I am qualifying this one, in at least two ways.
First, there are a number of shocking things out there, and I am a pushover, so I am qualifying this as a shocking moment which did not stop me from watching more of the anime in question.
Second, I am making a distinction between “shocking,” in terms of inciting an intense emotional reaction, and “bizarre, twisted, disgusting, disturbing, etc.”
This the part where I might offer examples of things which either do or do not fit my criteria. But considering the criteria, I think I’d rather not take my brain and systematically hammer chisels into the cracks, thank you very much.
So, to get straight to it, the most shocking moment in anime, for me, is…
Every single time a giant eats someone in Attack on Titan.
There’s no shortage of bloody, brutal death in this anime. People of all personalities and ages are crushed, stepped on, or otherwise obliterated by the invading giants. These are not gentle, easy scenes, but easily the most jarring, intense moments are when humans die by being eaten. There is just something so horrifyingly visceral about it. In those moments, when they’re lifted towards a gaping mouth, people are robbed of all power to save themselves, no matter how they squirm or try to fight. All they can do, as their last moments in life are prolonged into agonizing, maddening, humiliating misery, is scream. And weep.
These are human beings, treated like livestock. No, not even livestock. We kill livestock before eating it. The terror is multiplied exponentially by how the giants don’t care if the people they swallow are alive or dead.
And these scenes are not exactly what one can call “scarce.” In twenty-five episodes and three OVAs, I count no less than twenty-four scenes, two dozen demonstrated instances, of humans meeting their demise specifically by the mouths of giants. That’s not even counting every other method of dying, or the ones eaten when they were already dead. It’s also without counting what are easily hundreds of thousands of similar deaths referred to without being shown. Heck, humanity itself has been pushed to the brink of extinction for a century, with roughly one million survivors left huddling in a corner. That’s a lot of dead people, a great number of them eaten.
(EDIT: Two more OVAs. One more indisputable death by eating, and several which are intimated to have happened in such a way, so we’ll say twenty-five. And good grief, when season two comes out, that is so going to balloon again.)
Finally, there’s proof of how the giants don’t need to eat people to survive. They’ve survived a good century without eating humans, after all, and they don’t even have a digestive tract. They just eat people and puke out their bloody, pulped remains, apparently for the fun of it.
There is nothing more jarring, more unnerving, more shocking than seeing your fellow humans reduced to a level far lower than that of “animal.” The very soul of man cries out in the face of such horror, such evil. Why? Because we all know the truth: people are more than mere playthings.
We may be specks of dust in the universe, we may all be eaten by the giant we call “time,” and we may be pushed around and played with by lesser humans who seem like giants to us… but nonetheless, we matter!
So, to finish with a question, the question that such powerful, shocking moments make us ask ourselves: what are we going to do with what we feel?