Horror anime movies are some of the most exciting in the genre. It has been interpreted in many different ways, from dark humor to psychological horror. Selecting what to watch can be quite daunting since there’s so much good stuff to choose from. On this list, we have put together 40 of the best horror anime movies and shows you need to see.
Classic Japanese Anime Horror Movies
1. Belladonna of Sadness, 1973
This old anime film is a classic tale of revenge. As they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and this movie’s protagonist, Jeanne, proves that. Fans of body horror will find the animation as creepy as it is mesmerizing, painting a picture of violence against women in painful detail. Definitely one of the best horror anime movies ever made.
2. Perfect Blue, 1997
This 1997 psychological thriller by Satoshi Kun is a cult favorite for a reason. It examines the effect of obsession and fame up close through the eyes of Mima Kirigoe, a popular singer and idol. As the story of Perfect Blue progresses, Mima continues to lose her grip on reality and her own identity– the worst horror imaginable.
3. Vampire Hunter D, 2000
Born of a vampire and a human, the “dhampir” D is a renowned vampire hunter among humans. He is accepted as one of them thanks to his skill at hunting all creatures of the night. If you’re looking for anime horror movies that don’t play around with the scares, we highly recommend checking the Vampire Hunter D titles.
4. Ninja Scroll, 1993
Set in feudal Japan, the horror anime movie Ninja Scroll follows swordsman Kibagami Jubei as he fights against the Eight Devils of Kimon. Though a relatively old anime, many continue to praise the film for its animation, though some of its more visceral scenes can be hard to watch.
5. Wicked City, 1987
Wicked City is Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s film debut and he made sure it’ll leave an impact. Set in the “Black World”, this dark anime is an ode to the grotesque. Beyond scenes of body horror, the shocking level of violence shown in the film might make even the hardiest horror lover turn away.
6. Midori, 1992
Based on the manga Shoujo Tsubaki, Midori is one of the more controversial horror anime movies on our list. This is due to its depictions of physical and mental abuse, as well as violence. Unlike the supernatural horror shown in other anime movies, Midori’s themes can be too real and thus, more horrifying to watch unfold.
7. The Curse of Kazuo Umezu, 1990
Cut from the same fabric as Junji Ito, Kazuo Umezu is another master of the horror manga genre. The short anthology film, The Curse of Kazuo Umezu is based upon his work. There are two dark tales to watch, which are both fine examples of the author’s skill in putting together chilling ghost stories.
8. Paprika, 2006
Another Satoshi Kon entry on our list, Paprika has been described as a “psychological hellscape” that is certainly quite a trip to watch. Don’t expect to understand the film’s premise after one watch, though. It follows dream logic and though quite grotesque, it is a must-watch for fans of this master.
Psychological Horror Anime Movies
9. The Empire of Corpses, 2016
The Empire of Corpses is a classic steampunk adventure that pays homage to quite a few historical figures. In this world, corpses are regularly brought back to life– but only as mere shells of their old selves. There is a major creep factor, but the story will keep you glued too.
10. The Garden of Sinners: Overlooking View, 2007
Overlooking View is the first in a series of anime horror movies by Kinoko Nasu. It follows the investigations following a string of suicides, which occurred in the same place. The story gets into your head and the heavy atmosphere of the show will leave you feeling heavy with dread– like any good ghost story.
11. Corpse Party: Missing Footage, 2012
As a prologue to the animated series, Corpse Party: Missing Footage gives us a peek into the lives of the students before they are befallen by the terrible nightmare they must escape from. It begins with the tragic incident at Heavenly Host and leads up to the night of the ritual.
12. Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek, 2005
There’s a rumor that if you play hide and seek on a deserted street, demons will come to spirit you away. Eight children test this urban legend, each with their own mysterious reason. The game begins and they get taken one by one– leaving the last player to learn about the fate of the one who becomes “it”.
13. Bio Hunter, 1995
Bio Hunter is set in a world where a Demon Virus has spread in Japan. Those who get infected turn zombie-like, offering up plenty of gore. One of the biologists-hunters develops a cure, but ends up becoming infected himself. From there, it’s a battle with his human demon side in order to save more lives. It is one of the more underrated horror anime movies, but definitely worth a watch– or two.
14. The Flowers of Evil, 2019
This is a psychological horror anime that will leave you thinking for days. While certain themes and scenes might seem similar to other anime shows already on our list, the live-action really brings to life every character and circumstance. The slow pace might turn some away, but it does add to the experience.
15. King of Thorn, 2010
Often described as “Sleeping Beauty” with a twist, King of Thorn is a blend of monster and sci-fi horror. Quite similar to Bio Hunter, the world is plagued by the Medusa Virus that turns people into stone. There is no shortage of monstrous creatures in this horror anime movie, which will appeal to fans of this genre.
16. Cat Soup, 2001
This horror anime movie doesn’t rely on dialogue but makes use of surrealist animation to create a sensory experience for the watcher. Though the story emphasizes the bond between sibling cats Nyatta and Nyako, do be prepared for some pretty graphic violence and imagery that could be stomach-turning for some. After all, the two cross hell to retrieve half of Nyako’s soul.
Classic Japanese Horror Anime Series
17. Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl), 2005
In this classic horror anime series, we have Enma Ai who drags the souls of evil-doers straight to the afterlife where they are to be tortured for eternity. The 2019 live-action film is a little less violent compared to the animation, but it’s got all the ingredients for the perfect horror flick: the devil and a ritual sacrifice.
18. Death Note, 2006
A notebook that will kill any person whose name is written upon it, grim reapers, a teenager with a god complex, and a genius detective who wants to figure it all out. While it isn’t one of the more traditional horror anime movies, Death Note will leave you clinging to your seat.
Scariest Japanese Horror Anime Series
19. Black Butler, 2008
Would you sell your soul to the devil to avenge your family? This is the premise behind the dark anime, Black Butler. The story follows the Ciel Phantomhive and his loyal, yet devilish, butler Sebastian Michaelis. While the show has its lighthearted moments, it offers chills and a hefty dose of violence as it progresses.
20. Shiki, 2010
Lovers of murder mysteries might find this horror anime interesting. The series is set in the seemingly idyllic town of Sotoba, where the tragic passing of Megumi Shimizu marks the beginning of more unexplained deaths that follows. Is it an illness or something more sinister? Town doctor Toshio Ozaki and his motley crew investigate.
21. Another, 2012
A school curse is at the center of this next horror anime. As the entire class 3-3 ventures to find out the truth about the mystery that plagues them, more and more tragedies occur. This supernatural anime can be quite violent at certain points, but its story will certainly keep you enthralled. It’s a must for those who watch horror anime movies and anime shows alike.
22. High-Rise Invasion, 2021
Imagine being trapped in an abandoned high-rise, while also being hunted by masked assailants. High schooler Yuri Honjou has to find her brother, fight off murderers and fiends of all kind, then escape before it’s too late. While there are comedic moments, prepare yourself for jumpscares and quite a bit of gore throughout this horror anime.
23. Mayoiga (The Lost Village), 2016
Would you dare visit a village known to most because of an urban legend? This is what a bus of strangers, looking to start a new life there, had in mind when they first made the journey. However, things soon go awry and they become lost while exploring the famed location.
24. Satsuriku no Tenshi (Angels of Death), 2017
The series’ protagonist, Rachel Gardner, wakes up in the basement of a building with no idea why or how she even got there. To get out, she has to ascend the floors one by one– meeting many twisted and murderous characters along the way. This psychological horror anime will keep you wondering about its outcome, all the way to the unexpected end.
25. Tokko, 2006
In Tokko, bottomless pits begin to multiply all over Japan from which mysterious creatures emerge. Is it connected to the events of the Machida massacre, where the mass murder of the town’s residents occurred in the past? These are the mysteries that newly-graduated police officer Shindou Ranmaru needs to solve in this horror anime.
26. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls, 2013
In a wicked twist of fate, nine students performing a ritual so they may remain friends forever end up in an alternate dimension. There, they have to contend with the vengeful ghosts of murdered school children and work together to escape their nightmare lest they become damned as well. Fair warning, there is some degree of body horror and gore here so it isn’t for the faint of heart.
27. High School of the Dead, 2010
The undead apocalypse throws Japan into total chaos and the students at one of the many local high schools have to fight for their lives as they become overrun with the walking dead. They have no choice but to kill friends and teachers, narrowly escaping their school. Once outside, they are met with more destruction and have to band together to survive.
28. Deadman Wonderland, 2010
Here’s one amusement park you wouldn’t want to visit. After getting framed for the massacre of his classmates, Ganta Igarashi is sentenced and sent to Deadman Wonderland. This prison forces its convicts to perform dangerous stunts, all for the audience’s entertainment. This horror anime keeps the suspense up, making it hard to not watch– even the gruesome bits.
29. Occultic Nine, 2016
In this supernatural anime, a group of non-believers and believers group together after experiencing situations that are tainted with something, not of this world. As they try to solve all the mysteries and tragedies that have begun to plague their city, their own lives soon become affected. With such a diverse set of characters at the center of the story, Occultic Nine is definitely a must-watch for fans of horror.
30. Tokyo Ghoul, 2014
Widely considered to be one of the best when it comes to both horror anime movies and shows, Tokyo Ghoul is a great example of body horror done right. We suggest the 2014 series, which marks the beginning of Ken Kaneki’s story and transformation into a human-ghoul hybrid. The series introduces us to the conflict between humans and monsters, as well as the innocents who are caught in between.
31. School-Live!, 2015
Don’t be fooled by the cute anime girls and slice-of-life flavor of Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!). It promotes themes of independence, but there is an underlying darkness to it all. As it is soon revealed, all of the club members have a single rule to follow: they must live their entire lives within the school’s grounds.
32. Happy Sugar Life, 2018
Happy Sugar Life is another of those horror anime shows that doesn’t seem all that scary at first glance. It isn’t until later that this veil of innocence is pulled away and the real darkness of the story is revealed. Add this to your anime list if you enjoy stories that get under your skin instead of simply throwing jump scares at you each episode.
33. Elfen Lied, 2004
In the anime Elfen Lied, we are introduced to Lucy, a special breed of human who was born with powers. She becomes the subject of experimentation and eventually receives a head injury that gives her a split personality. When she meets two naive college students, they get dragged into her world where they have to defend against government bad guys and uncover conspiracies.
34. The Promised Neverland, 2019
Considered to be a favorite among lovers of the best horror anime movies and shows alike, The Promised Neverland is set in a world where monsters and humans live side by side– as prey and predator. Children from the Grace Field orphanage may live well, but little do they know about the sinister fate that awaits them when they are “adopted”.
35. Devilman Crybaby, 2018
Our next dark anime is a classic story of a demon taking a human host. However, the human in this case is powerful enough to overcome evil and use its power for its own. Akira Fuduo doesn’t become like the demon, however. Instead, after merging with the demon Amon, he uses its power to defeat those who intend to wreak havoc and possess other humans.
36. Yami Shibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, 2013
Few can resist the allure of ghost stories as proven by the many chapters Yami Shibai has had. This horror anime is a collection of short dark tales, which continue to grow more terrifying than the last. For those who watch shows such as The Twilight Zone, this is similar in format minus the campiness. If the stories don’t leave you spooked, we’re sure the storyteller will.
37. Danganronpa: The Animation, 2013
Few anime shows have managed to have the cultural impact that Danganronpa has, especially for one that is deeply rooted in psychological horror. It starts innocently enough, at an academy for the best students in the country. However, things eventually devolve into horror after Monokuma’s killing game is introduced. Now the students have two choices, play or live in the school for the rest of their lives.
38. Psycho-Pass, 2012
Imagine a world where you can be branded as a criminal simply by having your present mental state examined. This is the setting for the dark anime Psycho-Pass. As one of the most popular titles on our list, Psycho-Pass isn’t your typical supernatural horror– instead, it delivers scares that mirror the things we see in real life. From violence to corruption, it’s no wonder the show can be hard to stomach for some.
39. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), 2013
In one of the more successful anime adaptations, Attack on Titan delivers the scare factor head-on. If the gore and body horror aren’t enough to make you turn away, then Titan monstrosities will certainly do. There is a reason many consider this to be one of the best horror anime movies in recent years.
Horror Anime Movies and Shows That Will Tap into Your Most Primal Fears
What makes a show or a movie scary for you? For some, it’s the jump scares or the scary art. The horror anime movies and shows on our list do tackle some very dark themes but are also visually stunning. It’s not hard to appreciate the work that went into creating these shows, which is probably why many of them have become cult favorites. Give some of our recommendations a try, we’re sure you’ll find one that will send chills down your spine.
If you need something that’s more on the lighter side after giving yourself a scare, here are 35 of the best anime you need to watch now.