What is Horror Anime [Definition; Meaning]

Come on, you know how it goes… there is a haunted school, things go south somewhere in a neighborhood, and now there is an angry ghost, being, spirit or something that is either creating spooky encounters and terrorizing people or killing them off. That’s more or less what jumps out from Horror anime. Thankfully though, Japan loves it’s horror stories. Oddly, too, Japan has a custom where horror houses are done in the summer. That’s right, forget halloween, Japanese people believe that be giving themselves the chills in summer, they can beat the heat. So welcome! If you are new here or you are looking for a good landing spot when it comes to horror anime, we have got you covered. So whether you love creepy crawlies, spooky haunts, creepy little girls, or just enjoy a good spook, read on!

Boo! I’m Scary!

The number one thing that anime will always do better than movies is transport you to some creepy world where while you may not always expect the things that happen, to happen. The thing is that while some the viewer can see coming, others just pop up on you due to the fact that anime is oddly disarming. If one thing is for certain, they may be Japanese horror, but they always have some quirky aspect to them. Let’s take a look at a perfect example below!

Itou Junji: Collection

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2018 - March 2018

Itou Junji: Collection is a collection of stories from the horror master himself, Itou Junji. There are popular characters such as Souichi Tsuji and his comical yet creepy encounters with his classmates that he hates, or Fuchi, a top model who has shark teeth and looks like a monster. You also have staples from the series like Yotsutsuji no Bishounen, Tooru Oshikiri, and Tomie.

Itou Junji is a renowned author when it comes to horror stories. Some released decades ago, the stories have stood the test of time for the series to be picked up in Winter of 2018 to become an anime. Overall, the series really shows what Japanese horror is—Odd and quirky at times while grotesque and affronting at others. Suicide and death are a constant theme as is the unexpected. Take the story of the girl who becomes a snail or the story of a boy whom if you meet in intersections, he will tell your fortune but also curse you. Many aspects of stories are lifted right out of older Japanese urban myths and other spooky stories, but regardless of what you may think of the show, the series is a great look at what horror can be in anime across a broad spectrum of themes and ideas.

Itou Junji: Collection PV:


  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2012 - March 2012

A young boy named Kouichi Sakakibara has just transferred into class 3-3 at Yomiyama North Middle School. He tried to become friends with those around him, but there is a strange aura that lingers and there is this weird girl who has an eyepatch on and sits in the back of the classroom. Her name is Mei. She seems invisible to her peers; they don’t even talk to her. It seems like she doesn’t even exist to them. As she gets closer to Kouichi, stranger and stranger revelations occur and it’s clear that something is afoot.

If Another can teach you anything, it is that talking to anyone can become a horrifying experience which oddly leads to strange things. The closer they get to the truth, the more horrifying the reality around it. People start dying and there is nothing that makes sense about it at all. The deaths become increasingly gruesome. The story will have you clamoring to find out what happens next and while you get the satisfaction from watching, not knowing what is next is quite painful.

Another PV:

Japan Loves Cute, But There’s Things Even More Moé

Cute girls doing things was what made up about half of all anime for a very long time. It’s no surprise that Japan loves cute things and anything moe, no matter how horrifying or disgusting, will usually get a pass if it involves cute girls. Horror is no exception to this rule. Want to make a brutal murder passable? Add in children. Want to make someone cry blood instead of tears? There is a cute girl who can do that. This is across all anime all the time and it’s only getting more prevalent. Something about the cute or small factor helps people accept what would normally be something absolutely disgusting.

Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: October 2005 - April 2006

If you hate someone, did you know there is a way to rid yourself of them permanently? Just access a website known as Hell Correspondence at midnight while thinking about them. If you hate them enough, a box will appear allowing you to enter in their name. When you press “submit” on the page, it disappears. Then you will be visited by a small little girl named Enma Ai. Ai will give you a straw doll with a red string around its neck. Should you pull it, the person you hate will be ferried to Hell immediately and disappear from this world. However, pulling the string means that you too will go to Hell when you die. There is no salvation. Did you want to still pull the string?

Jigoku Shoujo was a breath of fresh air into the horror genre when it arrived. Ai is cute, but what she offers is a nasty deal that will never work out in your favor. Sure the pain is alleviated temporarily, but you still end up in Hell. Cuteness is about all she has going for her in the series because everyone’s story is heartbreakingly sad, everyone is angry, and the revenge, while sweet in the moment, always transforms into regret or shame at the end. The darkness that can reside in a human heart only gets darker and darker as the story progresses. The horrific things that people are put through as they are bullied in real life as well as when they are being judged is horrific and we can’t think of anything else that really drives home just how bad it can be.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: April 2005 - September 2005

Higurashi is all about Keiichi Maebara who has just moved to his new home in the sleepy, countryside village of Hinamizawa. He quickly makes friends at his local school and is able to settle into live quickly. He hears rumors about how people are going missing only to turn up dead later during a local festival celebrating the god Oyashiro-sama. Naturally worried about his new friends, Keiichi starts to look into it and ask questions, but gets nowhere. One day while looking for answers, his new friend Rena advises him to stop looking with a massive weapon in hand. Weirded out, Keiichi goes home. Thing only get worse as now Rena is pounding on his door to be let in. Panicked, he reaches for something and ends up killing her! He opens his eyes the next morning and the story has reset from a new perspective. What is the dark secret held in this town?

Half the horror of Higurashi besides the brutal murders, is the fact that the story resets frequently throughout the series leaving the viewer flipping out at the fact that whomever they thought was the source of the killings and disappearances wasn’t, and now we have to start from scratch. The story gets darker and darker with every single stone being overturned, but not in a good way. Nothing is ever safe or sacred and you wonder how you are not running through the woods yourself, terrified at what is around the corner.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni PV

Final Thoughts

As we stated in the intro to this article, this series is just to get you introduced to the horror genre overall. There are many other shows that could be on here, but we felt that these really embody horror and the direction that Japan loves to take it in. Some other great ones you should check out are: Kagewani, Gantz, Tsukihime, Berserk, Tokyo Ghoul, Kiseijuu, Danganronpa, Corpse Party, Devilman Crybaby, Perfect Blue, Gakkou Gurashi and more! These give you more than enough of a starting point to either learn more about horror anime or anime overall. If you have seen all of the above mentioned shows, do you have more shows that you’d recommend for our readers? If so, be sure to let us know down below. Till next time!

Higurashi-no-Naku-Koro-ni-capture-1-700x394 What is Horror Anime [Definition; Meaning]


Author: Nagareboshi

American by birth; international by choice. I am trying to bring attention to one of my favorite causes; me. I translate by day and write by night. Aspiring polyglot. My dream would be to be the personal translator for Amuro Namie. Other than that, my hobbies include languages, weightlifting, sleeping, karaoke, GOOD coffee and music. When I’m not doing any of the above, I am most likely laughing hysterically at Willam Belli videos or EV farming. I ain’t gunna Rupologize for it neither. Waifu are Shirai Kuroko & Euaerin.

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