A few weeks ago, there were a lot of requests for a this, so here you go: in preparation of Halloween, here is the list of my 10 favourite horror series. It was an interesting list to compile, because even though I’m a big fan of horror, I never really thought about my favourite series of the genre.
Of course, there are many different kinds of horror. Anime is hardly ever truly scary, but it does have a wide variety of horror series with a genuinely creepy atmosphere, and that’s what I was looking for when compiling this list. This can be done with gore, scary images, monsters, but also psychological horror, and the classic Japanese style of horror that tries to creep the viewer out with a tight storytelling. I tried to include a bit of everything in this list, because I don’t believe that there’s one sub-genre that’s inherently better than the others.
Again, like with my other lists I’d love to see some other people’s top 10 (or whatever suits you best) horror-series. I’m also interested about other sorts of Top 10 lists you want to see on this blog. I might as well try to create a different Top 10 list every month.
Some series who didn’t make the list but deserve a honorable mention: Hakaba Kitarou (for those who are interested in the combination between horror and comedy), Betterman (a bit long-winded, but pretty nice survival horror) and Mouryou no Hako (has some horror elements, but not enough to really make it to this list).
#10: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Higurashi’s biggest focus isn’t horror, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a number of genuinely creepy episodes in its first season. Especially because at that point, you’ll have no idea what the heck is going on, which only contributes to the atmosphere. It has gore, characters going insane and a setting in which you can trust nobody, all packaged under such a seemingly cute exterior.
#9: Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom is really more of subtle psychological kind of horror, but like Higurashi it also really likes to confuse the heck out of its viewer, and takes this sense of mystery further than any series I’ve seen. This, combined with a number of disturbing cases of messed-up personalities earned this series a place in this top 10.
So yeah, we all know what a mess Kurozuka ended up to be in the character-department, but as an action-horror series it truly shines. It had a really powerful set of visuals and a constantly tight atmosphere and some incredibly tense and well-written action scenes. Madhouse really knew how to make a huge visual spectacle out of it, and the genuinely creepy atmosphere made this into a unique series.
#7: Perfect Blue
This is the only movie I have on this list, but it really deserves to be here. This is everything that psychological horror should be, and Satoshi Kon succeeded in creating a schizophrenic and paranoid 90 minutes. It’s an excellent character-study of the darker sides about being an idol, dealing with obsessive fans and the like. While it’s not the best thing that Satoshi Kon has written, it still knows how to capture its audience and stands out as the best animated horror movie for me.
#6: Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror
Of course, this is one series that can’t be missing in a top-list of horror anime. This actually was the series that introduced me to this great genre, and it really shows what you can do with it. It consists out of three stories, and while the second one isn’t exactly impressive, the first and third really manage to deliver in disturbing antics and very tense storytelling. They’re both well built up, and especially the third story Bake Neko (which would later spawn its own series called Mononoke) is storytelling at its finest.
More Satoshi Kon, as he takes another shot at psychological horror. This series was supposed to be a collection of stories that didn’t fit into his movies, and the result is a number of excellent character-studies about a collection of people who breaking down mentally. This is of course great horror-material, and he really manages to combine this with this creepy atmosphere in which you never know what’s real and what’s just an illusion. It’s a show that loves to play with irony, and another great horror recommendation.
I’m still not sure why this series is so often hated, but I digress. At its core, Gilgamesh is a dark series with a constantly tight and cold atmosphere. Unlike the most of the above-mentioned series, the type of horror is nether gore, scary images or psychological, but instead it really tries to captivate its audience with its storytelling. It’s a series with a creative storyline that fits this type of series perfectly, resulting into an excellently creepy series.
(On a side-note: try finding a good image for this series. Thank you very much, Fate/Stay Night.)
#3: Jigoku Shoujo
Every episode of Jigoku Shoujo has pretty much the same concept: someone has a grudge on someone, someone accesses the Jigoku Shoujo Website, and someone gets sent to hell. But this series really makes use of this ritualistic set-up in its storytelling, again creating a very creepy atmosphere that never dies, even after 78 episodes. It’s a series that really knows how to build up its stories, and while they indeed may be hit or miss, this series however really hits hard and often enough.
I think it was pretty obvious that Madhouse would end up dominating this top 10: five of these ten come from them, and Shigurui stands head and shoulders as their best work in terms of horror. It’s the only series that actually managed to freak me out while I was watching it, that’s how powerful the storytelling is. This series is absolutely brutal, and spares nobody: every single character is a huge bastard, and nobody gets spared when it comes to the incredibly well-drawn gore. Nothing is too much for this series and it shows this again and again and again. If you want to freak someone out, then this is my top recommendation for it.
#1: Ghost Hound
But in the end, nothing can beat Ghost Hound for me as my favourite horror-series. With its huge attention to detail in terms of psychology, it knows exactly what to do in order to create an incredibly creepy atmosphere, and on top of being an excellent psychology lesson, this series also really manages to create a unique atmosphere that attempts to do much more than being simply creepy. If you want to get in the mood for Halloween, then this is my top recommendation: Ghost Hound knows how to capture its audience, and it does so with a frightening consistency.