“It was a dark and stormy night….”
Horror in the arts and entertainment, has existed for as long as stories have been told. Sharing these scary tales attempts to draw out one’s worst fears, nightmares and terrors of the supernatural and the unknown. Elevated senses and searching for something or someone to hide behind, horror literature and films are a thrilling adventure that may sometimes leave an imprint for a few days after. Most importantly, these tales influence our imagination, questioning whether or not the elements may hold some truth. So in this article, the following titles hold a strong emphasis in the horror genre. Moreover, some of the choices are stand-alone original pieces, while a few have a foundation in manga and TV series. So without further ado, as we are gathered around the fire, here is our list of top 10 horror anime movies! Dare to be scared!
10. Hengen Taima Yakou Karura Mau! Nara Onryou Emaki (Karura Mau Movie)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: April 8, 1989
Karura Mau Movie captures the lives of two sisters, Shoko and Maiko Ougi. As seemingly normal high school students, they spend a majority of their time doing regular teenage activities. However, a remainder of their time is spent exorcising evil entities. The two sisters are powerful exorcists from the Karura temple and with their combined abilities, the girls are able to see and banish these spirits back to their proper place. Facing an array of scary supernatural beings, watch the girls take on these foes, all before the next school day!
Karura Mau Movie has all the elements of a scary horror, including zombies, gore, historical Japanese occultism, evil spirits, and exorcisms. In addition to these eerie aspects, the film is complemented with a lot of action sequences between the girls, other accompanying characters, and the countless monsters that all appear super evil and gross. Although the old school animation can be a bit unappealing compared to the newer stuff on this list, definitely give Karura Mau Movie a shot, it’s pretty creepy.
9. Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten (1991) (The Restaurant of Many Orders)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: 1991
The setting of this film begins in a dark forest, as two men and their hounds exit their vehicle to commence a hunt. As the hounds take off, the men are suddenly startled by the sound of one of their hounds in pain, reaching it too late. Curious to find out what happened to their hound, the men pick up again. Maneuvering the forest, the hunters discover a restaurant with a sign notating, “Please do come in. Those who are young and plump are especially welcome.” Unbothered by the message, they enter the restaurant. As they check out the various attractions within, they are once again startled by a noise. “Please understand that this is a restaurant of many orders.” As the hunters venture deeper into the place, they realize that they are being hunted themselves. How will they escape? Watch and see if they do.
Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten is a short film that contains a well-developed storyline. This very simplistic approach, combined with classic monochromatic animation, definitely gives off creepy vibes. Additionally, each scene and picture is accompanied with very dramatic instrumentals; intensifying the most climatic moments as well as offering brief periods of calmness…very brief periods (lol).
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: August 21, 1987
Another short film, Muramasa starts off with this message: “A man with arms which can kill people like puppets is not aware that he himself has already become a puppet.” Very mysterious! What can it mean? Incorporating distinguishable components of the Japanese culture, we see the silhouette of a proud samurai warrior. We also hear the sounds of classical string and wind instruments, in addition to the therapeutic chanting of monks. On his journey, the samurai notices a straw dummy with a sword embedded in its body. The samurai takes the sword, admiring its strength and beauty. However, his sensei notices something ominous about the sword, looking on with disapproval. Within a short amount of time, the samurai and the sword are bonded, turning him into a terrible, destructive force.
Although less than nine minutes long, Muramasa shares a dreadfully frightening idea: sometimes, the lust for power and ambition can blind one’s sense of value and purpose. Principally, the way of the samurai was founded on such ideals as Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Zen, and recognizes such qualities as honor and loyalty. However, our samurai’s fidelity was misdirected, leading him down a path away from this essential philosophy, and resulting in his transformation into a monster himself.
7. Youjuu Toshi (Wicked City)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: April 25, 1987
In the anime film Wicked City, two universes coexist, although very few know of its existence. One dimension is Earth and the other is called the Black World, a place where the supernatural reside. For many centuries, Earth and the Black World have been able to maintain peace and harmony with a special treaty in place. However, as a significant amount of time has passed since these terms were negotiated, opponents of this treaty from the Black World have made it their mission to do what they can to prevent this peace and unity from taking place once more. As such, to put an end to this conflict, the moderators and defenders of both worlds, the Black Guards, are tasked with making sure this treaty is instituted again.
Wicked City takes a traditional approach to the ever-popular theme of “bad guys versus good guys”, and mixes it well with the supernatural and a little hint of romance. As Wicked City contains some mature sexual content and violence, please be forewarned that some scenes are a bit more extreme than expected. Moreover, the small cast of characters really complements the storyline. With a majority of the events unfolding in the night, some may have heard that this is the time when the monsters come out to play.
6. Kakurenbo (Kaurenbo: Hide and Seek)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 1, 2004
Countless rumors surround a mysterious town. Ghosts, disappearances, demons, no one knows for sure what has happened there. Otokoyo is a secret game the people in the town used to play…it’s a game of hide and seek. Sometimes, the streets are illuminated and turned into a maze-like setting, with only signs to guide the way. When the signs light up “O, to, ko, and yo”, you will be able to exit, arriving at Otokoyo Square. At the square, seven children greet you, and this is where the game really begins. So put on your fox mask and get ready for what’s to come.
This film is reminiscent of a time when many of us may have ventured off into a location rumored to be haunted. Kakurenbo takes the kid’s game of hide and seek and boosts the anxieties of being found to a million percent! With some of the characters starting off strong and cocky, this quickly turns, as many of them are continuously startled, jumpy, and completely on edge. Furthermore, Kakurebo has hair-raising elements identical to western horror films, such as creepy, little girl laughter, colossal beasts, and various figures emerging from and vanishing into thin air.
5. Ajin Part I: Shoudou
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: November 27, 2015
In the anime film Ajin Part I, we discover that humans and Ajin co-exist. Appearing very much like humans, the only factor that sets them apart is the fact that once they die, they can revive themselves instantly. With this immortality, not much else is known about their species other than the government’s regulation on their existence, taking them into custody to ‘study’ their nature. Additionally, many recognize Ajin as creatures that are subhuman. Our main character is Kei Nagai, who appears as your normal high school student, until one day, he emerges from a fatal accident that should have claimed his life. From this, news has traveled globally and Kei has found himself on the run. Moreover, Kei discovers that there are more Ajin in existence than he once expected.
In the wise words of Hermione Granger, “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” This couldn’t be truer once the world was exposed to the rise of ajin living among humans. Although some ajin are kind and harmless, the scary nature of fear often drives people to commit acts that are dangerous in order to preserve the general population. Even though both species could have continued to co-exist, revolutionary figures that have decided to use their ajin ability in a negative way, i.e. summoning their black ghost residing in their subconscious, set the tone for an “us versus them” environment.
4. Ibara no Ou (King of Thorn)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: October 9, 2009
Probably one of the scariest things is being locked away for a long period of time, in the hope that you and several others can help find the cure for a viral epidemic. This is what partially happens in the anime film Ibara no Ou, or, King of Thorn. As the world is swiftly succumbing to the deadly virus Medusa, a girl named Katsumi has been selected, along with 160 individuals, to be stored in a Cold Sleep Capsule Center. With a positive prognosis being very slim, the participants have nothing to lose, falling into a slumber and hoping to wake to a new and cured world. However, the worst is yet to come, as Katsumi comes to an era where creatures and monsters have devoured all of what they have known. From this, we watch these ancient survivors outlast this strange, new world.
King of Thorn is popularly recognized as a modern rendition of “Sleeping Beauty with a twist.” The beginning of the film starts off on a pretty dark and dramatic note. When it all appears as if everything is under control because someone steps in and says “we have the cure!”, we are surprisingly mistaken, as everyone later on emerges into hysteria and chaos. Wondering how our interesting and dynamic group of characters will survive another apocalypse, we are then sadly reminded, and perhaps a little terrified, about how we would react to something like this IRL.
3. Blood: The Last Vampire
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: November 18, 2000
The year is 1966. Blood: The Last Vampire follows Saya, a 14-year-old girl who hunts down Teropterids, creatures that bear a similar appearance to vampires and demons, and can only survive by consuming human blood. Being the best in the game, Saya is given a new assignment: to go undercover as a student at a high school located within a military base. Her objective is to eliminate all of the creatures disguising themselves as humans.
As Blood: The Last Vampire is only 48 minutes long, character development is not as present as we would like, but it does make up for it by including a ton of action scenes. Bundled with a lot of violence, blood, and mutilation, Blood: The Last Vampire is a film likely to fill your dreams with horrific nightmares. Furthermore, Saya isn’t your average, cheery 14-year-old in a school uniform, but a tough, badass cookie!
2. Vampire Hunter D (2000)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: August 25, 2000
The story revolves around the infamous vampire hunter, D, who during a time when society has not overcome the differences between humans and vampires, has been accepted because of his success in capturing vampires. Once again, D is called upon to rescue a woman named Charlotte Elbourne who is from a very high-class family. At the request of Charlotte’s father, offering a generous bounty, D takes on the job to bring her home, dead or alive. As D competes with other bounty hunters, he encounters various twists and run-ins, challenging his and their own strengths and weaknesses.
Vampire Hunter D holds a classic and timeless storyline found in many horror films and literature, surrounded in dark animation and mysterious characteristics. However, what separates this film from many others are the countless action scenes tied into the array of sci-fi, vampires/supernatural, and cowboy/western themes. In keeping with the traditional scary creatures, it also incorporates modern elements and breathtaking graphic animation.
1. Perfect Blue
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: February 28, 1998
Perfect Blue is a story about Mima Kirigoe, a famous J-pop idol who wants to leave the music industry, and get her big break as an actress. Being such a huge mega star, Mima has some difficulty on this path. Wanting to create a new image and shedding her old persona, she takes on a role in a crime-drama series, which proves to be more than she can manage. Adding more to her troubles, Mima has to deal with a psycho stalker, a bashing website that documents her most intricate details, murders, and the success of CHAM! without her. Slowly losing it, Mima is having a rough time distinguishing what’s real and her fantasies.
There’s a Japanese proverb that states, “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows” and that’s the really scary part. Perfect Blue includes so many plot twists, it’ll leave you wondering, “How did they think that up?” It also includes a busy storyline that is bound to keep you intrigued and fixated. Utilizing such a unique design to convey Mima’s psychological breakdown, Perfect Blue is both mystical and twisted at the same time. Essentially, we rate this at number one because of its realism; where a seemingly simple decision can somehow go off target, consequently deteriorating one’s mental and emotional state. Overall, the author does a fantastic job depicting this descent. Additionally, Perfect Blue contains a lot of detailed violence, nudity, and sexual scenes.
Based on popularity, we hope you enjoyed our choices of top 10 horror anime movies! A few of these mentioned are some popular, well-known titles, while others are a little older, but still goodies! Also, we may be cheating the list a bit, but some other titles to check out are Akira (1988) and Paprika (2006), with Akira being a bit more on the Psychological, Sci-fi side and Paprika sharing these qualities as well, adding a touch of fantasy and thriller. Even though we’ve exceeded our 10 anime limit, comment below on any suggestions or other great titles that we’ve missed. Thanks for tuning in! See ya!