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  • Aggressive Retsuko is done in Sanrio's usual cutesy chibi style, but doesn't shy away from how stressful Retsuko's life is and how much working under Director Ton sucks.
  • In Berserk, an already dark and depressing series, we meet Rosine, a Dark Magical Girl who transformed a crater's valley in a realm for elves filled with birds, butterflies, flowers and evergreen meadows. But, for being young and apparently harmless, Rosine is an Apostle. And before long, we see that her elves' favorite hobbies includes playing war. And not only do they happily slaughter one another, they also like to use their insect-like appendages to skewer one another in the ass. And that's not even mentioning how they're created from human children she kidnaps, or the way said elves are created.
  • Cells at Work! portrays the cells of the human body as cute anime characters who do their best to keep everything running smoothly, but under the surface of the art style lies a harsh and unforgiving world. The only saving grace is that in Real Life, individual cells aren't actually sentient enough to experience suffering.
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    • Cells are born with one predefined job that they must perform their whole life whether they like it or not. Brave New World, anyone?
    • Killer-T Cells that underperform are executed on the spot (albeit via Trap Door to make it not as gruesome). Only 2-3% of thymocytes survive the selection process.
    • Every viral infection is basically a Zombie Apocalypse where the only option is to have Killer-T Cells inflict a Mercy Kill on every victim before they can infect more cells. These "zombies" can be the Killer-T Cells' previous friends and neighbors, so they have to be very detached and emotionless in order to be able to fulfill their job.
    • Cancer cells are hunted down and killed simply for being made wrong, which is of no fault of their own. Not even looking like kids dissuades their killers from trying to take them out before they can multiply, because the consequences of not doing so would be disastrous.
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    • Even the tiniest of scratches or cuts will result in the death of thousands of blood cells who are sucked out through the wound.
  • Dai Mahou Touge opens with a Tastes Like Diabetes Sugar Bowl for the Magical Land Punie comes from. It's later revealed to be a brutal despotism run by an Evil Overlord who rose to power through a smear campaign against the old monarchy and is more than willing to commit mass slaughter to keep the people in line. By comparison, Earth itself is a more traditional Crapsack World.
  • In the first chapter of Daily Life with Monster Girl, a news reporter claims that the Exchange program was a huge success and that the world hasn't changed much from the integration of monsters into society. It's interesting that all of the girls shown are barely monstrous. The world's view of our protagonists is much, much harsher.
    • It's a good thing that the manga's tone is generally light-hearted and comical, and all problems are caused by misunderstandings that get resolved in the space of a chapter, because the setting is not so bright and cheery as it initially appears. There's Fantastic Racism, pollution, extraspecies terrorist groups, con men that indulge in Superhuman Trafficking, an underwater kingdom led by a crazy queen, the undead (shown to be proficient at using weapons)... also, all the girls are way stronger than humans, and while the MC is pretty much Made of Iron, other people in the Exchange program may have found themselves in serious trouble.
  • Dragon Ball
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    • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Frieza's Ironic Hell is depicted as being a colorful landscape filled with fairies and angels frolicking and playing for all eternity while the fallen space emperor is forced to watch from a cocoon hanging from a tree.
    • The Dragon World may seem colorful and friendly, but the peaceful atmosphere of the series is mostly limited to the Earth. The universe is filled with gods and godlike beings who can destroy planets just by sneezing too hard. There is even an official God of Destruction whose job it is to destroy planets, populated or not, so new ones can be created by the Kais. That god also happens to be a Psychopathic Manchild who will destroy planets because he didn't like or was denied food. You also had an organization that went around wiping entire population of planets so they could sell them to the highest bidder. Even worse, this empire was the closest thing to a central government in the universe since Frieza and his family were practically gods among mortals, and the galactic police were helpless against their power and the Supreme Kais, who are the good gods that balance the Gods of Destruction, could do nothing to stop them since they're not allowed to interfere with the affairs of mortals. Even with the galactic patrol, they have a weapon known as an Extinction Bomb that releases a virus that can kill off an entire species on a planet, usually used as a Mercy Kill. Jaco accidentally used an Extinction Bomb which wiped out a planet and only got scolded for it. If that isn't bad enough, you have Gods of Destruction from other universes, who are all notoriously violent, that can come and blow up your planet without warning because they're looking for something, or you may have the bad luck of running into a rogue Supreme Kai who've decided that all mortals should die for the good of universe and slowly wipe out your population. On top of all that, you have Zen'o, who is the supreme ruler of the multiverse, who can wipe out the entire universe on a whim and has done so in the past. The Earth is only peaceful because almost all of the strongest warriors in the universe happens to live there, they have a Reset Button in the Dragon Balls, and they have gained favor with the gods thank to Goku making friends with King Kai, the Supreme Kais, Beerus, and even Zen'o, along with having great food. Even then, humanity was terrorized by Cell, all but wiped out by Majin Buu, and was conquered by King Piccolo decades earlier. Frieza also successfully blows up the planet and it's only revived because Whis rewind time. Future Trunks' timeline shows exactly what will happen to the Earth if it lost its fighters, especially Goku, and the Dragon Balls.
      • In addition, a line of dialogue reveals that in the entirety of Universe 7 (the universe inhabited by the main cast), there are only 28 planets that harbour life. When you take into account the numerous entities that are stated to have destroyed multiple planets - namely Freeza, the Saiyans, Majin Buu, Moro, and even Beerus, it's a wonder there are even that many remaining.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 lampshades this early on, after the Time Skip. The world now run by the Earth Federation seems to be better off than in Season 1, and it is commented on multiple times that lots of people genuinely believe this. However, Celestial Being, Katharon, and anybody else capable looking beyond the surface know the truth: The world looks that way because the obscenely brutal State Sec are doing their best to make sure that's what the majority of the public believes, partially to squelch any potential insurrection as a reaction against Celestial Being in Season 1.
    Sergei Smirnov: Information control... This is all fake.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry is a Double Subversion. Hinamizawa seems to be a Town with a Dark Secret, Watanagashi is presented as a Fête Worse than Death, Oyashiro-sama a Religious Horror, and the girls a Themed Harem of yandere and Cute and Psycho. Sure, the series is a Psychological Horror and every arc starts with happiness and fun and ends with horrors. However, the answer arcs (which are still creepy; Meakashi-hen, Shion's arc, may possibly be the most disturbing fragment of the series) show that the people of Hinamizawa really are all good at heart (yes, even the Yakuza family we're initially led to suspect is behind everything, they have nothing to do with the recent deaths and disappearances), Watanagashi's sordid roots have been seized upon to hide the opportunist Big Bad's conspiracy, Oyashiro-sama is an adorable moeblob who suffered more than anyone else in the series (although Takano is a big contender), and the Hate Plague isn't limited to the girls nor are they in themselves crazy. The last few arcs, where the Games Club forges a stronger bond and resists the insanity, have them resort to nonlethal and sometimes even nonviolent tactics to protect the village and their friends. Oh, yeah, and there's a happy ending, and not only is the Big Bad allowed to live in the end, she is even pardoned, as she has been manipulated, and it's strongly hinted that she has been functionally insane for some time.
  • Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit takes place is a time where Japan has extremely low crime rates and high prosperity and wealth. This is because of a system where students entering the first grade receive a vaccination. One in every one thousand of these contains a nano-capsule that will kill the recipient sometime between their 18th and 24th birthday, regardless of how they've lived their life up until now, in order to teach the people the value of life. And if anyone speaks out against it, they are deemed 'social miscreants' and get injected with the nano-capsule. Yeah.
  • Karneval definitely has shades of this, along with a good deal of Art-Style Dissonance. Those colorful, happy, whimsical circus shows that get put on from town to town? Those are apologies to the people from the government for disrupting town life by pursuing dangerous criminals in the area. The performers are essentially super soldiers and assassins whose job is to locate and destroy a race of Humanoid Abominations, the result of one crime organization's ongoing foray into immoral genetic experimentation.
  • The Tokyo of The Roaring '20s is described as such in Kasei Yakyoku. From a fansub group:
    "At this moment in time, the city is a mixture of extremes: past and present, rich and poor, good and bad. This is a city where we see both horsecarts and motorcars, swords and pistols, lords and businessmen..."
  • More or less every town, city and other form of population concentration points in the world of Kino's Journey feature this trope. For example, the nation Kino visits in episode 12 boasts about its peaceful nature, having abandoned the war machines it used in past wars with its neighbor and its citizens living happily and in harmony. However, how the two nations reached this lasting peace becomes known later on, as Kino witnesses small but well armed forces from both nations slaughter unarmed civilians that belong to neither. These civilians are castaways, no one cares about them, so the wars of the past were replaced with a competition where both nations kill these outcasts as much as they can in a set time limit. At the end the bodies are piled up on a weight meter and the side that killed more "wins the war", after which both return to live in peace.
  • The Ryugu Shelter in 7 Seeds is a gorgeous, beautiful underground amusement park that includes comfortable bedrooms, all sorts of entertainment ranging from sports to music to arts and crafts, and you even have some celebrities and entertainers to enjoy! It's also a shelter for the people to live in when a meteorite brings about The End of the World as We Know It. And then things got worse.
  • Naruto has an idealistic setting with the bad guys falling before The Power of Friendship or inspiring speeches, but the world it takes place in is pretty dark. Trained assassins are raised from childhood in villages run by other trained assassins and are hired out to anyone with enough money. The good guys are apathetic at best, the bad guys are all incredibly powerful, not only capable of but more than willing to kill anyone who looks at them funny for no reason other than because they can. The governments and agencies that are supposed to deal with this sort of thing are largely self-absorbed and not likely to put any real effort into pursuing anyone who tries to defect from their village (which seems to happen quite a lot), which is just as well because no one whose job it is to get rid of rogue ninjas is capable of defeating 14-year-olds, much less city destroying badasses. Finally, before the start of the series, said ninja villages were constantly embroiled in various wars against each other (and themselves), with several major world wars and they always picked unaffiliated countries to stage their wars in, meaning lots of innocent people are caught in the crossfire. After the series starts, you've got villains who instigate a war because they were passed over for leadership of their home village, villains who are willing to destroy cities just to prove a point, villains who subjugate the souls of the dead and force them to fight against their loved ones, and the Big Bad willing to plunge the entire world in Lotus-Eater Machine because the girl he was in love with died and he willed to create a world in which this did not happen with while the The Man Behind the Man just wants people to treat him like the god which he considers himself. Most importantly, there is Fantastic Racism against the people who house the 9 most powerful beings in the world, who are "demonic" in the first place because of people treating them as nothing more than sources of power and as destruction-seeking monsters. The titular character lives his early life with this.
  • One Piece
    • Skypiea and Dressrosa. Gorgeous cities, lush landscapes, people seemingly happy with their lives, loved/respected monarchs. But under the vernish you find slave labor, and if you ever displease the authority your very existence will be erased. Skypiea improved a lot after Luffy beat Eneru, to be fair.
    • One Piece in general. From the beginning it is never portrayed as an especially safe world (being that it is a story about pirates and, bar the protagonists and some others, they are NOT The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything). But at the same time this status quo is portrayed as idealistic and romantic in its own way: it's a world of adventure where men and women can take to their ideals and live free on the sea, and there are lots of wondrous, fantastical things to see in the world. It gets less sunny when we witness the upper echelons of the World Government, how they condone slavery on a massive scale, Fantastic Racism against non-human species, and have committed genocide in order to preserve some dark secret. Per-arc the illusion is shattered as well (as mentioned with Dressrosa and Skypiea), where a magical island will have dark histories of racism, war, or infiltration by government agents.
    • No matter how idealistic or romantic a world may be at first, once the corruption of the World Government became prominent in the storyline, One Piece struggled really hard to not cross the Crapsack World line. First came Smoker's unearned promotion to cover up the fact that a rogue privateer of theirs was defeated by pirates, something that really pissed Smoker off because of its Medal of Dishonor nature. Then came Robin's backstory, wherein she gained a huge bounty at the age of eight for no other reason than that she could read the Poneglyphs, effectively ruining any chance of her living a normal life and forcing her on the run for twenty years. Though those can be (weakly) justified and one could accuse the World Government at the very least being mildly corrupt (or at least, no more corrupt than Real Life governments today). Then came Sabaody, which introduced the Celestial Dragons, the descendants of those who created the World Government, and the "rulers" of the world. Once they came into the picture, one can honestly say the World Government is evil. They blatantly disregard the law, shooting people who even slightly irritate them, parading their slaves around without batting an eyelash, when slavery was supposedly abolished two hundred years ago, and giving no other excuse for their actions than simply having the blood of the "creators" of the world, which supposedly makes them divine by nature. The sad part is that they are completely outside the law, meaning their actions cannot be punished, and worse yet, attacking them is considered to be a crime of the worst sort — enough that if they so desire, they can send an admiral after you.
    • And then there's Totto Land, ruled by pirate empress Big Mom. It appears at first to be a Sugar Bowl, with each island being made of a different kind of sweet, cheerful singing trees and flowers, and seems untouched by the racism that's widespread in other places- all races live in harmony here (with the exception of giants). But it becomes very clear that all authorities are ruthless pirates from Big Mom's crew, the people have to pay a tax of a piece of their own souls to remain (which cuts their lifespan down), and Big Mom's supposed cosmopolitan spirit is more like a misguided, childlike fascination with exotic pets (upon discovering the totally-unique Brook, she keeps him on a keychain).
  • With two exceptions any Pretty Cure movie will have the heroines visiting some far off fantastical land that's incredibly sweet and innocent-looking... until something causes them to look a little bit deeper and find the movie's Big Bad ready to show up and give the girls hell.
  • Sekirei takes place in one of these. The capital city of Teito is a prospering metropolis 20 Minutes into the Future, benefiting greatly from the heavy investments of MBI and generally a fantastic place to live. Some lucky residents even get to meet one of the 108 Magical Girlfriends just waiting to form an everlasting bond with them. Expect tons of Fanservice and harem comedy. The downside is that There Can Be Only One and participation is not optional, with anyone that attempts to escape being hunted down by the Discipline Squad. Over time, the private military owned by MBI takes over the capital and enforces increasing levels of martial law to force the Sekirei to kill one another. Oh, and that amazing Magical Girlfriend? She's a Red Shirt and you're Blessed with Suck. Minato, the hero of the series, is determined to Screw Destiny because the idea that only one person gets a happy ending is unacceptable to him.
  • Shitsurakuen becomes this for girls when you realise that only the guys have it easy in Utopia Gakuen, girls are nothing more than commodities to be traded and fought for and as we later find out, some of the boys themselves HATED the rules yet they could do little to change them.
  • Sound of the Sky takes place for the most part, in a lush, incredibly beautiful mountain village where people live fairly happy lives. As the series goes on however this is revealed to be one of the few places still like this, with most of the world being rendered uninhabitable due to a past war that was so devastating that it apparently killed off all life in the oceans and humanity technologically regressed to early twentieth century. To make things worse, the handful of major nations left are fighting for what remains and that shrinks every year as the remaining habitable land is undergoing irreversible desertification. Nobody seems shocked at all to have teenage girls enlisting in the army.
  • Hong Kong as depicted in Haou Airen. A bright, shining city full of prosperity and fun things to do... while gangsters train children like the Bastard Boyfriend male lead as assassins in a shadow war filled with rape, murder, and suicide.
  • Lady Jagara's city in Wolf's Rain is implausibly neat, clean and sterile, and all of the inhabitants seem to be walking around in a trance, pretending that everything's hunky dory and will be forever (it won't). However, it does have an undercity which more accurately reflects the crappy state of the world outside.
  • Zalem turns out to be this in Gunnm. You can ask for assisted suicide (the grisly "End Joy," which turns out to be full of blood) and all inhabitants HAVE A FREAKIN' CHIP FOR BRAINS. Also, if you learn about the previous spoiler, a "special team" is going to take care of you immediately. Everybody who doesn't fit or threatens order in any way is eliminated, frequently via being dumped down the floating city's giant garbage chute. In the sequel we learn that the Solar System at large is probably a worst Cold War parody imaginable, the children are outlawed and exterminated (or simply eaten by the Organic Technology-obsessed Venusians), Earth Sphere, despite its idyllic appearance, is run by a fascistic dictatorship that imposes involuntary Mind Control, real Neo-Nazis run rampant on Mars, Jovians, the most sympathetic major faction, is a Soviet Union parody that'd give Robert A. Heinlein nightmares, and the most popular entertainment is to watch a bloody tournament where cyborg martial artists kill each other messily for sport (and, maybe, some political rights). All of this is a massive improvement.
  • Outbreak Company takes place in an amazing fantasy world with magic, dragons, lizard people, and elves. But most people are illiterate, masters regularly abuse their servants, and non-humans are 2nd class citizens.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica takes place in a Shining City where Magical Girls battle in secret against Monsters of the Week, granted wishes by their cute sidekicks. The city's on the brink of destruction, the girls are opportunistic liches, the Monsters of the Week are Fallen Heroes who forcibly underwent a monstrous transformation, the wishes never turn out well, even when not twisted, and the cute sidekicks are deceptive Starfish Aliens who treat both normal humans and their charges as little more than cattle.
    • The Movie plays with this. It seems to take place in an idealized Magical Girl paradise, but it's actually Homura's witch labyrinth. And yet, as Sayaka points out, it really is a perfect world, even if it's an illusion, since one isn't secretly doomed to horrific fates or anything like that. The ending has Homura take control of the real universe so she can make it exactly like the labyrinth. But this time, it's considered evil, mostly because it was a conscious decision (the first time around, Kyubey tricked her into doing it). Whether this outcome is Crapsaccharine or just Saccharine is seemingly left up to the audience.
  • Kotoura-san... Good grief. The people are literally living in lies and ignorant bliss. Practically everyone has No Sympathy, and Haruka is among the rare few who realizes what's wrong with this society thanks to her Telepathy and innocently exposing everyone's true feelings to their denial, disbelief, and chargin even though she can't help it. Worse, her once "Childhood Friends" then outcast "the monster" (Haruka) so disgracefully, the insult haunts her for much of her life afterwards.
  • In No Game No Life: The world is peaceful because crime and war etc. are forbidden by God, and all bets are enforced by Magically Binding Contract, and so such agreements must be honored. However, this means that skilled cheaters are the most dangerous people in the world, capable of dooming even countries in a single game. Also, the sentient species are ranked by magical ability, which means humans are at the bottom of the barrel and dying out as a result. Of course, Volume 6/the movie indicates that this is actually something of an improvement over the old world.
  • Hisae Iwaoka's manga Hoshigahara Ao Manjuu no mori takes place in an old and peaceful forest. Hosting many cute and adorable beings such has living rocks and lilies that wouldn't mind swallowing you whole is you ever turn your back on them.
  • In Fairy Tail, the capital of Edolas is a shiny amusement park of a city kept prosperous with stolen magic, while the rest of the world is literally falling apart.
  • In-universe example in New Game!, with the world of Peco, Eagle Jump's latest project, is a soft and fluffy world that follows a cute female protagonist who kills other characters, skins them, and then wears the skin as a disguise to easily kill others. Saved from being gory because everyone else in Peco is a living stuffed animal.
  • The kingdoms of Clarines and Tanbarun from Snow White with the Red Hair at first glance seem to be very nice and idyllic places to live. Then you remember that the story started when a noble arbitrarily decided to force a commoner to become his concubine and her reaction implied something like this was anything but uncommon. Several lines also imply that slavery is not only practiced but abundant. Then there is the fact that in Tanbarun commoners are banding together in a paramilitary force of outlaws called The Loins of the Mountain to protect themselves from criminals because they don't trust the government.
  • The setting of Accel World is a futuristic society with many seemingly wonderful advances in technology, but the Neurolinkers essentially enable Parental Neglect, and even an advanced network of security cameras doesn't keep the world entirely safe. Brain Burst is also like this, as it's a ruthless struggle for survival, where people desperately cling to their points and often do very unethical things to earn them.
  • In Sword Art Online, the world looks relatively pleasant and bright on the outlook, but at the same time there are very shady executives and scientists who are more than willing to use extremely shady methods to achieve their goals, as well as serial killers who use the VRMMOs to target and kill people in real life, and that's before factoring in the SAO Incident, which led more than 10,000 people being trapped in the game for years.
    • The Underworld. It's a virtual reality simulator in which the Fluctlights living there are literally incapable of breaking the law, known as the Taboo Index, so not only is there no murder, but people don't even litter, but people can abuse loopholes in the rules to cause harm to others should they so desire. The civilized lands are ruled by a sociopathic tyrant, and the armies of darkness lie in wait outside of civilization's borders, preparing to strike.
  • School-Live! on the surface, seems like a typical, cutesy and sweet slice-of-life manga/anime about four girls in the "School Live" club, who inexplicably live in the school. Then at the very end of the first chapter/episode, we learn that things only appear so sweet because we were seeing things through Yuki's eyes, who had a breakdown before the series started and has became delusional. In reality, the series is about the girls being holed up in school because of a zombie outbreak, while playing along with Yuki's delusions for her sake.

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