• Dark, gritty sci-fi stories are rare but add mystery and depth to fiction, resonating with fans of unconventional romance and macabre themes.
  • Immaculately creative sci-fi stories blend ambiguity and plausibility, adding darkness and existential crisis for an amazing narrative experience.
  • Visual storytelling and art elevate sci-fi stories, resonating deeply with the audience, making manhwa and manga like Automata stand out.

Dark, gritty science fiction stories aren’t as common as many would like them to be. It’s a shame because adding that layer of mystery and eerieness to fiction is never a bad thing. It’s precisely why dark romance has always thrived among fans—even more so than conventional romance—and why dark macabre themes, in any form or medium, get more attention than vanilla elements. They serve their audience with a sort of edge and philosophical depth that can only be achieved by exploring non-traditional routes to a particular premise.


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This is why an immaculately creative story, perfectly blending narrative ambiguity with scientifically plausible elements, is the hallmark of quality science fiction. Adding a touch of darkness and existential crisis elevates it from good to amazing. However, what truly propels a piece of writing to the next level is the incorporation of visual storytelling and art—it’s why manga and manhwa resonate so deeply with their audience.

1 Automata

Dark, Gritty, Mysterious, With A Touch Of Shoujo

snippet from Automata


Kim Dazzi

Other Genres

Mystery, Romance

Automata is the prime example of a dark sci-fi manhwa that’s been blended to perfection. Automata’s art, with all its futuristic tech gadgets, advanced human beings, and an absurdly unique take on AI, seems almost too perfectly aligned with its premise. After all, Kim Dazzi has always been renowned for their dark, gritty art and their out-of-the-ordinary twists on generic fantasy/supernatural tropes—TACIT being another one of their masterpieces.

Automata is about a world that’s excessively dependent on machines and technology. But the thing about machines is… they’re machines; simply a jumble of screws, parts, and metal. They have no means of self-sustaining and are counter-dependent on humans to keep them healthy and running. But in this particular manhwa, maintenance of these machines is a dangerous task that requires specialists with special powers. It involves these professionals shifting their consciousness to a realm that exists between the real and the machine world. If, in the unlikely scenario, one of them gets stuck in the in-between, there is no way to get them out and they’re left there as bugs and viruses.

2 Dogma

Captures The Creepy Brilliance Of Ultra-Powerful, Ultra-Sentient Robots

snippet from Dogma



Other Genres

Drama, Androids

One of the most recognized dark fantasy sci-fi anime in the industry is a cyberpunk-themed original known as Ergo Proxy. It explores the possibility of sentient robots and their unforeseen need to suddenly understand human emotions. Dogma is exactly like that. It’s a cyberpunk-themed dark sci-fi with art so eerily enchanting that it leaves readers unsettled yet unable to stop.


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What makes Dogma stand out from other books and anime of the same type is the dynamic humans and robots share in this realm. Unlike other works, in which the premise largely revolves around robots working for humans and being mistreated until they rebel, this particular manhwa shows more of an equal footing between the two groups. Humans want to attain the strength and physical resilience robots have, and robots want human emotions. It’s an odd relationship that is dealt with, through layers of philosophical themes and existential dread for both parties.

3 Gepetto

Delves Into Themes Of Humanity’s Self-Inflicted Wars And Their Terrible Consequences

snippet from Geppeto


Yon Jae-won

Other Genres


Gepetto takes place in the distant future where humanity has to deal with the consequences of their actions. Following the dangerous choice of imbuing their robotic counterparts with excessive “personality” and “sentimentality,” humans are forced to confront the reality of these robots spiraling out of control and banding together to seize power. Fortunately, despite the overwhelming odds, humanity eventually manages to reassert its authority over these legions of AI and take back their land.

The problem is, now that they’ve won the war and have to rebuild their way back into the world, they can’t. The aftermath of the war has left them with a crumbling economy and utterly zero resources. On top of that, Dr. Gepetto, the renowned roboticist behind the creation of these sentient robots, has another sinister secret brewing behind the scenes that could reignite the already highly destructive war.

4 Monster Child

Explores The Morally Conflicting Dynamic Of A Child With Deadly Powers

main characters from Monster Child


Lee Sang-Yoon

Other Genres

Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural

Imprisoned supernatural kids and teenagers with immense, uncontrollable destructive powers have been a very common trope in anime and manga; Elfen Lied is one of the biggest examples of this. Most of these works end in the kid escaping and wreaking total havoc all around them until they find a character they like enough to trust. Monster Child does explore this trope but ends up adding a plethora of psychological elements and other heavy topics to it.

It follows the story of a homeless high-school dropout who, after getting fired from his job recently, is desperately in need of another gig. He comes across a dubious-looking man who offers him a substantial amount of money for simply showing up at a particular location. Despite being reluctant and wary, he’s desperate for a little cash and has no other choice but to take on the sketchy offer. Unfortunately, his suspicions are proven true when he’s drugged and locked in a small bloodstained room along with a peculiar infant called Charlotte. He’s now stuck not only protecting himself but also the child from terrors lurking in the shadows of that room.

5 Never-Ending Darling

Subtle Horror Infused With Massive Ambiguity Behind Cloning

main character and her mother from Never-Ending Darling



Other Genres


Having a bold, over-the-top, almost absurd sci-fi scenario that gets the mind going is one thing, but having a subtle one with little intricacies followed by a variety of other genre elements is an entirely different game. Never-Endling Darling comes off as exactly that—a typical drama manhwa save for its unique art—until it isn’t.


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It explores biology and DNA cloning in a very nuanced yet unsettling way. The main character, Yun Ha-im is in love with a man who makes his living by cloning people. Their life is pretty ordinary, apart from the obvious cloning aspect, and they’ve been together for five years with no problems at all—until Ha-im finds her corpse in their shared house accompanied by a note that tells her she’s not real.

6 L.A.G.

A Violent Action Manhwa With Lots Of Blood

snippet from L.A.G


Hyun Ahm, Apiro

Other Genres

Action, Horror, Fantasy

L.A.G. is essentially a more mature, more macabre, and generally darker version of the typical power-scaling genre manhwa, like Solo Leveling and Omniscient Reader. It follows a similar format, and puts its protagonist through a bunch of disturbing/gruesome situations for his “character development” and “growth.” The only difference is the obvious addition of sci-fi elements and excessive violence.

The backdrop of the manhwa is set in a hyper-advanced building with multiple floors that count as levels. The protagonists and other characters are stuck in the said building and have to fight their way (against monsters) to the lowest floor to escape. The thing is, life in L.A.G. is never-ending and restarts every time upon death.

7 Evolution: Road To Space Monster

Presented From The Vantage Point Of A Bloodthirsty Monster

snippet from Evolution


Inamu, HorrorTurtle

Other Genres

Horror, Aliens

Evolution: Road to Space Monster is essentially the manhwa equivalent of Alien: Isolation (or naturally, the Alien film franchise), but from the alien’s point of view. It has all the elements one would see in a sci-fi-heavy, outer space-based video game, and is accompanied by some very detailed art and violence-heavy sequences. What sets it apart, perhaps for better or worse, is the fact that the protagonist himself is the series’ very own bad guy.

There aren’t a lot of moral/ethical considerations that go into the story, considering how the main character is an alien who thrives solely by killing and consuming humans. With each life taken, the alien “evolves” into a stronger version of himself and advances within the system. The entire manhwa is like Solo Leveling but from the viewpoint of a monster within its realm.


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