The meteoric rise of Babymetal has highlighted the convergence of headbangers and anime fans, though both remain ostensibly outsider interests. There are plenty of titles that share all the wild whimsy of power metal, or the dark, esoteric themes of Norwegian black, and below are ten of the most metal anime (that aren’t Attack On Titan).
Ushio And Tora
This throwback shonen series, based on the ‘90s manga of the same name, rejoices in the same exuberance of classic heavy metal in the Saxon or Iron Maiden vein. After freeing the infamous demon Tora from under the beast spear, highschooler Ushio Aotsuki is charged with destiny to battle yokai and avoid being eaten by his begrudging ally.
The Victorian gothic and campy lilt of Cradle Of Filth is ever present in the equally erotic Black Butler. To avenge his murdered parents, Lord Ciel Phantomhive forms a contract with a demon who takes the guise of his butler. Together they tear through London’s underbelly, until they uncover supernatural happenings that stretch from the street to the throne.
The instrument of the shinigami falls from the reaper’s realm to ours, and is found by high school student Light Yagami. His god complex and bloated ego drive his crusade to rid the world of criminals and position himself as its leader. The ferocity and religious imagery of Behemoth’s The Satanist are echoed here in spades.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
In Hunter x Hunter’s darker moments, its long-running contemporaries don’t even come close. Decapitation, decay and torture are par for the course, and under the plucky visuals and shonen tropes is a tangible disquiet and creeping fear; perfectly paired with the intensity and eeriness of Celtic Frost.
Boy meets girl, girl eats guy – that’s the fate that befalls Ken Kaneki when his date goes ghoul. He survives the attack, but at the cost of his humanity. Now a half-ghoul, Kaneki has to gobble down people meat to survive. With their anatomical fascination and explicit exploration of dismemberment, Cannibal Corpse fit the bloody bill.
The quintessential gothic anime follows the clandestine Hellsing Organisation in its clash against a rogue’s gallery of paranormal nasties who threaten fair England. Drenched in the occult and with a playful darkness, it could only be set to Type O Negative.
Having turned his back on warring political factions, Jubei Kibagami wanders feudal Japan selling his sword after a past betrayal leaves him masterless. After he saves female ninja Kagero, his past and the myriad political machinations butt heads. Japan’s own Sigh provides the right balance of kooky rhythms and extreme heaviness to accompany this notoriously explicit movie.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Based on the series of infamous survival horror games, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is all splatter and chaos, widely regarded as one of the goriest ever, second perhaps only to Elfen Lied. It needs an equally bombastic sonic accompaniment, and the goofy-heavy barrage of Iwrestledabearonce just about cuts it.
Fist Of The North Star
Following nuclear war, the Earth is left a Mad Max style wasteland; add to that lashings of blood and more martial arts than you can swing your nunchaku at, and you get Fist Of The North Star. With all the braggadocio of Manowar’s Fighting The World, FOTNS is about as metal as it gets.
Berserk follows a mercenary known only as Guts, born from the corpse of his mother. He makes sense of his own existence on the battlefield, making enough with each killing to survive another day. It has all the aggression and nihilism of Slayer at their most violent, and the visuals to boot.