I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love anime. I love anime almost as much as I love horror, so it can be difficult to decide if I’m going to binge watch shows on Crunchyroll or watch a couple slashers. Still, there are times when I get really lucky and I manage to find a creepy anime that allows me to have my cake and eat it too.
The horror sub-genre of anime seems minuscule when compared to categories like mecha and high school romance. However, there are some spine-tingling shows out there that are bound to appeal to fans of horror. Ok, let’s list some!
Shiki is like Salem’s Lot, if Salem’s Lot was anime and set in rural Japan. I like Shiki, because it takes its time, developing characters and letting the dread build. It’s slow moving, but it never feels stagnant.
The particularly interesting thing about Shiki is that morality is not black and white. The humans have solid reasons for what they do, but the reasons of the vampires are just as valid. Both groups are desperate to assure their own survival. In this tragic vampire story, no one is good, no one is bad, and no one is safe.
Like Shiki, Hell Girl, or Jigoku Shoujo has an overall somber mood. The protagonist is Ai Enma, a young servant of the underworld who helps people get revenge, in exchange for their souls. Of course this plot is nothing new, but Hell Girl is unique because of the details.
Each person’s reason for forming a contract with Ai is different, and the viewer is able to observe a variety of characters and the situations that lead them to selling their souls. Then of course there’s the character of Ai herself. She struggles with understanding human emotion, and often spends time pondering the ways people think and act. She may be scary as hell, but she’s more sad than evil. If you want to see a new take on the underworld, give Hell Girl a watch.
If you want pure J-horror, Another is the way to go. Another follows a boy who starts at a new school, only to meet a girl that no one else seems able to see. He quickly comes to learn that his class is cursed, and the other students believe that his presence has set the curse in motion.
Another comes complete with ghosts, creepy dolls, and gory deaths. Some of the deaths are pretty spectacular, too. One girl manages to trip on the stairs, and impale herself on her own umbrella!
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry
If someone asked me which horror anime is the best, I’d have to go with Higurashi. Higurashi is so special in terms of structure and plot that nothing compares. Like Another, Higurashi revolves around a teen boy who moves to a small village that may be cursed. The more he learns about the town and the curse, the more he begins to suspect that his friends are out to get him.
Higurashi is intriguing, because the story is told in arcs that span 4 episodes. Then, things reset and we’re presented with a new situation. Though, every arc is different, the story keeps some things consistent, so the plot is able to keep moving forward. Something that seems insignificant in one arc, may be a huge aspect of a different arc. In that respect, Higurashi forces you to pay attention, and try and put the pieces together. If you’re looking for a complete mind screw, here you go.
Paranoia Agent is one of the creepiest, most psychologically intense animes I can think of. I’ve often heard creator Satoshi Kon’s works compared to those of David Lynch or Darren Aronofsky. While it’s a fair comparison, Kon has a style that is all his own.
I don’t want to give too much away about Paranoia Agent, but I will give you a brief overview. The 13 episode series follows a young animator who created a popular “Hello Kitty” type character. She begins to suffer severe anxiety over her efforts to spawn another hit mascot. Then, late one night she is attacked by a mysterious rollerblading boy who carries a bat. Her assailant is dubbed Lil Slugger, and reports start pouring in of people being attacked by him. If you’ve ever secretly wished for something bad to happen in order to get out of a tough situation, then you need to see this anime.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to horror anime. Even if you hate anime, I hope that you’ll give these shows some attention. I promise they’re well worth it. I’ll be doing a whole series of anime articles like this one, so be sure to follow us right here (AHH Blog) and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more.