In anime, stories of the mafia and organized crime are popular ones, and for fans of The Godfather and Goodfellas, what anime has to offer in its depiction of the underworld is definitely worth checking out. The thrill, the action sequences, the suspense, the cold-blooded mercenaries, the greedy dons — they all make for a captivating story that we’re not likely to forget, because the mystic around the mafia always leaves us questioning who is really running our world… But the way that anime illustrates the underworld presents a commonality, which is their representation of the antihero. Alongside all those rich, murdering bad guys who want to rule the world, come the antiheroes who exist to stop them. And despite being thrust against their will into the cruel world of bloodshed and corruption, the antihero refuses to submit, choosing to love and die rather than hate and rule. And so just when we’re questioning who is really puppeteering our society, the antihero helps us believe that light exists even in the darkest corners of our world, and if it means defeating those villains who try to make a profit off people’s weaknesses, then that light is worth fighting for.
8 91 Days
Set during the United States Prohibition era, which prompted copious amounts of profit and lawlessness in the underworld as people were desperate for liquor, 91 Days is an anime that is riddled with all things mafia. The Vanetti family is the central crime family in this series and as they are driven by prosperity and wealth; loyalties are questioned, blood is shed, and revenge is constantly following them like a shadow. This is where we find the main character, Angelo Lagusa, who lives for a singular ultimate purpose: to get revenge on the Vanettis, who murdered his entire family. Angelo infiltrates the Vanetti family with poise and indifference, proving himself useful to their cause and slowly gaining their trust. But the series is full of twists and turns, and when Angelo becomes particularly close to Nero Vanetti, one of the men who murdered his family, Angelo’s rigid resolve is challenged by the power of companionship.
7 Buddy Daddies
Buddy Daddies tells the story of two young men Kazuki and Rei, who work together as hitmen, targeting powerfully evil people linked to Tokyo’s crime world. But their already abnormal lifestyle becomes even more unusual when a mission that goes wrong leads them to become the adoptive fathers of an orphan girl named Miri. The series is an intriguing ride as we see Kazuki and Rei try to maintain their shady careers, while also raising a daughter who has no idea her fathers are murderers. Despite bearing the weight of past lives that are filled with trauma, Kazuki and Rei do their best to emulate a happy childhood for Miri. The series is rich with all kinds of happy and sad moments, and as the show is currently being released, there are still questions that fans want answered: what is the true nature of Kazuki and Rei’s partnership? Are they just friends? Or something more? And how did the two forge such a strong partnership to begin with?
Mysterious organizations, murderers, gangs, drug dealers, psychopaths… they all come into the mix in Switch, a series about two members of Japan’s Narcotics Control Department, Haru and Kai. The two work undercover: Haru infiltrates the mafia branch that commercializes the drug named Funny Angel, and Kai works in a shady greenhouse that may be producing Funny Angel. But the name Switch is said to come from Kai’s strange and abrupt changes in his behavior; he evidently switches from a kind and empathic person to a ruthless murderer. As the series unravels, the cause of Kai’s dangerously switching temperaments comes to light, at the same time as Haru and Kai edge closer and closer to destroying the illegal supply of Funny Angel. But as they close in on their objective, their covers are threatened and so are their lives.
5 The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited
The millionaire detective refers to a character named Daisuke Kambe who lends his genius-like talents to the Modern Crime Prevention Task Force, who work to solve and eliminate Tokyo’s crimes. Haru Kato is one member of the task force who comes to work exclusively alongside Daisuke despite their initial hostility towards one another, which arises from their starkly contrasting backgrounds and values. Daisuke comes from one of the wealthiest families in the world, Haru does not, but he is rich in values and morality, always willing to help others and feeling as though it is his rightful obligation to be the hero. Daisuke, however, directs his course of action by the book, never by emotion. But nevertheless, the more that Daisuke and Haru work together, the more their differences come to compliment each other, and they become a great team.
Main characters Worick and Nicolas work as “handymen” in the city of Ergastulum, which is governed by the mafia and imbued with crime. Handymen really means mercenaries, and Worick and Nicolas take on jobs from both the mob syndicates and the police… for the right price of course. But there is something much bigger stirring in Ergastulum, which once happened to be a safe haven for “twilights,” supernatural beings born from a unique drug. And within a crime-dense world where people are always plotting and scheming and searching for both allies and enemies, the twilights face a new threat from an organization who seeks to hunt them down. The rise of this organization upsets the fragile order of Ergastulum and the gangster’s paradise is on the precipice of change. The handymen have no choice but to get swept up into the fray.
3 Spy x Family
Spy x Family balances crime and violence with humor and family bonding. Main character Loid Forger, is the world’s most wanted spy, and he has been tasked with assuming the fake role of a respected psychologist, husband and father, all for a covert mission whose objective is to restore world peace. As a trained and highly skilled spy, Forger is detached and devoid of any human emotions… but playing the role of fake father and husband is bringing about new and foreign challenges, as Forger is experiencing for the first time what it means to have feelings. With the burden of world peace weighing down on his shoulders, Forger is caught between his duty and his new-found bond with his pretend family. Forger’s pretend wife Yor, has a secret too — she is a professional assassin. And their pretend daughter, Anya, has a secret telepathic power. All three family members have secrets, but the bond they share with each other is the one thing that isn’t fake.
2 Bungo Stray Dogs
Bungo Stray Dogs follows the life of main character Nakajima Atsushi, an orphan taken in by Dazai Osamu and Kunikida, two members of the Armed Detective Agency. The members of this agency possess special powers that enable them to succeed where the police and the military cannot, and Atsushi’s special power is his ability to transform into a large tiger, which proves to strengthen the force of the detective team. In this series, the greatest threat to the Armed Detective Agency is the Port Mafia, who control everything in the underworld, serving as vendors for all that is illegal. Interestingly, prior to joining the detective agency, Dazai was actually a leader in the Port Mafia, until he chose to defect. Throughout the series, the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia try to eliminate each other because they both prove threatening to their individual objectives. The Port Mafia try to capture Atsushi in order to obtain seven billion yen used to fuel their deadly and dangerous pursuits in the underworld, but the Armed Detective Agency simply seek peace and order for society.
1 Banana Fish
At just 8 years old, Ash Lynx was captured by one of New York City’s crime bosses, Dino Golzine, a don of the Corsican mafia. From that time, Ash was groomed to be Dino’s heir and sex slave. At fourteen, Ash was trained by a professional assassin for two years. At 17, he was Downtown Manhattan’s most respected and feared gang leader. And by the time he was 18, Ash had an IQ of over 200. But despite all of this, Ash simply longed for freedom. If he had his way, he’d prefer to read all day at the library instead of fighting off all of his enemies. But with an unlawful tie to the mafia boss, Ash knew he’d never be truly free until he defeated Dino and his cronies. So with his unbelievable skills, inured experience and a passionate need to avenge his loved ones that Dino had killed, Ash rises to the challenge. Ash knew that if he assumed his role as Dino’s heir, he could have wealth and power… but he found something worth far more than that: love and friendship. And he was more than willing to love and die for his friends, instead of playing the role he was given.