Top 10 Horror Anime Titles

Vampire Princess Miyu

Editor’s Note: This list is from 2007. An addendum with seven more titles of anime horror has been published recently. To check out that list, go here.

As we all know, anime is legion and contains multitudes. One of the things it does very, very well is scare the pants off you. But when you want something scary (or at least bloody) and don’t know where to start, what should you watch? Here is’s list of Top 10 Horror Anime. Left off the list are things like Uzumaki that were manga and maybe even live-action, but never animated; I’ve also avoided things that are “horror” only because of where tentacles are put or what sadists will do to children (see the Director’s Cut of Kite for what I mean here, or rather don’t see it). Those aren’t fun, and anime should be fun.

And so it begins….

10. Mermaid Forest.

You wouldn’t think a mermaid tale would be horror, but in the hands of an anime master, it is. Rumiko Takahashi’s moody and affecting series is based upon a Japanese folktale that suggests that those who eat mermaid flesh will gain eternal life. However, it seems that sometimes, the diners will instead become monsters. The main characters, Yuta and Mana, didn’t intend to become immortal, and now wander the world trying to find mermaids who they think can make them normal again. The world, however, is full of nasty people and monsters, and the quest is never easy. The video excerpt we picked provides a nice sample of the show’s animation and style, as well as lost souls, murder, and human sacrifice. For my reviews of the title–check those out here. (Find Mermaid Forest titles at Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

9. Trinity Blood.

In a post-apocalyptic future, the Roman Catholic Church is at war with vampires, who themselves prey upon the struggling humans. Part of the horror is in seeing how both sides use “lost technologies” such as computers and missiles to wage war. Various vampires (or “Methuselahs”) have varying powers, and they use these abilities to devastating affect. There is also a quartet of man-made vampires, known as Crusniks, who feed upon the Methuselahs and come complete with nanomachines. Thanks again to YouTube for providing a space for this snippet; the quality isn’t the best, but it provides a look at the show’s feel and aesthetic. (Click here to buy the title at Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

8. Vampire Princess Miyu.

This eerily beautiful series relates the tale of the forever-young Miyu, born a vampire, who feeds upon and is charged with the destruction of the shinma, who cause human suffering. With her is a mysterious demonic protector known only as Larva. The main character, a spiritualist named Himiko, relates the tale as she learns more about the object of her fascination, Miyu; a twist is that Himiko might have some vampiric secrets of her own. Our video selection here is an interesting Anime Music Video (AMV) that does a good job of summing up Miyu’s life and quest.

That video has been taken down…we’ve switched to a bit from the first episode. (Click here to buy the title from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

7. Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek.

This short film is a chilling tale of what happens on the street where no one lives after dark. A group of children gather together to help find the missing sister of one of their number, but they don’t quite know what to expect when the darkness falls and the lights start to flicker on by themselves. What is a child’s game really like? Like the greatest of live-action horror, just enough is left to the imagination to make the sucker-punches of the plot really hit home. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

6. Boogiepop Phantom.

Boogiepop Phantom

The disjointed storytelling style of this series is the perfect accompaniment to the scattered terror and mystery of this series. Five years ago, the city was shocked by a series of brutal murders, and now the murders may be starting up again. Is a demon death-god responsible? Or is it the ghost of a murdered child? The various characters develop different themes of the story, which is itself a commentary on the evolution of human consciousness. The YouTube music video we’ve selected, set to the show’s closing theme, gives you a pretty good look at what the show is about. Are you ready?

That vid’s been taken down as well, but we’ve replaced it with an image from the series since we can’t find another decent embeddable video. (Click here to buy the title from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

5. Perfect Blue.

An example of a slasher flick in anime, Perfect Blue shows the psychological disintegration of a J-pop star with a seriously disturbed stalker. This is horror in part because it could actually happen. In order the stave off the typical fate of the aging pop idol, the singer in question has reinvented herself as a sensual actress, dropping her good-girl image and infuriating fans. A scathing critique of the pop idol system in Japan, as well as a finely wrought psychological horror, Perfect Blue is well-worth its fame. The rape scene, a dramatic and disturbing play within a play, gives us Mimi’s character realizing that her identity is entirely a construct at the same time we realize Mimi’s disassociation is increasing. It’s affecting and brilliant. Nine Inch Nails’ “Perfect Drug” was an inspired choice for the AMV we’ve posted up there. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

4. Jin-Roh: Wolf Brigade.

A retelling of the faery tale of Little Red Riding Hood set in a fascist-run near future, this is psychological horror of the first order. It’s a classic in itself, as well as a classic of situational and possible horror. What has been done to the soldiers to make them such perfect killing machines? Why is the little girl carrying a bomb…or is she? The mysteries and the tragedies blend into a horror that isn’t about the blood you see, but about the blood you feel. If you want to say Jin-Roh isn’t horror, think for a minute about how very easily this world could become the world we live in–chilling. I can’t think of anything more perfect and inspired than an AMV for this series set to “Paint It Black.” (See up top there.) Beware the big bad wolf. You can read Doc’s review of the DVD here. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

3. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

It’s the less-campy sequel to the anime classic and a classic in its own right, Bloodlust provides another chapter in the life of the much-beloved and dashing dhampire, D. This time, Our Hero faces off against a creepy-as-Hell group of circus-freak vampires, other vampire hunters, and a master vampire or two, along the way providing enough atmospherics, chills, and bits of moody scenery for a dozen lesser films. The AMV we’ve selected provides an interesting visual introduction to the movie.

Again, the AMV’s been taken down, so we’ve reverted to the trailer. Doc’s review of the film is here. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

2. Gantz.

Gritty and modern without being painfully post-modern, Gantz puts normal people into an impossible situation and forces them to do things they never thought they’d do… but will. Before Saw‘s hopelessly cockeyed interpretation of will they-won’t they, Gantz creates a fresh idea–people who are already “dead” and don’t want to die again–trapped in a room and at the beck and call of a mysterious black sphere. Sartre’s “Hell is other people” never had such proof as this, nor did the idea that humans are still animals. What is Gantz? A game? A secret government project? Who knows? This is one anime that forces you to care about people you know are probably damned and is a rare example of how to be mysterious without just being ham-handedly confusing. Awesome. See our assassins at work in the AMV, which does a great job of addressing the themes of death and resurrection.

This seems to be a trend…that’s taken down and now a replacement vid is in place. Read my review of Vol. 1 here. (Click here to buy the title from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.

1. Hellsing.

Hellsing is among the best of anime, period. Combining fantastic characterizations and an interesting world with an engrossingly complex, but not ridiculous, plot, this short series manages to combine standard horror tropes—vampires, blood, Cthulhu-esque monsters, and more—while never forgetting it should also entertain. Along the way, we also get a huge helping of action, complete with one of anime’s best soundtracks, high-caliber weaponry, explosions, endangered national buildings, the best boss ever, and lots of shooting people in the face. What more could you possibly want? Rammstein provided the music for this Hellsing AMV. Check out Alucard’s smile. My reviews of the title are here. (Click here to buy the title from Amazon.)

Direct link for the feedreaders.


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133 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Higrashi no Naku Koro ni should definitely be on this list somewhere… anyways, thanks for the list, was wondering what to watch next.

  • Widge: Yeah, its actually classic japanese horror tales or legends. And also, well, in this post they consider perfect blue, mermaids forest, gantz and hellsing horror, and at least for me theyre definitely not that genre either, haha :)

  • Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni should be there. Im glad to see Hellsing there, I Don’t find it scary or in anyway a “Thriller” Type to be considered one. Still It is a good list.
    elfen Lied Should be on there aswell, Even though it’s more Psychological Horror then blood and gore type. Though there was alot. Im Surprised to see the anime “School Days” Is not in this list. Despite it’s surprising and shocking ending.

  • ive havent seen 4-9 but if 1-3 are the scaiest in the list, then i dont expect much. but higuashi no naku koro ni (When They Cry – Higurashi) should be on there.

  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is hands down the BEST horror anime of all. The ‘cute’ look is the ultimate deception for the downward spirals of tragedy and madness the characters go through.

  • I love how everyone is mentioning Higurashi. xDD

    But that’s the only anime that actually scared me. Especially watching it at midnight in a pitch black room. The first arch was one of the best. :]

  • Higurashi no naku koro ni is a horror anime and Also Elfen lied is…*remembers the day when I put in the corner of the chalk board in church Elfen lied rocks*

  • mmm…higurashi no naku korko ni/ni kai and ghost hunt didn’t make the list!!!! i’m glad kakurenbo made deffo is a freaky short film

  • You know, I’m watching Higurashi no naku koro ni right now. I accidently watched up to episode 7 of Higurashi (Kai) before it though, so that made it much easier to understand.

    Also, I’m up to the kidnapping arch. The one before that was definetly the scariest so far. When Sakoto saw Keiichi with the axe, the dawning of realization was hilarious. “Oh, hey Sakoto. Why the long face?” * turns head to look at axe* …….. O_o Priceless. lol

  • Higurashi no naku koro ni was the first anime i saw, i wonder if there are other animes with cute girls which later show themselfs scary and stuff. Btw i think the one with them focusing on shion is the most scary, and the first 4 episodes!

  • Can’t believe there is no Higrashi no Naku Koro ni, lol. This anime puts everything on this list to rest. It’s the only scary anime I’ve ever seen, it’s the most disturbing thriller ever!

    I think my list makes more sense (if you just ignore Elfen Lied at the top, since it was choosen by votes ;/)

  • I’ve seen most of the anime on the main top 10 list here, and by recommendation recently watched a number of the more popular series listed in these comments. Most listed, particularly among comments, are disappointing.

    Most rely on the same character archetypes, low production quality, and lackluster plotlines. Despite reviews in these comments, I found Higurashi and Ghost Hunt to be the most offensively predictable and uninteresting of the bunch.

    If you are looking for something with some interest and good atmosphere, the best recommendation would be Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. The art and animation is absolutely stunning. The characters are not copied and pasted in from every other teen anime series you’ve seen before, and they actually DEVELOP as the story unfolds. The atmosphere is dark, the action is great, the music is solid, and it doesn’t stick around for another 20 episodes until it drives its appeal into the dirt.

    If you insist on a series, I would vote Hellsing. It is more predictable, but the art and story are much more engaging. Alucard is an entertaining anti-hero if nothing else. The girl, however…

    Trinity Blood, for the record, shows potential early in the series. Do be warned that it takes a sharp decline due to the fact that the series’ creator passed away before its completion and did not pass on the rest of the story. The middle becomes dredged in over-discussed politics and the end is sloppily assembled, full of loose ends, and most of all extremely dissatisfying.

    The rest belong to the “Thriller” and “Action” genres, not “Horror”. If you desire something beyond the cliche themes of teen anime and has a good scare in it, I would love to find it myself. As it stands now, I don’t believe one currently exists.

  • PS. Gantz has a fantastic premise and higher quality than most anime. Don’t become too optimistic, however. The main characters are painfully one-dimensional, inconsistent, and on numerous occassions immensely FRUSTRATING. It was one of the few occassions I audibly begged the a main character to either shoot the obviously deadly, non-human, flesh-rending monster (after extensive and unnecessary internal conflict over the “morality” of it all) or to shoot himself square in the face and rid us all of his self-involved jibberish.

    Once again, a good premise trashed on account of poor characters and a weak plot.

  • You call this horror list??? wtf…. where is ghost, where is monster, where is higurashi no naku koro ni, where is the other properly defined horror animes????. 99 % of the anime u listed involves kicking some monster ass. U CALL THAT horror???

  • o yeah as a last note. .. i am glad that u haven’t put the Gintama on your list too since u just interested on some blood and stupid looking alien like creatures. bah, the list is fail big time.

  • HIGURASHI NO NAKU KORO NI THE TOP 1 HORROR PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER! You have to understand it by finishing the story not, by watching and skipping a few episodes. If you can’t understands it, your not fit to watch it.

  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni should top this list. It gets credits for being the ONLY anime to ever scare me. It’s amazing.

    Jigoku Shoujo should definitely be added as well.

  • Lol these anime horros isnt evn scary or freaky
    for me its
    1.Higurashi no naku
    2.Elfen Lied
    4.Jigoku shoujo
    ect i know 1more but i forgot
    the name.

    but im looking up for more horror
    anime but this doesnt seem scary
    please hellsing?
    hellsign more of a action

  • DUDE!!! When They Cry(Higurashi) should SOOOO be on this!!!! it makes NOOOO sense!!!! i got the SERISLY confused in the middle of it but i figured it out at the end!!! wach the WHOLE series!!!

  • No Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni? I am surprised!!!
    Also, Ghost Hunt is quite a good horror anime that if you watch late at night with no lights, it can be quite creepy.

  • Jesus. Anyone who says “Higurashi” needs to add how old they are to their comment.

    I really enjoyed Vampire Princess Miyu.

  • does Death Note count? it’s a fantastic anime, a series worth watching!! Lots of twists, numerous killers, mysterious detectives! Killings aren’t like any other common killings… these are unusual and doesn’t require presence… :D

  • ok actually i think elfen lied AND higurashi shuold be there and for the anser of my age is 13 DERGHHHH

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