10 Best Noir Anime Series, Ranked

With series like chainsaw man and Mafia Psycho 100 Coming this fall to fill up the already dense 2022 year for anime, there’s still a huge catalog of shows that span countless subgenres. And for fans of darker material, there are several noir anime series that are well worth checking out.

Many of these range from the more grounded crime noir to more inventive neo-noir TV shows. Cowboy Bebop will probably be the first to come to the minds of longtime anime fans, but gripping crime saga like Sample are also valuable time investments.


10/10 gun grave

After the lives of Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowell, gun grave tells the story of the two carefree street children who live in a rough world and climb through the ranks of the Millennium Crime Organization to gain fame, wealth and power. However, after all that power that goes to their heads and corrupts them, betrayal leads them to clashes.

spread over several years, gun grave brings together a classic gangster tale of drama, stylized anime action and the fallout of greed where crime noir fans should feel right at home.

9/10 91 days

the undervalued 91 days is a great example of an anime that borrows from the best elements of the film noir genre. It’s also one of the most grounded crime noir anime fans will find, as the series is set against the backdrop of 1930s America during the days of Prohibition.

Young Angelo Lagusa sees his family murdered in the middle of a mafia conflict, and he grows up trying to realize a vengeful plan against the Zenetti family. That premise alone is enough to excite the public seeking a taste of the godfather in their anime, as well as a period piece. The 12-piece range also makes it an easily digestible watch in terms of time.

8/10 Ergo proxy

While Ghost in the shell established himself as the face of the cyberpunk/neo-noir subgenre in anime, Ergo proxy turned out to be an admirable modern take on it. In a sci-fi future, humans and androids once lived normally side by side until a virus gave the AutoReiv machines self-awareness and started a killing spree.

This prompts special investigators, including protagonist Re-L, to uncover the reason behind this escalating rebellion. And as you’d expect from that premise, there’s a darker and more complex mystery at the heart of it Ergo proxy‘s plot, which has been cited as the series’ strongest narrative point. The revelations to come raise questions and themes of autonomy.

7/10 Psycho-Pass

Science fiction is a popular complementary genre to noir anime, and Psycho-Pass is perhaps one of the more famous modern series. The show combines a cyberpunk premise with a psychological thriller story, set in a bleak future dystopia where the Japanese government enforces the law – often deadly – by vigorously scanning citizens’ moods for even a suspicion of malice. Psycho-Pass focuses his plot on the Enforces; researchers who have become cynical and are given freedom as long as they enforce this tyrannical law.

Unfortunately the quality drops to some extent in the later two seasons, but Season 1 was hailed as an excellent signal/adult anime for how it aggressively handled its interesting character dynamics, as well as its thoughtful themes of morality and privacy. digital environment.

6/10 Darker than black

As the name suggests, Darker than black is an atmospheric noir anime series that also combines science fiction with the supernatural. The premise revolves around two spatial phenomena that have suddenly appeared in the world – the “Heaven’s Gate” over South America and specifically the “Hell’s Gate” over Tokyo – and how those in Japan change the sky and destroy the land below.

From there, the series follows a group of contractors, people with supernatural abilities who are hired to investigate Hell’s Gate. Darker than black has been well received thanks to the captivating mystery at the core of the story, as well as its streamlined animation and unique cast of characters.

5/10 black lagoon

Though insanely over-the-top and brutal in its depiction of violence, black lagoon is a strong contender for crime series fans. The anime begins with a 25-year-old Japanese salaryman who finds himself becoming a human collateral in what turns out to be a nuclear weapons business.

Rokuro Okajima then throws away his life in Japan to stay with the titular mercenary team after discovering how little his life means in a world dominated by corporate evil. However, black lagoon — between the explosive action and raunchy humor — becomes impressively introspective in his (admittedly bleak) commentary on moral ambiguity and humanity’s place under the shadowy machinations of world governments.

4/10 Baccano!

It may not have the same tone some would expect on the surface of a noir series, but Baccano! is a clever crime story that takes some creative inspiration from the genre in terms of narrative structure. Set in 1030s Chicago during the Prohibition era similar to: 91 days, Baccano! takes a more classy approach aesthetically and in its use of the supernatural.

Like film noir, this anime takes several characters in their respective storylines that are all indirectly linked together, involving alchemists, thieves and warring mafiosi. Baccano! has been praised for its captivating pace, culmination of character arcs and bombastic action.

3/10 Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex

The original 1995 Ghost in the shell film helped force global audiences to pay attention to the anime genre. It was a seductive sci-fi neo-noir world that seemed to pay tribute to other cyberpunk-themed works like Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner. The Ghost in the shell film paved the way for a franchise, with perhaps the best that could come out of it, the Self-contained complex series.

In a world where the Japanese government creates the Section 9 organization to compensate for new high-tech crimes, main character Mokoto Kusanagi and the rest of her team hunt down a dangerous hacker dubbed “The Laughing Man”. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex retains the fascinating nuance of the original film, raises questions about the human condition in an increasingly technological world, and retains a sense of identity.

2/10 Sample

For a tense HBO-level crime drama in anime form, fans would be hard-pressed to find much better outside Sample. This extended 74-episode thriller follows protagonist Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese former doctor living in Germany who finds his life crumbling when he refuses to operate on a politician to save the life of a brutally injured boy.

Years later, that boy grows up to haunt Tenma as an elusive serial killer, helping the former surgeon put an end to his madness. Sample is a compelling cerebral experience, sharpening crime noir from a psychological perspective. Thought-provoking philosophical themes and revelations are explored as the plot unravels, and it turns out to be one of the best seinen anime to date.

1/10 Cowboy Bebop

Besides being one of the biggest showcases of neo-noir in this genre, Cowboy Bebop is a triumphant milestone for anime as a whole. It’s a masterful blend of science fiction, western, and crime noir all rolled into one to make a captivating 26-episode series.

Spike, Jet & Co is set in a dystopian sci-fi future where humanity expanded into space after corporate greed made the Earth nearly inhospitable to life. serve as bounty hunters just trying to make ends meet in an equally oppressive society. Cowboy Bebop is structured in a largely anthology-esque format punctuated by an overarching narrative, but the ever-deepening dive into these characters’ mindsets turns out to be a moodily stylish and intimate exploration of existentialism.

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