It’s Halloween, and the official end to the month in which I bombarded Recommend Me Anime with horror-themed articles. However, while we have covered some pretty good horror series, which one is the scariest? What is the scariest anime ever? Is there one out there that will make you pee your pants in terror?
The sad answer is no.
If you are familiar with Japanese horror cinema, you know they can occasionally bring some of the best terror in the horror movie genre, but strangely that doesn’t transfer to anime. It is also worth noting that the internet has desensitized us so much that very little are actually scary these days.
That being said, if you wanted to watch an anime series that had the potential to scare you, what would it be? This horror anime master list will cover the ones worth checking out.
The traditional definition of horror for many is something that creeps you right the fuck out. While many in the horror anime genre give it a good try, very rarely does it actually succeed.
After the death of a classmate several decades ago, middle school class 3-3 has always been cursed. Each year, the students in the class start dying in horrific accidents. In order to prevent this, each year the new class starts taking precautions, but this year, the students did not anticipate a transfer student who would unravel all their careful work.
While occasionally wonderfully bloody with its deaths, Another tries to carve itself out as more on the creepy side of the horror genre. While it succeeds in its first few episodes, after a certain revelation, it kind of loses the edge that it had going for it.
Mai Taniyama is a freshman in high school that enjoys telling ghost stories with her friends. One day she hears the story of the cursed old school building. Overcome by curiosity, she decides to check it out. Inside she finds a camera, and after some events, she breaks the camera and injures the assistant of paranormal investigator Kazuya Shibuya. In order to repay him, Mai becomes his assistant for his paranormal research company.
When it comes to ghost-related anime and paranormal investigations, Ghost Hunt is generally the go-to series. However, if we’re being honest, its occasional meld of ghost investigation, humor, and romance prevent it from being too terribly scary. Most generally agree that the Doll House arc is the scariest, but there isn’t really too much piercing terror within.
At sunset, a mysterious masked Storyteller walks into town and the children all gather round. There he tells chilling tales of Japanese urban legends that the children devour.
Told in short, 5-minute episodes, Yamishibai is one anime that can and will chill you right to the bone. Although the paper doll animation takes some getting used to, it can be a very effective device for showing a terrifying picture without resorting to gore. It is also worth noting that unless you are some otaku for Japanese urban legends, each episode feels uniquely terrifying in its originality.
Umineko: When They Cry
Each year, the wealthy Ushiromiya family gathers on a remote island to discuss issues of financial matters within the family. However, with the failing health of the head of the family, this time it is to discuss a successor. As a brutal storm rolls in, the family becomes trapped on the island, and when a series of brutal murders occur, eighteen people must fight for their lives.
Known as When They Cry 3 (Higurashi is in the section below), Umineko tells the unique tale of this haughty, spoiled family. While not as chilling as the original When They Cry series, Umineko is creepy in its own right. Its murder mystery keeps things successfully creepy, tense, and intriguing right to the end.
Are guts and gore your idea of the perfect horror series? Looking for a solid anime gorefest to get you through the creepier holidays? If you are into something bloody, then that is something that the horror genre of anime excels in.
Higurashi: When They Cry
Keiichi Maebara just moved from Tokyo with his family to the rural village of Hinamizawa. This rural town is so small that he attends a small school house where children of all ages are taught in one classroom. He quickly makes friends with some locals girls and spends his days after school playing games. However, as the town’s annual festival approaches, he learns of a series of bloody events and disappearances that happen each year. When he asks his new friends about it, they are all mysteriously silent.
Don’t be fooled by how deceptively moe all the little girls in Higurashi look, they do brutal things and have brutal things done to them. Told in several arcs, Higurashi and its viscerally violent scenes juxtaposed with sickly sweet cuteness make it one of the most vicious anime series around.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
At night, nine students gather to perform a ritual to bid farewell for a friend. Unbeknownst to them, their high school is actually built on the ruins of an elementary school that was the scene of gruesome murders in the past. Their ritual ends up sending them to an alternate reality where the elementary school still exists and the vengeful ghosts of the past are out for blood. Now the students must escape or die trying.
Although only a short OVA, Corpse Party is a feast for gore hounds and mystery fanatics alike. With some of the most brutal deaths in anime, if you find guts and blood scary, than Corpse Party will send you to horror heaven.
Lucy is of a special breed of human known as Diclonius, born with small horns and telekinetic powers. She was kept prisoner in a research facility, but after a bloody breakout and a head wound, she ends up with amnesia. After being rescued by two college students, they end up dragged into a world of violence and government conspiracy.
Is your idea of a good horror anime a lot of severed body parts? That’s what you get with Elfen Lied. Between Lucy’s murderous tendencies and those that seek to take her by any means possible, there is a lot of brutality to go around.
As the nations of the world begin to peaceful cooperate, that peace is threatened by the private armies of corporations. One corporation has recently discovered a weapon to turn the tides in their favor, the Genocyber. As an advanced combination of cybernetics and psychic powers, this monstrosity threatens to send the world into chaos.
Frequently referred to as the “bloodiest anime ever,” despite its older animation, the OVA features visceral and often shocking violence. If even the most violent anime series aren’t gory enough for you, this ought to satisfy.
Monsters are classically horrifying, but less so in this modern age. Still, some of the best anime series feature creatures that go bump in the night.
In the night, there are monsters that feed on humanity indiscriminately. To stand against the tide in Britain is the Hellsing Organization. Leader of the organization, Integra Hellsing, believes that to fight monsters, you must use monsters. So among her soldiers, she slays vampires with her powerful pet, Alucard.
While Hellsing: Ultimate might belong more to the Bloody category of horror due to the literal buckets of blood and impressive violence in the series, it is, in essence, about monsters fighting other monsters. Although supernatural, so violent, and as dark as they come, typically it is not particularly scary, but the best supernatural horror series around.
The death of 15-year-old Megumi Shimizu kicked off a summer of terror for the residents of the rural Sotoba village. A furious epidemic of anemia leaves villagers dying left and right, but village doctor Toshio Ozaki believes that something more supernatural is afoot.
Although slow to get into it, Shiki, unlike Hellsing, is a vampire anime that can occasionally be quite chilling. The dead eyes really do wonders for making many of the characters look scary enough. Combine that with some pretty good sound effects and music, and Shiki really has a lot working for it. It gets pretty gory near the end, too.
It is said that if your thirst for revenge is strong enough, you gain access to a special website available only at midnight. There you can ask that the person who wronged you be dragged straight to hell. This is the tale of Ai Enma, the Hell Girl that carries out such requests.
Hell Girl is about equal parts creepy and mindfuck. There are no jump scares and Ai is really the only spirit within it, but the study of the moral choices within is somewhat terrifying, and, if nothing else, thought-provoking.
Not all scary anime series have to be about gore, monsters, or ghosts. Sometimes the most terrifying thing you can do to a person is mess with their mind.
There’s a young kid with a baseball bat called Shounen Bat terrorizing the residents of Musashino City. Flying around on his golden rollerblades and smacking people across the head with his golden bat, he seems impossible to catch. However, the police begin to wonder if he is even real at all.
If we are talking mindfuckery, then I would be remiss to leave off the only anime series created by Satoshi Kon before his death. He is a master of it. Paranoia Agent, despite having its more comical stories, is an expert examination of how paranoia can turn from a trickle into a flood under the right circumstances.
Dr. Kenzou Tenma seems to have the perfect life, until one day he is forced to make a moral choice between saving the life of the mayor and a little boy. He chooses the child, but when a series of murders start happening around him, all pointing to that same child, he begins to question his choice.
Although a mystery series, Monster and its masterful villain borders on being creepy enough to scare some of the less hardened horror fans. It is as intriguing as it is dark and philosophical.
Serial Experiments Lain
Like many other girls at her school, Lain Iwakura received an e-mail from Chisa Yomoda, a girl that committed suicide recently. Although she is terrible with technology and afraid of it, she opens the e-mail and is immediately sent into The Wired, a virtual reality communication network. When strange men in black start chasing her, Lain and her technophobic world are turned upside down.
This psychological mystery series, while dated, presents a creepy story that draws you in with it mystery and finds you questioning your moral choices.
If you don’t have the time to commit to a horror anime series and just want to be creeped out on Halloween, here are some good options. Unfortunately unlike Japanese live-action horror cinema, even anime movies suffer from a distinct lack of being scary.
With the advent of new space technology, a group of humans (and one cat) are sent into space to investigate the viability of a new planet 20 years away. When they are woken up mid-flight, a series of strange events begin to happen, making them believe that some of the crew are not quite who they say they are.
If movies like Alien or The Thing are more to your horror tastes, Lily C.A.T. pretty much combines the two into a satisfying piece of sci-fi horror.
Blood: The Last Vampire
Teropterids are evil beasts which pose as humans and live only to drink human blood. Fortunately for the human world there are groups dedicated to destroying them. A brooding and mysterious girl named Saya is the best teropterid slayer there is, and now, in 1960s Japan, she is sent to a U. S. army base which may be infested.
While the Blood+ anime series is not quite as satisfying, that definitely can’t be said for the original movie. Saya is much more badass and more viscerally violent than ever. It will leave you wanting more.
It is said if you play a game of hide and seek in the ruins of an old city, demons will come and take you away. One boy enters the game in order to find his missing sister.
KakuRenBo is more recent, and really one of the only recent horror anime movies that isn’t psychological in nature. While most characters wear masks, they are very representative of the characters and end up personifying them better than their actually faces. With not bloody, KakuRenBo can be creepy to the right person.
Mimi Kirigoe is a member of the popular idol group CHAM!, but after re-evaluating her life, she decides to quit to become an actress. However, her hardcore fans are less than pleased. After a series of strange things happen on set, Mimi begins to break down and question what is real.
Satoshi Kon is a master at the psychological, but you can’t really call his movies “scary”. Yet, if you like anime features that mess with your head, Perfect Blue is the best choice.
What is the Scariest Anime Series?
Can’t be assed to sort out which series is the most fitting for your definition of horror? If you are just looking for the scariest anime, in our opinion, it is Yamishibai. While only told in short, 5-minute episodes, there are currently three seasons for you to work through, and they get all kinds of creepy.
While the series utilizes very little blood and guts, it is a master of creating a tense atmosphere and its shocking imagery can be the stuff of nightmares. Each short story in the episodes feels unique and it is like watching a couple dozen horror movies in one sitting.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s the only anime that has even come even close to making me want to go from lights out watching to turning the lights on.
Do you think a particular anime series is scarier? Tell us about it in the comments section below!