It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Halloween (also known as goth Christmas), and if you’re looking for horror anime series to binge watch as spooky season well and truly descends upon us, we’ve got you covered with horror anime essentials full of demons, ghouls, and all things that go bump in the night.
We’ve compiled a list of anime that range from gruesome 90s classics to more modern, creepy series for horror anime buffs and those that just want a little scare this Halloween, so no matter what vibe you’re after you can get into the spirit (no pun intended) this October.
Psycho-Pass is the cyberpunk psychological thriller for the ages, depicting an alternate version of Japan where crime barely exists thanks to the Sibyl System, a computer network that predicts people’s inclination to commit crimes based on their mental and physical states to stop offences before they occur. Akane Tsunemori is a new Inspector tasked with solving crimes with latent criminals, Enforcers, all the while trying to grapple with the impacts of the horrific crimes on her own Psycho-Pass. Psycho-Pass explores the Sibyl System’s influence on the dystopian society, Minority Report style, while also often delving into gruesome murders– the first season’s major antagonist and their crime scenes are some of the most horrific I’ve seen depicted in anime and the series certainly lives up to the thriller genre and then some.
It wouldn’t be a horror anime list without mentioning Elfen Lied, the anime that arguably created a generation of traumatised, edgy kids who stumbled upon the gory, violent series mostly by accident (myself included). Don’t be fooled by the cutesy character designs – Elfen Lied explores the story of a race of mutants hellbent on murdering all humans in order to inhabit the world. It’s dark, emotional, and (I’ll say it again) edgy, and is essential viewing even 19 years on, even if only to contextualise that iconic opening scene.
The Promised Neverland
Picture kids in an idyllic orphanage learning that their situation is actually horrific in a slow-burn psychological horror anime, and you’ve just about got a handle on The Promised Neverland. The first season easily outperforms the second, which is a much less satisfying watch, but it’s well worth watching the anime’s debut season for the suspense and a terrifying villain that’ll have you cowering on the couch the whole way through.
Zombie Land Saga
While straight up and down horror is great, horror comedy has its place and Zombie Land Saga is an ideal spooky-yet-funny watch. A group of young girls killed in various eras in Japan’s history are reanimated as zombies to become an idol group – and while it may not be an out and out scarefest the whole way through, it’s a whole lot of fun to see this spin on the idol genre as they perform while their body parts rot away. It’s also got some great character story to it, so while there’s plenty to laugh about in what’s realistically quite a bleak setting, there’s also weight and drama that’ll keep you hooked.
Junji Ito collection
Horror anime owes a lot of its inspiration to Junji Ito, one of the most famous Japanese horror manga artists behind Tomie and Uzumaki. Junji Ito Collection is a 12-episode anthology series (with 2 OVAs as well) with two shorts per installment, adapting the artist’s works to anime in full colour, and adding sound and life to Ito’s works really ups the ante on what is already a deeply unsettling source material to work with. Think body horror, grotesque depictions and everyday situations turned nightmarish and twisted. If you’re a fiend for the macabre, Junji Ito Collection is where it’s at.
Another is a horror thriller anime following a middle school class with a dark secret and a transfer student, Kouichi Sakakibara, who is drawn into a mystery after befriending Mei against the advice of his classmates. It’s as gory and dark as you’d hope from a thriller, as students begin to get violently murdered and Kouichi must investigate the tragedies befalling his class. The story is full of twists and turns and psychological horror, making for a great Halloween watch at only one season of episodes.
Perfect Blue is a 1997 psychological thriller movie about an idol-turned-actress who is stalked by one of her fans as she loses her grip on reality and horrific murders occur all around her. It’s definitely Black Swan-coded and the soundtrack to accompany really adds to the suspense and paranoia seeded throughout the whole story.
Parasyte: The Maxim
Parasyte: The Maxim follows the story of high school student Shinichi Izumi after aliens descend to Earth and take control of humans by embedding themselves in their brains. Shinichi becomes infected with a Parasite, Migi, which takes over control of his right hand as opposed to his brain, and the two must learn to work together and defend themselves from other parasites. This action-horror anime is filled to the brim with body horror and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but with twenty-four episodes to binge, it’s a great pick to get stuck into before Halloween.
There’s so many more great horror anime to stream both during Halloween and beyond if you’re keen to scare yourself shitless, with our other top picks including Higurashi, Mononoke, Yamishibai, and Serial Experiments Lain. If you’re less anime-inclined but want to get spooky this October, we’ve also compiled some of the best horror games to play this month as well.
What’s your top horror anime pick? Let us know in the comments.
Lead Image Credit: Arms / Production I.G / Junji Ito/Studio Deen
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