Anime has a lot of different genres, but one of the consistently quality ones over the years has been horror. In animation, horror writers have very few limitations and are not held back by anything like live-action can be sometimes. They can create terrifying monsters that stretch the imagination, horrible situations that we can only pray we never have to experience ourselves, and dark atmospheres that really add to the aesthetic of a story. Anime has had great horror titles for a long time, and the 2010s are no exception. In fact, horror anime seems to just keep getting better all the time, and continues to have new and unique ideas!
So while there are plenty of horror anime that came out in the last decade, we have chosen our top 10 favourites. And let us tell you, it was no easy feat. With zombies, monsters, blood, and gore galore out there, it was tough to narrow down our list. In the end, we chose the anime that left the longest impressions in our psyches, had the best characters and narrative development, pushed the limits with blood, and memorable animation. We hope you enjoy our list and it gives you a great place to start the new decade while we wait for what anime will bring us next.
10. Shinsekai yori (From the New World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Sep. 2012 - Mar. 2013
Psychokinesis suddenly appeared in 0.1% of the population in Shinsekai yori, and while that might not sound like much, these people gained the ability to manipulate the very matter around them. This lead to violence, political upheaval, and oppressive regimes that only came to an end when a fragile peace was made and the psychokinetic people moved into their own society. Years later, Saki Watanabe and her friends at Sage Academy are just coming to their abilities. But not all children in their closed-off world develop these abilities, and Saki begins to wonder what happens to those who do not. Especially, when children start to disappear and the dark reality behind their utopia starts to reveal itself.
Shinsekai yori might not be your usual idea of a horror story, but don’t let that put you off from checking it out. The horror unfolds slowly as the reality of the dark society that Saki and her friends are growing up in is revealed. What appears to be a utopia turns out to be anything but one, and it’s children who are suffering because of it. And if you’re a fan of telekinesis and other phenomena of the mind, Shinsekai yori is an anime you won’t want to miss. While it won’t have jump scares, you’ll still be at the edge of your seat with the tense atmosphere and slow-burning but equally dark story.
9. Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2012 - Jun. 2012
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is set at Seikyou Academy, a school that has been haunted for over 60 years by a spirit named Yuuko who mysteriously died in the building’s basement of unknown causes. Yuuko is also the main character of the anime. She cannot remember anything about her life or death, so she finds and leads the Paranormal Investigations Club to try to find answers. Alongside freshman student Teiichi Niiya, Yuuko conducts many investigations into Seikyou Academy’s secrets and troubled history, all the while inching closer to the truth about her own demise.
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a mystery horror anime that stars a ghost as the lead character! It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing all along the way as the dark truths of Seikyou Academy are brought to light. Researching her own death also reveals even more macabre secrets that Yuuko may not want to actually learn as the closer she comes to answers, the more disturbing the story actually is. If you like ghosts and mysteries, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia may be your best horror anime of the decade.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Jul. 2010 - Sep. 2010
Megumi Shimizu is only 15 years old at the start of Shiki, living in the small village of Sotoba with dreams of moving to the big city. But before she can make those dreams come true, she falls victim to a bloody and terrible epidemic that hits her village, colouring an entire summer red with blood and claiming many lives. Doctor Toshio Ozaki and Natsuno Yuuki form an unlikely pair as they try to investigate the deaths—only to learn that the people of Sotoba are being turned into vampires! And those vampires are fighting to survive, with nothing else on their minds but their strong will to live.
Shiki is adapted from a horror novel, and they did a great job. The anime is tense and exciting, bringing a new twist to tired vampire stories. Shiki blurs the line between good and evil, showing that it’s never that easy to distinguish between the two. What exactly makes a human, and what makes a monster? These are the kinds of questions Shiki seeks to explore, all the while full of disease, blood, and underlying fear. For fans of traditional horror, like vampires, but looking for something new, Shiki delivers in full. Plus the animation is gorgeous!
7. Deadman Wonderland
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2011 - Jul. 2011
Deadman Wonderland opens with Ganta Igarashi and his classmates preparing for a class trip to a jail amusement park of the same name, where dangerous criminals perform dangerous acts for the amusement of others—and their freedom. But everything gets turned upside when Ganta’s entire class is brutally murdered and he is blamed for it, and sentenced to that very same jail he was going to visit. He is forced into a terrifying life amongst the other twisted inmates with a lethal collar around his neck, his imminent death only held off by winning games in this cruel amusement park. He wants to find the real murderer of his classmates to clear his name, but he has to survive Deadman Wonderland first.
Deadman Wonderland is a survival horror anime similar to movies like Saw, where the main character is forced to do death-defying tricks and games for someone else in exchange for their life. A lot of the material in Deadman Wonderland is twisted, macabre, and sometimes downright uncomfortable. The other inmates that Ganta interacts with are true criminals who are being punished to death for their crimes, and it shows in their characters. Even just the concept behind Deadman Wonderland with humans being willing to watch other humans perform dangerous acts for their amusement, criminals or not, is a dark look into the human psyche. For those wanting psychological horror coupled with some gore, Deadman Wonderland is a good fit.
6. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2016 - Jul. 2016
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is set in an alternate industrial revolution where a virus sweeps through humanity, creating monsters called “Kabane” that feed on the flesh of others. They can only be stopped by having their steel hearts destroyed. The only pieces of humanity who survived this epidemic now live behind huge walls in fortified cities that can only be accessed by heavily armoured trains that run between them, which are constantly attacked by Kabane. One young engineer named Ikoma, though, believes he had created a weapon that can fight the Kabane. When things don’t go as planned and he gets bitten and starts to turn, though, his life is changed forever.
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is a zombie horror anime with an awesome steampunk twist. The Kabane behave like typical zombies, attacking in hoards and trying to destroy what little remains of humanity. When people are bitten, they slowly turn into Kabane to the horror of their friends and family as well. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has a lot of tense action in fights, chase scenes, and some really crazy train manoeuvres. It also deals with what it’s like for Ikoma to slowly become what he hates the most, and the fear of losing what makes him human as he does all he can to keep the Kabane virus at bay in his own body. If you like fantasy and horror, and especially zombies, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is a fantastic watch from this past decade that sadly got overlooked by many people.
5. Ajin (Ajin: Demi-Human)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan. 2016 - Apr. 2016
Ajin is set in a world where mysterious immortal humans, called “Ajin,” exist. They aren’t considered to be human by society and are immediately arrested upon their discovery as they are seen as a threat to all humankind. Kei Nagai is a seemingly normal medical school student who gets pulled unwittingly into everything when he survives being hit by a truck. It turns out that he, too, is an Ajin! And now he’s on the run to keep both his life and his freedom, seemingly alone. But there may be even more Ajin around than he ever realised...
Ajin uses a unique, gritty animation style paired with its scary plot and violence to create a horror vibe. It’s got plenty of tense action sequences and fights, all featuring the dark powers of the Ajin. The action starts right from the first episode, too, not wasting time to get into the main plot and keep the audience gripped and wondering what is going to happen next. Ajin is a mix between a monster horror story and a supernatural story, and the end result is a great horror anime of our decade.
4. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte -the maxim-)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2014 - Mar. 2015
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu is a contemporary horror anime set in Japan where a race of tiny aliens invades. That may not sound scary at first, but these aliens burrow into humans’ brains, take over their heads, and then prey on unsuspecting others by morphing their hosts’ heads into a variety of terrifying forms. When high schooler Shinichi Izumi is about to become a host himself, the alien isn’t able to enter his ear because he’s wearing headphones. Weak on its own, the alien instead takes over Shinichi’s right arm. Both the parasite, nicknamed Migi, and Shinichi both retain their consciousness, and have to start a life lived sharing the same body. But Shinichi’s life will never be the same with a hungry parasitic alien controlling his arm.
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu may sound like it has a weird premise—and you’re right, it really does. But in practise, the idea is actually quite terrifying. The aliens can morph into horrendous forms replacing their hosts’ heads, and they tend to violently eat their unsuspecting victims (usually the closest family and friends of the unfortunate host). Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu has plenty of blood and carnage, and a lot of surprises, too. It’s a sci-fi creature horror without the sci-fi setting, making it that much easier to imagine it happening right under our very noses.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2012 - Mar. 2012
Class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School is cursed in Another. Ever since a student named Misaki died from that same class in 1972, it has never been the same. Every year, one student is ignored by all the other students and teachers to keep the curse at bay. But transfer student Kouichi Sakakibara doesn’t know about the dark curse and befriends a mysterious girl named Mei Misaki against her warnings. It turns out she is the girl being ignored in their year. But once Kouichi befriends her, their classmates begin to die horrible deaths one by one. And it’s up to Kouichi and Misaki to find out why the class has been cursed and try to stop the curse’s vengeance.
Another is a well-known horror anime and for good reason. It’s full of incredibly memorable deaths (like falling down the stairs and being stabbed with an umbrella or being caught in a boat propeller) that will make any viewer nervous the next time they’re in a similar situation. It’s got ghosts stories, curses, nightmares, and more. Plus, it has an entire shop of creepy porcelain dolls and a leading character that may or may not be dead. Combine all of those things together and you’ve got a properly scary horror anime - and that’s exactly what Another is.
2. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Jan. 2018
In Devilman: Crybaby, devils are able to take form in the human realm by possessing someone and changing their body into their own beastly form. But if a person is strong enough to overcome the will of the devil, they will instead transform into a Devilman. This is exactly what happens to unassuming Akira Fudou when he attends a dark night of debauchery with his friend, Ryou Asuka. The party is crashed by devils that possess the partygoers, and when one tries to possess Akira, he turns into a Devilman and is able to defeat all the others. With his newfound powers, Akira fights alongside Ryou to try to stop the devils who are possessing and destroying other people.
Devils and possession already make it clear what kind of anime Devilman: Crybaby is. It’s a horror anime for demon and supernatural fans, and it doesn’t disappoint. The story and animation are great, the perspective is fresh, and the violence is, well. Very violent, which definitely makes it an exciting watch. Everyone knew that Netflix was great at creating live-action originals, but what Devilman: Crybaby proved this decade is that Netflix can also make one hell of an anime. And for horror fans, it’s great news that one of the best anime to release was a horror one.
1. Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2014 - Sep. 2014
Tokyo Ghoul is set in a modern Tokyo that feels familiar, but with one massive difference—alongside humans, there also live ghouls. While ghouls have the appearance of a normal person, they can only live by ingesting the flesh of humans. Any other kind of food (the only exception being black coffee) makes them sick. Ken Kaneki lives in this world without knowing much about the ghoul side of things, until a date takes a very terrifying turn when the woman he is with tries to eat him! Both are involved in a serious accident, though, and Kaneki is saved only by having some of the woman’s organs transplanted into him. He becomes a human/ghoul hybrid, forced to toe the line between both worlds.
Tokyo Ghoul is a new take on zombie horror. The ghouls are born that way instead of turned, and have an established ghoul society. But they still hunt and eat humans, often in terrifying and bloody ways. Tokyo Ghoul has a lot of blood and carnage, so while it’s not great for those with a weak stomach, it’s awesome for people looking for that kind of horror anime. A lot of the concepts are very dark as well, such as Kaneki and his friends choosing to eat suicide victims rather than hunting living people. Tokyo Ghoul is full of action and violence with a very dark aesthetic, and became popular for a reason—it’s a really good horror anime.
Are you ready to get scared? Or at least a little bit creeped out? Whatever you’re hoping for, there are plenty of great horror anime that dropped in the last decade that you can check out. With everything from psychological horror to zombies to creature features and gore, anime has given us a lot of great horrors. And luckily, rather than sort through it all yourself, we have given you our list of favourites to get started. But don’t let us stop you from finding even more! Anime has always been giving us great horror stories and probably will continue to forever. So enjoy some of our top picks from the 2010s, and let’s start the new decade ready for some more great scares!
Did we miss your favourite horror anime of the 2010s? Would you have changed our order around some? Have you watched any of these anime, or are you going to watch some of them now? What was your favourite horror anime of the 2010s? What is it about horror anime that you like so much? We would love to hear all your thoughts in the comments section!