21 Best Horror Anime: The Ultimate List (2018)

October, the month of spooky, scary skeletons, pumpkin carvings, haunted houses, and delicious cider, is centered around Halloween fun. Halloween is such an awesome holiday, and seemingly everyone seems to be in the mood for candy, scares, horror, and everything bloody.

For anime fans, there are plenty of options that fit this criterion, from tales about ghosts, haunted house episodes, and scary shows that will terrify anyone who dares to watch.

Below are 21 of the best horror anime that will get anyone in the spooky mood, especially for fans of horror movies and eerie settings.

Caution: Most, if not all, of these titles are not recommended for all ages and contain very disturbing scenes! You have been warned.


Higurashi: When They Cry

Imagine a peaceful summer day shared with friends, the cicadas buzzing, the fun activities after school, and the sun beating down as everyone laughs together. Everything is perfect in the rural town Hinamizawa.

That is, until strange events start occurring around town, murders take place, and the lives of the friends are twisted into dark realities. Higurashi first appears to be the typical slice of life/school life anime, which is proven to be false during every arc. The cheerful characters soon become twisted, psychotic, and begin murdering one another in brutal ways. Why is this happening?

It’s up for the watcher to piece together the various incidences and arcs that often end in death. At first, Higurashi is confusing, but it’s beyond worth it to continue watching and unravel the mysteries of the rural village and uncover the conspiracies of the incidents.

It’s the perfect horror anime for fans of the genre, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, as it is very violent and has some very disturbing scenes of torture, bodily harm, and murder. This fact makes it a great choice to get in the mood for Halloween.

Buy it here.


Parasyte

Parasites, as many know, are types of organisms that take over a particular host. In Shinichi Izumi’s world, however, Parasytes from an alien planet overtake humans, aiming for their brains to control them.

This eventually results in the infected humans to viciously murder anyone who stands in their way, often feasting upon their flesh. On paper, Parasyte sounds like a horrible B-list horror movie, but that certainly isn’t the case. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to call this anime a masterpiece.

What makes this anime so amazing is a great cast of characters who go through massive character development, especially the main character, Shinichi, a once quiet boy who must deal with a Parasyte named Migi who took over his hand. In many ways, Shinichi is on his own, and must fight in order to save lives.

Little by little, Shinichi becomes detached from his human self, exploring what it really means to have feelings and be a human being. This anime is filled with moments that will cause viewers to laugh, cry, and be at the edges of their seats until the very end. Parasyte is based on the manga of the same name that was originally published in the 1990’s and has aged incredibly well.


Another

horror anime

Another, also jokingly known as Final Destination: The Anime, is a newer show that appeals to the classic horror anime junkies. Taking place in a city that contains many secrets, Another focuses on the protagonist who just transferred to the high school and the eyepatch-wearing Mei Misaki.

The protagonist is drawn to Mei, and through his bond with her, he tries to solve the mystery of why class 3-3 is undergoing such horrible incidents, which leads to the random deaths of the classmates. Much like the Final Destination movies, students are fated to die, especially by freak accidents and random occurrences.

One by one, students are picked off and it’s up for the duo to figure out why. Another, although not the best anime around, is very eerie and creepy, making it the perfect guilty pleasure of the month. Like the other two series above, Another is very violent and is not recommended for everyone.

Buy the Complete Collection here.


Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories

horror anime

Urban legends have always been fascinating to those who love all things scary, as there are many blogs and websites solely dedicated to retelling stories that have been passed around for years and years.

Many of these stories have a historical basis or have been spread around in the form of oral storytelling. Yamishibai retells many stories that have been circulating around Japan and animates them into 3 or 4-minute shorts for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Not only is this series great for a quick scary story, but some of the episodes are also genuinely terrifying.

From ventriloquism to first loves, Yamishibai has a spooky story for anyone wanting a horror fix deeply rooted in Japanese culture.


Boogiepop Phantom

best horror anime 2015

Urban legends, as stated before, are very fascinating and often have a scary vibe to them. In Boogiepop Phantom, rumor has it that there is a reaper-like character, called the Boogiepop, roaming the streets and taking away girls before they turn “ugly.” One day, a shining pillar of light appears a few years after a mysterious string of killings.

After this incident occurs, students begin to disappear, and it’s up for students to piece together what is happening in the town. The anime is presented in pieces and different perspectives, which is definitely an unconventional way of storytelling. Combining an interesting art style and psychological horror, Boogiepop is an underrated anime waiting to be watched.

Buy the complete series here.


Shiki

A few years back, vampire stories were all the rage. From romance stories to horror stories, vampires plagued young adult literature and the media. However, like most fads, just because a topic is popular doesn’t mean most of the content is good. Shiki, an anime about vampires released around this time frame, really proves this notion wrong, standing out as a great horror anime.

Taking place in the 1990’s, Shiki follows the story of a village that like many of these series, happen to have mysterious deaths occurring. A doctor suspects some sort of medical epidemic until he discovers the shiki, vampire-esque creatures who are roaming the village. A 15-year-old boy seems to face the reality of the shiki head-on, affecting his life in many ways. The lines between good and evil are challenged, and this series stands out from the typical vampire story.

Buy Shiki here.


Paranoia Agent

Sometimes in slasher movies, killers or attackers have nicknames based on their personality or actions. Lil’ Slugger, the assailant of Paranoia Agent, terrorizes the town in a string of assaults, using nothing else but a baseball bat to attack people seemingly at random and without warning.

The series revolves around unmasking who exactly Lil’ Slugger is and why the attacks are occurring. As with many mystery/horror anime, the audience is left with pieces and is trying to figure out who exactly this character is. Many of the scenes are very creepy and unnerving, which fits into the Halloween mood.

Buy Paranoia Agent here.


Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Not as much of a horror anime as it is very Halloween themed, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia follows the life of a ghost named Yuko who is attached to the school where Teiichi, a middle school student resides.

Teiichi is able to see Yuko, and investigates her death that took place in the school. There are many mysteries surrounding Yuko and her appearance, which is further investigated by the establishment of a paranormal club.

The scenery and mystery of the series make this underrated gem worth a watch, especially for the romantic aspects and implications that a ghost must endure when they are tied to a certain area until they can pass on.

Buy the Complete Collection here.


Blood+

As the name implies, Blood+ contains quite a lot of blood, as well as vampire-like creatures who like to target human hosts. Schoolgirl Saya Otonashi’s life changes drastically after she is attacked by a creature known as a Chiropteran that feasts on the blood of its victims.

Through this, Saya learns that she must go out of her way to defeat the Chiropterans, as she is able to shatter their blood through her newfound powers. Through her journey, Saya encounters many enemies as well as finding out who her true self is. Blood+ is filled with gory action and a well-written story that will keep watchers on the edge of their seat.

Buy Blood+ Volume One here.


Ghost Hunt

With many paranormal investigator shows popping up in the reality tv world, there’s bound to be an anime that has the same premise. Ghost Hunt follows student Mai Taniyama and the leader of the Shibuya Psychic Research Center, Kazuya, also nicknamed Naru the Narcissist. In this anime, the two characters, along with others, investigate many paranormal incidents around Japan as well as discover their own psychic abilities. This show has some very genuinely creepy moments as well as an eerie vibe that one would get when investigating the paranormal side of things.

Buy Ghost Hunt here.


Tokyo Ghoul

Becoming one of the most popular anime in the last year, Tokyo Ghoul developed a very large fanbase after the premiere of the show. Tokyo Ghoul follows the story of Ken Kaneki, a young and innocent college-age student who unknowingly meets a ghoul on a date, changing his life forever. Ghouls in the anime are cannibals, often attacking humans for their need to eat flesh, often resulting in vicious murders and deaths.

Ken becomes a half-ghoul after an operation saved his life, mashing his body with those of Rize, the ghoul who attacked him. Throughout the series, Ken must face the hardships of dealing with the need for human flesh, as well as being a target for those around him. What’s interesting about Tokyo Ghoul is the blurred line between good and evil, as ghouls take Ken in and can be sympathized with.

There’s also a police force that has morally questionable values, even delving into deeper topics like discrimination and equality. Tokyo Ghoul is definitely a great anime to watch before Halloween but is definitely not for those who are grossed out by body horror and cannibalism.

Buy Tokyo Ghoul The Complete Season Blu-Ray here.


Death Note

“The human whose name is written in this note shall die. This note will not take effect unless the writer has the person’s face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.” –Death Note, Rule 1

If you were given the power to end someone’s life by writing their name, how would you use it? Would it be for the greater good or for your own benefit? These questions of morality are explored in Death Note, one of the most well known and talked about anime series. This adventure follows Light Yagami, an intelligent honors student who has a bright future ahead of him. One day, he stumbles upon the Death Note and quickly learns of its power to mysteriously kill people upon writing their name in the book. First, he focuses on criminals, but then his actions take a twisted turn. Light becomes power hungry and his vision is skewed as he becomes more selfish and sees himself as a god. A game of cat and mouse is played with L, a famous detective who wants to catch the man behind the murders.

With this information, you may be wondering why a detective story  is considered a top horror anime. Sure, Death Note isn’t strictly horror. It has many elements of action and suspense. However, the elements of the series are so dark, including the psychological thriller aspects and manipulation of one’s mind when exposed to such power. It’s filled with dark and creepy moments that make the viewer question the meaning of one’s existence while guessing the mystery along the way. Maybe the real horror is one’s self.

Buy the Complete Set Repackage here.


Umineko

A deadly family reunion. We listed Higurashi as one of the top horror anime to watch, but there is another famous series by 07th Expansion that will disturb you and surprise you with a gruesome story.  Umineko is part of the When They Cry series, but with an entirely different cast and plot.

Set in 1986, members of the esteemed Ushiromiya family gather for their annual conference. However, that year is different than most, as the head of the wealthy family is about to die, and the adults are to decide how to divide his wealth among them. The main character is named Battler, the son of one of the Ushiromiya’s. He discovers that there are rumors about a witch named Beatrice who holds a riddle that leads to being the next successor to the family.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a When They Cry series without the horror element, and that’s when things get really interesting. A storm hits, and six family members are murdered. Soon after, it is revealed that if Beatrice’s riddle cannot be solved, then people will continue to die in gruesome and disturbing ways. Fantasy vs. reality is questioned, as well as the existence of witches in the human world.  Although the visual sound novel (available on Steam!) gives the complete story, and this anime stops at a point where many of the mysteries remain unsolved, it is still worth a watch to scratch that horror itch. Caution: Like Higurashi, it’s not for the weak at heart!

Buy Umineko: When They Cry here.


Hell Girl

Revenge. It is something we long for when things get tough, or problems persist in life. Bullies, betrayals, and more can haunt us and cause us to seek vengeance. In Hell Girl, there is a special website that those who have powerful grudges can access at midnight. There, they may enter a name and that person will be sent to hell. However, there is still a hefty price to pay. Those who request the grudge are given a voodoo doll with a red string. Revenge will be carried out if the user pulls the string. However, their soul will also be sent to hell when they die.

Not only does Hell Girl have interesting standalone stories each episode, but it also offers many situations to keep it entertaining and fresh. Not everyone pulls the string, while others get around the rules. The backstory of Hell Girl aka Ai Enma is also explored, and we find out her origins and place in the world. For those who love tales of revenge and classic horror elements, Hell Girl is definitely a fantastic choice, with plenty of seasons and episodes to watch.


High School of the Dead

The Walking Dead is still considered the go-to zombie series, and there is a lot of love for defeating the undead when it comes to cartoons, shows, and anime. High School of the Dead has the typical setup for a zombie horror story, deserving a spot on this list. A pandemic called the “Outbreak” spreads throughout Japan, and humans turn into zombies while groups of students struggle to survive.

It sounds incredibly generic, especially with the seemingly stereotypical anime tropish characters. However, High School of the Dead proves to be something more than it portrays. Morality is questioned, characters take unexpected turns, and the show is overall an enjoyable watch. The action scenes are particularly gruesome, and the story behind the pandemic is quite interesting.

There is one thing about High School of the Dead, however. There is a lot of fanservice and “ecchi” moments that do not make it a suitable watch for all audiences. Even if you aren’t a fan of these type of anime, it may still surprise you with a good horror story. Unfortunately, we may never see a conclusion, as the author of the series, Daisuke Sato passed away this year. His work will never be forgotten, serving as an example of a well-done zombie anime for years to come.

Buy Season 1 here.


School Live!

Speaking of zombies, there’s another horror anime out there that manages to portray an apocalypse in a new and entertaining way without falling back on generic tropes. School Live! will surprise you. On the surface, it appears to be an anime about cute girls doing cute things.

Following Yuki Takeya, School Live! Seems to be about her journey with friends in the School Living Club, an organization dedicated to improving school life. That is, until the end of the episode. There, it’s revealed that all of the main characters are actually trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. The “living” part of the club refers to staying alive, as the undead roam around the outside world with the girls being the only survivors.

Similar to Madoka Magica, this anime tends to focus on the psychological aspect of surviving where death is imminent. The girls try to reject this idea and try to make their lives normal, locking themselves up in the school and pretending. The way that they act is almost more horrific than the apocalypse itself, as it’s all in their head while the world crashes and burns around them.

Buy it here.


Danganronpa 3: Hope and Despair Arcs

If you are an anime fan or a lover of survival type horror stories, you probably heard of Danganronpa, one of the most successful visual novels in Japan. If you haven’t, the story follows students of the prestigious Hope Peak’s Academy, each with ultimate “talents” that deem them the best in their area. However, there is an insane twist. Students are trapped in Hope’s Peak with a killing game being the only way to escape.

Discovering the mysteries of the academy are horrific and really insane, especially when the mastermind is revealed and half of the students die. Although Danganronpa the Animation features the story of the first game, Danganronpa 3 offers two sides, a conclusion to the first two games, and a prequel to the second game. In many ways, Danganronpa Hope and Despair Arcs are more disturbing and really play up the horror element well.

The Future Arc explores the conclusion to the events after the second game. Without spoiling, it involves members of the Future Foundation being pinned against one another in a new killing game. Someone is a traitor who is killing one person whenever they are forced to sleep. There are many creepy, interesting moments and backstories of the Future Foundation leaders revealed. It also ties MOST of the mysteries from the first few games together.

The Despair Arc is more terrifying, showing how an entire class became inflicted and manipulated into despair. It starts off as a happy school life anime with a tragic twist of fate that leads to the deaths of thousands, as well as the first test of the killing game amongst student council members. There isn’t a happy ending, which makes it a great choice for Danganronpa fans who wish to be horrified.

It is recommended that you play Danganronpa 1 and 2 before watching the 3rd anime.

Buy it here.


Mirai Nikki

For some, nothing seems to be more horrific than killing games, where people are forced to murder each other in order to escape their situation. Mirai Nikki is brutal, pitting diary users against each other in order to become the successor to the god of space and time. The protagonist, Yukiteru, is a shy boy who lacks real-life friendships and is afraid of nearly everything.

Becoming part of the game of gods, he realizes that his classmate, Yuno, is also a participant. Protecting him, Yuno becomes one of the most possessive and obsessive love interests in the history of anime, living up to her yandere trope. She’ll kill anyone to protect Yuki, getting them through the tough game they play despite his timidness.

Although this anime would be considered more psychological torment than horror, there are plenty of twisted scenes and deaths within the killing game. Yuki’s psyche breaks down over the course of the 25-episode adventure, allowing for character development out of fear. Yuki and Yuno’s relationship, although toxic, is explored and developed as well. If you pick up this series, make sure to watch the special 30 min epilogue OVA, as it explains the confusing mess that was episode 25 and makes a lot more sense with time travel and alternate worlds.

Buy Mirai Nikki here.


Corpse Party Tortured Souls

In the haunted Heavenly Host Elementary school, a terrible fate awaits students who decide to perform a ritual within the classroom. Within seconds, an earthquake shatters and they fall into another dimension, filled with the souls of those trapped there. Can they survive the ghosts of those brutally murdered years ago?

Dubbed as one of the most gruesome anime series in existence, the Corpse Party OVAs are not for those who cringe at horror. It’s perfect to binge watch in one go, especially if you are looking for a horror anime that won’t take a while to get through. What Corpse Party lacks, however, is a developed story that is found in the visual novel counterparts. Although some parts are covered, especially about the antagonist.

This just gives viewers more of a reason to invest in the games for a more complete picture. However, the fact that this is animated certainly ups the scare factor quite a bit. Grab this small series for a horror night with friends.

Buy Corpse Party on Blu-Ray here.


Monster

When we think of horror and surgeons, we think of the classic tale of Frankenstein, but the anime Monster aims to tell a different kind of story. Featuring a young prominent, brain surgeon named Tenma, the story unfolds as he is forced to make a grave decision one night, save the life of a boy or a mayor with high social standing. He chooses to save the boy who came in first, and the mayor dies. Not only does Tenma lose his reputation, but mysterious murders also begin to occur around him, all related to the boy he decided to save.

In an interesting turn of events, Tenma realizes that the child may be intertwined with fate itself, making for an interesting psychological horror story intended for a more mature audience. Monster is considered one of the classic horror anime that is timeless and a masterpiece of a story for years to come.


Gantz

Sci-fi horror at its finest, Gantz is definitely not for those who are disturbed by gruesome murders and disturbing scenes. The world of Gantz is deadly, disgusting, and unavoidable. One day, two men attempt to save the life of a homeless man but end up dead themselves. They then find themselves in a barren apartment, with a black sphere known as Gantz. Here, their lives belong to a being who forces them to do missions to kill aliens.

They cannot leave until a mission is completed. Once a participant scores 100 points, they have 3 options: return to their normal lives with memories of Gantz erased, a unique and powerful weapon, or revive someone who has died by Gantz.

At first, it sounds cheesy, but Gantz really is horrific. Limbs are severed, heads are blown up, and people face death in classic sci-fi horror fashion. This is not for the faint of heart and for mature audiences only.

Buy the Gantz anime here.


Other amazing horror anime to check out: Psycho Pass, Berserk, Ergo Proxy, Deadman Wonderland, Elven Lied, Hellsing Ultimate, Ghost Hunt, Mononoke, Petshop of Horrors, Btooom!, Corpse Princess, Castlevania (Netflix)
Terra Formars

What’s your favorite spooky anime? Comment below!

More from Nerd Much?