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Darkness Induced Audience Apathy / Anime & Manga

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  • Afro Samurai's main character is a borderline sociopathic Villain Protagonist with little redeeming moral features who cares about nothing but killing the person who killed his father, resulting in him killing large amounts of people just to find his father's killer. The person who killed his father, Justice, while having well-meaning but rather not necessarily morally right motives, is very morally gray. The only reason the audience only sympathizes with Afro, in spite of his goals being identical to those he fights, is because we saw his backstory, and didn't see theirs.
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  • AIR: Many detractors of Air will say that nothing ever happens in the entire series, due to the fact that Misuzu still ends up dying after finally finding love.
  • Ajin. It's hard to root for the characters most especially the main protagonist who ended becoming a Sociopathic Hero and both sides have very flimsy reasons to get back at each other.
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, Inaho and Slaine are highly flawed characters, and their many faults or self-inflicted mistakes can make it hard for the audience to sympathize with them. The fact that Slaine becomes the Big Bad by the beginning of season 2 doesn't help, even with its supposedly overall positive ending.
  • The Animatrix: Given how many times the Second Renaissance segment is mentioned on the film's Nightmare Fuel page and how grotesque and cartoonishly disturbing the imagery and violence in it is, you'll understand if more then a few viewers are turned off or disturbed by it. The Humans Are Bastards being taken Up to Eleven doesn't help.
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  • The Area 88 manga falls victim to this. Much of the story takes place in Asran, a North African kingdom experiencing an unending civil war in which neither side gains a long-term advantage. Amoral arms dealers are happy to take advantage of the conflict. Many of Area 88's pilots are lost souls who have abandoned any hope of living a normal life (or, living to see next week). Shin never seems to make any headway in his attempt to earn enough money to break his mercenary contract, leaving him frustrated and melancholy. Shin's time at Area 88 leaves him so traumatized and maladjusted that when he receives not one but two opportunities to resume a normal life, he returns to a life of combat both times. By the time the manga reaches its bittersweet ending, the audience likely has ending fatigue.
  • Attack on Titan is, 90% of the time, either our heroes failing and/or having suffered many casualties in an attempt to reverse a rather well-cemented and long-standing dystopia. Granted, the main characters and a few of the cast members (at least the ones left alive) have gradual development, but it makes it hard to care about anyone else due to a lack of characterization otherwise.
    • Against all odds, the story became even more depressing following the revelation that the main cast has been on a small island the whole time and the rest of the world wants everyone on the island dead for the crimes allegedly committed by their ancestors using the power of the Titans. This ultimately eroded every victory the main cast ever achieved up to that point.
    • The series somehow takes it even further with the sudden reveal that Eren himself was not only Evil All Along, but was a Greater-Scope Villain using Mental Time Travel to set up some of the worst things to happen in the series with the ultimate plan of exterminating all life from outside the island. To take it even further, his motive is specifically because the outside world is so awful and full of racism toward the people of the island.
  • Bakuman。 features this in-universe with the main characters' reactions to Nanamine's "Classroom of Truth," in which everyone, including the main character dies, with Mashiro saying that having the main character's efforts turn out to be in vain doesn't work.
  • Basilisk: Both ninja clans have more than their fair share of Jerkasses. Oboro is incredibly naive and indecisive and boy does she pay for it. Any character is going to be killed in a few episodes. And the whole contest is being held by corrupt nobles.
  • Berserk can cause this. The setting is so very crapsack and the Anti-Hero protagonist tending to be both morally questionable and hopelessly overpowered by the main villains, not to mention the arguably gratuitous rape and violence, means people can simply get bored of the darkness. It does get better later in the manga... and at times, worse.
  • The second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode was criticized for some for going out of its way to be Darker and Edgier and Bloodier and Gorier than the first season, including one of the main characters of the season being a revenge-driven serial killer who also engages in self-loathing, the realization that the title character is a genetically-engineered Super Soldier forced into being a Space Police officer, and issues of Fantastic Racism which ties into the other two.
  • The narrative of Bitter Virgin piles up so much trauma, woobieness and weepy melodrama on Hinako, Daisuke and the reader, and uses a complicated theme like sexual abuse so liberally as a plot device (i.e, Hinako was not only sexually abused by her stepdad in her backstory, but she's almost raped again in story for no other reason than motivating Daisuke into beating her would-be rapist to almost death), that it can become a chore to read.
  • Black Bullet's setting is so very crapsack and the main characters are hopelessly ineffectual in stopping the Gastrea threat, not to mention, the author's tendency of killing off a good number of characters (or at least put Rentaro and Enju through sadistic hell) before they receive sufficient Character Development, means people can simply get bored of the darkness. Detractors accuse the author for putting too emphasis on sadistic treatment of the characters while ignoring to clear up several plot points such as Enju's high corrosion rate. Taken Up to Eleven with the Fugitive arc (volumes 5 and 6) where the author decides to put every main character in the worst possible suffering he can imagine.
  • Black Lagoon, especially in its early stages. The anime version tones it down JUST a little, but it's still very easy to not care about what happens to anyone in this series since they're all jerks, evil or psychotic.
  • Blood-C is this since the characters kept holding the Idiot Ball despite the danger around them which is why viewers care less when they are brutally killed, most especially the Red Shirts. It doesn't helped that Saya is a Failure Hero and whatever she does, many people die which irritated a lot of viewers. And at the end, it turns out most of Saya's friends are assholes who are hired to act those roles. You won't feel sorry for them when they're gruesomely killed and the Big Bad turns out to be Saya's friendly neighbor, Fumito, who got away with another of her supposed "friends", leaving tons of corpses on the trail and the town in ruins. The only characters who are sympathetic or redeemed were Itsuki, Tadayoshi and dog (who is Watanuki's corporeal form). And yet, Itsuki and Tadayoshi died, and Watanuki is powerless to do anything to help Saya since he cannot leave the shop.
    • The movie tries to step out of this trope. However, the climax just made it worse, depending on how you see it: Saya fulfills her revenge except that she found out that Fumito is in love with her and all of her actions are for her survival, regardless that he killed thousands of people in the past and abused her emotionally and psychologically. Also, she can't go back to Mana again after she found out that she killed her dad at the beginning of the movie. Because of this, Saya is established as a Tragic Hero.
  • In regards to Candy Candy, more than one watcher/reader ended up getting tired of all the relentless, neverending, borderline ridiculous melodrama surrounding Candy's life and ended up dropping the series.
  • Cannon God Exaxxion. The alien invaders are basically Nazi Elves. The boss of the defending humans doesn't give a crap about collateral damage and will kill and destroy at will. While Kenichi Sonoda had dipped his toe in this trope before, this was when he took a freefall into it, and never really surfaced, as evidenced with the reaction to Gunsmith Cats Burst.
  • In Code Geass, for certain viewers the Wham Episode near the end of season 1 qualifies. The ending of the second season is also a particular point of contention among fans, with both ardent defenders and harsh critics. It's a conclusion that includes giving a seemingly happy result for a few people who got off lightly if not scot free for what they did, while other more sympathetic characters had to settle for a bittersweet resolution at best. The matter of Lelouch's death is especially controversial, with the man himself seeing his own orchestrated passing as a final victory and the fans being split on whether this is a satisfactory end or a source of apathy.
    • The spin-off series Akito the Exiled also initially divided reactions among the audience thanks to this trope, albeit in a fairly different way. The cast includes some frothing racists, criminals and scoundrels as well as apparently psychopathic Blood Knights, with a small number of halfway decent people thrown in. On top of that, a Foregone Conclusion seemed to be likely since it's an Interquel set between Code Geass's two seasons and focuses on a particular war...whose outcome was revealed at the start of the second season, which tends to limit some of the audience's interest in it. That said, the series gets a lot more idealistic later on (which in itself caused the audience to disagree about whether the show's tone went too far the other way).
  • Cross Ange is so dark that it really becomes hard to root for anybody in this series and some fans really wished this series would go for a Kill 'Em All ending because frankly speaking, the setting is set in such a crappy world, there's barely any "good" heroes with most of them being an Anti-Hero, and a Big Bad who's more of Necessarily Evil to cater for The Needs of the Many. The setting itself involves a monarchy that is populated primarily by magic users, and the racism and oppression of the non-magical "Normas" is so disgustingly extreme and over the top that even Comstock would find it excessive. The main characters constantly lie, cheat and betray each other, with main character Ange causing the deaths of five people due to her pride and arrogance in the first few episodes alone. A character who had been built up as becoming a major ally to Ange is suddenly revealed to actually be a psychotic sadist who blames Ange for everything that's gone wrong in her life. Finally, the series is so chock full of disturbingly graphic and detailed violence, both physical and sexual, that eventually some people just stopped caring. As Gigguk points out, the show is basically the infamous rape scene in Valvrave the Liberator (seen below) made as a series. Is it any wonder why it's panned by most audiences these days?
  • As soon as the second episode, Side:Future of Danganronpa 3 got this reaction. A large problem with the anime was the frequent killing of characters who had barely been introduced, making it rather difficult to care what was going on given that most of Future revolved around the new cast.
    • Episode 5 takes it up a notch: All five deaths that occurred up to that point were of fan-favorites and likable characters. The anime started entering Eight Deadly Words territory, as the characters left are mostly from the controversial Radical Faction and Munakata's Sanity Slippage slowly turns him into The Scrappy.
    • By the end of the series, only two of the thirteen newly introduced characters survive, with it having been mentioned that one of them was intended to die. Not only that, at least one character was killed before the series even started to the point of never having a character OR a voice actress, with two other characters getting killed by the time of Episode 3 without having any meaningful character or showing up in Side: Despair. Worse yet, all of the characters from the original game survive, making the cast of Future essentially meat shields to satisfy a death quota without actually endangering the original cast's lives.
  • DEAD Tube really goes over-the-top with the atrocities the cast commits against each other. Not even the main characters are all that better than their competition. A lot of readers give up on caring and those who continue to read after not caring mostly read it to see just how hilariously fucked up things get.
  • Don't bother getting attached to story arc characters in Darker Than Black—they'll be dead in a few episodes.
  • Death Note can present this problem for some viewers due to the dark and cynical atmosphere, Black-and-Gray Morality, and the fact that Anyone Can Die. The cast does not offer many characters one can truly root for; what few sympathetic ones there are either killed off or ground into the dirt, if indeed they get attention at all.
  • Desert Punk, albeit a comic series falls into this. Almost every single character is a massive Jerkass, and the few exceptions never prosper in this world. By the middle of the series, it's quite clear that none of the three major characters have a Hidden Heart of Gold. Pretty much summing things up is the comment by the Lemony Narrator in the last episode in respect to the After the End setting, which is to the effect that "With people like this, it doesn't matter if humanity goes extinct."
  • In A Devil and Her Love Song, there's so much drama and emotional conflict on latter volumes that it becomes really hard to root for the characters, especially if those who make others suffer go unpunished.
    • Specifically, Maria's old best friend Anna gets Put on a Bus after more or less acting awful to Maria after she came to school to see her, and Maria's father, John, never explains why he raped her mother and she never chews him out for it, though he is a priest and clearing trying to atone for his actions.
  • The Devilman franchise. Where to even start?! Devils are either rapacious monsters or innocent victims of persecution and humanity is at its absolute worst on every imaginable level. With lovely scenes of death, destruction and so much more. And in the end, Akira is killed, Devils are extinct, Satan has destroyed all life on Earth and God destroys the entire planet to start things over from scratch so he can punish Satan yet again. Many fans have come to the conclusion that the "crybaby" subtitle in DEVILMAN crybaby is referring to the viewer. Being that it's the Trope Codifier of grimdark, this shouldn't come across as too suprising.
  • In Domina no Do!, the amount of crap Takeshi suffers from chapter to chapter due to the women around him will pretty much frustrate readers whenever they're not being astonished at all the other crazy stuff that happens in this manga.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
  • Elfen Lied, for some. The lack of subtlety in the narrative, the Black-and-Gray Morality, and the exaggerated emphasis on how 90% of Humans Are Bastards to the point of being Card Carrying Villains is often enough to make the viewers exhausted and angry instead of sympathetic to the Diclonius' plights (who themselves are Ax-Crazy by nature to some extent anyway). Granted, this is toned down in the anime and later on in the manga, making such characters as Bando, Mariko, Kurama, and even Lucy more... well, human in the end.
  • Ergo Proxy can, in its early stages, fall victim to this trope. Near the beginning of the series, there were a few moral dilemmas stemming from black and black morality. Stop the Proxy that's loose in Romdo and the fascist government regains total control over the city. Don't stop the Proxy and it'll continue a murder spree.
  • Fate/Zero can fall into this, with many of the characters having questionable goals and behavior and with an overall dark and cynical mood that can make it difficult to care about the story. Not to mention that it's all Foregone Conclusion.
    • Fate/Extra Last Encore suffers similar problems, and it doesn't even have the excuse of it being a prequel, with the protagonist being fueled primarily by hatred and the Holy Grail War itself having been corrupted.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • This is one of the main criticisms of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime (which had a Gecko Ending), especially compared with the manga and Brotherhood anime (which adapted the manga faithfully). The manga featured some extremely dark moments as a way for the characters to earn their happy endings, but the 2003 anime is consistently dark throughout and never stops making things worse for the protagonists.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa (the sequel to first anime) is arguably an even more extreme example. By the end Ed and Al are together again, but are trapped forever in another universe as World War II is about to break out. By comparison, the manga ends with Ed and Winry happy together with children.
  • Gantz, aside from the blood and gore everywhere and the overly gritty tone, it's really hard to sympathize with the main characters as many of them are jerkasses at best and downright malicious at worst. Even with the series getting Earn Your Happy Ending, it still feels like a chore to read through for some.
  • Gilgamesh has immortal monsters made from antimatter that want to create some sort of new reality. And on the other side, a Manipulative Bitch whose main reason for getting rid of the reflective sky (which gives the heroes their incredible powers by the way, meaning they probably shouldn't be serving her) is being dumped by the guy who engineered the future. And the children are such Wide Eyed Idealists that they get used by both sides. It's actually a relief when Everyone Dies. And it somehow makes even that terrible because TeaR is killed by a Gilgamesh spawn from Kiyoko after it destroys everything, therefore everything is gone forever and can never be brought back potentially better. Then again, the mangaka who wrote the source material has made other work that gets hit with this, so it's not entirely surprising.
  • Goodnight Punpun has a protagonist that suffers through a Trauma Conga Line of events that change his life, turning him into a miserable kid with a lot of Wangst inside. Considering that he doesn't ever change throughout the story and that it's mostly focused on him, it can be very hard to care about him or his problems.
  • Gundam seems to be a victime of this trope from time to time
    • We have the very polarizing Zeta Gundam and, to a greater extent, Victory Gundam. Some fans love these two series, calling them the best of Gundam because of their stark, gritty, and realistic portrayal of warfare; other fans despise the shows, feeling that they're cases of Black and Gray at best (and Evil vs. Evil at worst) where characters die stupid, meaningless deaths for no reason other than shock value. Yoshiyuki Tomino himself hated working on Victory and regretted making Zeta too dark given how he was suffering from depression while working on both series.
    Random 4channer, about Zeta: "It wasn't until a second watch-through with some more years on me and some semblance of taste that I realized it's actually a grimderp piece of shit full of irritating shrews who spend all of their time screaming at each other because they are such awful human beings. How can I be sad about anyone dying when they're all such selfish, spiteful pieces of human garbage?"
    • Tomino's ∀ Gundam by contrast is much lighter in tone and has few deaths, but the nature of its backstory can cause this in long-term fans of the franchise: every other continuity in the franchise prior to Turn A take place in the same verse with each civilization falling to war and the power of the Turn A with the next starting from scratch, nullifying any achievements in these shows, with nobody learning from their past mistakes.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is the worst offender. Detractors point out that it's hard to sympathize with the protagonists, especially Mikazuki, as their actions push them further off the slippery slope. This isn't helped in season 2 where you're required to be ruthless in this society to get ahead. In the final episodes, major characters get killed left and right to the point it stops being dramatic and starts becoming tedious. Not helping matters is the director's insistence that the entire show is basically a mafia story, NOT a war story.
  • The anime version of Hanebad! has been hit rather hard with this. In addition to the anime toning down most of the comedy to add in more drama to the story, several of the characters have gone through Adaptational Jerkass in the making.
  • Season one of Hell Girl in particular can get a little ridiculous. Every episode, you're introduced to a new villain with no real objective other than to prove his/her guilt in as many obvious ways as possible. Even when they get what's coming to them, it's not before they've completely ruined someone, or many people's lives, sometimes irrevocably. And you know the next episode is just gonna feature someone even crueller. The first season tries to rectify this by introducing the Intrepid Reporter Hajime, who starts trying to prevent people from using the Hell Correspondence and getting Enma Ai to send their tormentors to Hell in exchange for their own souls. Problem is, Hajime never succeeds until his own daughter Tsugumi gets mind raped by Enma Ai, (she and her dad are descendants of a person from Enma Ai's Dark and Troubled Past), and then Ai tries to use it on him, and if anyone should know not to use the Correspondence, she should, so what she does makes her a monster only slightly more sympathetic than the villains in the series.
  • Highschool of the Dead: apart from the obvious bloodshed, gore, and people turning into zombies, it's very hard to sympathize with the characters who are willing to cross moral boundaries simply just to survive the zombie apocalypse. The very blatant right-wing politics and the villain's infamous orgybus also doesn't help.
  • Hot Gimmick is one of the few shoujo manga that fits this trope. Every character is a Jerkass or an idiot, and nobody receives any major character development (in fact the opposite seems to happen). The Esoteric Happy Ending doesn't help, not even when the novel ended up fixing it via having the girl finally get a chance to walk out on the Bastard Boyfriend.
  • Ichi the Killer treads perilously close to this trope. A psychological drama set in the brutal (albeit colorful) world of a nigh-lawless Tokyo red-light district could be forgiven for a cast whose morality comes in various shades of gray, but Jeez Louise… Nearly every character in Ichi either skipped gleefully past the moral event horizon long ago or is presently teetering on its edge. Almost everyone of plot significance is either 1) a murderous, manipulative bastard, 2) completely deranged, 3) a depraved sadist and/or masochist, 4) some other kind of sex pervert (you want necrophiliacs? Ichi's got 'em!), 5) a cold blooded mass murderer, 6) willing to do absolutely anything for money, 7) some combination of the foregoing. The two main protagonists? Completely deranged sadomasochistic mass murderers. Yeah. It’s so over the top that one character, a Yakuza *hit man* with a functional family life and a few glimmers of empathy, starts to seem like a nice guy just by comparison. So why would anyone who occasionally goes outdoors for something other than a load of canned meat and tarp read this? It’s the plot (tense, coiled and well-paced), and Ichi’s surprisingly incisive exploration of identity and desire.
  • Jormungand: Most of the characters are all bloodthirsty bodyguards for a deranged woman with a god complex who claims to want to save the world by killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and that's not even getting into the logical fallacies her plan actually has.
  • While Kichikujima seems to be going for a mix of What You Are in the Dark and Humans Are Bastards as its theme, it takes very little time for most of our main group to reveal themselves as a bunch of cowards who will stoop to absolutely any low for a chance to save themselves. On top of that, almost every revelation about their characters makes them look even worse than they did before. The main character is at the very least ashamed whenever he does something wrong and one girl who was already on the island seems good and normal enough (to the point that the cult mistake her for the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary because she's the only person they've ever met who wasn't horribly selfish), but beyond them all the characters do is panic and scheme to stab each other in the back. It's to the point that the insane, mutant cannibal cultists manage to be some of the most sympathetic characters, because they at least seem to care about each other in some warped sense of the word.
  • Koizora definitely feels like this, with the main character Mika experiencing heartbreak, rape, unwanted pregnancy, then a miscarriage and even more stuff that seems like it just wants the audience to dry up from reading the series, when all it does after a while, makes you think what sad thing won't happen to this girl!
  • Lone Wolf and Cub is filled to the brim with violence, with countless people, both good and bad, meeting violent or otherwise unfortunate ends. Only a few side characters get what could be considered a happy ending. In addition, the unjust and unequal caste system of Japan in the Edo period is shown in all its dubious glory. Hence, it may be difficult for some to really care about the plot and the characters.
  • Done beautifully in MD Geist. Our hero really isn't any better than the Big Bad and eventually releases the Death Force simply because he knows how meaningless his life would be without something nasty to fight. Let that sink in for a moment: he obliterates humanity just to be an asshole. He obliterates humanity. Just to be an asshole. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Michiko & Hatchin is set in a Crapsack World filled with Jerkasses, and the few people who are genuinely good and want to help people (most notably Hana, the Deuteragonist) are completely powerless to change anything for the better. Many episodes consist mainly of rotten people pushing around helpless victims or other rotten people with little to no payoff. Making matters worse is that Michiko actually began as a pretty good person, genuinely caring about Hana and rescuing her from danger, but Michiko grew increasingly selfish, abusive, and perpetually angry as the series went on.
  • Masamune-kun's Revenge: The series isn't dark, per se, but the entire premise of the love story between two polarizing and heavily flawed characters like Masamune and Aki can come off as a hard sell of a romance story. Masamune goes out of his way to manipulate and lie to those he calls his friends and Aki frequently shames and humiliate anyone who declares their love for her. One anime reviewer even declared it the worst anime of 2017 for this reason.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: It's a show about insane people fighting against Eldritch Abominations in a post-apocalyptic world and gradually becoming more and more insane, all while a top-secret organization pulls strings behind the scenes and plots to bring about a second, more impressive apocalypse.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion replays the early events with a far more hopeful tone but plunges back into despair with the third film.
  • Now and Then, Here and There: After the Non-Indicative First Episode, the series pulls no punches in being grim-dark, complete with one of the most abominable villains in history and a main character who is near-powerless to change much. In the end, the protagonist has no great influence and is able only to inspire the actually-powerful Lala-Ru to bring about a more-or-less happy ending. The mostly-positive outcome feels insignificant after the series' overall dark journey.
  • The final episodes of Paranoia Agent, when a mysterious but solitary menace turned into a city-wide all-consuming biomass, destroying uncounted Innocent Bystanders amongst a handful of previously developed characters. Fortunately this was a brief enough period to avert Ending Fatigue, and still got the point across by changing scope.
  • In Overlord (2012): The main characters are hopelessly overpowered when compared to the rest of the cast, and also, for the most part, extremely evil. Even the one exception to this—Sebas—is willing to punch the girl he spent several episodes nursing back to health to death at a moment's notice if Ainz asks him to, though fortunately he stops him at the last second. It's very clear how most plot arcs are going to turn out; the only question is the level of collateral damage caused in the process. And one infamous arc in the third season is dominated by a lot of what could charitably be described as torture porn. Depending on your level of tolerance, and your patience, it can become very difficult to care about how any of this ends.
  • The first episode of Psycho-Pass takes place in a run-down slum, where some "enforcers," most of whom are criminals, are hunting a worse criminal. Said worse criminal rapes a woman slightly offscreen For the Evulz. Right after it's revealed that he was a good person before a negative psychological profile sent him into a death spiral, the enforcers reduce him to Ludicrous Gibs, and they almost do the same to the rape victim! With the strong implications that this is only the first few snowballs of an oncoming angst avalanche, some people found it hard to care about the situation.

    It's interesting to note in the case of Psycho-Pass that arguably the apathy is part of the point of the show. As the series goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that the Sibyl System has nearly eliminated all crime for society but has removed almost all free will, passion and emotion from society leaving almost everyone emotionally dead but with a forced neutral look or slight smile. On the other hand, those who feel extreme emotions are hunted down and locked in asylums or killed. Due to this, in order to accomplish anything in the world of Psycho-Pass one must not feel any emotion towards others and fully believe in their own world view, essentially becoming a sociopath. Makishima has been a sociopath like this since birth, but values the emotions and potential of humanity and wants to do anything to bring the Sibyl System down so people can live life by their own wills, even if he must create societal collapse. The Sibyl System itself is composed of sociopathic brains in a Hive Mind that want peace for Japan no matter what, even if they must destroy human individuality and emotion.
    • As of the movie, the Sibyl System is growing more powerful, more ruthless and more efficient as they expand outside Japan if it weren't for the actions of Season 2's Big Bad for unknowningly trimming their weaknesses off . Regardless of Akane's attempts to humanize the system, it's rendered moot in The Stinger where the puppet leader of SEAUn got reelected.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica can become this for viewers. Seeing everything after episode three be one long road of misery, suffering, and Deus Angst Machina until Madoka rewrites reality in the span of only twelve episodes can become really stagnant for some. And then Rebellion comes out and turns out that love has turned Homura so crazy that she essentially goes and becomes the Lucifer to Madoka's Crystal Dragon Jesus, creating a MASSIVE Happy Ending Override and a Sequel Hook that professes much more misery to come, no matter how it goes.
    • All of the PMMM spin-off manga with the original cast: Different Story definitely becomes one, and Homura's Revenge looks to be shaping up that way as well.
    • The spin-off Puella Magi Kazumi Magica devolves in this shortly before the climax. When all the girls start to fight each other due to their different view-points, it becomes hard to root for one or other due to the fact that they all (although to different degrees) are so morally rotten that several of them already spot a blue and orange morality.
    • Puella Magi Oriko Magica. The principal conflict is between Oriko, who wants to murder an innocent fourteen-year-old and anyone else in the way to stop her from becoming a world-destroying Witch, and Homura, who is all too eager to risk the almost certain destruction of the world for the sake of said innocent fourteen-year-old. It doesn't end well for either.
    • Puella Magi Suzune Magica takes Oriko's example to the arguably most shameless degree. The story is established as a battle royale Kill 'Em All, with the protagonist being a cold-blooded serial killer who refuses to explain her motivation, yet somehow ends up being viewed as sympathetic once it's revealed she's been brainwashed by the Big Bad to commit these killings. All the supporting cast except one are selfish people who don't get enough time to develop, and the Big Bad is even worse, given she set up this Kill 'Em All, including the protagonist being a serial killer, all just so she could draw out the suffering of and kill said protagonist once she revealed the Awful Truth.
  • Pupa, particularly the series, which is usually viewed as a disjointed, directionless mess on account of being only twelve episodes long, with each episode clocking in at around two minutes - certainly not enough time for the story that's trying to be told. The extreme gore, rampant cruelty, creepy incestuous overtones, largely unlikable cast and sub-par animation make for a show that's hard to sit through,note  let alone become invested in.
  • Re:CREATORS didn't have this initially, but toward the end of the series, it really began setting in primarily thanks to the Elimination Chamber Festival, wherein Altair challenged every other Creation to a fight and either killing or incapacitating them without breaking a sweat thanks to how the love of the fans give her new abilities completely out of thin air (plus, the fact that almost nobody outside of the main cast seems to ever grasp what's actually going on and what kind of threat this poses to not just Creationkind, but also to humanity as a whole). Coupled that with the fact that Altair was ultimately defeated in a scene derided as an Anti-Climax (one where none of the heroes are involved, no less, and does involve a character who had been dead up until this point and has had little characterization) and effectively Easily Forgiven for her actions (which allows her to avoid answering to her atrocities) and you have people decrying the series as a series where nothing of real note has been accomplished. Magane never being brought to task for any of her crimes either (in addition to getting to live in the real world and continue indulging in her lifestyle unimpeded) is just the cherry atop the shit sundae. To cap it off, the people in charge of this show also worked on Black Lagoon and Aldnoah.Zero, which were similarly guilty of falling into this.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: The World of Jerkass setting as well as the fact that the bad guys often pull a Karma Houdini (well, until much later) can make the viewers simply unable to care about what's happening to the main characters.
  • Sakura Gari, Christ on a cracker. Out of the main characters only one (Masataka) is unambiguously good, and he gets horribly raped and broken through the story. And while Masataka manages to walk out and away to start rebuilding his life, the other protagonist (Souma) is all but stated to have died.
  • The School Days anime, since it adapts the darkest aspects of the visual novel. By the end of the series, there are absolutely no sympathetic characters left, as everyone turns out to be some combination of malicious, selfish, and/or psychotic.
  • School-Live!:
  • Shiki enters this territory when the humans become aware of the existence of the Shiki who are responsible for the declining population of the village and the deaths of several of their loved ones. Due to the nature of the series being Grey-and-Gray Morality, both sides crossed many lines to fight for their survival. If you have a favorite character on either side, chances are that they would either be dead or broken. The ending rings hollow where the humans won against the Shiki but lost their loved ones and their homes are burned down and the Big Bad got away scot-free though she felt some amount of remorse for her actions.
  • A Silent Voice is filled to the brim with the message that Bullying Is Wrong and while that message is certainly truthful, the manga did not let up on the drama after it turned from a one-shot into a series, including the point of some characters attempting to commit suicide. And even after those events, the manga is still very heavy on the emotional aspects of grief and being emotionally broken, to the point that one cannot care for very long anymore.
  • Texhnolyze. While there are characters who are noticeably better or worse than others, no one is truly good, with even the most sympathetic characters being Anti Heroes. A lot of viewers saw the show's Downer Ending coming a mile away, and were just waiting for everyone to give up and die.
  • Tokyo Ghoul and its sequels. Some fans feel the overall and increasingly dark tone of the series makes it difficult to care about the confusingly large number of characters. As the series advances and turns up the darkness Up to Eleven, the amount of angst, traumatic experiences, and Abusive Parents can come off as just excessive.
  • Under the Dog: The OVA is viewed as this. Hana ultimately fails in her mission to save Nanase, and Anthea does a Mercy Kill on Hana. This results in the deaths of Hana's family. Anthea later confronts and kills the Pandora, which turns out to be Nanase's transformed father. Then it turns out that Nanase isn't the candidate they were looking for, so Anthea kills him as well, rendering the entire OVA pointless.
  • Valvrave the Liberator: Some viewers are finding it increasingly hard to care about the series (even with all the Camp) because the majority of characters are either Jerk Asses, Too Dumb to Live or is Too Good for This Sinful Earth. The episode where the majority of the Module 77 students are massacred essentially turns the series into a "Shaggy Dog" Story, and the 200 year timeskip shows certain characters' survival as a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Violence Jack. This OVA is packed with so much violence, rape, necrophilia, cannibalism and mutilation that it turns into white noise for many viewers. It doesn't help that the setting is actually called "Eviltown".
  • The Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest manga is set in such a ridiculously Darker and Edgier Crapsack World, uses heavy themes (like rape, bullying, etc.) in such grossly exploitative manners and has characters so into Black-and-White Morality... that many readers have simply given up on it.
  • The 1996 movie of X1999 is regarded as this by modern viewers since it was released while the manga was ongoing. While the Dragons of Heaven are still benevolent, the Dragons of Earth become sociopaths including Kusanagi who is the Token Good Teammate and a Friend to All Living Things. There's also the fact the both sides ended up losing their members and the barriers got destroyed leaving Tokyo Tower as the last building standing. And it ends with Kamui beheading Fuuma which makes him the sole survivor of the cast.
    • The manga is leaning towards this as of the hiatus. Yuzuriha is missing, Arashi is controlled by Hinoto's Dark Side who is responsible for sending random attack to the Dragons of Heaven and Subaru, inheriting Seishirou's role as the Sakurazukamori assassin which got him to join the Dragons of Earth with the belief to make Kamui realize his true wish. And the real kicker? It's revealed Kamui's true wish was not to return Fuuma back to normal and the Cliffhanger chapter ends with Kamui, lying down on the ground as Fuuma is about to stab him. And now a decade has already passed, readers seemed to care less about what's going to happen.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has this with it's anime. Part of the story is for Yuya to learn what exactly is the best way to make people happy. But as the series progressed, it became really hard and at points outright uncomfortable to watch what's supposed to be a kid who wants to enjoy card games and make people happy be essentially kicked in the teeth for his efforts. Reality Ensues can be explained for Yuya's earlier ignorance and naivete, but after a while it just felt like puppy-kicking.
  • Your and My Secret is supposed to be a comedic "Freaky Friday" Flip story in which Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy duo Nanako and Akira swap bodies. Nanako proceeds to establish herself as a selfish, messy, violent, domineering bully who loves the freedom her new male body gives her, refusing to give it back to Akira and living it up, whilst at the same time threatening him with verbal and physical abuse if he dares think of doing something she doesn't approve of with the body she doesn't even want back. Akira's own family tell him, to his face, that they prefer the more "conventionally masculine" Akira that Nanako provides, and Nanako's grandfather, the Mad Scientist who caused this mess, likewise refuses to repair the machine that could switch them back because he prefers the quieter, more demure Nanako that Akira makes. The closest thing Akira-as-Nanako has to a friend is his "best friend", Senbongi, who constantly sexually harasses him, including kissing him by force and groping his breasts and genitals. Akira ends up falling in love with Senbongi, simply because he's the only person who seems to "care" about Akira. When Nanako's grandfather fixes the machine at last, Nanako destroys it so she can keep Akira's body and her stolen life. About that point is where most readers dropped the manga and wanted nothing to do with it — which is all the more understandable when you learn that the manga ends with the two of them basically deciding to stay in each other's bodies.
  • Your Lie in April runs off of the main character Kousei's misery. When it's not being Played for Drama, it's being Played for Laughs. Even when things seem to be going well for Kousei, like him overcoming the trauma of his abuse to play piano again, the story punches him square in the balls with Kaori's death. That combined with everybody besides Kousei being huge jerkasses is enough to utter the Eight Deadly Words.
  • The tone of Yuureitou can get pretty harsh sometimes, and many of the characters have less than pleasant secrets they're willing to hide and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. It's definitely par for the course for mystery, but with no true good figure in the tale, it becomes somewhat difficult to root for the protagonists.


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