Anime is a fantastic medium for horror, as animation allows creators to create impactful visuals that easily turn things we know into horrific dark reflections of themselves. For this reason, there is a horror anime to suit everyone, from spooky gothic tales to blood-soaked slasher series.
So if you want to watch something scary this weekend, here are 10 of the best horror anime series that will have you sleeping with the lights on for the next few days.
10. Corpse festival: tortured souls
Corpse Day started life as an infamous video game series that debuted in 1996. The franchise has since grown exponentially with several sequels and remakes. There’s also a manga, an anime series, and even a theme park attraction.
Corpse festival: tortured souls is a four-episode OVA that follows the previous one Corpse Day OVA called Corpse festival: missing images. The series follows students at Kisaragi Academy, a high school with a dark secret. Many years earlier, the school’s students and teachers had been slaughtered by an unknown force.
One day, a group of students are having a party with a friend who is transferred to another school. They decide to cast a spell to cement their friendship forever. However, when they perform it, they all pass out and wake up in a dark version of their school and must fight for their lives, lest they end up like the previous students.
Corpse Day is infamous for a reason, and this OVA doesn’t skimp on the series’ signature gore. It’s fast, however, so it’s the perfect choice for an overnight frenzy, especially if you’re into slasher movies.
9. Parasyte: the maxim
If you are looking for body horror then you must watch Parasyte: La Maxime. Based on Parasyte manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki, the series follows high school student Shinichi Izumi. Shinichi leads a quiet life until one night a race of aliens called Parasites lands on Earth. These aliens are worm-like creatures with head drills that take control of their victims by entering their noses or ears.
We try to do this to Shinichi, but he wakes up and the parasite ends up burying himself in his arm. Because of this, the Parasite and Shinichi retain their individual personalities, even though Shinichi’s body is slowly mutating and changing. Shinichi and his parasite soon find themselves battling other parasites as they form a difficult bond.
Studio Madhouse brought this anime to life, and they did a fantastic job creating some very disturbing visuals. The anime’s meditations on the nature of humanity and the human body are fascinating, giving this series an incredible balance between horror and philosophy.
8. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Horror doesn’t have to be long to be effective, and Yamishibai: Japanese ghost stories proves that sometimes the fastest stories can be the scariest. Inspired by the traditional kamishibai form of storytelling, each episode of Yamishibai lasts only a few minutes and tells the story of another Japanese myth or urban legend using simple animation.
Each of these episodes is frightening on their own, and you’re sure to find something that resonates with you and that will remain in your nightmares for weeks to come. The abbreviated format renders Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories a fun pallet cleaner during a longer horror movie marathon or a fun series to dive in while waiting for other things.
Toei Animation’s Mononoke is a fallout from their previous one Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales series. Released in 2007, Mononoke follows the Drug Dealer, a wandering supernatural investigator who lives at the very end of the Edo period in Japanese history. In each chapter of the series, the drug salesman encounters and investigates a Mononoke, a type of ayakashi, a spirit that stays in the human world and clings to negative emotions.
However, this is not a simple process because before the drug vendor can get rid of the spirit, he has to learn more about the form of the spirit, what it really is and why it is. to be. Until these are known, the drug dealer must use his knowledge to protect himself and others from these supernatural forces.
Mononoke has a delightfully surreal visual style that mixes the real with the unreal to terrifying effect, making spirits feel supernatural and dangerous while giving each one a fascinating story and personality.
6. Hell girl
Evil can take many forms, from the monstrous to the mundane. Daughter of the Underworld stands out from the crowd by focusing on the latter type of evil. Made by Hiroshi Watanabe and released in 2005, Daughter of the Underworld is an anthology series that follows a different character in each episode. Each of these characters have one thing in common, they are all tormented by someone. These tormentors can be anything from class bullies to stalkers.
Unable to think of another way out, these people visit a website that allows you to contact hell. On this site, they make a deal that allows them to send their antagonist to hell. But accepting this deal means that the user’s soul will go to hell at the end of their life. Once the deal is done, Ai Enma, the Hell Girl, appears. She gives the person a straw doll with a red string around the neck. If the person accepts their terms and pulls the string, Ai and his companions torment the antagonist before dragging them to Hell.
Which makes Daughter of the Underworld so scary is how realistic the scenarios are. It is so easy to put yourself in the shoes of these desperate people who are ready to give up everything, even their soul, to free themselves from their executioner. Mix that with some fantastic music and entertainment, and you’ve got a captivating show that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.
5. Higurashi when they cry
Based on the successful visual novel game series launched in 2002, Higurashi when they cry the anime adaptation perfectly captures the terror of the games while adding new scares.
Hosted by Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon, Higurashi when they cry is located in the small village of Hinamizawa. Keiichi Maebara, the main character, settles in this village and quickly begins to befriend other local young people, and for a while, everything seems to be going well. However, with the village’s annual Watanagashi festival approaching, things turn sour as Keiichi learns of Oyashiro’s curse that haunts the area. Each year, just after the festival, a local dies and another disappears. Then, when a series of brutal murders begins, Keiichi and his friends attempt to solve the mystery only to learn that they can’t trust anyone, even each other.
Higurashi when they cry goes in a very unexpected direction while still retaining all the scares and gore you’d come to expect. Part of its effectiveness is that Hinamizawa Village looks very realistic, almost as if it could be any village you know.
Based on the novel by Yukito Ayatsuji and hosted by PAWorks, Another takes place at Yomiyama North Middle School. However, a terrible fate befell the school when one of the students passed away suddenly. The other students couldn’t handle their grief and pretended that the student was still alive for the whole year.
Now every year a dead student will unknowingly be a member of class 3-3, and if a living student is not excluded by the others, random students will start to die in horrific ways. A new exchange student called Kōichi Sakakibara finds himself at the center of this curse and must try to find a way to survive and end the curse once and for all.
Gore, violent and exciting Another is an excellent horror thriller that will keep you on your toes for the duration of the run. The anime format really works in favor of the series, allowing for unique and extremely disturbing kills.
3. Boogiepop Ghost
Made by the legendary Madhouse animation studio, Boogiepop Ghost is a very unique anime. Based on a series of light novels by Kouhei Kadono, this series takes place in a Japanese city shaken by a series of ritual killings.
Responsibility for these murders is blamed on Boogiepop, an urban legend some believe to be death itself. The series follows a group of characters involved in the murders in different ways. However, the non-linear narrative means that the scenes are often seen more than once from different angles.
The show has a unique aesthetic that mixes the real and the surreal. It makes you wonder what is real and what is not. All mixed in with a fantastic avant-garde soundtrack, leading to a very unusual experience that will keep you going all the time. Boogiepop Ghost is a show unlike anything else, making it a must-see for adventurous anime fans.
2. Agent of paranoia
Made by the legendary Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent quickly became a cult classic when it was released in 2004. The series follows Tsukiko Sagi, a character creator who had wild success with Maromi, the Little Pink Dog. Now, however, they are encouraged to do something so successful, but they are struggling to come up with a concept.
On her way home one evening, she is attacked by a guy on roller blades with a bat. At first, the police don’t believe her, but when a series of other assaults are reported, the abuser gets the name Lil ‘Slugger.
However, as people try to solve the mystery, they quickly find that things aren’t all they seem. A unique thriller with fantastic animation, Paranoia Agent is a classic that every anime fan should watch at least once.
1. Lain series experiments
Lain series experiments is a cult classic for good reason. While others have tried to emulate him, nothing ever came close. Directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura and written by Chiaki J. Konaka, Lain series experiments tells the story of Lain Iwakura, a middle school student. Lain’s introverted life is turned upside down when several girls at his school start receiving emails from a deceased student.
However, when Lain checks her email, she finds out that she received an email from the same student, informing him that she is not really dead. The student says she simply gave up her physical form and joined the Wired, a virtual realm that is the sum of all human communication methods. The student also says that in the Wired, she discovered God.
Lain soon finds himself in the midst of many surreal and bizarre occurrences as she investigates the Wired and discovers that a conspiracy may be forming around him. The whole series is terribly surreal. The existentialism at the heart of Lain will leave you questioning your own existence for several hours after you finish.