From ghosts to evil spirits, demons as well as various mythological constructs, supernatural anime have been around for an incredibly long time. Many of the shounen titles we encountered when we were younger bore various supernatural themes which added to their experience and became very much a mainstay within the shounen subculture. However, that being said, we are all aware of the masses of anime with supernatural themes which are not only shounen mainstays, but from a plethora of different genres. With so much out there, it is difficult to draw up the best of the best because some of these titles are some of the best written or the most entertaining shows out! So onwards, Top 10 Supernatural Anime. Are you scared of ghosts?
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2007 - November 2007
Chicago, the 1930s. The Flying Pussyfoot, a transcontinental train, is about to embark on a journey which cause widespread violence across the country. In New York, a scientist is looking for the elixir of immortality, all while mafia groups in the area engage in a brutal war. With alchemists, the mafia, scientists and several seemingly unrelated stories, protagonists Miria and Isaac explore the various aspects while trying to further their own mission.
Baccano!’s supernatural aspect is apparent in the way in which the anime presents the concept of immortality, explored through the concept of alchemy, which draws much from a supernatural frame of mind. The anime is an amalgamation of different concepts and elements, featuring a very familiar alchemical concept: the Homunculi. Much like in Fullmetal Alchemist, Baccano! explores some of the same themes, juxtaposing them with ideas of immortality and special abilities.
9. Mob Psycho 100
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
Kageyama “Mob” Shigeo is a 14-year-old who, from an early age, has possessed incredible latent psychic potential. However, he soon realises the potential danger of his abilities and vows to suppress his powers. In an attempt to learn how to control his powers, Mob takes up one Arataka Reigen, a con artist claiming to be a psychic, up to be his mentor. Reigen; however, uses Shigeo’s authentic powers to make a quick buck. Mob now participates in exorcisms and various other paranormal activities every single day; however, if his emotions go unchecked his powers stand to cause incredible destruction for the world around him and he simply can’t be stopped.
Mob Psycho 100 is written by the same author as One-Punch Man, ONE, and that is apparent in the anime’s art style. However, the presence of individuals with psychic abilities in the show. These are generally telekinetic powers; however, with the announcement of a second season for the show out, we can expect to see a plethora of other psychic abilities present in the show.
8. Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2011 - October 2011
Assiah is the realm of the humans, Gehenna, the realm of the demons. Demons arrive in the human realm through possessing human beings. Satan, the ruler of the demon realm is too powerful and hence cannot find a suitable host to possess. He finally figures out a plan: he will send his son to rule Assiah and become a host suitable enough for the Demon King himself. The son, Okumura Rin, lives a difficult life as a troublesome teenager who lives in an orphanage. His life becomes more difficult when demons begin to attack him and he finds out that he is the son of Satan. He vows to become an exorcist to protect Assiah from his father with his brother Yukio.
Ao no Exorcist is a fast-paced anime ripe with religious allegory and narrative, as well as sporting a roster of characters who strive to become exorcists, the supernatural content in this show is heavy. The presence of concepts of Assiah and Gehenna relate to many belief systems and superstition, as well as the obvious presence of demons, such as Amaimon, and Kuro, Rin’s demon cat.
7. Bungou Stray Dogs
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2016 – June 2016
Nakajima Atsushi’s orphanage has been under attack by a mystical tiger that only he can see. Unfortunately, he is kicked out of the orphanage into the dangerous streets where he could come into contact with the beast. While sitting on a riverbank, struggling to figure out where his next meal will be coming from, he saves a strange man named Dazai Osamu from drowning. Dazai is a supernatural detective who has been investigating the very same tiger Atsushi has been afraid of. With the help of fellow investigator, Kunikida Doppo, the tiger case is solved; however, its odd outcome sees Atsushi joining the band of supernatural investigators at their firm which handles the cases regular police simply cannot.
Bungou Stray Dogs is a fast-paced, expansive, intricate supernatural anime which captures various supernatural elements, but uses a unique system for its characters. Characters’ names and abilities are all modelled on real-life authors and poets from various parts of the world, ingraining a fourth-wall breaking lore. Each episode follows Atsushi’s experience with a firm of supernatural investigators, all of whom possess supernatural abilities themselves.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2014 – March 2014
The Yato God is a minor deity who calls himself a “Delivery God”, dreaming of one day having millions of worshippers. However, he currently has no shrine dedicated to his name. His days are spent collecting five yen coins per odd job, at least until his sentient weapon partner becomes sick of the life they live and leaves him. Yato’s luck finally changes when 15-year-old Iki Hiyori saves Yato from a car accident, sustaining no serious injury, apart from the fact that her soul is now loose and capable of leaving her body. She demands that Yato turn her body back to normal, but his condition is that she help him find a new weapon partner – perhaps he’ll find one who won’t leave this time around.
Noragami is an anime very much influenced by the Buddhist as well as Shinto-Japanese pantheon of deities, featuring characters based on significant deities such as Bishamonten, the God of War, warriors and the punisher of evildoers. The anime applies several supernatural concepts, such as the concepts of deities, deification, souls leaving the body, as well as the concept of souls becoming posthumous tools used by deities to battle against phantoms.
5. Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 – March 2015
In a world inspired by the European Middle Ages, the Holy Knights of Britannia use their incredible magic powers to protect the Kingdom of Liones. However, a small subset of Holy Knights fell out of favour when they attempted to overthrow the ruler of Liones in a quickly extinguished act of treason. Defeated by the Holy Knights, rumours of the survival of this group of knights, dubbed the “Seven Deadly Sins” persisted. Ten years after the defeat of the Seven Deadly Sins, the Holy Knights themselves staged a revolt and took over rule of the kingdom. Elizabeth, third princess of the Kingdom of Liones, spurred by a desire to take back the kingdom from the clutches of the Holy Knights, sets out to find the Seven Deadly Sins in order to enlist them for their help in returning justice to the kingdom.
Giants, fairies, demons, enchanted weapons and magic, Nanatsu no Taizai is a medieval melting pot of mythology and legend. Incorporating elements of the Legend of King Arthur into the fabric of the story presents a unique outlook on some of the legendary characters of the legend, as well as medieval thoughts on the supernatural. The series is exciting, bringing into play extreme fights, electrifying magical techniques and skills, and, the best part: an expansive lore featuring several supernatural concepts which give an intricate kaleidoscopic feel to the show.
4. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 2018
Demons require living hosts in order to be able to take form. However, should an individual possess a strong enough will, it is fully possible for them to overcome demonic possession and transcend both being human and a demon, a Devilman. Fudou Akira is a teenage boy who has always been considered weak and his extreme levels of empathy fuelled such labels. It is this empathy which causes Akira to agree when his childhood friend, Asuka Ryou, asks for his help in discovering demons. To his surprise, the two of them end up at Sabbath – a wild party which goes horribly wrong as blood is shed and people are killed in the midst of demons possessing the partygoers and causing intense destruction. In a bid to save his friend, Akira unwittingly merges with the powerful demon, Amon and becomes a Devilman, one with the power to defeat all the demons present. However, this new partnership changes various aspects of Akira’s personality and physical body, but not his empathetic heart.
Released in 2018, Devilman: Crybaby is a reboot of Nagai Go’s 1970’s series, Devilman. The series is built around a supernatural premise, with demons being an integral part of the show’s plot and characters. It is quite an intense watch at times, not holding back on much of the gore which comes as a result of its demonic subject matter. The series does much to explore its characters in the short time that it has, in ways which can stand to jar the viewer for a very long time to come… like one is possessed by the show.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2010 – June 2010
Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district is home to some of the city’s most interesting characters, as well as some of its most inexplicable happenings surrounding anonymous gangs, dangerous individuals and supernatural entities. The existence of a headless “Black Rider” is a legend which stands out to most residents of Ikebukuro. Ryuugamine Mikado has always wanted to live in the city, drawn by the potential excitement of the city. When he is convinced to move to Tokyo by his friend, Mikado has the fortune of witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in town. It seems that Mikado’s longing for an exciting life will be satisfied, but with more supernatural events occurring around Ikebukuro, Mikado finds himself mixed up in the various occurrences which bring out the life in the city.
Durarara!! is an anime written with the intent of delivering several different interwoven stories at the same time, linking them all to a central figure or concept. Durarara!!’s signature concept is its shameless exploration of supernatural concepts and juxtaposing them with the mundanity of everyday life for some of the characters concerned. The anime features the Irish myth of the Dullahan, a headless rider; as well as a certain character’s experience with a demon sword.
2. Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2017 – March 2018
15-year-old Hatori Chise is a fifteen year old girl who was sold at an auction to a mysterious tall gentleman. After being abandoned at a young age and misunderstood by her peers, she sold herself to any buyer in order to have some chance of finding a home. With several strangers sizing her up, she is led by her owner to a study where he introduces himself. Elias Ainsworth, a magus. Soon after, they are teleported to Elias’ cottage in England, surrounded by various supernatural entities such as fairies and sprites. Chise’s purpose as assigned by Elias is to become his apprentice, and soon, his bride.
Drawing inspiration from traditional mythological and supernatural concepts, The Ancient Magus’ Bride is an anime which beautifully blends concepts of magic and traditional fantasy world lore in order to offer us an anime which explores concepts of family, self-worth and the sense of belonging. It also incorporates slice of life elements into its episodes, developing its characters through the exploration of the ordinary living of extraordinary lives.
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: July 2009 – June 2010
Third-year high school student Araragi Koyomi survives a vampire attack during his summer break with the help of a strange man named Oshino Meme, who lives in an abandoned building. Despite maintaining his status as a human, the aftereffects of his vampiric encounter leave him with superhuman healing as well as enhanced vision. Despite all this, Koyomi still tries to live as a normal student; however, when his fellow classmate, Senjougahara Hitagi, falls down the stairs and he catches her, Koyomi realises that she is weightless. Determined to help her, Koyomi enlists the help of Oshino Meme, the expert in supernatural predicaments.
Starting with the series’ name, the Monogatari Series is a collection of supernatural stories which are driven or characterised by the conditions of the characters within the show. There are several different mythological references throughout the show, with vampires, giant crab deities as well as the concept of the monkey’s paw making an appearance at several junctures within the anime. The dialogue-driven story is filled with witty interactions between characters, as well as interesting combinations of narration and exposition, all happening within an intricate supernatural context.
The supernatural genre is one which seems to come almost naturally to the anime medium, and this is perhaps owed to rich influences in Japanese myths and legends, as well as those of cultures and religions around the world. Anime is a medium which allows these aspects to be explored, dissolved and reformulated several times. The supernatural genre is hence an anime mainstay, and one which serves some of anime’s greatest shows. Are there other supernatural anime you’re interested in? Drop a comment below and tell us all about them!