Who doesn’t like a scary movie? Well, quite a few people, actually. But if you’re like me, you really get a craving to watch the darker, eerier, horror movies and shows when October rolls around. There’s just something about the chill in the air and the Halloween atmosphere that makes me want to curl up on the couch with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (basic, I know) and marathon watch scary movies and horror anime. So, luckily for you OJ readers that share this desire, I’ve compiled a list of ten different types of anime that will satisfy this craving. These shows range from the standard ghost stories to urban legends to straight up blood-and-guts horror, so there’s something for everyone. Grab some candy corn and a PSL (or your fall drink of choice) and enjoy a marathon night of any of these shows.
(2014 / 12 episodes, 2 seasons / sub + dub)
Starting off our Halloween Horror list is the popular slasher/ action anime from 2014. Tokyo Ghoul quickly climbed the anime charts and scored a second season last year. If you’re one of those who hasn’t already seen it, then this is a good starter to this list. It ticks most of my boxes for a decent horror anime. The show has supernatural beings called “ghouls” who eat humans to survive. It’s dark, grimy, bloody and has some great fight scenes. The only issue I had was that the main character was extremely slow to progress or grow personally, which can get frustrating. There is, however, a pretty gnarly torture scene towards the end, so there’s that to look forward to.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni; When They Cry
(2006 / 26 episodes, 2 seasons / sub + dub)
Did I mention torture scenes? If that sort of thing floats your boat, then do I have a treat, or trick, for you. (Get it? Trick or Treat? Eh? I’ll show myself out…) Being hailed as one of the most fucked-up, gruesome anime out there, Higurashi brings elements of horror, mystery, and suspense to the table, all wrapped up in cute, big-eyed characters and set in a picturesque mountain village. The story seems to be an almost Groundhog Day type of nightmare as the characters’ lives appear to loop around a specific festival, each time bringing new murders and deaths with the villains and victims changing each time. It’s an extremely intriguing story to follow, if you can stomach all the different ways the characters find to kill each other. Higurashi is still the only anime that contains a scene so cringe-worthy that I have to look away. Enjoy!
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia; Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
(2012 / 12 episodes, 1 season / sub + dub)
Taking a breather from the gore and moving onto a more supernatural show, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia really does a great job of setting the scene for a gloomy, atmospheric ghost story. It follows the Paranormal Investigation Club at a high school with a dark and mysterious past; the club, ironically, is founded by a ghost of the school. She has no memory of who she was or how she died, and as she and her club members investigate the history of the school, they slowly unravel the truth behind their president’s death. Even though this show isn’t scary by any means and has a fair bit of romance to it, I thoroughly enjoyed the story behind it all. Its interesting enough to keep you wondering what happened to this girl and what the school could be hiding.
Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek
(2004 / Movie / sub + dub)
Moving along to another not-so-scary but nevertheless eerie show, Kakurenbo (literally “Hide and Seek”) is a bit different than everything else on this list. This stand alone 25 minute OVA utilizes cell-shaded animation to tell the story of a group of children and a secret game of hide and seek. What do you get when you combine children with creepy fox masks, place them in an abandoned, rundown town, and sprinkle in demons in the town? You get a short, entertaining and unique anime with an ending that will make you understand that it wasn’t just the masks and demons that made me add it to this list.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
(2013 / 4 OVAs / sub only)
What’s that? This list is too tame for you? Want more gore? More ghosts? Both? Okay. Based off of a video game, Corpse Party presents some of the most horrific deaths I’ve ever seen in an anime. Nine very unlucky individuals are transported into the ghost realms of an old haunted elementary school after performing what they thought was a friendship ritual. The souls of those who are trapped in the ghost realms are very much violent and vengeful and kill everyone they can in extremely gruesome ways. I have to warn you though, this show does not hold back with the blatant gore, so if you’re squeamish even when it comes to animated characters, steer clear of this particular anime. If that still doesn’t turn you away, there is another disclaimer: There are only four 30-minute episodes in this adaptation, so the backstories and relationships of the ghosts and victims are very much glossed over. If you want a richer story with choices and options for the characters, I recommend the video game.
Gakkou no Kaidan; Ghost Stories [DUBBED]
(2000 / 19 episodes / sub + dub)
As much as I love to watch scary shows and movies around Halloween, I also enjoy a good spoof or an old movie so bad, it’s actually funny (think Scary Movie, or The Evil Dead). That’s where the dubbed version of Ghost Stories comes in. Why the dubbed version? Apparently this old, classic 90’s animation anime had a story so bad that the official dub team was allowed to improvise most of their own lines throughout the show. This makes for some hilarious interactions in every episode. The overall plot is still there, so it isn’t just utter nonsense like the Scary Movie franchise, but it does include many quips like, “Monsters only get bad people like Republicans, and we’re not old enough to vote yet!” It’s rumored that the dub was so funny that Japan aired that version with Japanese subtitles and was more popular than the original.
Yami Shibai; Japanese Ghost Stories
(2013 / 13 episodes, 3 seasons / sub only)
It wouldn’t quite feel like Halloween without some jump scares and urban legends. Yami Shibai is several short ghost tales being told to a group of children by a man in a gold mask. These short 4-minute long episodes each tell a different Japanese urban legend with varying degrees of the macabre. The most interesting thing about this series is its choice of art style and animation. It feels like you’re watching a moving book as there is minimal movement, heavy lines, and shadowing. I watched the entire first season (there are three) in under an hour, so this is a great series to watch if you’re looking for something quick and creepy.
Gakkou Gurashi!; School Live!
(2015 / 12 Episodes / sub only)
Wait, no, come back! I promise this isn’t a joke and this anime does deserve to be on this list. As cutesy as it appears, the first episode is a great one and the last few minutes of the show will surely hook you in for more. I know this all sounds very vague, but that’s because I need to be. I don’t want to give away the premise of the show. I can say, though, that it does have adorable moe girls as you can see, as well as some moments of fan service (can you say: obligatory “beach” episode?). This is one of the less spooky shows on this list, but it does have some extremely dark moments, and when the horror shows up, it brings tension with it. The “horror” is technically censored, but it is done so well and artistically that it doesn’t bother me, so if you’re squeamish or not in the mood for gore, this is perfect for you. Despite the outright cuteness, it has a great story that I got emotionally involved in. So many tears.
(2010 / 22 episodes / sub + dub)
I love a good vampire story – it’s a Halloween staple. Shiki provides just that. Set in a secluded mountain village (I’m seeing a major trend with these woodsy mountain towns), a mysterious illness begins overtaking the villagers one by one. When the town doctor who has been desperately treating the locals discovers the truth about the illness, he sets out to try to end it before it turns the whole village into a vampire nest. But the “Shiki,” as they call themselves, aren’t just mindless blood suckers. They’re intelligent and have a desire to live that is almost stronger than the humans. This show was an engaging watch as I felt myself rooting for some characters, fearing for others, and even disliking some of the humans. It has a great setting and atmosphere that amplifies the mystery and tension of the story and provides a thought-provoking narrative that blurs the lines of morality, good and evil.
(2012 / 12 episodes / sub + dub)
Rounding out our list is one of my more favorite horror anime. In true scary story/ cliché fashion, our main character ignores the rules of his class and the warnings of his classmates as he befriends an eyepatch wearing girl, who only he seems to notice. Upon breaking the rules of class 3-3, an almost Final Destination-esque curse is unleashed on the class. There are some pretty fantastic death scenes in it, as well as other eerie and slasher movie moments. This show gives off such a great Halloween scary movie vibe and is in the running with Shiki and Higurashi for my favorite creepy openings to a series on this list. If you only pick one anime from my list, and you want a nice blend of gore, creep factor, and story – then this is my number one pick for you this Halloween season.
I hope you enjoyed my list, and discovered a new show or two! Did I miss a great scary anime? I know I purposefully left out some blatant slasher/gore/zombie/monster shows, as great as they are (Blood C, Parasyte) and opted for anime that gave off a certain vibe. I also tried to avoid over-the-top fan service (like the gravity defying boob physics of High School of the Dead). Have one to share with me? If so, tell us in the comments! You can never watch too many horror shows.
Featured image courtesy of anime-planet.com