The best horror anime (series)

Reviews

The most popular horror anime tend towards extremes. On the one hand you have gratuitous violence and disturbing imagery. On the other, you have horrific personal situations and the suspense of true crime.

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Which horror anime are best? 

The best horror anime either thrill you with over-the-top violence animated in vibrant, bloody colors, or they rely on clever writing and terrible situations to create a sense of dread. Anime is a versatile genre. Almost nothing is out of reach when it comes to the subject matter. Some horror anime like “Elfen Lied” or “Blood-C” bring out the fear of the supernatural and the threat of pain. In contrast, others like Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” or Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster” use compelling narratives and incredible visuals to mess with your mind and make you question your sanity. Whether you’re interested in finding a new thriller monster to rival Hannibal Lecter or you just want to be entertained by the most disturbing images people can dream up, you won’t go wrong checking out the classic horror anime, “Serial Experiments Lain.”

What to expect from the top horror anime

The most popular horror anime tend towards extremes. On the one hand you have gratuitous violence and disturbing imagery, on the other, you have horrific personal situations and the suspense of true crime. More psychological horror anime pinpoint specific human fears and exploit them, like Junji Ito’s “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” a story in which an earthquake reveals millions of human-shaped tunnels in the earth. Whether you want to feel afraid of scary monsters or you want to think deeply about the darker aspects of life, these horror anime are great to watch.

The 7 best horror anime

Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied

What you need to know: “Elfen Lied” is not for the faint of heart. The main protagonist appears to be a sweet young girl with amnesia, but she carries with her a deadly secret.

What you’ll love: “Elfen Lied” is a classic horror anime that has inspired many other films. It is a bloody mess from start to finish, but it still tells a compelling science fiction narrative.

What you should consider: “Elfen Lied” doesn’t shy away from showing grizzly murders. In fact, it tends to draw them out.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Blood-C: Complete Series

Blood-C: Complete Series

What you need to know: “Blood-C” starts like many stereotypical anime where a normal high school girl turns into a monster hunter, but it’s all a setup for the last few episodes of the series.

What you’ll love: Massive twists and turns and creative monster designs make “Blood-C” unforgettable, as well as disturbing.

What you should consider: There’s a good deal of build-up that feels like a cliche anime. It won’t turn into pure horror and show its true colors until the last few episodes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Box Set

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Box Set

What you need to know: “Monster” is a gritty detective story that delves deep into the heart of what it means to be a cold-blooded killer.

What you’ll love: “Monster” follows the story of a detective that saves a young boy’s life. Little did the detective know that the boy he saved would grow up to become one of the most prolific serial killers in the world. The story follows his attempts to catch the killer and prevent more deaths from piling on his conscience.

What you should consider: Not your typical horror, this psychological thriller has the gritty feeling of a noir story and provides a critical reflection of what it means to do the right thing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

What you need to know: This classic anime was released in 1998, before the rise of the internet. However, it makes forceful points about the nature of losing yourself in a digital space, 

What you’ll love: The animation style is beautiful and trippy but dark and somber. As the mystery unfolds and you journey deeper into “the wired,” a proto-version of the internet, the surreal images make you question the very nature of yourself and reality.  

What you should consider: This is a psychological horror anime that focuses on social alienation, uncertainty and overreliance on the internet.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Gantz: The Complete Series

Gantz: The Complete Series

What you need to know: “Gantz” is one of the more entertaining horror anime because it’s set up like a game. 

What you’ll love: Once people die, they wake up to find themselves trapped in a room with a black orb that names itself “Gantz.” It tells them a mission and provides them with weaponry on the basis that if they win the games they will have a chance to return to life.

What you should consider: “Gantz’s” horror comes from its willingness to put the main characters into situations where they can’t win without brutal methods or sacrifice. The ways unfortunate contestants are killed push the boundaries of pain and discomfort.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Junji Ito Collection: The Collection Series

Junji Ito Collection: The Collection Series

What you need to know: The “Junji Ito Collection” is an anthology of horror stories written by Junji Ito, one of the most prolific horror writers of the twentieth century. His horror deals with the sublime and the unknowable, the terror of the uncanny.

What you’ll love: Junji Ito is a fantastic horror writer because of his ability to write twisted body horror. But he doesn’t rely on that. Each story provides the horror of physical pain and death and the terror of being alone in a hostile universe.

What you should consider: Junji Ito’s art style is brilliantly grotesque when it needs to be. I’d recommend not watching while you’re eating unless you have a strong stomach.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Perfect Blue - Limited Edition Steelbook

Perfect Blue – Limited Edition Steelbook

What you need to know: Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” is one of the most celebrated anime of all time. The story follows a young idol who quits her career to pursue acting. Only soon after, she becomes a victim of stalking, and violent murders follow in her wake.

What you’ll love: The ultra-fluid animation, brilliantly vivid colors and surreal imagery made “Perfect Blue” the classic it is. There are many scenes in this film that inspired major blockbuster movies from “Inception” to “Being John Malkovich” and “Black Swan.”

What you should consider: “Perfect Blue” is not pure horror, it’s a psychological thriller. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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