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Previously we had published a list for Top 10 Horror Anime almost a year and a half ago. In order to keep up to date with current shows, it is important to update from time to time, we bring you now an updated list! Be sure to also scroll down and read our previous list as well!
Horror can run down a lot of different routes. There’s the horror that shocks you with a sudden jump scare forcing a little shriek from your mouth. There’s also the horror that sticks to you through a sense of paranoia that infects your head and gives you nightmares. There’s even some moments where horror is derived from just the sheer amount of gore that assaults your sight. Pulling from shows that masterfully portray at least one aspect of horror, if not ingenuously blending each together, this list is one best to watch with a friend. Don’t forget to scroll down below and you’ll see some similarities as there are just some shows that can’t be beat, but also some differences as new contenders over the past couple years have established themselves with the best of the best.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan. 2016 – Apr. 2016
As one of the most recent horror anime on this list, Ajin, takes us into a world of terrorism, misinformation, and immortals. For a long time Ajin, supernatural/immortal beings, have lived in relative peace with humanity. At least that’s the status quo as there have only been a couple documented interactions. However, this all changes in Japan when one psychopathic Ajin, Satou, begins to bomb and terrorize the city all the while wearing his trademark close-eyed grin.
Ajin succeeds in providing a unique blend of horror for its viewers. Between the gritty action sequences of Satou capping people in the foot, knee, face with a shotgun (still smiling) and moments of nationwide paranoia, you’ll be kept on pins and needles. Though many might not like the animation style, Polygon Pictures’s choice of CG is actually used to great effect. It creates this sort of puppetry quality, despite being very fluid, that unsettles the nerves. Most people feel like they’re wearing a mask of some sort and so it’s hard to weed through what’s true and what’s not.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2012 – Mar. 2012
Another sends you off to Class 3-3 of Yomiyama North, the class of which a popular student died within back in 1972. As we follow Kouichi Sakakibara into this classroom, we’re immediately thrown off balance by a rather eerie, gloom-filled class, complete with the eyepatch-wearing Mei Misaki. Despite, the eyepatch, no one seems to notice her except for Kei. Thus following primarily Kouichi and Mei, Another embarks on a quest to discover what phenomenon has been tormenting the students.
This show is practically the anime equivalent of Final Destination, however, with a bit more narrative depth. The horror Another haunts us with is a combination of an extremely tense environment mixed with brutal deaths. Umbrella points impaling bodies, elevators crashing and speed boats cutting bodies apart are just a few of the type of deaths you can expect. Are you cringing yet? Ultimately, Another makes you aware and afraid of everything you do. Is it safe to be twirling this pencil about my fingers? What if it slips and pierces an eye. Time to put it down.
8. Gakkou Gurashi
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sep. 2015
Often times, the high school years are seen as the golden years of life. Yuki Takeya understands that her time in high school has been so great at Megurigaoka that she never wants to leave. However, the backdrop of her friends and all the awesome times they’ve had in their club is simply a façade. In truth, a zombie outbreak has left them isolated in their school. The other survivors are torn psychologically between the horror of their current predicament and their attempts to create a blissful world for Yuki, if not for themselves as well.
Gakkou Gurashi’s horror is particularly well done in its contrast with the rather youthful animation style and character designs. This contrast dissects the reality of the situation and creates a confusing mess of emotions that you will need to sort through. Essentially, his show is a breeding ground for paranoia because so much of it depends on deception. Thus, it’s difficult at times to trust what you’re being presented. Nonetheless, it keeps you attached as you’ll be constantly wondering two things: will they survive and who’s really saving who in this terrifying situation.
7. Deadman Wonderland
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2011 – Jul. 2011
Deadman Wonderland is a terrifying adventure from beginning to end. It throws into what seems to be an average school life anime, but then Ganta Igarashi’s entire classroom is blown up and he is framed for the crime. From that point he enters the maddening, horror-filled world of the prison Deadman Wonderland.
Each episode of Deadman Wonderland has at least one moment that makes you turn your head and cringe, physically in pain from the brutality and gore. His classroom being blown up and the carnage afterwards was already pretty gruesome, but the horror is taken to the extreme when shown the false video during the trial. The scene, in rather sickening detail, portrays a reel of atrocity, including the raping of a dead body. That’s how this show starts off. From there, its blood and death from obstacle course killing fields to underground fighting rings. Adding fuel to every moment is the disturbed nature of most of the characters, with several murderers having an almost child-like demeanor that will send shivers down your back.
6. Kara no Kyoukai 5: Mujun Rasen (The Garden of Sinners: Paradox Spiral)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug. 2008
This fifth chapter of the Kara no Kyoukai film series follows the events following a double homicide committed by Tomoe Enjou. To Tomoe’s confusion though, it doesn’t seem that the media or police are covering the case. In fact, he finds out his mother, who he was sure he killed, is still alive.
Despite being the fifth installment of a series, which is altogether worth your time, most people can jump right into this movie without feeling completely lost in its narrative. You will have to pay attention, because the plot can take some drastic turns, but it’s worth every ounce of your attention. Between an intensive noir-like setting with hard lines and dark colors as well as the number of corpses that pile up, Kara no Kyoukai 5: Mujun Rasen is one nightmarish ride. To grasp just how grand of a psychological twist this series can pull off, one character takes over an entire apartment building and causes the occupants to kill one another. From there, he has copies of the inhabitants re-enact their grisly murders/suicides hoping to find a deviation in their deaths. It’s this type of horror that makes up the entire series.
5. Ghost Hunt
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2006 – Mar. 2007
Taniyama Mai’s school has been experiencing quite a few supernatural phenomena. To solve these incidents the principal has called in the president of the Shibuya Psychic Research Company, Shibuya Kazuya. During Kazuya’s initial investigation, Mai happens to interfere and accidentally injure Kazuya’s assistant. Thus, Kazuya drafts her into service and Mai gets to see behind the scenes of the stories she loves to gossip about.
As an anime, Ghost Hunt’s horror is reminiscent of the ghost tales told around a campfire or while spending the night at a friend’s house. At that very moment, the story seems all too possible and immediately you begin to imagine monsters and ghosts to be hiding in the shadows. The show is filled with a range of suspenseful moments, but few have the lasting, bedeviling effect of the time Kazuya finds himself in a silent stare down with a ghost that intends to kill him at the first sign of weakness.
4. Yami Shibai
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: Jul. 2013 – Apr. 2016
Presented in the style of Kamishibai performances, which utilizes paper figures and backgrounds, Yami Shibai has rounded up its third season of terrifying shorts. With each four-minute episode being a standalone story of horror,
Yami Shibai has a few unique qualities that make it stand out from the rest. First, and most obviously, its animation is an artistic mix of kamishibai, photos, and a moment or two of live action that create a peculiar static tension that is impossible to get away from. It creates a certain desire to see them move that’s akin to having an itch you can’t reach. It’s also reminiscent of staring at the dull and lifeless qualities of a doll’s eye, which works extremely well in this show. Mix these qualities in with impeccable sound setting the mood, and you’ll be captivated from season one’s ghost and curses to the inescapable, too-close-to-home situations of the third season. Truly, this show proves that no place is ever safe. From a simple drive home to your bedroom to a bathhouse, evil will find you.
3. Hell Girl
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: Oct. 2005 – Apr. 2007
Have you ever wished death upon someone? Well, Hell Girl gives you a chance for that wish to become reality. In the world that Studio Deen created, Jigoku Tsuushin (Hell Correspondence) allows people to input the names of their enemies onto a website. The peoples whose names are written are then ferried to hell immediately by Ai Enma, while the prosecutor will join them upon death as payment.
Hell Girl’s narrative, style, and sound come together in glorious unison to provide viewers with an exceptional taste horror. From the constant harassment and bullying of victims in the real world to the nightmarish traps for those being punished by Ai, there is always something haunting. When you first experience one of Ai’s nightmarish traps, set up with the help of three straw dolls in the school hallways, you’ll fully understand just how twisted and deceptive this anime is. Do yourself and remember Golden Rule, people.
However, what really pushes this show so far forward is its ability to provide a lasting narrative. Most horror type shows can only provide so many thrills for so long, but Hell Girl is able to successfully introduce character after character, fleshing out the abuse and paranoia created from bullies and stalkers, and convince us as viewers to invest our time into another person’s nightmare.
2. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Sep. 2006
Studio Deen’s 2006 masterpiece, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, follows Keiichi Maebara as he moves to a quiet little village and quickly becomes friends with schoolmates Rena Ryuuguu, Mion Sonozaki, Satoko Houjou, and Rika Furude. As the village gets ready for a festival, the show almost feels as if it’s about to turn into a generic harem. However, Keiichi starts to learn about murders and other terrible events that seem to have some connection with the festival and the village’s patron god, Oyashiro. Like any normal person, Keiichi turns to his friends for advice to find out that they’re not really people he should have ever called friends.
First things first, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is incredibly well-written and staged out. Though, some might be confused when a dead character comes back, the episodes are composed in certain arcs, and it’s honestly for the best as it forces you to piece together certain narrative elements and relationships. Also, it allows us to better analyze the specific mental states of each character by dividing itself into these arcs. With all the madness and mental instability that are depicted in this anime, it might have been too much to handle if it followed a more normal narrative.
Now, the narrative has a lot of other strong suits, such as its ability to suspend our disbelief and make us fully agree that these people we just met are cult/homicidal psychopaths. Nonetheless, the story would not have as much impact as it would have if it wasn’t for the gore that ensued within each episode. People drive pins through a finger and then axe somebody, people throw their own necks into knives, nails get ripped off, and that is only a taste of what this horror fest has in store.
1. Corpse Party
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: Jul 24, 2013
Nine students hold congress in their high school one night to say goodbye to a friend. With youthful tendencies, they decide that this farewell needs to be incorporated with a particular ritual using small paper charm dolls. These dolls, however, are connected to an alternate dimension of an elementary school that used to reside where their high school now stands. A maze of sorts, these nine students must work together to get out of this nightmarish environment.
Cruel ghosts and maddening traps galore, Corpse Party is the Saw of anime. The mastermind behind every trap and ounce of torture that the students face is the ghost Sachiko, a young girl who was murdered back when the grounds were an elementary school. Now, she is one angry ghost and takes a lot of pleasure out of torturing the people who are unlucky enough to be sent to her domain. Whether it’s gouging out eyes, cutting of tongues or cutting a person’s head in half little by little with scissors, Sachiko doesn’t have any limit to the horror she can inflict.
The gore alone is enough to sate most horror fanatics. However, the mystery and overall story behind is Corpse Party is strong enough that some with squeamish stomachs might even find themselves unable to stop. It’s compelling and even though it might terrorize your dreams, it’s hard to stop before finding out what drives young Sachiko.
Horror really is a wide genre and this list mainly covers the cream of the crop of the more “normal” type of horror. That’s to say these shows primarily stick with ghosts, mysteries, and murder. However, there are shows that fall 50% in horror and then 50% in the monster and supernatural category that will blow your mind with their own brand of terror. Vampire Hunter D and Hellsing are two great examples if you’re looking for something a bit more fictitious.
Anime in general is pretty unique and vastly interesting when it comes to imagination and story-telling.A lot of anime are very futuristic, eccentric, bizarre, etc.
When thinking about anime, not many think about the horror that can be created with these same genres in mind.
If someone, like a friend, were to say “let's watch something that's in the category of Horror”, you would immediately think about movies, not really anime. Hopefully, that will change when you check out these selections of anime that are based on horror.
In this “Top 10 List”, you will find anime that has everything a horror story should have. For example, gore, tragedy, death, monsters, zombies, killers, etc. Get ready to clear your daily schedule, turn off the lights, invite some friends, and maybe have popcorn ready.
Although, popcorn might be a bad idea, don't want to create a mess or choke on a piece of popcorn. Now that would be scary!
1. When They Cry
After Maebara moved to a new, quiet town of Hinamizawa, he spends most of the time in school living a carefree life playing games with friends. It is in this town that appearances can be deceiving. Stumbling upon some news one fateful day, he discovers a murder occurred in the very town he's in.
It is then that mysterious and horrific events begin to unfold in front of him, learning that his close friends may not be close at all. As stories take place in different scenarios, unbelievable events begin to take place in a very horrific way.
This anime may seem cute at first, be it will have you hugging your pillow!
This anime follows the story of a vampire named, Alucard, and a police woman turned vampire who works for an organization that is known as Hellsing, a vampire extermination group of England.
Alucard's sole purpose is to search and destroy the threat of the undead and supernatural forces that seek to eliminate the Queen and the country of England.
It is when the organization discovers the remnants of a Neo-Nazi group known as the Millennium, continues to exist in reviving the Third Reich with an army of vampires.
Little do they know that he war raging on is to seek revenge on Alucard from the very beginning!
3. Parasyte (JPN: Kiseijuu)
This anime is very good and I noticed that the anime came out many years ago. The anime series going on as I type is probably the best adaptation to the manga I can imagine.
The anime follows a 17 year-old named Shinichi Izumi, who lives in a quiet neighborhood of Tokyo. One night, weird looking creatures begin to surface on Earth, host onto humans while taking control of their brains. They become known as Parasytes, and they enter through the nose or ears in order to control their host.
One day, Shinichi encounters a Parasyte, but it was unable to enter his ear or nose and instead burrowed through his arm. Preventing it from traveling further into his body, he contained it in his arm and began to restrain its influence while being able to develop a strong bond and work together.
Thus, helping Shinichi keep his untainted brain from being hosted by other Parasytes as he struggles to survive.
This anime contains a number of short horror stories that are both scary and influential.
The anime follows a character only known as the Medicine Seller, and follows a storyline similar to Mushishi. The Medicine Seller encounters spirits called, Mononoke, and sometimes fights them to the point of destruction. He gains knowledge by learning their name, truth, and reason for existing in the world. So he can exorcise the demon back from whence they came.
It's kind of hard to describe this anime without spoiling the series entirely. But, I assure you, its worth watching!
5. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
This is a great horror anime! Even though it's a short four-episode series, it is memorable.
It was originally a game, then turned into a manga, and then an anime. The process of transitioning from one category to the other in sense of media type, shows how popular this title was and yet, not many people know about it! The story takes place at an elementary school called, Heavenly Host, which is torn and destroyed due to occurring murders and disappearances of several staff and students of the school.
As time goes by, another school called Kisaragi Academy, is constructed on the same grounds of the Heavenly Host. One night, a group of students begin to tell ghost stories when an earthquake begins and suddenly transports the students present at the time to another dimension.
In this dimension, Heavenly Host still exists and is haunted by ghosts of the murdered students once enrolled there.
6. Requiem from the Darkness
This anime is pretty good. Its full of crazy encounters and lots of unsettling situations that would make a normal person go insane.
This anime takes place during the Bakumatsu of the Edo period where a young writer named, Monosuke, begins to do research for his next project of writing a book that contains 100 ghost stories.
While doing research for old myths and legends, he comes across a very mysterious group of three characters who call themselves the Ongyou. This group claims to be detectives who investigate the truth behind the legends in order to bring those doing wrong to justice.
Every time Monosuke crosses paths with the Ongyou, he faces the horrible truths and must battle his morals while seeing things no one should see....
7. Tokyo Ghoul
This is another great horror anime to watch. The story follows Ken Kaneki, who survives an encounter with a woman who is later revealed to be a ghoul. Ghouls are human-like creatures with a hunger for human flesh who hunt and devour anyone crossing their paths. The woman critically injures Kaneki sending him to the hospital. After undergoing surgery and recovering from the hospital, he learns that some how, he has turned into a half-human/half-ghoul.
Needing to eat human flesh in order to survive he seeks help from those like him to teach him how to deal with living as a ghoul, interact with others in the ghoul society, and how to keep his identity a secret from other humans around him.
This anime takes place in 1972, where a student named Misaki unexpectedly died halfway through the school year. As students and teachers were devastated by the sudden death of Misaki, they continue on with their lives believing Misaki is still alive which leads to a strange presence in the graduation photo. Forward into time, Spring of 1998, transfer student Sakakibara meets Mei Misaki and is seemingly ignored by her classmates and teachers.
Soon, they're all caught up in a strange phenomenon where the students and their relatives begin to die in mysterious ways. Sakakibara and Mei must find out how to survive after discovering that the killings are related to the death of Misaki in 1972. This anime series is a must watch.
9. Hell Girl
Taking place in many areas but mainly in the immense sea of the internet, a very special website can be found and accessed only at the stroke of midnight. The website is know as the Jigoku Tsushin and is rumored that if someone has a grudge, all they have to do is enter a post about that person and they will soon be judged in some of the most scariest ways.
In doing so, the Jigoku Shoujo (a little girl) will suddenly appear and drag whoever torments you into the firey depths of hell. All that is known about the girl is that she lives with her equally mysterious grandmother, has three magical dolls as her servants, and whenever a post on the Jigoku Tsushin moves her emotionally, she becomes the Jigoku Shoujo.
10. Ghost Stories
This series follows the life of a girl who moves with her family to the hometown of her deceased mother. At her first day of school, her little brother, neighbor, and two others from school decide to visit an abandoned school building next to theirs to discover that it is haunted. After experiencing several encounters with ghosts, the girl learns that her mother was responsible for sealing many of the ghosts who haunted the school and town.
The ghosts free themselves because of urbanizations that took place in the surrounding areas and are now terrorizing the school and town once again. The girl's mother left her book of exorcisms with instructions on how to exorcise the ghosts.
These are the selections of horror anime series that are great to experience. There are plenty more to be listed, so stay tuned for part two of “Top 10 Horror Anime (Part 1)”.
I feel the next part will be equal or better than this. In the mean time, check out the anime selections above if you love horror and everything that comes with it. I know I do!
What do you like about horror anime series? Do you watch them with the lights off? Or do you ask a friend to enjoy it with you because secretly, you're too scared to watch it alone?!
Let us know in the comments below!