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

  • I’m so happy that everyone is giving Higurashi a heads up :) Higurashi should be here. It IS one of the best animes ever! If you find an anime that makes you want to scratch your neck absentmindedly, higurashi should be there!

  • Yeah, a lot of people don’t give Higurashi the proper chance it deserves because it seems like ‘mindless violence’ that ‘makes no sense.’

    It takes the entire first season PLUS around half of the second season to figure out what’s going on. That’s just how the story is. Sadly, it’s hard to figure that out because the anime had to cut a lot of things from the novels, such as context clues. Ultimately, Higurashi is a game you’re playing as you watch (or play through the novels). Episodes 1-16 are Question Arcs, from then on out they’re Answer Arcs.

    I don’t understand the person’s comment saying to ‘put your age.’ I’m 19, for reference. I was only creeped out a little by the first arc, the rest was just…interesting and I admit I liked the violence. Knowing the full story just leaves me inspired. There are far more twists and mindfuckery than Death Note could even hope for.

    I just wanted to defend the series on the basis of intelligence. It has a really thought-provoking premise and storyline and once you get to the core of the problem, it’s really original.

  • I think Blood: The Last Vampire, the anime version obv, should be there, it was my first one i watched and its a great story. had to watch it in school.

  • i havent seen it yet, but i’ve read that Genocyber is one of the goriest animes around. i’m not sure if it’s considered actual “horror” but it definately sounded disturbing & extremely violent. just a thought.

  • High school of the dead has its scary parts, but the ecchi elements are pretty distracting B). Would be nice, if someone would recommend some anime which DOESN’T have anything to do with Vampires. Love this blog

  • These are very good shows :) you are very VERY intelligent to say Hellsing… x3 but, you should have put Elfen Lied or Death Note on the list too ^^ but domo-arigato, and danke~!

  • I watched GANTZ because I saw it on this list and I have to say “Thank you very much” what an terrific anime. I actually watched the entire series in one sitting…

  • I’m gonna tell you… Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni was one of the most amazing anime I’ve watched after seeing everyone’s comments

  • death note is nvr meant for horror but defenitely worth watching maybe for some shinigami that eat apples r called horror i have no idea either way id say higurashi should be no.1 i mean cute girls going koo koo kiling each other? sure understanding the story is a pain but only way to understand it is through the whole series u miss even 1 episode and u r lost lol and elfen lied this story kinda have hentai on it but instead of concentrating on the boobs the directer made sure that the story itself will drow more attention then the boobs but some people dun call it horror and some does guess its mainly on how u picture the situation that makes it horror

  • Can’t tell if commets are trolls or just stupid..
    Well of course Elfen Lied isn’t on this its hardly a horror. And Higurashi isn’t exactly ‘scary’. And the guy that said Death note needs to gtfo LOL.

  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Hell Girl should definitely be on this list. Why aren’t they???

  • Creo q el mejor anime de horror, no lo ha visto nadie aca, es BERSERK excelente histiria epica con toques de fantastico, narrado de forma magistral.

    Elfen Lied es para seguidores de Pokemon, no sea irrespetuosos, ven volar una pierna y ya dicen q es obra maestra, no entienden nada

  • Hay un anime de terror espacial, se llama ALIEN X y en españa se lo titulo Criatura del espacio.

    Lahistoria es una mescla de Alien y Event Horizont. es viejito, finales de los 80s diria yo.
    pero no lo consigo en internet, lo tengo en vhs, alguien sabe de que hablo, como se consigue, es un anime de 40 minutos, de culto, muy bueno!!

  • I actually really like this list, it’s nice to get some more non-mainstream animes rather than the standard Elfen Lied, and so forth.

    And yes, Perfect Blue is a horror, I couldn’t sleep the night I watched it. xD

  • alright, listen. there are several breakdowns of horror; the crap that guro, the crap that keeps you up at night, the crap that makes you pee your pants and go oh shi-WHAT WAS THAT AT MY WINDOW?!, psychological, and probably one or two others. either way, YOU PEOPLE NEED TO SHUT UP AND ACCEPT THE LIST! IT MAY NOT HAVE HIGURASHI AND WHATEVER ELSE EVERYONE KEEPS WHINING ABOUT, BUT IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, MAKE YOUR OWN D*MN LIST!!!

    sank yuu. ^^

    (been watching one too many… *nervous laugh*)

  • i like kakurenbo – but like everyone else you can guess what i’m about to say… you need higurashi. also has anyone seen “Innocent”?

  • So, I was going through this list like, “Yeah, these are pretty good.” Then I saw Hellsing on the list, and I thought, “This list just lost everything good that it had.” No offense to anyone out there, but I thought the anime was just plain stupid. Good in the beginning when it kind of followed the manga, but the turn it takes is just terrible. Great manga, awful anime.

    Now, of course I have to say this too, as everyone else is. YOU NEED THE HIGURASHI SERIES! BOTH SEASONS AND THE 5 OVAS AFTEEEER!!!!!! It is very good.

  • Rox: I find it amazing that Hellsing is, in your opinion, so bad that it can negate nine other good series. But to each their own.

    Also, I’d like to point out that I’m not sure when Higurashi was released Region 1-wise, but it looks like 2007 and this list was originally composed in 2007. So Higurashi may not be on here simply because the list pre-dates the show. Perhaps if we ask nicely, Din will give us an updated version.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment. It is appreciated.

  • u have never seen higurashi oviously b/c im the biggest fan of it and those pity shows r an embaressment to it der anyway u have no respect for horror! x_x


    After watching Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, all i hear when I go to bed is Shion insane laughter.

  • Yeah, question. what happened to Ghost Hunt and HighSchool Of The Dead? i wouldnt really in all honesty call Hellsing a horror. more of an action.

  • I would add Petshop of Horrors. Its bloody and a bit scary. More creepy, but bloody and violent.

  • Orion: I know it takes a lot of effort to put together a comment like yours which is thoughtful, well-researched and insightful that adds to the discussion. So we really appreciate you taking the time.

  • Since virtually everyone here is mentioning Higurashi, I suppose I should ask if anyone knows a good anime that’s similar. Any ideas?

  • I’d say Death Note but I suppose that’s more”thriller”, but Higurashi no naku koro ni should defintely be on here.

  • Omg Where is Umineko NoNaku Koro Ni ishould be the number 1 I mean with all the guts and gore mystery keeps you on edgwhere is it ? It’s even scarier tan Higurashi if you ask me people!

  • You people seem to misunderstand the concept of horror, “an intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear.” I’m sorry, but that makes Higurashi far from a true horror. Anybody who did get truly scared of this anime is the equivalent of somebody saying The Exorcist, a movie you can find in the comedy bargain bin at your local movie store, is the scariest movie ever made. It’s leaning more towards the thriller genre than it is towards the horror genre. The only story arc that held my attention in a sense of horror is the first arc, where Rena and Mion are the “culprits”. I particularly enjoyed the scenes of when Rena visited his home to bring him food and her being outside his window and the way they went from cute to serious within a moment. I know the latter happens through-out the series, but I feel the first story arc expressed this best. The further you go into the series, the less unnerving it all becomes. 9/10 of the animes you people mention here are action/thriller animes and not horror (Elfen Lied for example). This being said, Elfen Lied is one of the best animes I have ever seen. You should watch it. I mean, right as you read this. That means now. Go watch it.

  • Gemini: Thanks for the comment. I’m not anime-savvy, but I am horror-savvy, and I share your concern that people don’t know what horror is. The concept of it as a genre has been diluted by the fact that so many thrillers are indeed classified as horror films. Most slasher flicks, to use my normal example, aren’t horror. As Stephen King put it, paraphrased, “Horror should horrify.” However, I would say that there is some room for “horror is in the eye of the beholder” in some cases–and I don’t just mean those of who find horror in the concept of the Adam Sandler movie Jack & Jill. The Exorcist I find horrific for multiple reasons stemming from the idea of a young girl being turned into a grinning nightmare all to way to “Holy crap, there may actually be a God and He’s the kind of bastard who would allow this to happen.” So all of that to say, excellent comment but we can agree to disagree on The Exorcist. (Although your main point may have been “scariest movie ever made,” and I would definitely say it’s not that. And the “Main Event” sequence of the actual exorcism has the thriller vibe to it, so we’re not too far out of sync with each other.)

  • NO Entiendo Por ke GANTZ ESTA DE 2do, Hellsin es buena pero GANTZ es el que deberia estar de Primera, Aparte Varios de los otros animes no creo no deberian estar alli, e incorporar a “another” a “higurashi no nako koro ni” “DEATH NOTE” y “Elfen Lied”

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