Manga / Asura
Eight years old axe-wielding kid

"There are still occasionally throwbacks like "Asura", though, where animation doesn't just allow it to be amazing to look at, but means you don't have to put a child actor in the title role. Because, man, who would want to subject a kid to being a part of this?"
Jay Seaver of eFilmCritic

1460. Japan. The Kanshō famine and drought have turned the place into a wasteland, and with it, its people into animals. During this period, a infant was born to a hungry woman. Hunger and desperation have turned the woman to cannibalism. Initially, she nurtured the little boy under harsh conditions. But finally, hunger won out and she decides to eat the infant, barbecued. Through a miracle, the boy survived with the image of his mother trying to eat him.

Fast forward to eight years later. The little boy is now an axe-wielding cannibalistic animal, preying on weak children. One day, rain comes a small village for the first time ever as the little boy spots a Buddhist monk crossing a bridge. The boy attacks the monk, but the monk evades the attacks while praying. The boy fainted, so the monk decided to take him in, to "teach him the ways of humans". The monk also gave the boy a name: Asura, due to the beast that resides in his heart.

Created by the (in)famous George Akiyama in 1970, it is first of his highly controversial works in Japan due to its feature of cannibalism.

Adapted into an animated movie by Toei Animation in 2012, directed by the director of Karas and Tiger & Bunny, Keiichi Sato. Showings are limited to adults for obvious reasons.

Compare Berserk for a similar exploration of human nature.

Not to be confused with a similar named game, or a different anime, or, god forbid, a classy shoujo love manga.

Tropes include:

  • Ax-Crazy: Asura. Bonus point for wielding an ax too.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Wakasa died of hunger after refusing to eat the horse meat brought by Asura in the movie
    • Asura becomes a monk after the famine.
  • Conspicuous CGI: All characters and objects are CGI in the movie. Not really conspicuous for most part.
  • Humans Are Morons: Asura uses this to justify his cannibalism. It is basically the main theme of this work.
    • When the monk encountered Asura again, Asura was shouting this. The monk respond by cutting off his left arm and daring Asura to eat it, if he really thought that.
    • Asura later tried to use this argument to convince Wakasa to eat his stolen horse meat, while she is convinced it is of human origin. Wakasa's father quickly accepted the argument and gobbled up the meat.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Asura did not stop cannibalism even after the famine ended.
  • Jerkass Victim: The landowner's son was eaten by Asura after taunting the serfs in the field.
    • The landowner later get this treatment when he hunts for Asura.
  • Meaningful Name: Asura, a race of demigods in Hindu/Buddhism myths, represents violence and force.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The Kanshou Famine brought out the worst in the population, up to and including a mother trying to eat her own infant son out of desperate hunger.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Wakasa, the only named natural (as in, not getting killed by another human) death. note 
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The first scene of the 3 minutes trailer is monk!Asura carving a Buddha statue. Next scene is Wakasa's dead body on a cart. Those are the last ten minutes of the film. Thanks, Toei!
  • A World Half Full: On one hand, we have the famine; on the other hand, we have human emotions.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The landowner chased Asura around on a horse with the intention to kill him. Justified, as the child in question has razor-sharp teeth and killed the landowner's son.