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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.


  • No Paranoia Agent or Monster?
    And the Higurashi visual novel and manga were pretty scary, but all of the QUALITY in the anime made it hard for me to take it seriously.

  • Where’s Hell Girl…and what about Ergo Proxy? Or is that not considered horror, more phycological I suppose. Of course Trinity Blood is up here!

  • Sorry guys, but I don’t really see Elfen Lied as a horror…it’s more of a thriller/maybe some type of suspense. Nothing “scary” ever really happens. A lot of people are just killed. I watched Pet Shop of Horrors, and it can be a little freaky (the rabbit thing..yeah.). I have absolutely fallen in love with the characters and the interactions…I also love how each episode has it’s own little story. Love the Count. Lovelovelove. But anyways..I think people are confusing “Horror” with “Action/Thriller” here.
    I’m going to check some of these out and hopefully find some new ones, I’ll update ;D

  • whats with these bs anime -.- most are vampire and elfen lied isn’t horror….cmon, give a real horror anime like ghost or something SCARY.

  • 1. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni/Kai (I found this scary in a disturbing way. To those failing to see Higurashi as a Horror anime, you’re obviously too dense to try thinking from the victom’s position, if it were you, I’d see you crying, pissing your pants and scared as fuck ;p so tell me what happened in Higurashi wasn’t truly horrific for the characters… :3, btw at whoever was mentioning The Excorcist in comparison, that movie isn’t scary its fucking hilarious especially when the little girl tells the priest to eat shit and die! LOL!)
    2. Paranoia Agent
    3. Tokko
    4. Monster (good, but so long -.-)
    5. Highschool Of The Dead
    6. Serial Experiments Lain (Not really horror but I give it props for the atmosphere, its got Paranoia Agent vibes to it, it is also the same amount of episodes long.)
    7. Claymore (Will always bee better than Blood+)
    8. Gantz (It does have it’s horrifying and siturbing moments that will wrench your emotions.
    9. When The Seagull’s Cry (By the same person who did Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, I warn you now, its even harder to follow than Higurashi and the 2nd half of the series hasn’t come out yet so you end with a cliff hanger! Its good though, picture Higurashi fused with Clue)
    10. Elfen Lied?

    Oh, FTR, grow up kids Death Note IS horror, just because it doesn’t terrify you doesn;t mean its any less of a horror than any of the others I listed. A teen plays god to get a stranglehood of paranoia over the entire world, crime rates go down because people are horrified of what fate their actions will cause if they catch “god”s eye. That is definately horror ;p I love how people these day don’t know their genres’ “Its not horror because it’s not scary!” Thats not what horror is lmao, Elfen Lied is horror because the scenarios can be considered “horrific” by the characters stand-point.

  • For the retards here who don’t know what horror is:

    hor·ror/ˈhôrər/Noun: An intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.

    BAMF, congratulations, Death Note and Elfen Lied are most definitely horror by definition. So is Higurashi, you people are seriously like fucking retarded. Reading these comments is pissing me off, like either the majority of you are retarded, in 4th grade, and don’t know the definition of Horror, or you’re like hardcore trolling and its working! All 3 of the above anime have inspired fear, shock, and disgust in me at some point or another through each series, mostly, I thought about it from the character’s points of view. Until you put yourself in the character’s shoes, you’ll never experience the true horror they’re going through. Get high and watch House of 1,000 Corpses, pretend you’re one of those cheerleaders tied to the bedpost next to your friend’s corpse. If you don’t start feeling like having a panic attack then you can’t sympathize very well, and if you can’t sympathize, you’ll never experience ANYTHING from the horror genre for what its worth. *sage nod*;p

  • I have to the creepiest anime that has completely made me scared to sleep is when they cry. It’s really good and really scary. It might even kinda make you question who your friends really are.

  • I love horror anime thanks I’m loving this because I’m running out of animes to watch

  • Hellsing is indeed number one. no doubt ’bout it.
    i know y’all probally won’t agree with me on this one but….
    Elfen Lied
    Should be on this list.
    Despite the nudity, EL really spoke to me. It shown the cruel ways of people and shown the horrible tests scientists would do to figure out what they don’t know. There are characters i hate in it but otherwise it is an overall great anime in my opinion.

  • Another is the best horro I’ve seen but came out after this list was made.
    Blood + is excellent, Deadman Wonderland and Gantz are scary bloody fun and I liked High School of the Dead except for the distracting jiggling jelly boobs. Really guys? Have you never actually felt or seen a real girls boobs. So weird.
    Scariest chill I ever got was when I was reading Copperlion when Japan got hit with all its problems. Now that was creepy, I was looking forward to seeing this in anime but can understand why it didn’t happen…

  • I agree, Hellsing sits at the TOP of anime listing. Everyone I know including myself has watched Hellsing at least three times over.

  • the most scariest I’ve ever seen so far
    1)Ghost Hunt (the scariest i guess)
    2)Another (2nd Scarier too)
    3)High School of the dead (3rd scariest)
    4)Elfen Lied (I have but haven’t watch yet)
    5)Ayakashi Ayashi Japan Classic horror

    I haven’t much horror anime but I got jigoku shoujo live action xP…
    Haha i guess its not scarier than the anime one..

    btw do correct if i make some mistake here^^

  • I have a question that I hope someone can answer, I saw this Japanese Anime about these 2 guys who went into business together and one kills the secretary and the friend and business partner kills him out of greed and jealousy. so he goes to hell and comes back o warn his old friend and business partner. His warning is not heeded and he dies by his own hand later (chokes himself to death). Has anyone seen this movie? its the scariest anime I’ve EVER seen, but I cant remember it ):