Posted on 30 October 2009 with categories: Top 10 Anime

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.

#8: Kurozuka

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.

#5:Paranoia Agent

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.

#4: Gilgamesh

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.

#2: Shigurui

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.

38 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Bleh Higurashi, it needed a lot more creepy stuff because it failed in everything else, but it was entertaining.

    Perfect Blue definitely belongs there, it’s an incredible horror movie. Doesn’t go to deep but deep enough to just be awesome. Plus it’s one of those shows that nonanime fans love.

    Jigoku Shoujo is also just really awesome, it is episodic but sure does go over the edge at times.

    And Ghost Hound is the only anime series to ever really creep me out, it really is the #1 horror anime out there.

    Sadly you showed no love for Serial Experiments Lain or Vampire Princess Miyu =(

  2. Gottis says:

    I love, love, love Ghost Hound! *_* Sadly, I can’t put up a top 10 horror list, because I honestly haven’t watched 10 horror anime series. D: But I think Ghost Hound would have ended up at the top if I had. ^^

  3. kbot says:

    You need to check out Requiem from the Darkness. Strange and atmospheric, it always made me feel uneasy. The characters, however, felt genuine. It was almost as if I wanted to help them, but something was off, and I was scared to get involved. Peculiar, but excellent

  4. Aoi says:

    Where’s my Requiem from the Darkness/100 stories (Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari) on the list? I’m disappoint.

  5. psgels says:

    I was actually disappointed by 100 Stories. I heard all sorts of great comments about it, but in the end it was just a decent but formulaic horror-series. And while it was an interesting watch, it just wasn’t good enough for me to include it in this list.

  6. reverse says:

    awesome list, that a lot anime I haven’t watch. the only one I watch is Ayakashi

  7. Aoi says:

    @psgels
    >but in the end it was just a decent but formulaic horror-series

    And yet you’ve rated Jigugo Shoujo so high. I don’t remember it being scary apart some minor episodes. Sad? Yes. Scary? No. Hell, higurashi had more successful moments that this one.

  8. psgels says:

    True, Jigoku Shoujo was indeed formulaic, but it had enough to make up for it. I agree that it wasn’t scary, but to be honest 100 Stories was even less scary for me. It just had too little time to build up or do something with that formula, and in the end I got bored with the series near the final episodes, which was the complete opposite from Jigoku Shoujo. The only anime that I would truly consider scary would be Shigurui.

  9. bateszi says:

    One series that’s also probably worth being on this list is ‘Petshop of Horrors,’ which has a pretty rubbish first episode (it’s only four episodes in total) but has some thoroughly weird stuff (in a good way) later on– a certain episode about mermaids, in particular, is really disturbing!

    Also, just wanted to add the spider-woman-thing from ‘Wicked City’ is pretty damn messed up! ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’ is a very good, traditional monster horror anime (as is the original Blood movie). Basically, anything directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri is worth watching at Halloween!

  10. Canne says:

    Really nice list. I’ve watch only 5 titles from the topten and 3 titles I put on my ‘gonna watch someday list’. I suppose I’ll have to watch Ghost Hound soon because right now, I think Paranoia Agent deserves the top spot.

    By the way, does your list include OVA or ONA? Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek has just crossed my mind.

  11. elianthos says:

    Among the ones you mentioned&I actually watched,
    1)Ghost Hound and
    2)Ayakashi_Japanese Classic Horror
    along with its spin-off
    3)Mononoke
    are the ones I enjoyed.
    Must check the titles by Satoshi Kon ^_^.
    I don’t recall you reviewing The Portrait of Petite Cossette trio of OVAs… in case you haven’t watched it I’d suggest you to look for it. It’s arsty, twisted, nightmare-ish and gorey . A love and horror/ghost story rolled into one.

  12. Wyrdwad says:

    Ooh, I agree with Batezsi about Petshop of Horrors – except that I actually think the first episode is the BEST of the four. (: Great anime, though, on the whole, and Count D is a fantastic character. (:

    -Tom

  13. Kamikazesim says:

    Time to go download Ghost Hound now.

    Out of all the shows on this list, the only one I haven’t seen/downloaded is Ghost Hound.

  14. windy says:

    The horror anime I liked the most are definitely (or will be for sure if they’re not finished yet, but clearly stand out among the best):

    1) Higurashi no naku koro ni
    2) Higurashi no naku koro ni kai
    3) Umineko no naku koro ni
    4) Elfen lied ( awesome!!! And the music too, gloomy and nostalgic!)
    5)The Portrait of Petite Cosette
    6)Monster ( as psychologic horror is one of the best)
    7)Vampire Princess Miyu
    8)Pet’s shop of horror
    9)Jigoku shoujo (all of them, I loved the three seasons equally)
    10)Gilgamesh ( it was quite an enigmatic and powerful series, that I won’t forget easily)
    11)Le chevalier d’eon
    12) Red garden ( the series, not the movie that I just hated)

    I also loved ” Night head genesis” and ” Moryou no hako”( I have to watch this one entirely subbed because it was really hard for me to understand the plot and I couldn’t enjoy it at the fullest since I didn’t get the major parts!) By the way, I couldn’t sit through ” ghost hound”, I really can’t make myself to watch it and don’t understand why you all like it so much, maybe I should first see the end , but the first episodes are quite unbearable for me to watch, it doesn’t even sound like an animated series but like some kind of experimental project.

  15. signorRossi says:

    Great characterization of Shigurui. :) It really surprises you that it still can increase the amount of gore and madness from episode to episode… ;) If you want to be really scared again go for the manga, it has a few untold side stories and a few chapters adding to the main story, but it is still unfinished.

  16. windy says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention ” bokura no” ( don’t know it can be considered clearly as a horror series, and ” basilisk” , (also one of the best!) and ” Fate stay night”, that has a great amount of horror elements in it.

  17. Meep says:

    I’m glad you included Higurashi–it’s fantastic.

    Interesting that you mention Ghost Hound. I think I’ll watch that. ^.^ Lol and this isn’t exactly scary but I have some episodes of Hakaba Kitarou to watch too. =P And Requiem from the Darkness.

  18. d says:

    what about ghost hunt?

  19. Reltair says:

    I remember sometimes watching Ghost Hound at night and I would get somewhat freaked out. o_O

  20. Jabba says:

    Have you ever tired Ghost Hunt?
    Let’s just say that… That show had me screaming in fright… In a brightly lit room, in the middle of the afternoon, while hanging onto my friend… XD

    Really got freaked out by the Doll Arc and threw in the towel… >_

  21. Shippoyasha says:

    Shigurui would be tied for #1 with Ghost Hound for me. Ghost Hound was right scary until it tried to have some silly, binding adventurous story on top. Totally flopped in using its creepiness for a creepy ending. But in the end, we got TURKEYS WITH SOULS.

    But Shigurui… ugh… yeah. It’s just artistic in how depraved and horrifying it truly is. The final ‘boss battle with the old swordmaster’ is just terrifying from the beginning to the end.

  22. Oh thanks for this top 10 xD I don’t know some of them, I should check them out~

    I can’t think of my own top 10 . . . it’s so hard to rank xD hahaha!

  23. Tk007 says:

    Shigurui is the number 1 horror for me. I’m someone who likes to see gore in anime yet I find myself unable to stomach the gore in this series.

  24. Pax says:

    Most anime that classify as horror can be somewhat creepy,but almost never scary,if i want something scary i would not choose an anime,still your list is interesting and most of those anime (at least those i am familiar with) have their creepy moments,Higurashi actually has even some scary parts but only in the 1st arc.

    Also i would like to mention Ghost Hunt(it has its good moments) and also Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust…maybe also Serial Experiments Lain,it’s not scary but it’s quite disturbing sometimes.

  25. jeff says:

    monster is also a good psychological/somewhat creepy anime

  26. AKI says:

    i was probably wondering where are: elfen lied? night head genesis? ghost hunt?

  27. psgels says:

    Night Head Genesis… I ended up not putting that on this list because I didn’t know whether it really classified as horror or not.

    I was also at first very impressed with the huge gore of Elfen Lied. Then I watched Shigurui and it suddenly looked much less impressive.

    And Ghost Hunt would have gotten on this list if it weren’t for the large number of fairly weak arcs and lackluster lead character.

  28. cad says:

    Well one thing that might be interesting, is to compile a ‘top 10 horrifying horror animé’. Since, from what I understand, this list is more about your top 10 favourite horror animé, rather than the top 10 horror animé you consider the best/scariest. (Well actually I’m not completely sure from your post if these are your top 10 favourite or top 10 scariest, or both…)

  29. Anne says:

    Ive haven’t seen much horror anime, I’ve seen Blood+ and from what I’ve seen I really like it. Ever since I can remember I saw this on t.v and don’t remember the station but i was visiting my aunt and there was a part where there was a person in a subway I think and its a girl maybe, and the person gets choked by another by a chain n it was gorey and stuff, and I remember that I absolutly LOVED the anime. I have NO idea what it’s about, but if anyone can help PLEASE send me an email!!!!!!!

  30. un kn own says:

    Well first of all, everything that you put on the top 10 are fantastic. But you didn’t at all give higurashi the crdit it deserves, watch the entire series over again when you get at least 20 y/o when your brains fully developed. Higurashi no naku koro ni-kai-rei all were very serious in depth and very complicated. And the story line never wavered for a second. always stayed the same. If you couldn’t comprehend it. You are not intelligent lol

  31. Mat says:

    Ghost Hound was creepy all throughout and got me thinking almost the whole time. The ending totally ruined it. Won’t be in my number 1 spot though. Glad Jigoku and Higurashi made it in your list. Will check out Perfect blue & Paranoia Agent. Thanks for this!!

  32. Horrror fan says:

    Ayakashi is my favourite!!Bake Neko (or Goblin cat) as I saw has the most superb and captivating animation theme. The anime has a sophisticated touch to it and the charaters are absolutely flawless ,according to me. It is truly a crowning jewel in the Ayakashi series. Sadly ‘Goddess of Dark Tower’ was a huge disappointment…I have heard of so many vampire tales that this case of ‘forbidden love’ grows naught with me

  33. josfx says:

    How about Bokurano? there isn’t much gore but it is a good psychological anime

  34. I think that “Mononoke” the spin-off series of one of the “Ayakashi” arcs, should definitely be mentioned alongside (if not above) “Ayakashi.” It was far more complex and disturbing/psychotic with elements of complex mystery.

  35. Jasper says:

    Even though this is an old list check out Another it may topple everything on this list. That is a true horror anime. It has the feel of The Shining and Final Destination along with some really great character development. Plus a great mystery aspect to it as well.

  36. lol says:

    i dont think ghost hound is horror it isn’t scary at all

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  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 06:02 AM)
    @Emma @K-Off Ty.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    I will ask my brother about this also who is into drawing.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    @K-Off I’ve discussed this ad nauseum with my friends and professors during art school, so It’d be great to get opinions from the other side of the world.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:43 AM)
    @Friend Let me discuss that with some of the artists I know IRL, I want to get their opinions of that. Maybe in a few days.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:40 AM)
    I’m not saying art HAS to give a solution, I just think that a solution is something art needs to give in this particular art period.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:39 AM)
    @K-Off But see, that was my opinion as well until I began to realize that it wasn’t working. Art has entered a casual stage in the 21st century, where the fast, modern life has met art.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:36 AM)
    That really is something to think about friend and something for me to consider when I write.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:35 AM)
    @Friend I see we disagree on the role of art. See, my opinion of art was that art is a trail Blazer. It doesn’t have to light the way, it just has to point in the direction the artist wants his viewers to go.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:34 AM)
    Not far off…
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:33 AM)

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