10 Best Horror Anime of All Time

As Halloween creeps ever closer there’s never been a better time to revisit some of our favorite horror anime of all time. Though most people’s minds probably go to live action gore fests when the spooky season comes around, anime has a smorgasbord of terrors to delight you with. Since the ’60s, Japanese animators have been enchanting viewers with haunting myths. Often creating original stories or adapting terrifying manga tales, horror anime has become a powerhouse space for some of the most deranged, thoughtful, and unique genre storytelling.

While there are literally thousands of great horror anime series and movies, we’ve curated and ranked 10 of the best to ever do it. From paranormal thrillers to supernatural serial killers through psychological nightmares and vampiric epics, there’s something for every fear here. Take a look at our guide to the best anime of all tme for more top picks.

The 10 Best Horror Anime

10. Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai (2013)

Sentai Filmworks

Though each of these episodes are around five minutes, that doesn’t take away from just how much they’ll get under your skin. If you’re a fan of telling creepy campfire tales and loved shows like Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark as a child then you’ll love Yamishibai. But these tales of the supernatural are far freakier than those classic kids’ chillers. The distinctively animated shorts take on multiple horror tropes from strange phone calls to the dangers of rural villages, but all in a unique and surprising way. And the best thing is that there are already nine seasons of these demented animated urban legends to keep you up at night.

9. Tokyo Ghoul (2014)


Tokyo Ghoul is a futuristic sci-fi horror is based on the manga by Sui Ishida and is equally as scary as its source material. Kaneki is just a normal student living in a high-tech alt-reality where humans are increasingly threatened by flesh-eating “ghouls”. As society desperately comes to terms with their new apex predator, Kaneki’s life changes forever after a chance encounter. Suddenly trapped between two worlds, he must come to terms with his new life and shield his human friends from what he’s become. Beautifully animated, darkly depressing, and filled with violent action, this is an angst-soaked joyride through cannibal creatures and supernatural threats.

8. Devilman Crybaby (2018)


One of the most balls to the wall outrageous horror shows of all time, Devilman Crybaby is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Adapting Go Nagai’s famed manga Devilman, this gore-filled horror story is darkly humorous but never lets you escape the wrenching dread at its core. Best friends Ryo and Akira are swept into a blood-filled world of demons when the latter becomes the titular Devilman. Soon they’re pitted against all kinds of chaotic creatures, but there’s something rotten at the core of their friendship and this unbelievable journey will push it to its breaking point. Divisive on release but now seen as a contemporary classic, this trippy tale of friendship has one of the most shocking endings in a long time and it’ll take you a while to shake it off.

7. Paranoia Agent (2004)


The first of two Satoshi Kon entries on our list, this Rashomon-style series was inspired by narrative beats and ideas that Kon couldn’t fit into his moviemaking, leading to the creation of Paranoia Agent. It’s an origin that makes a lot of sense as this once again revisits some of the late auteur’s favorites themes: paranoia, the thin veil between reality and fantasy, and the crushing weight of societal expectations. It all begins when a woman is attacked by a young man with a golden bat. Soon the city is ablaze with similar attacks and theories about why they are happening. As two detectives try to solve the case they get drawn deeper into the weird world of the assailant “Bat Boy” and what could be driving his inexplicable crime spree.

6. Parasyte (2014)

Sentai Filmworks

Melding body horror with sci-fi, Parasyte is one of the most addictive horror anime on our list. Created by mangaka Hitoshi Iwaaki, the story follows 17-year-old Shinichi Izumi. His mundane life in Fukuyama, Hiroshima is upturned after an invasion of parasitic aliens targets Japan. When one of the monstrous aliens accidentally implants itself in Shinichi’s hand instead of his brain, he has to learn how to share his body with his new bodily neighbor. This turn of fate ends up becoming a tool for survival as Shinichi must survive other parasites in this high school horror story that mixes coming of age with body horror and big questions about the nature of being human.

5. Hellsing (2001)


We recently highlighted the 2005 OVA Hellsing Ultimate in our best vampire anime list. But when it comes to pure horror we have to stick with this classic. In an alt-history version of England where vampires run riot, the mysterious Hellsing organization is the only line of defense against the bloodsuckers and a dangerous new substance that looks to blur the line between vampire and human once and for all. Luckily, the Hellsing organization and its leader–the daughter of the famed vampire hunter Van Helsing — have a secret weapon, the vampire Alucard. Unforgettable and ferocious nightwalker action makes this a horror anime for the books. And if you grew up in the ’90s or ’00s then it’ll likely also instill a hefty dose of spooky nostalgia in you.

4. Perfect Blue (1997)

Rex Entertainment

Satoshi Kon is one of the masters of anime storytelling. And while he has made multiple classics, his haunting psychological thriller Perfect Blue is one of his most influential and impactful films. After leaving her J-Idol group to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress, singer Mima Kirigoe’s life begins to fall apart. The lines between real life and fantasy begin to blur as she’s stalked by a super fan and struggles to separate her idol-self from her new career. Brutally brilliant, this is a true horror of the mind that will keep you guessing until the very last moment. But beware, this is arguably the most horrific and violent entry on our list, so don’t go into this one expecting anything other than a deeply troubling watch that you’ll never forget.

3. Boogiepop Phantom (2000)


After a strange light appears in the sky, unexplainable events begin to plague a group of high school students in this atmospheric and entirely unique entry on our list. A sprawling ensemble story, the characters are connected together by a folkloric figure known as Boogiepop. Rumored to be the personification of death, the urban legend looms large over these bleak tales as a spate of brutal murders inspire a renewed interest in the mythic Boogiepop. Though the episodes are connected with an overarching mystery, you can enjoy it as an anthology of sorts, with each vignette drenched in creepy vibes and immaculately skin-crawling storytelling.

2. Higurashi When They Cry (2006)

Sentai Filmworks

This twisty time loop take on folk horror follows a young boy Keiichi Maebara who lives in the seemingly idyllic rural village of Hinamizawa. But there are dark secrets afoot that seem to be connected to a strange government project. As Keiichi becomes more entangled with the mystery, things get darker and darker in this absolutely brutal tale. If you’re a fan of puzzle box storytelling and slasher style kills with a conspiracy twist then you’ll likely already be a fan of this infamous anime series. While the original 2006 iteration of the show is now pretty hard to find, there is an easily accessible 2020 remake currently available on Hulu. And if you’re really digging that one you can also check out the prequel remake which came out in 2021.

Viz Media

Death Note is a classic for a reason. This wish-fulfillment horror introduces viewers to the world of Light Yagami, a hyper-smart teenager who makes a strange and life-changing discovery. Finding the Death Note, a supernatural notebook that allows Light to kill anyone whose name he writes on its pages, Light goes on a fascistic quest to rid the world of crime. As judge, jury, and executioner, Light becomes one of the most terrifying anime antagonists of all time. But the enigmatic and intelligent detective known only as L is determined to solve the unnatural spate of global deaths that all lead back to Light. A darkly delightful mystery that asks huge questions while staying consistently entertaining, Death Note is a truly iconic horror anime.

Looking for more horror? Take a look at our guide to the best horror movies of all time as well as top horror movies on Netflix.

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