The demon genre in anime is quite a catch. In anime, demons are generally portrayed as beings devoid of a moral compass and intrinsically dark in nature. The demon genre draws its inspiration from the rich Japanese folklore on onis (ogre-like creatures), Akuma (the devil) and yokais (monster spirits). These folklores act as nectar to the busy bees of the anime industry.
However, the genre is infallible in steering clear of monotony. This is because of the creative ways in which anime introduces us to demons – a different setting, plot, origins, composition, history, and tonal context. Here we recommend some of the most interesting demon anime to have come out – for an optimum experience.
10 Blood Lad
Staz Charlie Blood rules the Eastern District of the Demon World. Viewed as a powerful and merciless vampire, the reality of Staz is far from this facade. Staz is an otaku who is enamoured by Japanese culture and usually spends his time indulging in anime, manga and games while his subordinates run the district. His life takes an interesting course when a human girl, Fuyumi Yanagi, accidentally stumbles into the Demon World through a portal. With an even crazier turn, Yanagi dies soon after and turns into a ghost. A crestfallen Staz vows to resurrect her which brings them to the human world.
The series manages to rope in humorous elements into a supernatural tale – making it a lighthearted watch. The anime harbours some insanely strange twists not rooted in realism but the atmosphere of this supernatural comedy is hardly grounded. It makes for some good laughs and a dive into a supernatural world of werewolves, vampires, humans and sorcerers.
9 Blue Exorcist
When delinquent teenager Rin Okumura’s ordinary life is halted because of an ambush by demons – he is appalled. To add a cherry on top, he discovers that he’s the son of Satan who wishes to conquer Assiah, the human realm with him. He refuses to join his demon father, King of Gehenna – the demon realm.
Instead, he opts to train as an exorcist along with his brother Yukio to defend Assiah. The anime adapts a typical shounen vibe and bases its strengths on its action and simplistic storyline. The anime oscillates between action and comedy-based episodes for entertainment. The anime is a recommendation for those who love to watch a shounen series on demons and savour the familiarity, action-packed scenes and likeable characters.
8 High School DxD
Issei Hyodo is a high school student who dreams of experiencing his own harem – did I mention we have a pervert for a protagonist? But unfortunately, his luck clocks out at a constant rate. One day, a beautiful girl asks him out on a date but given his luck, she turns out to be a fallen angel who kills him brutally. He is given a second chance at life as a servant of Rias Gremory, who revives him. Soon, he trains to survive and adjust to the violent world of angels and demons. Issei experiences new and dangerous adventures all the while maintaining the secret of his lifestyle from his family and friends.
High School DxD is indisputably an ecchi and harem anime. It may not stand out as much but this one makes most of any benefit of the doubt you’d give it. High School DxD builds quite a decent storyline that gradually moves toward an emotional setting and makes the journey quite worthwhile. In terms of character development and an interesting story, the anime checks out.
Inuyasha is a demon-related anime paving way to the Classics arena. The life of Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen-year-old high school student, flips on its own axis when she’s dragged into the old well near her family’s shrine by a demon. To her surprise, instead of the bottom, she finds herself transported 500 years into the past during Japan’s violent Sengoku era. The Sengoku period is sprawled with demons looking for the Shikon no Tama (Jewel of the Four Souls). Unknown to Kagome, the jewel thought to be missing for decades was reborn inside her. At the hands of Kagome, the jewel shatters into millions of pieces across the country. Along with the half yokai she encounters, Inuyasha, Kagome sets on an adventure oblivious to the role she plays in the grand scheme of the Sengoku era.
Inuyasha is a thoroughly enjoyable anime that beautifully reflects the Japanese culture – and giving us a taste of what happens when modern meets tradition. It balances itself on comedy, action with an ominous undertone. The demons are quite menacing in the story and the characters are quite impeccably written. These elements blend into an overarching plot that compels you into this fantasy world.
In Yggdrasil, an online multiplayer RPG, Momonga is a powerful wizard able to cast powerful spells and command non-player characters. The popular MMO decide to close its servers bringing his reign in the game to an end. In the final moments of the game, Momonga remains online instead of logging out. At the end of which, he is transported into an unknown world retaining his undead Avatar. To his astonishment, the non-player characters (NPC) are now sentient. Momonga soon begins to scour the mysterious world with NPCs to find signs of other people stuck in the world like him. Overlord weaves quite an innovative and refreshing perspective on demons, although you may have reservations about the anime due to its familiarity with Sword Art Online.
Overlord is an excellent watch that gives you the experience of something sinister brewing – what will the world become at the hands of Momonga. Our characters are demons, through and through, with their malicious intent to conquer the world – what is redeemable about them is their vibrant personality. The anime is worth a try for its morally doinked orientation, the characters and their relationships, and the creative play on its content.
5 Devilman Crybaby
Fudou Akira and Asuka Ryou are childhood friends who are complete opposites of each other. While Akira’s compassion makes him cry for everyone’s sorrow and pain, Ryou is a calculating and stone-hearted man who does not bat an eye at the concept of killing. 10 years later, Ryou seeks Akira’s help in uncovering the truth about demons who live amongst humans. For this, they enter the Sabbath, an underground party rampant with debauchery and sacrifices where demons amass. Amidst the chaos, Akira is possessed by a demon and becomes the Devilman – a man with the body of a devil and heart of a human.
The anime does not shy away from portraying the traditional image of a demon – one that evokes fear and disconcertment – and it also has some Christian symbolism. The anime boldly aims to convey what actually constitutes a “demon” and a “human”, it displays the bleak and negative aspects of humanity while questioning the existence of humanity itself. The show is cleverly written in a cyclical narrative which provides perfect clarity with its blazing climax. At the heart of the story, it is about two friends and what their relationship symbolises.
4 Rising of the Shield Hero
Naofumi Iwatani is transported into another world through a book along with three other men. They are summoned to be the Four Cardinal Heroes to fight against the interdimensional monsters known as Waves who have ravaged the land of Melromarc. Each hero is provided equipment according to the legend. Naofumi is given the legendary Shield, the only defensive equipment amongst the four. While the other heroes gain the respect of the kingdom, Naofumi’s luck sours as his single companion falsely accuses him of taking advantage of her. This brings his name to the ground and a dejected Naofumi trains to become a hero alone. Soon, Naofumi buys a young demi-human Tanuki girl called Raphtalia off of a slave trader and also an egg that hatches into a bird-like creature called Nilo – through which he gains company.
Together, they tackle their missions while unravelling the mystery of the Waves and the looming darkness within Naofumi. The Rising of the Shield Hero has a decent narrative with authentic characters set in a fantastical context. The anime provides quite an entertainment and has the heart. It may not be the most extraordinary of anime yet its charm is irrefutable.
Dororo is a modern iteration of the 1969 anime of the same title. The setting of the anime is the feudal period with samurais and mystical demons present. Lord Daigo Kagemitsu is desperate to make his land flourish to an extent that he renounces Buddha and prays to 12 demons for the growth of his land. The 12 demons grant his wish but at a price – Kagemitsu’s firstborn son is born without limbs, nose, eyes, ears and even skin. Despite the adversity, the boy lives. Kagemitsu orders the child to be disposed of in the river.
The story focuses on this child who is rescued and rehabilitated with prosthetic limbs and basic amenities. Unable to see, hear or feel anything, the boy journeys to kill demons and regain his whole self. Soon, the boy encounters an orphan, Dororo, and befriends him. The anime narrates the strenuous journey of these two castaways and accentuates their bond which helps them retain their humanity through trying times.
2 Seven Deady Sins
The backdrop for the story begins with the banishment of the “Seven Deadly Sins” from the Holy Knights – rumours persisted of their treachery towards the Kingdom of Liones. Years after their exile, the Holy Knights stage a coup d’état and take control of the Kingdom. The Seven Deadly Sins follows Princess Elizabeth’s raison d’etre which is to find the Seven Deadly Sins and restore the Kingdom to order. The Seven Deadly Sins constructs a superficial image – a victim to cliches. Yet these cliches, namely, its overpowered action sequences are actually utilized in a way that it remains the prime entertainment of the show.
Contrary to belief, the Seven Deadly Sins builds an amazing fantasy world of Goddess, Demon, Giant, Fairy clans and more. It ties the significant events that took place 3000 years ago to corroborate the current events. Just like its protagonist, Meliodas, the anime might seem shallow yet through its course, one understands the dense and intricate storyline and characters they’ve built (best example is Meliodas).
1 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Kimetsu no Yaiba is an emotionally driven and action-packed anime set in the Taisho Period. The Taisho Period is infested with demons and up until one day, Tanjiro Kamado paid no heed. One day, as Tanjiro Kamado returns home after selling coal, he discovers his family savagely murdered. Adding to his despair, he finds his youngest sister Nezuko alive – but transformed into a demon. In retrospect, Tanjiro vows to protect his sister and cure her. In order to achieve this, Tanjiro must train and join the Demon Slayer Corps to dabble in the world of demons.
What gives this anime the zest that makes it stand out from other shounen action adventures is the layered storyline, the impressive direction, the humanistic undertones and the string of love and family that ties Tanjiro and Nezuko together creating a cherishable bond. The anime entertains dark and comedic tones along with themes of humanity, love, family to provide a highly engaging, emotionally provoking, feel-good experience.
We also have some honorary mentions that did not make the list as circumstances are so –
Berserk (otherwise a gritty and gruesome and a highly recommended section from the demon genre, it ranks low as the anime does not do justice to the brilliance that is its manga), Maoyuu: Archenemy & Hero, As Miss Beelzebub Likes, Endro, Yu Yu Hakusho and How to not summon a Demon Lord. Give these a try if you have exhausted the list!