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Shonen Anime Scenes That Went Too Far

Even for those that have only watched a handful of anime shows, most of us can probably recall a scene that outrageously stood out. One subgenre of anime that goes the whole hog is shonen, which refers to its target audience — teenage boys. It's arguably one of Japan's most popular types of animation, with streaming giants such as Crunchyroll cashing in on the action. Iconic franchises such as "My Hero Academia" and "Naruto" fall under this umbrella, speaking to the global audience's hunger for superpowers, evil forces, and long-running formats.

Though shows such as "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Death Note" are considered by fans to be some of the best shonen anime series of all time, there are often instances when scenes feel a little too close for comfort. While most are based on an original manga, some shows choose to use their source material as a launchpad for scenes that are more grizzly, brutal, and emotionally challenging than they were first depicted. From violent torture to traumatic childhoods, lots of our favorite programs aren't afraid to go there. Here are some unforgettable shonen anime scenes that definitely went too far. Spoilers ahead.

Death Note - L's death

Considering its title, losing a life shouldn't be a surprising part of "Death Note," yet some viewers found it difficult to get over the death of the show's main antagonist, L. Following Light Yagami as he discovers a supernatural notebook that causes the death of any name that is written in it, L has a turbulent relationship with Light after becoming suspicious that he is actually a mass murderer known as Kira. In the episode, "Silence," L comes close to wrongly identifying the killer, leaving him vulnerable to Rem writing his name in the book.

Known for his positive character progression and balancing out "Death Note" as a force for good, L's passing can perhaps be viewed as one of the most heartbreaking anime deaths of all time. He's the only person who is integral to Light's identity and outcome, and his sense of secretive doggedness quickly cemented his as a hero and fan favorite. Plenty of Reddit users shared their utter shock at the decision to kill L off, arguing that the show was "unfulfilling" and unnecessary when it continued into a second season. Whether L's death had a true purpose or not, many viewers can agree that it seemed like a step too far for the overall story of "Death Note."

The Promised Neverland - Finding the secret bunker

First airing in 2019, "The Promised Neverland" kicks off its story with a bang. The series focuses on a group of orphaned children who plan their escape from their orphanage, leading them to the dark truth that exists behind it. It's a strong idea about something that seems near-impossible — yet one particular moment in Season 2 managed to make the show a sinking ship. Shelter B06-32 is an underground shelter in the demon world used by children who had escaped from nearby farms and when the Grace Field kids find it, things start to go downhill.

Considering the children find the secret bunker so quickly, there's arguably little point in the "The Promised Neverland" story continuing. Though there is a turning point that reveals previous escapee Yugo had been kidnapped, the plot feels half-baked and a far cry from the thrilling mystery we'd seen in Season 1. It seems the series creators might have agreed, condensing over 100 chapters of the original manga source material into the rest of the season. The knock-on effects of the scene being aired were obvious, completely missing out on individual character arcs, as well as eventually knocking together what fans deemed a less-than-satisfactory ending.

Fullmetal Alchemist - Ed and Al attempt to bring their mother back from the dead

Most of the time, anime scenes that go too far reveal themselves midway through an established season, yet it can be argued that "Fullmetal Alchemist" went in too hard from the moment it started. The 2003 series follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric who are searching for a philosopher's stone to revive the bodies of the lost. Their mother, Trisha, is the catalyst for the pair's actions, losing her life to sickness following marital heartbreak. Though it seems like a sweet and emotional thing for the boys to do, there is also a creepy feeling attached to it — which is only proved right when things start to go wrong.

When Edward and Alphonse fail to bring their mother back from the dead, they try to build a creature made in her image. Not only did the premise cause confusion among some viewers, but the concept is the stuff of "Frankenstein" level nightmares. Given the target audience, there's also perhaps an unhelpful message of not being able to deal with grief — given in an ideal world, the boys would have been able to heal over time without a pressing need to dig dead bodies up.

Assassination Classroom - Class 3-E parts ways

Most people probably wouldn't guess that an anime following an octopus-looking creature teaching a class of kids how to be assassins is heartbreaking, but the ending of "Assassination Classroom" is possibly too much for emotions to bear. From the moment the gang begins their training in Season 1, they are well aware of their final objective — to kill teacher Koro-Sensei, who is planning to destroy Earth. While many of the wannabe assassins are keen to keep their distance from their teacher, there's ultimately a camaraderie that builds up between the predators and the prey and when the time comes to get the job done, the goodbyes are anything but easy.

The optimistic viewer might think that the outcome can be resolved in another way, yet the killing of Koro-Sensei was pretty much inevitable. However, the choice made of how to do it clearly emotionally impacts the kids, with the tears of viewers not too far behind. It's perhaps a scene that is specifically designed to provoke a strong reaction, even though Koro-Sensei makes clear that he means the class no ill whatsoever. Perhaps it's wishful thinking to consider that the teacher of "Assassination Classroom" could have had a personality u-turn, but the certainty of what's going to happen doesn't make the show's fallout any easier to deal with.

Chainsaw Man - Denji's first kiss

Type "Denji's first kiss" into any search engine and you'll be met with a plethora of reaction videos showing YouTubers freaking out. Why? This particular kiss is possibly one of the grossest of all time. "Chainsaw Man" follows Denji as he makes a contract that fuses his body with Pochita, a dog-like devil that gives him the power to partially transform into chainsaws. Though he mostly works to keep a roof over his head, the chance to kiss a member of the opposite sex felt like a dream that wouldn't necessarily come true. When the chance presents itself on a boozy night out, fellow devil hunter Himeno gives Denji a memory he'd probably rather forget.

After a few moments of smooching, Himeno promptly vomits in Denji's mouth. It's enough to make viewers pause the episode to dry heave, showcasing a different kind of brutality than the sort "Chainsaw Man" became known for. With eagle-eyed fans picking up on the smallest of details, it's arguably a scene that doesn't have to go that far given the sweetness of the moment. Denij is clearly shy about being publicly kissed in the first place, with this initial experience likely to traumatize him indefinitely.

Happy Sugar Life - Shouko's death

When we think of messed-up, scary anime shows, "Happy Sugar Life" is likely to be at the top of the list. With its overall premise focused on Satou befriending a mysterious girl called Shio, the pair agree to live together while protecting the other whatever the cost. Someone who quickly threatens this dynamic is Shouko, who discovers the relationship that Satou and Shio are having. Not feeling as though she can trust her, Satou kills Shouko by stabbing her in the throat.

Given that "Happy Sugar Life" is known for being disturbing, controversial, and genuinely terrifying, having a character die is almost expected to come with the territory. In this particular case, the way Shouko dies arguably takes things a step too far. With the entire screen completely red, Shouko's muffles turn to silence as the life drains out of her, with her body later set on fire. As the only character with clarity in the show — and one of the few who remains devoted to Satou — Shouko's death is as heartbreaking as it is shocking, throwing away the only chance for trust to prevail or amends to be made.

Attack on Titan - Eren gets eaten

If dangerous giants with weird muscular mutations threatening to overthrow a city do it for you, "Attack on Titan" is sure to be your bag. Following the man-eating Titans as they smash their way through the city walls to terrorize tiny civilians, watching huge monsters do heinous things is a part and parcel of most episodes. In the case of the protagonist and former member of the Survey Corps, Eren, things get a little bit wilder. Within the show's first few episodes, Eren gets eaten while trying to save Armin and is swallowed whole as Armin helplessly watches on.

Not only is the scene itself difficult to stomach, but it leads to a confusing outcome. Eren is able to survive the attack by transforming fast enough to not be crystalized, causing the Titan to regurgitate him. The plot point feels a little ropey, with viewers rightly questioning why this is able to happen in the first place. To top it off, Eren's spit-covered entrance back into the land of the living isn't exactly the visual spectacle we'd hope for.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Dio makes a woman eat her baby

In Season 1, Episode 7 of "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," antagonist Dio Brando takes human cruelty to an entirely new level. Known for his manipulative and violently domineering character, Dio is a key figure in the show's exploration of his battle against his stepbrother, Jojo, in the hopes of taking control of the Joestar fortune. Viewers instantly recognize him as a rare villain that can simultaneously be charming as well as inhumane, helping him to get away with unspeakable acts. Perhaps the worst instance of this is in "Sorrowful Successor," where he makes a zombified mother eat her own baby.

Though the scene is somewhat more censored onscreen than it appears in the original manga, Dio's actions are beyond horrifying to watch. While some viewers stated that they are unable to watch what happens entirely, others identified with the scene's purpose of showing just how despicable Dio truly is. He's hardly a saint when it comes to his previous abhorrent actions — which include wiring a dog's jaw shut and subjecting Johnathan to psychological horror — but the fact that both a mother and a child are involved here makes things feel even more unsettling. Dio's taste for cruelty gets worse after he becomes a vampire, and the fact that he can coerce others to do the same makes this even more apparent.

Higurashi: When They Cry - The nail-ripping scene

For many anime shows, the element of gore is a staple part of a season's story arc. Yet some Reddit users have suggested that the infamous nail-ripping scene in "Higurashi: When They Cry" might be one of the most brutal of all time. The show centers on a murder mystery surrounding a group of friends in 1983. One of the group's key players is Shion, who faces off against their twin Mion. Mion is convinced that Shion is responsible for a variety of wrongdoings against the family and this all comes to a head in the episode, "Settlement," when Mion orders Shion to tear off three of her own fingernails to repent.

The act of self-mutilation seems like something that nobody would willingly agree to, yet Shion does so on the proviso that those around her would be forgiven in Mion's eyes. Some viewers have said that the scene is too gruesome to watch, with Shion's torture combined with blood-curdling screams, tears, and a shocking resolve to keep pushing through. It's a particularly horrific method, and the scene is only made more shocking by Shion's innocence. The twins' strained relationship could definitely have been amended without violence, with the core murder investigation arguably enough to quench the thirst for blood.

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Asuka's memory

Volatile characters make for the best drama — and in the case of "Neon Genesis Evangelion," that honor falls to Asuka. As the designated Second Child of the Evangelion project, Asuka makes up a core part of the squad's overall fight against the monsters who have descended on Earth. Asuka's often abrasive behavior makes her a target for others, but her penchant for deranged decisions makes much more sense when we learn about her upbringing. When Asuka tries to fight the angel Arael, viewers see flashbacks glimpsing into her painful childhood.

Not the typically twisted take on childhood trauma, "Evangelion" takes things one step further as Asuka's mother tries to commit suicide multiple times. She gets to a stage where she no longer recognizes Asuka, resulting in letting her child witness her eventual death. Some Reddit users believe things could have been worse for her than is inferred, adding to the reason she craves such strong independence as an adult. It's a lot to take in and process, even if the information does provide essential context for how Asuka functions within the team.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Dororo - Hyakkimaru's spine regrowth

Hyakkimaru is the be-all and end-all of "Dororo" — an anime following his travels across Japan fighting life-threatening demons. Trouble has been clouding him since he was an infant, developing prosthetic limbs as a young orphaned thief. Though it's a cool way to introduce another new demon slayer, the plot point arguably goes too far by providing more loopholes than answers. When the series begins, it's never especially clear which body parts have been taken over by Hyakkimaru's pact with the Daigo, with the regrowth of his spine causing particular confusion.

In Episode 15 of "Dororo," Hyakkimaru feeds on a moth-like demon and ejects some kind of makeshift spine from his body. Even those that flunked biology know that a spine is pretty integral to someone's growth and movement, calling into question how Hyakkimaru is able to slay demons at all. Given that he has only been able to live because of divine intervention, the scene could have used some further explanation yet instead undermines the show's entire plot and fueled the fire for fan questions and theories.

Your Lie In April - Kousei loses his hearing

Not a typical horror anime like many others that have scenes that go too far, "Your Lie In April" hasn't been shy of leaning into psychological warfare. The show is a romantic drama following piano prodigy Kousei losing his hearing after he has a mental breakdown at a recital. He's a young boy who is shrouded in trauma, dedicating the majority of the show to finding a path back to recovery. While most of the drama is light-hearted, funny, and full of romance, Reddit user LightBladeNova questioned the program's ability to show Kousei's loss of hearing in a sensitive light.

According to their criticism — and the extended critiques of fellow anime fans – Kousei's hearing loss is plagued with guilt-tripping and pseudo-bullying from other key members of the cast. Side characters dwell on the fact that Kousei has failed his big performance, rather than honing in on the sensitivity needed to get him through a pretty traumatic ordeal. It's certainly a scene that plays true to life, but it plays into a bigger issue that "Your Lie In April" lives up to its name by lying its way through its premise. Though it could feed into something that anime needs to change as a whole, it's clear that many fans find the show difficult to watch due to this pivotal scene.

Demon Slayer - Tanjiro beheads himself

If any genre knows how to portray a brutal sacrifice, it's anime. "Demon Slayer" is a great example of this as Tanjiro makes some questionable moves between Seasons 1 and 2. With Season 1 leaving viewers with a tease of just how far the demon Enmu will go, Tanjiro is caught in its spell of putting people to sleep before eating them. In his dreams, viewers see Tanjiro beheading himself with a sword in a snow-covered forest in order to try and wake up. Repeating the process many times leads to him almost mistaking reality for dreams, nearly killing himself before Season 2 properly kicks off.

The act of awakening by suicide is a shrewd move on Tanjiro's behalf, but the process isn't exactly enticing to watch. Tanjiro faces away from the screen as he brings his sword to his neck, with the inevitable blood spurt effectively contrasting with the forest's white background. It's enough to make your throat close up and stomach feel queasy, with the added teariness of potentially losing his friends and family adding up to a beautiful mess. As well as visually, the scene provides a mess in a different sense, highlighting a character flaw in Tanjiro that doesn't bode well for fighting stronger demons in Season 2.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.