There are seemingly endless numbers of anime genres out there, appealing to an incredibly wide audience with how different each one can be. Many of these genres are very specific and are actually sub-genres of an original, bigger idea. One of these umbrella genres is “supernatural.” Supernatural anime is a kind of parent genre which encompasses many other sub-genres of anime. These sub-genres all are also supernatural anime, but may not overlap with each other otherwise. Today we will be exploring supernatural anime through horror, thriller, and demon anime which are three of the most popular sub-genres.
To start, let’s talk about what a supernatural anime is. Supernatural anime must include elements of, which, the supernatural! That means ghosts, demons, vampires, black magic, werewolves, rituals, and the like. Usually, supernatural anime have a darker, more serious tone, but it’s not always the case as there are a few supernatural comedy anime out there. But considering its dark subject matter, usually supernatural anime are more somber than others, and some may actually be scary or violent.
Horror anime are one of the most popular sub-genres of supernatural anime. They share similarities with horror movies, such as blood and gore, murder, jump scares, and terrifying monsters. Horror anime often draw on the supernatural rather than a plot grounded in reality. More often than not, they have some kind of ghost or monster, black magic rituals, or even something like alternate dimensions. Using the dark fantasy that supernatural anime provides, horror anime can tell truly mind-bending and nightmare-inducing stories. After all, they aren’t bound by the same limitations or rules that live action horror may face.
While not the most popular genre of all time, there are still quite a few horror titles out there for fans to enjoy. Another is the tale of a cursed class where each student is slowly dying one by one in horrible ways. Berserk is a dark fantasy horror where the lead mercenary has to try to survive in a world of horrible and violent monsters. Or if you want to see something incredibly unnerving and violent, check out Blue Gender. It follows a man who wakes up from cryogenic sleep in the middle of a war between humans and insect-like aliens that are trying to eat everyone. Horror anime is definitely the darkest side of the supernatural anime world.
Horror a bit too gory and gruesome for you, but you’re still looking for a little bit of excitement? Luckily, supernatural anime has also given birth to a thriller sub-genre! These anime are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat with nail-biting, intense narratives that throw in a lot of twists and turns. These anime may be mystery stories, suspenseful survival games, or high tension situations. And of course, to be in the supernatural category, they throw in curveballs in the shape of alternate dimensions, monsters, black magic and more to keep your heart racing.
If you’re tired of anime that you’re able to predict, the thriller sub-genre should be your next stop. Be sure to watch School Days for a starter - you may think it’s a slice of life romance but you’ll never see the twists coming. Mononoke (and we don’t mean the Studio Ghibli story) is an often over-looked psychological thriller about a medicine man travelling through Edo Japan fighting evil spirits. Finally, one of the most well-known thriller anime is Psycho-Pass, set in a dystopian future where you are judged based on a computer system that watches your every move, and is happy to eliminate you if you break too many rules.
One of the most specific but popular sub-genres of supernatural anime is demon anime. These anime, quite obviously, are about demons. Demons have to play a predominant role in the story to really be considered a demon anime, but they can feature this in many ways. In some demon anime, a demon is the main character, like Ao no Exorcist. In other demon anime, the demons are enemies or monsters that must be defeated, such as in D.Grey-Man. You can expect black magic, rituals, exorcisms, and the like from supernatural demon anime. Most demon anime have a dark tone, and some are violent and scary. Less commonly, some demon anime may take a more light-hearted approach to their stories, but it’s much harder to find this kind of demon anime.
In addition to Ao no Exorcist and D.Grey-Man, which are two of the most famous supernatural demon anime, there are a few other titles to help you get started in this genre. Kuroshitsuji features a demon butler that is very classy and tasteful at first glance but has a ruthless side and will do anything to protect the soul he has been promised. If you do want to try a more light-hearted demon anime, The Devil is a Part-Timer! is a hilarious anime where Satan himself works at a fast food restaurant after finding himself without magic powers in Tokyo. Demon anime have a lot of versatility in how they can be presented, but what they all have in common is their supernatural core.
Supernatural anime is not the same as fantasy anime, another popular parent genre, though they may both have magic. Remember that supernatural anime must have a darker theme; instead of elves and faeries, it has demons and witches. Within supernatural anime there are many sub-genres, with horror, thriller, and demon anime only being three of the most common. There are also vampire anime, some mystery anime, some death game anime, and more that can also be considered supernatural. If an anime is using black magic and monsters, you can bet it’s some kind of supernatural anime. So what sub-genre is your favourite supernatural story?
Do you have a favourite sub-genre of supernatural anime? How about a great supernatural anime to recommend to fans that may be looking at this article to get into the genre? Is there another genre of anime you would like to see a similar article exploring? Drop us a comment below!