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The Best Horror Anime of All Time


The Best Horror Anime of All Time


Summary

  • Shiki blends unease with vampiric lore, crafting a genuine, chilling psychological terror for viewers.
  • Another excels in atmospheric horror at a school, using visual flair and eerie foreshadowing to terrify.
  • Tokyo Ghoul explores humanity and identity through gore, shocking visuals, and a haunting soundtrack.



Creating a genuinely terrifying horroranime is deceptively complex. Hand-drawn animations struggle to convey the intense, moment-to-moment tension and shock inherent in horror. This rarity makes authentic horror anime cherished by fans. There are few that exploit the medium’s unique potential to induce goosebumps, dread, and eerie atmospheres. For those seeking spine-chilling experiences, these titles stand out as the most unsettling, hair-raising, and nightmarish options.

Updated on June 9th, 2024: This list has been updated by Soniya Hinduja with even more bone-chilling anime series and movies to satisfy fans of the horror genre.


15 Shiki (2010)

Shiki

Release Date
June 27, 2010

Cast
Tôru Ohkawa , Koki Uchiyama , Kazuyuki Okitsu , Wataru Takagi , Yasuaki Takumi , Izumi Sawada , Nozomi Sasaki , Haruka Nagashima

Seasons
1


A slow-burn vampire horror set against the backdrop of the idyllic small town of Sobota, Shiki begins with the mysterious death of a young girl named Megumi Shimizu. The village doctor is unable to point at the cause of death. But when bodies begin to pile up around him, he teams up with an aloof teenager, Natsuno Yuuki, and two of Megumi’s friends to uncover the dark secret residing in their quiet community.

Blends a Sense of Unease with Vampiric Lore

Simply put, Shiki is the medium’s attempt at exploring immortal beings who threaten to wipe out an entire town’s worth of population. While Hollywood has explored vampire stories time and again, Shiki creates a pervasive sense of unease through its atmospheric settings. It takes time to reveal the true nature of its threat and relies only on subtle visual cues and restrained violence to keep the viewers guessing. What really hits is when the complexity of its vampiric lore comes to the surface. The characters are genuine in their struggle and the psychological terror the series induces is off the charts. Currently unavailable to stream.


14 Another (2012)

Another anime
Crunchyroll

Created by Yukito Ayatsuji, Another transports you to Yomiyama North Junior High. Kouichi Sakakibara, a transfer student, is back in school after a month’s sick leave. Upon his return, he acquaints himself with Mei Misaki, a reserved girl overlooked by many and feared by some. Suddenly, when students and teachers begin dying gruesome deaths around him, Kouichi and Mei try to unravel the nightmare. In the process, they meet their bloody fates.


Atmospheric Horror at its Peak

When it comes to horror anime, few settings pulsate with dread more than a school. By tapping into common fears and imbuing every element of space with palpable tension, Another crafts an unsettling mystery. The visual flair and impeccable style, the use of colors and foreshadowing, as well as the cryptic messages hidden in every character’s death are what make the series fresh and terrifying. Beyond the shock value, however, Another is also an expert combination of traditional Japanese elements and cinematic production values. Stream on Crunchyroll.

13 Parasyte: The Maxim (2014)

A man with tentacle blade arms in Parasyte: The Maxim
Crunchyroll

Based on the science fiction horror manga written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, Parasyte: The Maxim follows a high school teenager named Shinichi Izumi, who lives a quiet life with his parents in Tokyo. However, strange creatures called Parasites, who can burrow themselves inside the minds of humans and take control of their bodies, threaten peace on Earth. Hitoshi accidentally gets embroiled with a parasite named Magi when it takes over his hand and makes him stronger.


Gets More Twisted With Each Episode

Not for the faint-hearted because of its depiction of body horror and violence, Parasyte: The Maxim is a true delight for fans of the genre. Getting more twisted and chilling with each episode, the anime features fast-paced one-to-one combat between humans and parastyes as well as elevates the stakes through constant paranoia. The changes in animation and music whenever the threat is near paired with its exploration of themes of humanity is what makes the series bingeworthy. Stream on Hulu.

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12 Tokyo Ghoul (2014)


In Tokyo Ghoul, is set a city where flesh-eating ghouls mingle with common ground and walk the streets looking identical to humans. Ken Kaneki is an ordinary college student unbothered by the growing existence of ghouls. That is until he goes out on a date with Rize Kamishiro, realizes she’s a ghoul who intends to eat him, and after a brutal struggle, ends up transforming into a human-ghoul hybrid. As he tries to adapt to his monstrous side, Ken faces enemies on both sides.

Explores What it Means to Be a Human

Featuring a whole lot of gore enclosed in its beautifully animated storytelling, Tokyo Ghoul leaves no sense of horror unearthed. Its narrative complexity is limited to thought-provoking themes of humanity and identity. Kaneki feels like a real person pushed to his extremes, and his development arc shows richness and nuance. Backed by a killer soundtrack and shocking visuals, the anime entertains and terrifies in equal measure. Overall, Tokyo Ghoul is a horror anime that haunts you long after the credits have rolled. Stream on Hulu.


11 Hell Girl (2005)

Hell Girl is a horror anime series about revenge. It centers around a mysterious website known as Hell Correspondence. Anyone burning with revenge can get on the website at midnight and enter the name of the person they want dead. Ai Enma will ensure they die a gruesome death, but in return, the person will also go to hell when they die. Watching the Hell Girl use her own brand of justice is both dark and disturbing.


An Amalgamation of Terrifying Tales

While most horror anime rely on jump scares and monsters to terrify viewers, Hell Girl adapts a minimal and realistic style. It lets the implications scare more than the visual effects. Each ghostly episode represents social issues with a chilling skill and handles mature themes of bullying, guilt, and torment with great attention to detail. Ai has this unsettling and inscrutable presence that elevates the overall theme of the series. Even the soundtrack of Hell Girl is dreadful and eerie. Currently unavailable to stream.

10 Ghost Hunt (2006)

Three anime characters stare into the distance in Ghost Hunt
Crunchyroll

Mai Taniyama, a high school girl, encounters the Shibuya Psychic Research agency, which specializes in investigating paranormal phenomena and solving supernatural mysteries. The plot revolves around various cases and investigations that the team undertakes, each involving a haunted location, malevolent spirits, and unexplainable occurrences. Mai and her team use their skills to uncover dark and tragic secrets about each location before it’s too late.


Subtle Yet Powerful

While not as intense as certain anime, Ghost Hunt addresses topics like religion, diverse cultures, and paranormal activities and incidents often rooted in tragedy. It generates dread through minimal effects and advances at a leisurely pace, relying mainly on the viewers’ capacity to imagine the worst. Yet, its characters and their coping mechanisms seem utterly intelligent and authentic. Patient viewers can find chilling moments that, while not excessively intense or nightmarish, offer satisfying rewards. Stream on Crunchyroll.

9 Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (2013)

A spooky girl with black hair in Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Maiden Japan


Revolving around a cursed school called Heavenly Host Elementary, the story of Corpse Party: Tortured Souls follows a group of students who perform a ritual called Sachiko Ever After to stay connected with each other. However, the ritual goes awry, and they find themselves transported to the decrepit Heavenly Host Elementary. A place that was home to some of the most unimaginable and gruesome murders that occurred years ago. And suffice it to say, the spirits are not happy with the company they’ve got.

Promises Intense Scares

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls creates a claustrophobic setting where every movement or dialogue feels like it is disturbing an equilibrium. Throughout the story, the characters must confront their past mistakes and confront the malevolent entities haunting the school. This four-episode OVA, inspired by a game, offers a quick yet chilling viewing experience, perfect for a horror anime marathon alongside other bite-sized terror series and manga that promise intense scares. Currently unavailable to stream.


8 Bio Hunter (1995)

A monster from Bio Hunter
Crunchyroll

Bio Hunter is a horror sci-fi anime film that features gruesome monsters and intense violence. The plot revolves around a demon virus responsible for creating mythical creatures. One particular demon is threatening women in Tokyo. Two scientists work to cure the virus and combat its monstrous manifestations. One scientist is infected, leading to his battle against his own monstrous tendencies.

Blends Sci-Fi and Horror

Bio Hunter combines elements of horror, action, and supernatural intrigue as the protagonists confront grotesque Demon Beasts and unravel a conspiracy that could have dire consequences for humanity. Its incredible blend of visceral body horror and a tight sci-fi framework keeps things intense all the time. This movie occasionally adopts a noir-like atmosphere, accompanied by exceptional monster design, and explosive set pieces paired with thoughtful character interactions. Currently unavailable to stream.


7 Ajin: Demi-Human (2016)

A character prepares to fight in Ajin: Demi-Human
Crunchyroll

Ajin: Demi-Human delves into familiar horror themes as it follows Kei Nagai, who discovers his Ajin heritage – a blend with exceptional regenerative powers. Ajin possesses the ability to summon formidable spectral warriors for inter-Ajin combat, resembling a fusion of Tokyo Ghoul and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The government hunts Ajin, subjecting them to experiments, inciting Nagai and fellow Ajin to dismantle the corrupt institution and ease the human-Ajin conflict.


Boasts a Phenomenal Animation

The anime boasts haunting visuals and rich character work, two elements that are quite synonymous with the medium. Still, there is something very intelligent about Ajin: Demi-Human that sets it apart as an elite work of art as compared to other horror anime. While focusing on action and atmosphere over intricate psychological exploration, the series remains captivating, macabre entertainment, underscored by moral ambiguity despite occasional uneven computer-generated animation. Stream on Netflix.

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6 The Empire of Corpses (2015)

John H. Watson from The Empire of Corpses
Toho Animation


Set in an alternate 19th-century world where technology allows deceased bodies to be reanimated and put to work, the story follows John Watson, who is attempting to resurrect his deceased friend, Victor Frankenstein. After he succeeds, the British Secret Service forces him on another mission. In this world, Dr. Frankenstein’s work on reanimation has led to the creation of a global labor force using reanimated corpses.

Puts a Great Twist on Classic Horror Tropes

In a realm of technological necromancy, the film draws inspiration from Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes. It infuses the gothic environment of the latter with the philosophical musings of the former to let the characters and creativity shine through. The exquisite art vividly captures characters and their worlds. The intricate storyline delves into the distinct ethical dilemmas of this unusual realm. A second viewing might be necessary to grasp its complexity, enhanced by the visuals that make revisiting the film rewarding. Rent on Apple TV.


5 Higurashi: When They Cry (2006)

Higurashi When They Cry (2006)

Higurashi: When They Cry (2006)

Cast
Soichiro Hoshi , Mai Nakahara , Satsuki Yukino , Yukari Tamura , Mela Lee , Megan Hollingshead

Main Genre
Horror

Seasons
1

Creator
Toshifumi Kawase, Ryukishi07

Based on a visual novel, the story centers around a rural village named Hinamizawa and its dark, unsettling secrets. The main protagonist, Keiichi Maebara, moves to Hinamizawa where he discovers that the village has a history of mysterious deaths and disappearances that occur during the annual Watanagashi Festival. Each arc of the anime reveals disturbing events, eerie occurrences, and the gradual descent into madness of the characters.


Unexpected Plot Twists

Higurashi’s charming appearance can deceive casual fans, concealing its dark core. Initially, serene, it unveils a supernatural epidemic driving people to madness. Progressing into a haunting time loop, the characters confront death and hopelessness iteratively. The subtle changes elevate the already unsettling tone and add ingenious depths to the narrative. Despite some complexity, it delivers a distinctive horror experience with unforeseen twists. Buy on Amazon Prime.

4 Elfen Lied (2004)


This anime takes a contemporary and twisted approach to the monster girl concept in horror. Departing from traditional vampire and werewolf tropes, the series features Diclonius, potent beings subjected to cruel experiments until one violently escapes. As the monster girl seeks normalcy among humans, circumstances force her to reveal her true nature and she ends up leaving pure carnage in her wake.

A Dark and Monstrous Anime

This show is rife with bloodshed and violence, enough to deter even red beverage consumption. Despite Kouta’s efforts, Elfen Lied portrays humanity as selfish, prioritizing survival. It explores the species’ darker side by examining what it means to be a monster. The beautiful animation delivers intense scenes of savage brutality as Lucy endures unrelenting punishment. Not suited for the faint-hearted, this anime is a potent, unflinching exploration of darkness and power. Stream on Prime Video.

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3 Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

A man holds a sword in Demon City Shinjuku
Crunchyroll

Demon City Shinjuku shines as a top action-horror anime movie from the 1980s, focusing on the unlikely hero’s journey through a ravaged city. The antagonist, Rebi Ra, possesses the power to unleash a demonic onslaught capable of consuming the world. Kyoya picks up the mantle to fight against him, just like his father, who was defeated by Rebi.

Groundbreaking Animation with Bite

The film’s strength lies in its imaginative portrayal of diverse and grotesque demons that challenge the protagonist, creating suspenseful battles and eerie encounters. It completely redefined what animation could achieve by breaking barriers with its imaginative action and menacing characters. Along with its 1980s anime aesthetic, Demon City Shinjuku is an engaging and memorable anime that remains well-regarded in the genre. Stream on Prime Video.


2 Devilman Crybaby (2018)

Devilman Crybaby devastating ending
Crunchyroll

Devilman Crybaby isn’t merely unsettling; it’s profoundly disturbing. Initially resembling a typical narrative of a social outcast fusing with a powerful entity, the twist lies in this entity being a demon, not the typical benevolent shonen creature. And as the demon is forced to exact control, it must also decide who to trust. This anime features hyper-violent, highly sexualized demons of the kind warned about in religious texts.


Visceral and Emotional

Devilman Crybaby is unsuitable for family viewing, as its protagonist grapples with his demonic possession while those around him succumb to similar afflictions. The graphic violence in the series is off the charts, but it serves the purpose because every scene has a lasting impact on the viewer. As the world spirals into chaos, the series transforms into a hellish landscape. This horror package delivers body horror, satanic symbolism, and explicit adult themes, making it a truly intense experience. Stream on Netflix.

1 Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre (2023)

A girl sits in bed laughing in Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre
Crunchyroll

Junju Ito’s signature terror stems from its ability to haunt the psyche long after reading. Renowned for creations like Tomie and Uzumaki, Ito crafts scenarios. Whether it’s an undying school girl or a spiral-obsessed town, he steadily escalates towards unsettling body horror, leaving audiences averse to looking further. Tales of the Macabre translates 20 tales into 12 episodes, some singular and others bifurcated. Ito’s essence perseveres, with highlights including “Hanging Blimp” and Tomie’s eerie photography chapter.


Stays Faithful to Ito’s Vision

An anthology series that adapts an acclaimed horror mangaka’s chilling takes, Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre is a show that maintains the core horror, even with the shift in medium from “art horror” to “anime.” Early reactions to the series praise its unfiltered handling of skin-crawling scares. The animation is basic yet competent, augmented by creative decisions that infuse stories with unique atmospheres. The visceral body horror endures, exemplified by skin layers peeling and ghastly decapitations. Stream on Netflix.

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