The fear and excitement brought on by a horror movie can leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. Perhaps if you look back on your childhood, some of the movies that stand out the most were the scariest ones that kept you awake at night.
And if you’re an anime fan, perhaps you’ve already seen some horror anime, or maybe your interest has at least been piqued. In any case, any fan of classic anime has some great horror options from the 90s.
What is Horror Anime?
Before we start, it might be good to have an understanding of what constitutes a horror anime.
If you look at the horror genre from a broader standpoint, it includes any movie or show that elicits fear and/or disgust in the audience.
This can include slasher films, psychological thrillers, supernatural horrors, gore, alien invaders, zombies, and the list goes on… but you get the general idea.
So if you’re looking for a bit of 90s anime fright, then continue reading.
The Best Horror Anime of the 90s
You can find horror anime as far back as the 1960s, however at the time anime was still mostly being produced for kids.
As the industry matured in the 70s, horror anime made strides in part due to the efforts of artists such as Go Nagai. And in the golden age of the 80s, horror anime became a strongly established genre and laid the path for the anime in the list below.
21. My School is Dread!
Fumio Kida just wants a girlfriend. The problem is that he is incredibly creepy and this has earned him the nickname of “Creepta.” Once Creepta develops a crush on a girl, he obsesses with her to the point that women would rather end their lives than be the object of his affection.
The show has a supernatural angle to it (like most shows on this list), so if you’re looking to be unnerved and confused, then this is a great horror anime to start with.
20. Bio Hunter
A retrovirus is plaguing mankind, and this particular virus has been dubbed the “demon” virus by two scientists who are spreading the cure throughout Japan. The virus infects humans and animals and rapidly evolves them into violent and demonic creatures.
One of the scientists was infected by the virus, however he is able to control the transformations his body goes through and uses this power to help save others who become infected. Unfortunately the virus is consuming his body, and the two scientists are in a race to eradicate the virus before he is consumed forever.
19. Doomed Megalopolis
Doomed Megalopolis is a 4 part OVA series made by Madhouse in the early 90s and was directed by Rintaro. Rintaro was a co-founder of Madhouse and you may be familiar with his other directorial works such as Galaxy Express 999, Neo Tokyo, and Metropolis.
Although Doomed Megalopolis is not Rintaro’s most famous work, it may be one of his scariest. In this adaptation of the famous dark fantasy novel, Teito Monogatari, an alternative 20th century Japan faces a demonic threat unleashed by an evil sorcerer.
18. The Curse of Kazuo Umezu
Kazuo Umezu is a famous Japanese horror author who’s works date back to the 60s, and this OVA adaptation of some of his works offers a mere glimpse into his world of horror.
The OVA is comprised of two unrelated shorts that tell the stories of young girls who toy with the occult and suffer the consequences. Take a look at this short clip if your nerves can handle it:
To be honest, this may well be the scariest entry on the list…
17. Mermaid Forest
Mermaid Forest and Mermaid’s Scar are two OVAs that were adapted from the Mermaid Saga manga series in 1991 and 1993 respectively.
The story is of a young man who has grown tired of his immortality that was gained by eating mermaid flesh. He wanders across the country looking for a mermaid who can transform him back into a regular mortal.
In 2003, the Mermaid Saga was adapted into an anime television series, so if you enjoy the two OVAs and want more, well there you go.
16. Silent Mobius
Silent Mobius is a cyberpunk horror anime about a magician’s guild’s failed attempt to open a gate to another world. The intent was to exchange the earth’s polluted air and water with clean air and water from this other world.
Unfortunately, rather than receiving clean air and water, a race of aliens used the gate to invade Earth. In response, the Attacked Mystification Police (AMP) are formed to fight off the invasion.
15. Night Walker: The Midnight Detective
Shido is a vampire who works as a private detective by day and hunts violent supernatural creatures at night. With no memory of his past, he works tirelessly in his detective agency to solve crimes with the aid of his secretary and familiar.
Of interest, the show is based on an eroge (adult erotic) PC game that was released in the early 90s, although the show differs from the game in many ways.
14. 3×3 Eyes
Much like the Mermaid Saga, 3×3 Eyes features a protagonist who is attempting to regain his mortality. This time, however, he achieved immortality when a demon absorbed his soul to save his life.
To complicate matters, the demon is a kind and sweet young girl who can also be incredibly destructive when she opens her third eye.
Chiaki is a young girl who troubles herself by taking on jobs to support her and her grandma at their temple. While she and some guests are enjoying the temple hot springs, two robbers show up to steal a dark artifact that has been sealed away in the temple, the seed of evil.
The seed transforms the robbers into murderous demons, and they set themselves upon Chiaki and her companions. When things are starting to look grim, a guardian bracelet suddenly appears on Chiaki’s wrist, and this allows her to summon the fiercest temple guardian of all, Zenki.
After dispatching the demons, Chiaki is called by a mysterious voice to rid the world of more seeds of evil.
12. The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor
If graphic violence is your forte, then The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor is a solid option.
This is a 12-episode OVA series that is a condensed adaptation of the first five volumes of the manga series. The story is about an alien soldier suit that is being pursued by an evil corporation called Chronos.
The series’s protagonist spends his time protecting himself and his friends against the monstrous Zoanoids sent by Chronos.
Not to be confused with Guyver:The Bio-Boosted Armor from 2005.
11. Devilman: The Demon Bird
Any fan of Go Nagai is familiar with one of his most famous works, Devilman. The Devilman series dates back to the early 70s and throughout the years the series has had multiple anime adaptations.
In 1987, the series was adapted into an OVA called Devilman: The Birth, and in 1990, the sequel Devilman: The Demon Bird was released.
It’s recommended that you start with The Birth and then watch The Demon Bird. And if you can’t get enough 90s Devilman, then be sure to check out Devil Lady.
10. Petshop of Horrors
Petshop of Horrors is a 4 episode series about a mysterious Pet Shop in Chinatown. Each of the rare pets for sale comes with specific instructions that must be followed. To do otherwise will bring terrible consequences upon the new owner.
Each episode documents the peril facing the pet owners as they fail to follow the instructions and instead choose to engage in selfish and destructive behavior.
Genocyber is a violent and gory cyberpunk anime that tells the story of an evil corporation that seeks to exploit two young psychic sisters into creating the ultimate biological weapon, the Genocyber.
As is often the case, things don’t go as planned, and the result is massive destruction and violence.
8. Vampire Princess Miyu
In the 80s, there was a 4 episode Vampire Princess Miyu OVA, and this was followed up in the late 90s with a 26-episode television adaptation.
The story follows Miyu, a youthful vampire princess who must rid the world of shape-shifting monsters and vampires.
When she’s not banishing evil Shinma to the darkness, Miyu tries to live life as a normal high school student
7. Getter Robo: Armageddon
This is another show based on the works of Go Nagai. The Getter Robo series originally ran for 51 episodes in the mid-70s, and this is the show that introduced the concept of machines combining to form a super mega robot (think Voltron or Power Rangers).
In the late 90s, the series was spun off into a 13 episode OVA, and serves as a grim continuation of the series after the events of the Moon Wars.
99% of the human population is wiped out during a catastrophic explosion of Getter Rays, and this leaves humanity grasping for survival in the face of another invasion by alien forces.
6. Puppet Master Sakon
If puppets freak you out, then this is the show for you.
Sakon is the grandson of the most famous puppet master in all of Japan. Sakon’s puppet is named Ukon and it was made by a world-famous puppet master during the early 1800s.
Together, Sakon and his puppet Ukon work to solve shocking, and often gruesome, murders.
Memories is an anthology film featuring 3 short stories by some of the most well-respected anime creators and studios of the time (including the mind behind Akira!).
Each of the stories focuses on a different catastrophe surrounded by mysterious circumstances, and this leads to a series of events that only raise more questions.
The movie is heavy on apocalyptic sci-fi themes and makes for a good late-night watch.
4. Hell Teacher Nube
As the name implies, Nube is a teacher, and he works at Dōmori Elementary. Occasionally, one of his students is targeted by an evil spirit and he must rely on his powerful demon hand to set things right.
Hell Teacher Nube is as much a comedy anime as it is a horror anime, and it retains an episodic format throughout most of the series.
3. Ninja Scroll
Ninja Scroll is a supernatural ninja anime that was incredibly influential in popularizing anime outside of Japan. The movie was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who had previously directed one of the greatest horror anime of the 80s, Wicked City.
The story follows a traveling mercenary who is joined by the last surviving member of a ninja clan in a quest to kill the Eight Devils of Kimon.
When it was released, Ninja Scroll was praised for its animation quality and is arguably one of the top anime movies of the 90s.
2. Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue was the directorial debut of Satoshi Kon. You may recognize his other works, Millenium Actress, Paprika, and Tokyo Godfathers; however Perfect Blue remains his most famous work.
Pop star, Mima Kirigoe, has made the difficult decision to move on to the world of acting, however, not everyone supports this decision. This leads to a downward spiral of madness and confusion as Mima begins to lose her sense of sanity.
Perfect Blue is perhaps the scariest anime movie ever made, and its influence can be felt in Hollywood Movies such as Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. If you’re up for a scary animated masterpiece of a movie, then Perfect Blue can’t be missed.
There’s no two ways about it; Berserk is a dark fantasy classic. The series is full of drama, betrayal, violence, gore, and disturbing moments.
This epic story is not only the best horror anime show of the 90s, but arguably the best horror anime series of all time.
Horrible Horror Anime Pick you Shouldn’t Watch
Don’t blame me if curiosity gets the best of you…