It’s that time of the season where its 100% socially acceptable to scare ourselves stupid with zombies, vampires, or mask-wearing homicidal maniacs.
And while live-action movies and shows are rife with gory goodness, we’ve got some bloody bangers that I’m sure you anime fans out there will enjoy.
Watch the video above, click through the gallery below or scroll down for the full list!
Must Watch Horror Anime
Perfect Blue (Rent: Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, Vudu)
Satoshi Kon’s 1997 anime film Perfect Blue isn’t inherently considered a horror movie in the general sense, but more of a physiological thriller. Perfect Blue tells the story of a young J-Pop star who decides to leave her music career to become an actress. After a traumatic experience in one of her first acting roles, she slips into a state of psychosis where she’s unable to distinguish between the real world and fantasy. This is partially where the horror of the anime lies, along with depictions of gore and graphic violence. At one point, a man gets stabbed in the nards, and for us there’s nothing more horrific than seeing that, let alone experiencing it.
Satoshi Kon is no stranger to psychological thrillers; we’ve seen him explore this genre in his other works Paprika and Paranoia Agent. But there’s something so terrifying seeing the main character, Mima, begin to lose her identity and her state of mind, even as the body count stacks up (including that of her harmless fish). With the amount of blood and gore thrown around, coupled with a brilliantly crafted story, Perfect Blue is definitely an anime that’ll stay with you for years to come.
Another (Crunchyroll, VRV)
Another is an intriguing horror anime that will keep you glued to your screen. Protagonist Sakakibara Kouchi is a new transfer student to an infamous school known for a mysterious death. Kouchi finds that his classmates are acting a bit suspicious when it comes to that event from years ago, but finds comfort in a quiet girl with an eye patch. P.A. Works does an amazing job detailing the nuances in facial expressions and body language to create tension. The story is gripping and each episode will have you clicking next to see the events unfold.
Ghost Stories (Crunchyroll, VRV)
Ghost Stories is one of the rare anime shows we would recommend you watch the dub over the sub, for the simple fact that it’s funny as hell. When ADV Films acquired the North American license for this one, it decided to hire a comedy writer (shout out to Steven Foster) and completely flipped the script … literally. With the comedy elements aside, Ghost Stories tells just that: ghost stories. It’s the tale of a young girl named Satsuki Miyanoshita who moves to her deceased mother’s hometown with her family, where she and a ragtag group of kids discover an abandoned school that appears to be haunted.
Turns out these ghosts aren’t just haunting that abandoned school but the entire town. Fortunately for Satsuki and her new friends, her mother was the one responsible for sealing away these ghosts, and she left Satsuki a book that details how to exorcise these spooky creatures and rid them of the paranormal activity that’s befallen the town.
So if you’re wanting to get into the spooky mood with something a little bit different, Ghost Stories should be on your list. It’s like Scooby-Doo, if Scooby-Doo was laden with over the top adult-oriented humor.
Higurashi: When They Cry (VRV, HIDIVE)
If you haven’t heard of 2006’s Higurashi: When They Cry, now is a better time than ever to get into this classic horror anime series with the new 2020 series now available. Higurashi follows Maebara Keiichi, the new kid in town, who lives a somewhat peaceful life until he begins to learn about several murders that have happened over the past few years. Keiichi struggles to find the truth as he falls into an array of paranoia filled events. Definitely check this out before the 2020 series because the new anime may be a continuation and not a remake. Just a fair warning, as we’re just getting into the new fall season.
Gleipnir is a strange yet unique one – it’s about a boy who can transform into a killer monster that looks like a character from Five Nights at Freddy’s. This one’s more of a body horror anime, although don’t expect to see bones snapping and skin ripping during transformation sequences; all the usual grotesqueries are replaced with cotton and fuzziness. Just think of the main character here as Twisted Foxy from FNaF’s anime counterpart. And much like the horrific, jump-scaring animatronics from FNaF, the main character is a killing machine. It’s a modern-day Wolfman story, only this wolfman is cute and holsters a pistol on his side.
Parasyte -the maxim- (Crunchyroll, VRV, Netflix, HIDIVE)
Parasyte the maxim is not only a great horror anime but one that all anime fans could enjoy. Parasyte follows protagonist Shinichi Izumi who is infected by an alien parasite. Instead of being overtaken by the parasite, he learns to have a symbiotic relationship with the alien which in turn puts a target on his back. This new addition to his body throws his life into chaos, and affects those around him. Under all the numerous body horror elements in Parasyte lies an amazing story full of emotions. The action isn’t too bad either for shonen fans. Parasyte -the maxim- is definitely a must watch!
Wicked City (DVD, Blu-ray)
This one is a bit of a throwback to when some of us weren’t even alive yet, but a time we personally like to consider the golden age of anime. 1987’s Wicked City is about demonic creatures who keep trying to infiltrate the human world through a parallel dimension and the Black Guard, a special police force implemented to keep them in check. Starting off as a series of horror novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, the anime borrows from several genres, including body horror, science fiction and hentai. Yes, hentai.
In fact, the majority of the scariest parts involve graphic sexual acts and body transformations. The visuals in the anime were quite stunning for its time. If you’re a fan of Ninja Scroll or Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the director of those anime films, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, made his directorial debut in Wicked City, so it’s nice to see where the legendary anime director started. Just be warned that there’s tons of nudity in the movie, so probably hide the kids.
Elfen Lied (VRV, HIDIVE, Amazon Prime)
Just from the manga cover alone for Elfen Lied, you wouldn’t know that this is a horror anime with sci-fi elements. The first few minutes of the Elfen Lied anime is literally a bloody massacre! Elfen Lied follows Lucy, a mutant with a killer instinct and special powers, who manages to escape her imprisonment. She was injured during her escape, giving her a split personality. Two cousins, Kouta and Yuka, take the helpless escapee in, not knowing how dangerous she really is. Elfen Lied is a roller coaster of emotions as Lucy becomes more involved in the carefree lives of Kouta and Yuka.
Devilman The Birth (DVD, Blu-ray)
1987’s Devilman: The Birth is the first OVA in the Devilman series, which starts with Ryo and Akira discovering the existence of demons and the fight for survival on Earth. The film manages to pack a lot of gore in its 50+min runtime, with demonic transformations, amazingly animated body horror, and decapitations aplenty – and that’s just the nightclub scene. The Birth OVA spawned two sequels. The Demon Bird and Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman, before fans were blessed with Netflix’s modern take on the franchise with Devilman Crybaby. While the animation looks dated compared to Crybaby, Devilman: The Birth is worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some serious demonic gore.
Tokyo Ghoul (Funimation, Hulu)
Tokyo Ghoul is another horror anime that all anime fans could enjoy. Tokyo Ghoul follows protagonist Ken Kaneki, who lives in a world where both humans and fleshing eating ghouls exist. Through a casual attraction came a near-death experience that forces Kaneki into a life of being part ghoul. On top of the action-packed story are some of the goriest horror scenes in anime. Studio Pierrot does an amazing job showcasing the balance between Kaneki’s ghoul side and his humanity with captivating animations. Whether you’re into horror or shonen anime, there’s a lot to love with Tokyo Ghoul.
We barely scratched the surface of horror anime here. There’s plenty more, like Hellsing, Shiki, and the Junji Ito Collection. What are some of your anime horror picks? Sound off in the comments down below. And let us know what you think of ours. And for more horribly horrific content, click that video! Akeem Lawanson is a video host and producer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter at @geekheavy. Mike Mamon is a Syndication & Digital Specialist at IGN, devil fruit user, and world-renown JoJo poser. Let’s chat anime on Twitter.