Nearly every culture in the history of mankind has some form or variation of demons in their mythology. The origin of the belief in demons is a mystery, with uncertainty as to when and where the concept started. Nowadays, we often associate demons with horns, wings, and pitchforks; but long ago, many ancient cultures believed that demons have the capacity for evil and good. Specifically, as we view in Japanese culture today, the oni has lost some of its traditional evil value, and instead, it is signified in some parts as a protective figure to ward off bad vibes. With that being said, we give you our best recommendations for the top 10 demon anime movies. The devil is in the details with these picks!
10. Makai Toshi Shinjuku (Demon City Shinjuku)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: October 25, 1988
Levih Rah, a demon lord who plots to rule the world, signs a powerful contract where the terms have allowed a portal to hell to open in the middle of Shinjuku. A terrible and tremendous force, as these demons emerge, Genichirou Izayoi and now his son, Kyoya, have made it their mission to rid the city of evil, restoring Shinjuku to what it once was. As Kyoya’s father is viciously slain in this task, Kyoya grows furious, vowing revenge on every demon appearing out of the gates of hell. On top of all of this, he must protect the lovely Sayaka Rama, daughter of the World President. Demon City Shinjuku is a classic demon film that everyone must watch.
Levih Rah and his swarm of demons demonstrate how scary and powerful evil can be if you let it. As Genichirou faces his foe with only a bokken, he shows and fills the cliché of how “good always prevails over evil.” As the city crumbles and splits apart with the invasion of demons, Demon City Shinjuku takes on the quintessential role of a how a hero is able to rescue the world from damnation and still has time to snag the beautiful girl. Seems easy enough, lol!
9. Oni (The Demon)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: 1972
Oni, a short film, tells the story of two brothers and their mother. This day, like any other, shows the brothers out on a hunt. As the two quietly move through the forest, they hear and see strange things, but think nothing of it. Moving along, the younger brother suddenly gets attacked, grabbed by something or someone from a tree. Instinctively, the older brother draws his bow and tries to strike at whoever it is. Successfully, the older brother takes out its arm, but eerily, there’s something familiar about it. Running back to their home, the brothers find a horrific display.
Oni is the oldest and shortest film on this list, yet it still holds up against the more modern choices. Differing in art medium and musical accompaniment, Oni truly captures the essence of Japanese culture and folklore. In less than 8 minutes, Oni frightfully shows how the presence of a demon can disrupt the daily life of a family of three. Even scarier is how this evil turned a mother against her sons. Terrifying!
8. Youjuu Toshi (Wicked City)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: April 25, 1987
In the anime film Wicked City, two universes coexist with one another, although very few know about it. One dimension is Earth and the other is called the Black World, where the supernatural reside. For many centuries, Earth and the Black World have been able to maintain peace and harmony with a special treaty. However, as a significant amount of time has passed since these terms were negotiated, opponents from the Black World have made it a mission to do what they can to prevent this peace. To put an end to this conflict, the moderators and defenders of both worlds, the Black Guards, are tasked with making sure this treaty is instituted again.
Wicked City takes a traditional approach to the ever-popular theme of “bad versus good”, and mixes it well with other various genres. With Makie being one of the main characters, she shows that not all evil falls under the same stereotype, as she is a demon who works at a detective agency posing undercover as a supermodel. In addition to this, Wicked City blends eroticism with action, violence, and the supernatural. So please be forewarned that some scenes are explicit.
7. Onigamiden (Legend of the Millennium Dragon)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: April 29, 2011
Legend of the Millennium Dragon is a historical, fantasy, anime that encompasses all the essentials: time travel, culture, and conflict between humans and oni. The story starts with 15-year-old Jun Tendou, going about his day at school until he is suddenly pulled back in time—over 1,200 years ago to the Heian period. Diving into this film, we discover that Jun is destined to protect the people of Kyoto, but alas, struggles to find which side he wants to support. As the clanspeople don masks that make them appear like demons, they claim that they are protectors of the forest, while the nobles state that the clan is outright up to no good. So what’ll it be: the nobles or the clan?
Legend of the Millennium Dragon bares some resemblance to another film on this list, but it also exhibits its own distinctive, eye-catching traits. As this film features various components of traditional Japanese mythology, Legend of the Millennium Dragon is also infused with a modernized soundtrack. Young Jun’s life kickstarts at a turbulent pace and slowly, we see how he tackles a task of this magnitude with openmindedness and enthusiasm. With the power to sway the principles of morality, Jun is able to distinguish who the true demons are.
6. Bayonetta: Bloody Fate
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: November 23, 2013
Bayonetta: Bloody Fate follows the story of a witch who wakes up after 20 years with no recollection of her past. Bayonetta, desperate for clues, hunts down forces of angels and demons in order to recover her memories. Alongside Bayonetta on her journey, are a mysterious man named Rodin; Luka Redgrave, who is a journalist with a grudge; a young girl named Cereza, and a rival witch named Jeanne. Here in this movie, we see how these individuals help reveal the riddles behind Bayonetta’s history.
Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is based off of the video game under the same name. Following the same premise, the two organizations we observe, the sages and the witches, falter in their roles to keep the balance of peace on the planet. Just like stages we must beat in order to advance to the next level in gaming, Bayonetta is left with tiny clues that unveil her past. Continually keeping the audience on our toes, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is visually and musically stimulating, with each battle sequence between light and dark more impressive than the next.
5. InuYasha: Toki wo Koeru Omoi (InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: December 22, 2001
InuYasha The Movie: Affections Touching Across Time is the first film of three that highlights the series in a way for first-time viewers to get a grasp of the story in one fell swoop. The Tree of Ages is one of the main focal points, as well as InuYasha mastering the Tessaiga and the quest for the jewel shards. With the help of his companions, Kagome, Shippo, Sango, and Miroku, they encounter on their journey a demon named Menoumaru, who drains energy from the Tree of Ages in order to gain power. In this film, we watch InuYasha and his friends destroy Menoumaru, saving souls that would have been consumed by evil.
InuYasha is one of anime’s most recognized demons. Even though he is a half-demon, InuYasha feels he must try harder than most full demons to prove his worth, although he already has amazing abilities and the chance to become human for one night. He is feisty and brash, but with his current companions, they help him see logic and reason. InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time is an amazing fantasy adventure that is cheerful and invigorating from start to finish.
4. Ao no Exorcist Movie
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: December 28, 2012
Ao no Exorcist Movie is a story about Rin Okumura, a 15-year-old boy who is the son of Satan and has inherited his power. Rin and Yukio are given the task of exercising demons on the Phantom Train. Used as a device to lure souls on, the Phantom Train is a force that poses a great challenge for the two. As the two perform one of many exorcisms, the event causes an accident, resulting in a lot of damage and destruction. In this circumstance, Rin is given the responsibility of watching over a demon named Usamaro whose appearance resembles a young boy. Essentially, we watch how these characters get on, as well as obstacles they must face.
As if the son of Satan wasn’t a good enough reason to have the Ao no Exorcist Movie on this list, the plot of this film deals with a lot of demons, either exorcising them, babysitting, or a band of them getting into a lot of mischief. Even though the characters and theme of the film sound like it would be something ominous, the Ao no Exorcist Movie is quite lighthearted and entertaining, filled with interesting and charismatic characters.
3. Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen I – Haou no Tamago (Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: February 4, 2012
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King is a summation of the anime series about a mercenary named Guts in the Kingdom of Midland. Although Guts has seen a lot of fighting during his time, he prefers life with action, always racing towards battle and is unsettled with the idea of living in peace. Wielding a sword that is larger than life, he is a force to be reckoned with. On one occasion, Griffith, the leader of the Band of the Hawk, notices Guts’ skills and invites him to join his gang. After Guts declines, Griffith challenges him, defeating Guts, thus gaining a new gang member. Fighting together, they must defeat the Empire of Chuder, but Guts speculates that Griffith has more on his mind than bringing peace to Midland.
Facing a terrible beast who is also an immortal legendary swordsman named Zodd Nosferatu, Guts and the Band of the Hawk in this film only provide a tiny sampling of the demonic forces to come. Based off the manga, this action-packed and thrilling medieval movie is well developed with a deep and intense storyline. Living up to the definition of gruesome, Berserk: The Egg of the King is not short on gore whatsoever. Taking on the enemy with brute strength and swordsmanship, we watch our men and Casca restore the kingdom to what it once was.
2. Kuroshitsuji Movie: Book of the Atlantic (Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: January 21, 2017
In the film Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic, we follow Earl Ciel Phantomhive, alongside his servants Sebastian Michaelis and Snake, as they board the luxury liner, Campania. In partnership with the Midford family, they board this passenger ship incognito to investigate rumors of inhumane experiments. The Aurora Society exists to create mankind’s perfect salvation through medicine, so they say. Through experimentation funded by nobility, lost loved ones can be brought back to life, but are they really the same?
We’ve heard of demons as monsters without a soul and a tormented spirit, but we can’t say that about Sebastian Michaelis. Once again, Ciel and his trusty butler are on another exciting adventure. As “one hell of a butler” we had to recommend Sebastian and the latest film from the series on this list.
1. Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: July 12, 1997
Princess Mononoke is an amazing film about a young prince named Ashitaka who defends his people after his village is attacked by a ferocious demon boar. With his last breath, the demon boar curses Ashitaka’s arm, casting demonic powers that will slowly kill him. The village elders then decide that Ashitaka should leave to seek help. After arriving at Iron Town, he finds a bold and proud woman, Lady Eboshi, industrializing the area. With the sacred spirits of the forest and Princess San opposing this change, Ashitaka serves as a mediator. Alongside battling his own demon, Ashitaka must aid the opponents to a proper solution, balancing and distributing power where it rightfully stands.
Princess Mononoke brings to the foreground the impacting issue of a changing world and how humanity has influenced its evolution. Hayao Miyazaki utilizes demons both figuratively and literally in this film as a spotlight on mankind’s tumultuous relationship with nature. Miyazaki displays how people have forgotten the need to worship and care for the land. As there is much to be weighed between preservation and modernization, demons represent the abominable force that is sweeping us from our past to our future. Furthermore, he emphasizes how we can never be free of these demons, but resolves how to control it. We are so shaken with this film that we rated it number one on our list!
Ranked by popularity, we hope you enjoyed our choices of top 10 demon anime movies! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out all of these great titles! As the legends surrounding demons and the supernatural isn’t likely to die out anytime soon, we anticipate more frightfully exciting demon anime movies in the future! As such, let us know if we’ve missed any other great demon movies! Comment below! See ya!