Dokja ends up fostering a pretty hilarious rivalry with the main character over the course of the series.
4/7 I Am A Hero
I Am a Hero is another story like Dai Dark with an incredibly unique writing style & tone. At first, this might seem like it’s a dramatic story about a down-&-out mangaka who has a lot of issues to work on & generally feels unfulfilled in his life. But, very quickly, this story gets a lot darker as a zombie-esque outbreak begins to spread & suddenly Hideo has to make it through some terrifying circumstances.
Overall, I Am a Hero is a very nihilistic story with some truly unsettling artwork & a lot of horrific moments showcasing the depths of human desire, but those moments are also usually balanced out with a lot of moments of self-growth & levity. It’s extremely depressing in some areas, but it always manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
3/7 Ubel Blatt
Moving onto another seinen series, here’s Ubel Blatt. Now, before getting into anything related to Ubel Blatt’s story, know that anyone who loves Berserk will likely find something they enjoy in this story. Both series are drenched in all kinds of death, gratuitous gore, political intrigue, a misunderstood & emotionally numb main character, as well as a whole lot of great sword fighting.
That said, the main difference between the two is that instead of having a Huge, strong, & stereotypically “manly” MC like Guts, Ubel Blatt has Koinzell, a half-elf who is small, childlike, & very scrawny in appearance who is living proof that the good guys don’t always win. Either way, it’s a story that easily deserves an anime adaptation, just hopefully not one to the same “level” of quality as the 2016 Berserk anime.
2/7 Fire Punch
It only seems apt to talk about Fire Punch, given that the author, Tatsuki Fujimoto, just had his more recent work, Chainsaw Man, adapted into a stunningly Gorgeous anime. And, while Chainsaw Man seems to be beloved by all, not enough people know about the series that predated it, Fire Punch.
Now, compared to Denji, the MC of this story (who goes by Agni) is much more of a “straight man” which may not seem that interesting. But, Agni’s circumstances, combinations of abilities (which are somehow even stranger than Denji’s) that lead to him becoming Fire Punch, & the colorful cast around him all more than makeup for his relatively bl& personality in the earlier parts of the story.
Psyren is the last dark fantasy manga on here, & it’s one of the all-time classics for the subgenre. For anyone who has read something like Gantz, Btooom, Darwin’s Game, or has even watched Sword Art Online, Psyren has something in common with all of them in that the main characters are “dragged” into a sudden deadly circumstance that they have to fight their way out from. In Psyren, the characters are pulled into a “mysterious” version of Earth where creatures called Taboo live & those dragged into the Psyren “game” get exposed to particles that give them supernatural psychic abilities of all different types.
There’s a lot to this story, & the events of the Psyren game as well as the characters around it only get more complicated over time. But, it features some of the most creative iterations of psychic powers in any form of media, has a compelling of likable characters, & it’s a dark fantasy c&idate easily worth an anime adaptation.
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