Horror has been an integral part of storytelling since the beginning. People love being scared more than anything else, and if you’re looking for anime that’ll do it to new extremes – this list is just what you’re after!
From bloody stories as gruesome as they are intense to grotesque cuts pushing all limits imaginable, these titles have everything horror junkies could ever want in a story with such disturbing content. If you know any people who enjoy watching things get really violent and disgusting before their eyes but aren’t quite satisfied by Western tropes or cliches, be sure to recommend one of these ten horrifying shows from Japan today.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- 1. Monster
- 2. Another
- 3. Ghost Stories
- 4. Hell Girl
- 5. School Days
- 6. School-Live!
- 7. Serial Experiments Lain
- 8. When They Cry: Higurashi
- 9. The World Yamizukan
- 10. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
- 11. Boogiepop Phantom
- 12. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
- 13. Deadman Wonderland
- 14. Devilman Crybaby (2018)
- 15. Elfen Lied (2004)
- 16. The Flowers of Evil (2019)
- 17. From the New World (2012–2013)
- 18. Gantz (2004)
- 19. Ghost Hunt
- 20. Black Butler
- 21. Hellsing
- 22. Japan Sinks: 2020
- 23. Junji Ito Collection
- 24. Mushi-shi
- 25. Paranoia Agent
- 26. Parasyte: The Maxim
- 27. The Promised Neverland
- 28. Death Note
- 29. Sankarea
- 30. Shiki
- 31. Tokko
- 32. Tokyo Ghoul
- 33. Blood+
- 34. High School of the Dead
- 35. Terra Formars
Tenma is a young prominent, brain surgeon. One night he faces an impossible decision: save the life of one boy or another mayor with high social standing. Tenma chooses to save the first child who comes in – and soon after, mysterious murders begin happening around him related to that same child whom he saved.
Another explores the world of Japanese horror anime series and one that does the horror genre with incredible gusto. It’s not episodic but rather more like a movie; it follows bizarre deaths surrounding mysterious students who can’t seem to die under normal circumstances. One inquisitive transfer student sets out on his own journey to figure out why these horrible things keep happening– there are many victims here and none aware they’re being targeted by ghosts. But for those very few people able to communicate with the supernatural realm. They’ll be your key to unlocking this mystery once-and-for-all!
3. Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories is arguably the most popular series of spooky tales out there that you’ll find. It tells a tale about Satsuki, who moves into town with her father and brother, to where she was born but now resides in an abandoned school building. Once at this location, it’s revealed that her mother had dealt with some ghosts before when she lived here as well.
4. Hell Girl
The Hell Girl series is a collection of short, one-shot horror stories that explore the titular Ai Enma. Some episodes focus on people who are tormented by another and have reached their breaking point; they can access this strange website where they may be able to submit an order for revenge – sending them straight to hell!
5. School Days
Makoto Ito starts his day by catching the train to Sakakino Academy. Every morning, he sees a beautiful girl and wonders about her life; but it’s not until classmate Sekai offers to introduce him that Makoto realizes what an opportunity this is! Her name was Kotonoha; she seemed perfect for him – so all he had to do in return was just give one kiss? Well, with that deal made came more than romance: jealousy strikes both of them as they fall deeper into love with each other. And when feelings get too strong, or someone falls out of favour, well, murder isn’t far behind on these dramatic nights.
Yuki Takeya lives a carefree life, loving her friends and adventures. There is just one tiny thing: there is no school because the zombie apocalypse has taken out all of civilization. The School Life club girls have to fight their way through this new world by themselves while Yuki’s in denial about it happening at all.
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7. Serial Experiments Lain
Lain Iwakura spends her days on the Wired, a future iteration of the internet. She’s an introverted but friendly middle schooler who loves hanging out with friends she makes online and surfing for all sorts of people from around the world. But when one-day strange events start happening to those closest to Lain in real life- like emails from dead classmates insisting that they’re still alive deep within The Wired – things get complicated fast!
Lain logs in with the intention of figuring out this cyberpunk mystery, uncovering conspiracies in “The Wired” and losing touch with her reality. The horror here is in the suspenseful psychological twists as Lain makes her way through 12 episodes that take a disturbing turn into questioning who we are, how we exist, technology’s role–and most importantly: consciousness.
8. When They Cry: Higurashi
You might be fooled by the adorable girls in When They Cry, but they’re not as innocent (or clueless) as you think. This is a psychological horror anime that has an alien invasion, evil organizations, worm-like creatures killing villagers and; a whole lot of bloody scenes. There’s a cursed town and its inhabitants that meet untimely deaths for which one supernatural being is blamed–but there are some things we can’t say without ruining it. This truly disturbing story ties together a plot out of seemingly unconnected threads; initially, they don’t make much sense until all comes to an inevitable conclusion.
9. The World Yamizukan
With its Western art style and only a few minutes of time commitment, this freaky anime is perfect for those who are looking for something short but still immersive. It includes a vehicle that eventually eats people as well as the strange story about a woman who disappears in the woods with an ending you won’t soon forget!
10. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Yamishibai has a bite-sized anthology series with enough horror fuel to chill you to the bone in minutes. Taking elements from Japanese folklore and urban legends: each five minutes animated motion comic, inspired by Depression-era kamishibai storytelling, is strange and surreal, ranging from unsettling to downright spine-tingling. There are seven seasons currently sharing stories based on Japanese urban legend and horror stories of Japan.
One about a young boy who discovers that his family must put on horrific, garish smiles to stave off the ghost of his great-great-grandfather; another tells the story of a girl who suffers from a skin condition that turns into a hand with a tight grip. It’s disturbing, but fortunately, if you get too scared, it will be over in just minutes.
11. Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom is an anthology series tied together by one theme: Boogiepop; a legendary urban legend thought to be the personification of death. The anime takes place in a Japanese city following ritualistic murders and initially blames Boogiepop for them. Is it really life-threatening or just metaphorical? There are many possibilities because this surreal mystery drifts between reality and imagination at times! Though you might not know what’s going on, there will always be something scaring the hell out of you that’ll make your heart race all night long trying to figure it out.
12. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is an anime series about the lives of students in Kisaragi Academy, previously Heavenly Host Elementary School. With gruesome murders taking place on this site years ago, it’s understandable why many would be hesitant to attend such an institution. It doesn’t help that one student has just transferred from another school and all his friends are about to leave him behind for good!
The only way these kids can keep their friends close? Performing some strange ritual known as Sachiko Ever After Charm, which will bind them together forever while they’re still young enough not to get too grown up with other things like work or marriage, yet who knows what will happen if he ever does manage cross paths again with those murderers?
13. Deadman Wonderland
Ganta Igarashi can’t believe his luck when a strange figure covered in blood floats through the window of his middle school classroom. In seconds, it plasters Ganta’s entire class with red crystal shard fragments from its body and leaves them for dead! Luckily, he was spared but had to deal with another form of punishment: life as an inmate at Deadman Wonderland theme park-like prison–forced to entertain visitors by being experimented on or fighting other inmates called “Deadmen.”
His life is spiralling out of control, and he’s determined to do something about it. He has found himself in a strange new prison called Deadman Wonderland, but all the other inmates have powers that are just as bizarre as his own. It’ll take everything inside him if he wants to stay alive here – or anywhere else for that matter!
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14. Devilman Crybaby (2018)
Akira Fudo was just your average crybaby—his kind heart made him an easy target for bullies, but his best friend Ryo Asuka helped him move away from this persona, not in a healthy way at all. It turns out that Ryo had some secrets: he knew demons were real and could prove it with special powers to draw them out of humans! He used those same abilities on poor Akira, who found himself caught up right in the middle.
Akira becomes a demon that can retain its human nature while gaining immense power from a demonic form or a Devilman. Ryo’s intentions weren’t really pure, as he plans to rule the world with Akira by his side. The result? An unforgettable bloody ballet of violence and gore mixed in with hard-hitting sex scenes and psychedelic visuals all coming together for one thrilling ride!
15. Elfen Lied (2004)
Elfen Lied is a beautifully tragic anime with an engaging storyline that will have you gasping for breath.
Elfen Lied, both heartbreaking and terrifying, explores the events after experiments are performed on the Diclonius – mutated humans born with telekinetic powers and horns. The star of this show has two personalities: Lucy can either use her phantom hands to murder everyone in sight or win over people as Nyu-her adorable alter ego. This bloody odyssey isn’t for those faint of heart, but its compelling tale will leave you breathless by the time it finally ends.
16. The Flowers of Evil (2019)
Takao Kasuga is a high school student who loves to read Charles Baudelaire and hang out with his classmate Nanako Saeki. He feels like an outsider in many ways, but Saeki has been the only bright light in his life until he meets Sawa Nakamura. When Takao finds himself caught taking her gym clothes by Nakamura, it throws him for a loop that leaves him both shaken and thrilled at their interactions from there on out.
17. From the New World (2012–2013)
From the New World is a dark and dystopian fantasy with elements of coming-of-age. Set in an alternate, apocalyptic future where children are being kidnapped by their classmates to be experimented on, this series tells us about how hard it can be when you’re left behind for whatever reason. It’s heartbreaking and riveting all at once as we follow these kids who disappear one day only never to return–and try not to worry too much about what might happen next!
18. Gantz (2004)
Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato died in a grisly train accident and found themselves part of a strange new game played by other recently deceased individuals. Using futuristic items and weapons, they must hunt and kill aliens as directed by a mysterious black sphere named “Gantz.” Their aim is to reach 100 points by following Gantz’s rules, or else it could be possible that after the ordeal ends, their normal lives may never come back. Gantz features some especially distressing scenes, which make for one disturbing anime series out there – among many others!
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19. Ghost Hunt
Mai Taniyama is a high school student who joins the Shibuya Psychic Research organization and its leader Kazuya Sibuya after she breaks one of their video cameras. She comes to realize her own psychic powers, which are latent but can be harnessed for good when she helps investigate the strange old building at her school. There they discover that Mai has some kind of power related to spirits lurking there – spooky! It’s less scary than other entries on this list, so it might be just what you’re looking for if you want something softer and eerier than outright terrorizing ghost stories.
20. Black Butler
Ciel Phantomhive is the 13-year-old head of a powerful family with ties to England’s monarchy. He may be young, but he has his own agenda and wants revenge on those who murdered his parents, so they won’t get away unpunished! Ciel was inspired by Sherlock Holmes in order to find suspects for crimes throughout London’s seedy underbelly -but unlike most detectives, this one isn’t without help. In exchange for helping him solve cases that appear unsolvable, Sebastian Michaelis offers protection from evil forces as well as wisdom—which at times can come in handy when it comes down to getting what you want out of life.
The Hellsing Organization has a long and storied history of saving England from supernatural threats. Led by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, the group’s mission is to hunt and kill these foes once and for all. Alucard, the original vampire, born in 1841 AD who spent most of his life fighting other vampires to protect humans before being killed on orders from Queen Victoria herself at age 25 so that he would not become too powerful or corruptible, was resurrected as an artificial human with no heart but incredible power only two years ago under her direct command explicitly because they are desperate times when even ghouls threaten our country.
From punk-rock bloodsuckers looking to turn London into anarchy in order to satisfy their own thirst for chaos to Nazi. This anime is more than just vampire stories.
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22. Japan Sinks: 2020
When Japan is hit by a massive earthquake, the Mutō family is forced to band together to survive the cascade of subsequent disasters and perils that follow in its wake. As they journey across Japan in search of refuge and safety amidst an onslaught of environmental dangers and malicious opportunists, death comes swiftly for both loved ones from even strangers alike as this disaster story unfolds into one filled with intense emotion-filled moments, both tragic yet hopeful at times too!
23. Junji Ito Collection
The show is an anthology series of episodes based around some of the legendary creator’s best and most popular manga. There are a few lesser-known titles thrown in for good measure too. Whether you’re watching about a cursed town where everyone wears masks or the story of demonically beautiful Tomie, it should be quite easy to find something that will give you nightmares tonight with this collection from Junji Ito!
Ever wonder what creatures are lurking in the world that’s only visible to those who can see beyond human sight? Mushi-shi explores a hidden world where death, pain and destruction happen every day
This is not some happy little fairy tale: Ginko, an individual, cursed with this ability of “Mushi” or invisible spirits around him which interact through mostly negative ways. They take over people’s eyesight, for example, but have been known to lead others astray into remote mountain passes too!
25. Paranoia Agent
Satoshi Kon, the director of such acclaimed films as Paprika and Millennium Actress, tried his hand at anime in one enigmatic series. Paranoia Agent is a look into a serial attacker named Lil’ Slugger, who’s reportedly an elementary school student wearing inline skates, a baseball cap and a bent golden baseball bat terrorizing people all over Tokyo.
A manhunt was underway after the designer of popular character Maromi Tsukiko Sagi is attacked on her way home one evening by what appears to be someone known only as “Lil’ Slugger.” The police believe that it was just something she dreamt up until another victim surfaces.
26. Parasyte: The Maxim
Shinichi Izumi has an alien living in his left hand after one of them fell to Earth. The parasitic shapeshifter is off-target and just wants to stay with Shinichi, so they form a symbiotic relationship as the pair work together to stave off other parasites that are aiming for them.
Shinichi and his parasite named Migi are working to rid the world of the alien invaders. But what happens when they finally reach their goal? That’s part of what makes this story so exciting! Get ready for some real weirdness, like one human opening up its face to chow down on another. Yes, Parasyte: The Maxim does not disappoint in that regard; it really takes you into a strange new world where everything can be horrifying or hilarious depending on how out-of-the-box your thoughts go with it.
27. The Promised Neverland
“Mom” is the head of Grace Field House, and she’s strict with a side order of mean. She makes sure that all orphans stay on lockdown for their own good. The children are not unhappy, I assure you. What lies beyond the gate? Oh, nothing—only a gaggle of demons who gobble up orphans for breakfast. That’s right! Grace Field is just an all-you-can-eat buffet where humans and their emotions can be served to various appetites.
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28. Death Note
The sparse world of the shinigami is boring. When Ryuk, a death god, drops his Death Note – an all-powerful notebook that can kill anyone as long as the user knows their target’s name and face – chaos ensues in our living world. But one top high school student manages to find it- Light Yagami!
Now he has two choices: experiment with this dangerous weapon for altruistic purposes or become drunk on power like every other villain who takes up such a task before him. This shounen classic is horrific as it deals with a man who slowly transforms from Light into “Kira,” the serial killer. The police work tirelessly to take him down in this brutal and gripping world of death that’s been captivating audiences for years!
Chihiro Furuya is a high school student who has an obsession with zombies, and he wants to be able to have one as his girlfriend. This might seem weird for some people, but it’s what Chihiro likes and really wants, so that doesn’t make him any different from anyone else in the world. One day when throwing things into a well of water because apparently that will bring back lost cats (even though there are other ways), Rea comes screaming up along the side of the well, yelling about her terrible life at home.
They both work on Babu’s life-restoring potion together in secret until Rea meets a tragic death. Chihiro must test his potion on her and the cat —and magically, they’re brought back to life as zombies. It’s an oddly sweet horror series woven together by moments of hope and one of the most unique takes on zombie shows you’ve ever seen!
The Kirishiki family are the last in a long line of vampire hunters, but their latest quarry is more formidable than any they’ve faced before. In Shiki, you can always count on vampires–the very concept has been updated with modern sensibilities and believable human characters forced to live out eternity as nightwalkers.
The string of bizarre deaths that swept through rural Japan coincides with the arrival of this strange new family living within view from town at an enormous mansion on its edge; it’s only when one resident discovers why she was spared amongst so many others does her plight become clear. Shiki subverts the played-out vampire tropes, giving us a look at their lives before and after they became undead.
How these terrifying transformations wreak havoc on society is also examined as well. And still, you can’t help but root for them sometimes too!
After the death of his parents, Ranmaru Shindo moves to Tokyo with only his sister Saya. Every night he dreams about a girl with a sword who is believed to be responsible for murdering their family members in cold blood. He joins Tokko when he graduates and discovers her again at school, but this time she’s not wearing an ominous red cloak; rather, she wears white like everyone else on campus!
32. Tokyo Ghoul
Living in Tokyo is no walk in the park. Ordinary citizens live under constant threat of attack, not just from common criminals but also from flesh-eating ghouls that roam through the streets at night and blend into society during daylight hours to prey on humans for sustenance.
When protagonist Ken Kaneki becomes victim to a wayward ghoul’s midnight snack, he himself transforms into a half-human/half-ghoul hybrid which has never been seen before by either man or beast alike! Ken Kaneki has always been a good person, but he is suddenly turned into something else. When the half-ghoul takes over his body and does ghoul things, Ken can’t control himself anymore.
Blood+ is a show about an ordinary girl who finds herself in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. As Saya Otonashi’s life changes drastically after being attacked by vicious Chiropteran, she uses her wits and creativity to keep up with this new world that has been thrust upon her.
Saya learns that she has an advantageous power to shatter the Chiropterans through her blood but must go out of her way as well. Along the journey, Saya encounters many enemies and is able to learn more about who she really is without knowing anything beforehand! Blood+ can be gory with violence in some parts, which will keep watchers on their feet wanting a good show.
34. High School of the Dead
There’s nothing like a good zombie story, and with so many options for animated television out there now, it can be difficult to find the perfect one. High School of The Dead is up your alley if you’re looking for something that will surprise you while also keeping things engaging enough not to make this seem too much like homework. This anime series has everything from zombies roaming around Japan as people struggle in their high school classrooms or elsewhere trying to stay alive long enough until someone figures out what exactly happened here!
35. Terra Formars
The terror of a cockroach is timeless. It’s been crawling in our kitchens and hiding under the couch for centuries, scaring us with its uncontrollable movements that remind us of all things dirty and disgusting. But what if we told you they’re evolving? Terra Formars tells an epic story about giant mutant roaches taking over Mars because when humans first colonized it, they sent not one but two (yes TWO) samples to start populating life on this planet. Humans sent moss and cockroaches. These cockroaches evolved into humanoid sentient beings called Terra Formars. Now a team of superhumans must travel to the red planet to capture and exterminate these gigantic pests.
So, after all that talk, you’re probably feeling a little spooked. Well, we hope so! If not, then what are you waiting for? The list of best horror anime is right there, and some of them might just be the perfect fit to get your heart racing on dark nights. Don’t forget to leave us a comment if there’s terrifying horror anime out there that needs to make it onto our list or if you have any thoughts about the spooky anime on the list. Enjoy! Or, rather, I hope you get scared!