For those not familiar with the expression, fridge horror is when something really awful is implied by the plot but never felt with directly by the narrative so the horror of it all only hits you after a while, if you stop to think about it.
I don’t think I’m shocking anyone when I say I love fridge horror. It’s often unintentional, making the grim intimations completely dissonant and a little hilarious (to me.. I may have some issues). In fact. I have even been known to insert otherwise inexistant fridge horror in shows once I start getting bored by them.
The phenomenon can have many causes. Lack of proper storytelling foundations, making certain in show situations only possible through terrifying means. Poorly managed continuity when character evolution or plot progression contradicts itself in a way that would mean something truly frightful has happened. A cheeky author wanting to sneak in some thrills! The end result usually is you thinking to yourself.”wait… Does that mean?… Oh no…OH NO!”
The term itself seems to be derived from “Fridge Logic” which is a comment writer’s-room term for plot or narrative inconsistencies which are pushed to the side because the story can be told in spite of them. These tend to become plot point that the audience doesn’t realize during the show, but only long afterwards. Sort of like a plot crack (which is my personal term for mini plot hole).
According to TV Tropes: the phrase was technically coined by Alfred Hitchcock. When asked about the scene in Vertigo when Madeleine mysteriously, and impossibly, disappears from the hotel that Scottie saw her in, he responded by calling it an “icebox” scene, that is, a scene that “hits you after you’ve gone home and start pulling cold chicken out of the icebox.”
I also wish that story was funnier but hey, at least you learned something… Or maybe not…
Anywho when these inconsistencies actually imply some horrific consequences, it moves from Fridge Logic to Fridge Horror. Sometimes though, it’s just an ill thought out premise. Like when restaurant chains have adorable mascots of the animals you would actually be eating while ordering from them…
I’m not sure if Fridge Horror will bring you as much really weird jpy as it does me. (Again issues, maybe I should talk to someone…) But in the spirit of the season, I would love to share with some of my favourite examples from anime!
As a dark comedy, Black Butler is brimming with examples of Fridge horror but my two favourites are:
Sebastien clearly uses silverware as a weapon and it looks exactly like one used at the Phantomhive residence. Even if it is cleaned, are they eating with the same knives that have murdered tons of people? That seems unwise. I’m not sure how well dish soap disinfected at the time but considering average health care in the 1800s, I’m surprised even the demons survived…
In the first season, when Angela kidnaps Ciel she binds him with someone’s cinematic record. Since Grell cuts it up during the rescue, did the person whose cinematic record it was just get murdered for no reason or did they just suddenly start having serious mental issues? Why does no one seem to care at all. The reapers department has some management problems.
Most Shinigami aren’t as bright and educated as Ryuk (that in itself is pretty scary). From the little we see, most of them just peer into the human world and write down whoever they happen to see in their Death Notes, whenever they need to add to their lifespans. And there’s an entire dimension filled with Shinigami that have to do this all the time. Like we weren’t doing a great job killing each other.
In the first episode, a terrorist is trying to kill Bradley in retaliation for Ishval and because he believes him to be evil. Our heroes manage to stop him and save the day…However, he was right all along. This maybe a bit more of Fridge irony but it still pretty awful that had he succeeded, all the death and destruction that followed could have been mitigated.
Kill La Kill
Life Fibers consider Humans to be essentially life stock. So when you consider this, if Senketsu hadn’t lost all his memories when he first met Ryuko, would he have just eaten her? She was just one lucky coincidence from becoming lunch.
There is a lot of very apparent horror in Perfect Blue, that lingers with you whether you want it to or not. So you are completely excused for not noticing some of the little really odd details.
I have a feeling this was perfectly intentional but in the beginning, we hear some of CHAM’s idol song lyrics and they go:
- If it means you’re loved in the end,
- Be much more aggressive, because you will get a chance.
Considering the subsequent, absolutely devastating rape scene. Well….
I mean *everything*, right? It’s like dog fighting the anime – only they have to live in pandimensional prisons, considerably smaller than their own body size. They don’t get walks either. We all agree, Pokemon is cruel and terrifying stuff, right?
So how did Ragnarok become an integral part of Crona’s body? We know he was a normal weapon. From what I can tell Medusa had to force him into weapon form, grind or melt him down and mix him with the black blood. We also know that she drained all of Crona’s (her own child) blood to replace it with the black blood, which already had and independent consciousness. Add to that the fact that we see in flashbacks that Crona already had Ragnarok as a very small child (4 or so). Honestly, they are both doing great under the circumstances…
So Wolfwood’s a teenager….
Do you have any examples of anime that made you go, wait a minute…oh no…Oh NOOOOO!!! Please share them with me!
30 thoughts on “Anime Fridge Horror (Countdown to Halloween)”
Hey, I learned something! Fridge horror – great term. Can’t think of any right off – but I’ve been watching super intellectual anime lately. Like Voltron. 😛
Hmmm… I’m sure there’s some Natsume fridge horror if I stop to think about it…. we don’t treat Yokai that well
You know what blew my mind was finding out that Stiyl Magnus from A Certain Magical Index is a teenager. I would’ve placed him in his 30s or 40s, but no, officially he’s 14! Which means he’s actually younger than Touma.
And speaking of Index, Academy City itself and the way it’s administered is pretty much a city full of fridge horror if you really stop to think about it, with the nature of the experiments that they run and the fact that their method of activating esper powers basically amounts to drugging children and intentionally damaging their sanity.
I litterally started this anime last night…Now I can’t wait to watch more!
Not heard of this expression before. Thanks for the education. 🙂
I’m sure there are countless anime that this applies to but I can’t think of any off hand – unless the idea of Ichigo’s younger sister Yuzu also having the latent ability to see spirits like Ichigo and Karin counts? :-/
It’s an individual thing – if it counts for you than it counts!
I did not know that about Wolfwood. That one got me.
There are a lot of anime teens that had it rough mind you
True. But doesn’t that basically mean that Wolfwood was used as a child soldier? ):
Yeah, in Pokemon, who thought, “Hey, let’s capture wild creatures, turn them into energy to fit into balls, and have sanctioned journeys for kids as young as 10!!” I think I would have been an anti-Pokemon League activist in that world when that idea came up.
I want to see that anime!
The Death Note thing changes very little for me. Maybe we’d be immortal if it weren’t for Shinigami? In any case we die with little rhyme or reason anyway. One death per life; that’s the way of the world.
But definitely the pokemon thing. Gotta catch them all? Yeah.
I can’t remember any of my own. I notice them, and then I forget them.
What horrible thing happened in all those cute girl universes to wipe out all men? How will they get the next generation?
Men aren’t usually wiped out. You can still spot them in the crowds: faceless classmates, passers-by, street vendors… I’m trying to think of a show where there’s not a single male anywhere. Yuyushiki, maybe? (The voice of god as he descends on the snowflake was male; I wonder if that counts?)
In the most extreme cases I’d expect an apartheid system and sperm banks rather than extinction. The mammalian anatomy is very obviously on display, after all.
Yuru Yuri? Sakura Trick? Admittedly not my most watched genre but I don’t remember seeing boys in either of those… also New Game? I could be wrong
All of those are possible candidates. None of them have men in the cast.
New Game has mentioned that the department head only hires girls, so there have to be boys you can refuse to hire, whether they ever end up on screen or not. I think there are men at the convention? I don’t really remember and would have to check.
Sakura Trick and Yuru Yuri are more promising candidates. Now that I think of it, I remember a post about Yuru Yuri being a post-apocalyptic comedy, with that in mind. Links never seem to work when I post them, so here’s the URL to copy/paste:
I’m surprised to find that the link is actually a link. So the href syntax doesn’t work, but if I just copy an url into the text it gets turned into a link? Is there a way to name the link something else as there would be with the href syntax? I’m confused about how this works.
You might be able to with Markdown:
I’m not sure – I’l have to look into it
Reading your thoughts on Death Note here I just started thinking about all the times people say in eulogies, ‘they were so full of life’. That is a really horrible thought that all these random deaths of people might be because some bored death god just randomly scribbled their name down to extend their own life.
oh no – I did not mean to create anime related existential crisis
FMA Brotherhood: technically, with Father, not the Furher, behind everything, even if that ice alchemist had succeeded, it would not have stopped anything.
Soul Eater: We have people being used like inanimate objects (that can still be bred with) which eat the souls of humans (albeit corrupted ones… usually) and of witches (whether they’re evil or not) in order to get stronger, and there’s an entire academic institution built upon this practice.
Trigun: …wait, what? That wasn’t mentioned! …at least, not in the anime…
In the manga he’s 15 then 18 in trigun maximum
Fridge Horror…well….I was completely unfamiliar with this term (so I learn something new every day 😅). Of course I have been wracking my brain already for your last question, and an example I can think of right now was in Shin Sekai Yori (yes…I AM watching this one right now lol), episode 4. The history lesson that the library was giving the children and seeing what had happened to the world was one of those moments, where I went…wait …what…oh no. Oh Nooooooo!! 😊😊
Oh my, I hope you (I’m not sure if enjoy is the right word) Shin Sekai Yori!
Absolutely: have reached episode 5 now, and so far it’s really been a blast 😊😊 So thanks for pointing me to this one! 😀