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Anime you shouldn't watch with your family

In the English-speaking world, the word "cartoon" is often synonymous with children's entertainment. In Japan, however, animation is not thought of as a genre as much as it is a medium, one capable of telling all sorts of stories. Because of this, if you put on a random anime for your family without vetting it first, you may end up getting something far more adult than anything you'd ever see on American TV.

Today, we're here to tell you about some of the most "adult" anime to ever exist. Y'know, without crossing the line into talking about that kind of adult anime. Some will be delightfully crude schlock. Others will be unrelentingly nihilistic horror. There will also be some shows that are simply wildly problematic, albeit unintentionally. That's not to say that they aren't worth watching. Rather, this is a rundown of shows that, despite being good, aren't for everyone, and thus shouldn't be entered into lightly.

In order to tell you why you these series are so difficult to recommend, we're going to need to break down exactly what it is in each show that you might not wish to see. Because of this, it's unavoidable that throughout this article, there will be in-depth discussions of sexual situations, extreme violence, and multiple forms of abuse, including rape and child abuse.

Now that the content warnings are out of the way, let's get to some content warnings. Here's our list of anime that you shouldn't watch with your family.

Kill la Kill

It's happened to all of us. You just finished watching that adorable all-ages anime Little Witch Academia with your family, so you look up the animation studio to see what else they've done. Trigger, huh? Looks like they also created a series called Kill la Kill. Let's check that out, fam!

We open on Honnoji Academy, a high school where well-behaved students get magic school uniforms that give them superpowers. Enter our hero, Ryuko Matoi, a hard-headed and foul-mouthed transfer student who quickly runs afoul of the school's mysterious student council president: Satsuki Kiryuin. Satsuki starts dispatching her various superpowered flunkies to teach Matoi a lesson, but then our hero reveals that she has a special weapon: half of a giant pair of scissors that she wields like a sword, which she uses to defeat her enemies by... cutting off their magic clothing, leaving them naked. Things get even more racy when Ryuko gets her own uniform which is, no joke, one of the most revealing outfits in anime history, and that's very much saying something.

All that and we still haven't touched on the most uncomfortable moment you'll have watching this show. This delightfully horny romp abruptly becomes significantly less fun in episode 16, when we see Satsuki getting molested... by her mom. There's a lot to love about Kill la Kill, but it's definitely not for the whole family. Play this problematic fave when you're all alone, and you can really just wallow in all those mixed feelings.

Berserk

It's tough to be an anime fan for long without hearing the name Berserk. It's a cornerstone of 90's anime, right up there alongside Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion. If you eventually decide to check it out, fair warning: the world of Berserk is a harsh one.

Our protagonist, the swordsman Guts, was born from the corpse of a hanged woman, and his life only got harder from there. Berserk tells the story of Guts' time in a mercenary group called "The Band of the Hawk," and of that group's bloody rise to the top, until they eventually become the King's personal guard. Along the way, Guts develops a romance with another member of the Hawks named Casca. But then, in a Game of Thrones-esque fashion, things go very wrong very fast for our heroes.

Despite everything that's great about it, Berserk is sometimes a hard watch. First, there's the violence. The volume of blood spilled in this cartoon is enough to make Quentin Tarantino blush. And these levels of violence were actually toned down from the original manga, in which sword fights usually end with intestines, brains, and eyeballs spilling out all over the place. Then, there's the sexual assault. Rape is an ever present plot device throughout the show, but the real kick in the teeth comes when Casca herself is brutally raped, on screen, in the final episode. We cannot oversell just how upsetting this scene is. Please proceed with caution.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Everything about the setup for Puella Magi Madoka Magica seems to promise a kid-friendly magical girl adventure. Kind-hearted middle schooler Madoka Kaname meets a magic talking cat who offers her a chance to join a team of magical superheroes, tasked with hunting down spooky reality-bending monsters. And the show delivers on this promise... until episode 3, when without warning it stabs you in the heart with a knife.

First, a major character is brutally killed by a monster. Then, Madoka discovers that the creatures she and her friends have been slaying are former magical girls like herself, and that she too is fated to eventually transform into one. If that wasn't enough, it's starting to seem like their adorable kitty sidekick might in fact be some sort of demon that they have unwittingly sold their souls to.

Madoka Magica is undeniably a masterpiece. Because of its bold and unflinchingly dark deconstruction of familiar tropes, it's widely regarded as essentially "the Watchmen of magical girl anime." But it's also extremely dour. If your family is really into watching middle school girls cry (a lot), feel free to bring them along. Otherwise, maybe watch this one alone.

On second thought, this series is so dark at times that maybe it wouldn't be the best idea to watch this one all by yourself. Watch Madoka Magica with a good friend by your side who doesn't mind watching some intensely depressing stuff, and who can maybe help you unpack all your feelings afterwards.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Even if you've realized by now that some animes are kind of pervy, this one might not trip your lewdness radar at first. Sure, it's called Panty & Stocking, but look at that art style! It's deliberately designed to look like Powerpuff Girls or Invader Zim. These adorable little characters might be a bit crass, but it can't be THAT bad, can it?

You gather your parents, fire up the first episode, and immediately encounter a density of swear words that rivals South Park. Then, the villain of the first episode arrives, a giant poo monster, and you start to realize that you've made a huge mistake.

The only people who can save us from the poo are Panty and Stocking, a pair of angels who were banished from heaven for their many, many sins. In order to repent, they'll need to protect humanity from evil ghosts, using their "angelic garments" to do so. That means that Stocking can removing one of her eponymous stockings and transform it into a sword, and Panty can remove her underwear and transform it into a gun.

Once the insanity finally ends, your relationship with your parents will never be the same, but you'll have to admit that the show was endlessly inventive, and delightfully smutty, if you're into that sort of thing. It also has a blisteringly fast pace. Panty has sex with three separate men in a single 11-minute episode. Now that's some storytelling efficiency, right there.

Chobits

Chobits. Where to even begin with Chobits? Ostensibly, it's a fun slice-of-life science fiction romance anime, but there is not a relationship in this show that is not nauseatingly innappropriate.

It starts with a man named Hideki who finds a discarded female robot in the trash. Hideki searches all around this robot's body and can't find a power switch anywhere, until he finally looks in one very private spot. By pressing this spot, Hideki is finally able to "turn her on." The robot, named Chii, has no memories and basically the mind of a child. It's a romance story, so Hideki and Chii do indeed eventually get together, but because of the location of Chii's aforementioned power switch, there's certain activities that she and Hideki can't engage in. She will completely reset and lose all her memories if he ever touches her... Chii spot.

Clearly, a relationship between a grown man and a robot with the mind of a newborn is not great, but it's not even close to the grossest relationship on the show. There's romance between high schoolers and teachers. There's a boy who has an... ambiguous relationship with a robot that's been given the personality of his dead sister. There's also a husband and wife who can't conceive a child, so they build a robot daughter, but then that daughter falls in love with her dad.

So yeah. Not only should you not watch Chobits with your family, maybe also no one should watch it ever.

Elfen Lied

Some shows sneak up on you with their violent or sexual content. Not Elfen Lied. From its very first image, a severed arm sitting on the ground, this show tells you what you're in for. What follows is one of the most shockingly bloody sequences in animation history, as a naked woman escaping from a government facility kills dozens of armed guards by tearing them in half with her mind.

Her name is Lucy, and she does indeed escape, but not before suffering a gunshot to the head that gives her amnesia. Lucy then gets taken in by a pair of hapless dolts who try their best to help her, but they quickly find themselves in danger as well, as the mysterious agency Lucy escaped from continues to hunt her. It isn't all mindless action and boobs, though. Elfen Lied has a philosophical streak to it as well, tackling issues like prejudice, compassion, and vengeance with a decent degree of nuance. One final warning: in addition to the adult content already mentioned, this show features and a subplot about child molestation.

Basically it's Stranger Things, if the cute parts were even cuter and the dark parts were way darker. Come to think of it, Elfen Lied tells you what it's all about even before it begins. The opening credits feature imagery inspired by Gustav Klimpt paintings mixed with nude anime babes. No better metaphor exists for this show's unique mixture of high art philosophy and low-rent B-movie exploitation.

Made in Abyss

When you start watching Made in Abyss, you may feel a strange dissonance that you can't quite articulate. On one hand, this anime is almost obnoxiously cute, centered on an adorable friendship between a little girl named Riko and her friend Reg. On the other hand, something's clearly lurking beneath the surface. Everything from the melancholy music to the title of the series itself promises a darkness that's suspiciously absent from the series' first few episodes.

Our story begins in Orth, a town which sits on the edge of an enormous opening in the ground that leads into the Abyss, a mysterious subterranean realm full of both deadly monsters and valuable relics. Though many have explored the Abyss, it's never been fully mapped. When Riko discovers evidence that her mother, a famous explorer, may have finally found the bottom of the Abyss, and might also need her help, Riko and Reg decide to venture into the Abyss to rescue her.

Their journey starts off as some thrilling YA adventure fiction, but as they descend deeper, these kids start encountering some proper nightmare fuel. By the end, it becomes a full-on horror story, one that is certainly not appropriate for the whole family. One final side note: our little kid protagonists end up getting naked, for one reason or another, way more often than should be necessary. It's usually played for comedy or cuteness, but it still might lead to some uncomfortable moments sitting on the couch next to your parents.

When They Cry

Many of these series we're talking about today start out family-friendly, and then turn dark and violent a few episodes in. When They Cry is perhaps the ultimate example of this particular subgenre, as its unique premise means that it gets to pull this trick on viewers over and over again.

High school student Keiichi Maebara has recently moved to the small town of Hinamizawa, and is getting to know his new classmates, Rena and Mion. However, Keiichi is also discovering that Hinamizawa has a dark past, a long history of unsolved murders. Keiichi begins to suspect that either Rena or Mion may be involved in these crimes, so he begins to investigate them. Then, in the fourth episode, his two new friends suddenly attack him, attempting to murder him for unknown reasons, so Keiichi kills Rena and Mion in self-defense with a baseball bat. Keiichi himself is found dead a bit later, but the police aren't exactly sure what killed him.

Then the fifth episode begins, and suddenly, our three main characters are all alive again, seemingly re-living the events of the first episode, with no memory of their previous deaths. Is it a time loop? Are they in hell? Trapped in a computer simulation? You'll have to watch to find out, and it's a mystery worth unraveling. But when you do so, don't invite your more sensitive loved ones, as this show has some truly disturbing moments — as in, ten-year-olds cutting their own throats with knives disturbing.

Queen's Blade

Depending on where you draw the line between anime and pornography, these might not be the only series you'd be hesitant to watch around your family, or even the worst of it. Then again, figuring out exactly where to draw that line can be more difficult than you might think. Wherever the line is, perfectly straddling it with pride is Queen's Blade, a cartoon which asks just how close to being porn you can get while still, at times, attempting to maintain a shred of mainstream respectability.

We could tell you what Queen's Blade claims to be about. In a fantasy setting simply known as the Continent, it tells the story of an all-women fighting tournament that is held once every four years to determine who will be the new queen. But let's be real, this plot is merely the flimsiest excuse for an eclectic roster of hot ladies to fight each other and, along the way, "accidentally" tear up each others' clothing every single time.

Folks, if you're watching Queen's Blade, you don't care about the plot. You know what you've come here for. That's totally fine if that's your thing, but please, watch it in your room with the door closed and leave your family out of it.