Here at Honey’s Anime we love all things horror and we are extremely brave little bees when it comes to anything scary. Hearing a doorbell ring and then have the handle shake with a possible killer behind it doesn’t scare us in the slightest. While we write the rest of this article in an extremely bright room with all the lights on and the doors blocked by mounds of manga, we began to wonder; is hyper-violence also horror?
Hyperviolent anime like Elfen Lied, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls, Parasyte, and When They Cry all are given a place in the horror genre but are they really scary or just extreme blood fests? Let’s see if we can answer that question…right after we check to make sure no one’s outside our windows…
What Is Scary About Blood Baths?
Watching a little girl kill another person with an oversized hatchet is kind of horrifying but not really scary. In our minds, hyper-violent actions aren’t what scares the viewers, it's the visual results from said actions that are the scary element. No one wants to believe that a girl like Rena Ryuuguu—from Higurashi—could hurt a fly as she loves cute things and KFC-like mascots but the horror comes when she does go berserk and unleashes hell on her victims.
Witnessing death from unlikely sources is pretty scary, especially when you begin to wonder if someone in your own world could be capable of such atrocities. The scare isn’t watching Rena hack up her pals while laughing, it’s the blood spewing on screen and seeing limbs line the floor that inspires fear! Blood baths in anime are scary because you know what caused them and also had to bear witness to it.
Violence Equals Fear?
A common theme in most horror anime is violence, better known as hyper-violence. Rarely will you see an anime series labeled horror without an extreme amount of violence poured into it. Here’s an assignment for you if you don’t believe us, go on sites like My Anime List and search horror anime, then find one series that doesn’t have hyper-violence thrown in. Violence is horror and here’s some proof for those who need it.
Most horror series—whether they be anime or films—rely on using violence because it creates what is known as shock value. The premise behind shock value is to make the viewer literally get surprised to heighten their adrenaline. This is what also activates our fear response. When you see a ghostly figure fly at a person and maim them, that is shock value! Violence is the best form of shock value as you are literally shocked to see a person or thing kill in such a gruesome way.
Could Anime Horror Work Without Hyper-Violence?
This question might seem easy to answer for some of you. In a simple answer, we'd probably say 'yes' but, if we really debate that question in our minds, we get a different answer. Hyper-violence is kind of a needed element in horror anime. Just like oppai is needed in a harem series—who would watch a harem series without ecchi—violence is a staple of the horror genre. Lucy from Elfen Lied is only scary when she beheads enemies/threats, which is what makes her so terrifying! Yes, she’s a little cutie when she’s not unleashing psychic powers on her foes but that’s what makes the show scary, a powerful entity in an unlikely form. Equally, without her extreme violent actions, her kills wouldn’t be scary, they would just be regular kills.
Anime Horror Needs Violence, Blood, and Death
Horror anime can be quite diverse with shows like King’s Game, The Lost Village, High-Rise Invasion, and The Promised Neverland. Each of those shows uses different means of delivering horror but each one equally relies on the tropes horror has established. Horror anime needs hyper-violence and blood baths because, without them, they would just end up being weak scares. Imagine Danganronpa without death and instead throw in tickles for the losers. It would be ridiculous, horror is like the perfect cookie, if you know how to make that cookie perfect then do it again…don’t mess it up by adding something unneeded.
We love horror anime and with Halloween around the corner—time flies doesn’t it—now is the perfect time to watch some horror anime classics. We’ve mentioned a bunch of horror anime greats in our article but we’d love to hear your favorites. Comment below with some of your favorite horror anime and let us know why they should be viewed by the entire anime community! For even more horror-themed articles be sure to keep stuck to our currently blanket-covered hive here at Honey’s Anime!