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Shivers In the Night! More Must See Horror Anime

Nigel, AKA Bubblegum Senpai, was voted most likely to die due to an accident involving a cuddle pillow. Haruhi Suzumiya for Life.

What's your Zombie Apocalypse Weapon?

What's your Zombie Apocalypse Weapon?

Born For Horror

If you can't tell, I'm a horror fan. I grew up with an odd family that also loved horror. My father's initial plan for a name for me was going to be Vladimir, and my parents were both artists who reflected the genre. My father tended to gear his artwork more to the contemporary, where my mother tended towards the gothic and the vanitas. Even when my parents felt I might be too young for straight horror, they strived to ensure most movies I watched had at least some scary scenes in it.

As it turned out, I grew up to be a total wimp who's frightened of even the simplest amusement park ride, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying a good scare. I still love horror movies and shows and midnight revues at the theatre are a Halloween tradition for me. Of course, I also love anime, and having previously visited this subject, there's a lot of horror-themed anime out there and so here's five more horror anime you must see!

5 Essential Horror Anime

  1. Hell Girl (2005–2006)
  2. The Blood Series (2000–2011)
  3. School-Live! (2012–2019)
  4. Perfect Blue (1997)
  5. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (2013)
Yes. Hell Girl is the fuel behind the last nightmare you will ever have.

Yes. Hell Girl is the fuel behind the last nightmare you will ever have.

1. Hell Girl (2005–2006)

  • What you should be scared of: Revenge from anyone you've hurt.

What if you could send someone straight to Hell, like a bully at school or an abusive family member. Maybe you're more the type to send a romantic rival, or someone who's in line for the promotion you want. The Hell Correspondence website will do just that for you.

Hell Has a Website

When your hatred of an acquaintance is too much too bear, the website will become available. All you have to do is enter the name of the individual ... oh, and trade your soul.

Once you agree, Ai Enma—the titular Hell Girl—and her assistants will come upon the target, offering them one last chance at repentance. And then ferries them across the river to the gates of Jigoku—an analogue to Hell in Japanese Buddhism.

Hell Girl Will Cost You Your Soul

There is a cost to the person who summons Ai though. There is no hope for salvation anymore. You are free to live your life as peacefully as you wish, but when your time on Earth ends, you too shall belong to Hell.

Each episode of Hell Girl acts as a standalone short story about someone being driven by hatred to the point of needing Hell Girl to intercede, and then of Ai and her companions attempts to drive the fear of Hell into their target to elicit repentance.

There are small bits of continuity, though. Something of a side story plays out in brief moments during the episodes as someone investigates Ai or even through supernatural means tries to befriend her.

Slow-Paced, But Scary

The series is pretty slow paced for the most part, but it delivers the scares where it counts. It plays out as part horror, part mystery, part drama. It's played very straight, and doesn't waste time or energy on scaring the audience unnecessarily and does the one thing few horror shows do well—allow the viewers to get comfortable.

It's an enjoyable show, and while it doesn't explore Ai until later seasons, she becomes a somewhat sympathetic antihero.

Saya is the main character in the "Blood" series. Be happy she's on our side.

Saya is the main character in the "Blood" series. Be happy she's on our side.

2. The Blood Series (2000–2011)

  • What you should be scared of: Vampires and other monsters.

Usually when looking at a list of horror series, they tend to break up this franchise into its various parts of Blood: The Last Vampire, Blood+, and Blood C. I'm putting them down in here as one entry.

Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

Blood: The Last Vampire is a short movie, about 45 minutes in length, followed by the two anime series, each which takes place in an alternate universe. They can be watched separately without needing to watch any other entries as they take place in standalone universes, but all of them surround a different heroine named Saya as she fights vampires and monsters.

Blood: The Last Vampire tends to lean towards classical horror, with a better pace storytelling and relying on suspense instead of the gore and violence that the anime series is known for.

Last Vampire Set During Vietnam War

The film takes place in 1966 during start of US involvement in the Vietnam War. A US Intelligence Agency hires Saya assassinate vampire-like creatures known as Chiropterans, and one has infiltrated an Air Force Base in Japan. Saya is tasked with going undercover at a school for the families of US servicemen and finding the Chiropteran and eliminate them before they go into hibernation.

As the hunt spreads from the school, to the base, a game of cat-and-mouse begins during the base's annual Halloween costume ball.

Blood+ (2005–2006)

In Blood+, a different Saya—Saya Otonashi—is an amnesiac girl living near another Air Force base in modern day Okinawa (or modern day for when the series first aired in 2006), and is attacked by a Chiropteran.

As it turns out, her blood is fatal to Chiropterans. Taking up the katana, she partners with her adoptive family to rid the world of the vampire menace and discover her true identity locked away behind her amnesia.

Blood-C (2011)

In Blood-C—and accompanying tie-in movie—Saya Kisaragi is a shrine maiden at her father's shrine, but at night she fights monsters known as Elder Bairns. Much like the Saya of Blood+, she has lost some memories, though not all.

She can't remember who her mother is, but she can remember some details about herself including that she swore an oath to someone. She cannot remember who she swore this oath too, and therein lies the key to freeing her from her duty to fight the Elder Bairns.

Last Vampire Relies Less on Gore, More on Suspense

This writer's personal preference is for the Blood: The Last Vampire movie. I'm not adverse to gore as you may see from other entries on this list, but sometimes it's nice to enjoy a bit of suspense and adventure.

It's not that the other series in the franchise don't have a good story—in fact, they have excellent stories—but they rely much more heavily on the grotesque and gory violence for frights, and I don't find gore to be scary.

Blood-C: Collaboration With All-Female CLAMP

This is of course a matter of preference for the viewer. Do you want suspense? Do you want graphic violence? Each person has different tastes, and regardless of your preference, I'd encourage giving the entire trilogy a watch. Plus, Blood-C was a collaboration with the all-female artist circle CLAMP, and you can't go wrong with them!

Our heroes in "School-Live" ready to save the day in their own special way.

Our heroes in "School-Live" ready to save the day in their own special way.

3. School-Live! (2012–2019)

  • What you should be scared of: Nothing. The world is perfectly normal. Unless it isn't.

School-Live! is simultaneously a blend of horror and slice-of-life. It starts out with the impression of being a pure slice of life comedy until the end of the first episode twist: what is happening is actually only inside the mind of the main character, Yuki Takeya.

The reality is very grim however as a zombie apocalypse has taken over the country and Yuki is oblivious to this because of trauma related to the apocalypse. Because of this, Yuki has substituted the grim reality with a slice-of-life, normal world in her mind and is completely unaware of the dangers that actually lurk.

Yuki Founds School Living Club

Instead, she helps found the "School Living Club" along with three other students and their teacher who acts as an advisor, with the objective of "loving school so much they never leave." In actuality, this is because they have to barricade themselves in the schools for safety.

But what happens when they have to leave to restock on supplies? Or what happens if the barricade is breached? Can Yuki be safe in a dangerous world that she doesn't know exists? Or will her comedy antics put the rest of her club in danger? And why doesn't the newest club member even acknowledge their advisor?

Nice Blend of Comedy and Zombie Horror

I honestly hadn't watched this series until I decided to write this article, and honestly, I quite liked it. It takes a very unique concept and applies traditional comedy techniques to it to make a horror series that forces the audience to let there guard down, a mistake the audience will only make once.

It skillfully switches its manzai (1) routine from the clownish "cute girls doing cute things" world of Yuki's mind to the straight man world of the zombie apocalypse that Yuki's friends live in.

There is a constant sense of danger in the world, as Yuki's antics constantly put them in danger, and almost as jarring as the first time the audience exits Yuki's world and realizes something is wrong, is the subsequent trips back to Yuki's world once the audience knows that none of it is real.

Healthy Portrayal of PTSD

While the show doesn't necessarily highlight the most accurate portrayal of PTSD, as someone with PTSD I can say it's nice to see it highlighted, even if not specifically mentioned by name.

There's been a string of shows in the past decade that address mental health, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but this series was a step in the right direction.

(1) Manzai refers to a popular style of comedy in Japan with two central characters, a boko/boke or clown, and a tsukkomi, or straight-man. For a Western comparison, look at the classic comedy duo, Abbott and Costello. They popularized the "patter" method of comedy, which involved misunderstandings and wordplay between the Lou Costello (the clown) and Bud Abbott (the straight man).

Mima is the hero of "Perfect Blue." Which is to say, "hero."

Mima is the hero of "Perfect Blue." Which is to say, "hero."

4. Perfect Blue (1997)

  • What you should be scared of: Friends, strangers, colleagues, and websites.

More on the psychological side of horror, this film—which allegedly inspired the film Black Swan—surrounds a pop singer transitioning to film while being stalked by an obsessed fan who wants her to return to singing.

Combines Suspense, Horror, and Mystery

Clearly taking cues from some old Agatha Christie classics, this movie combines suspense, horror, and mystery masterfully and solidified the director Satoshi Kon as a legend in the anime industry.

Based on a novel Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, the film takes very little of the plot, with the original screenplay being tossed by Kon and replaced with his own.

Psychological Horror Inspired Black Swan

Traditionally that makes for a disaster but Kon actually opened this up to a broader audience. The original story was traditional slasher fare, but Kon opted to turn the story into a psychological horror, a genre that was nearly unheard of to the Japanese horror audience at the time. In doing so, Perfect Blue became an international hit.

The story surrounds Mima, an idol—essentially a pop star—who graduates from the group she performs with to focus on acting. Wanting to shed her pop star image, she takes on mature roles, much to her agent's displeasure.

Blurs the Line Between Fantasy and Reality

A mysterious fan site with early depictions of cyberbullying, an obsessed stalker, a series of murders, and the blurring of the line of what's real and what's just a role she's playing all rise to a stunning finale plot twist, which I cannot spoil despite the movie turning 25 years old the year this article is being written.

For fans who love their horror with a good mystery and particularly fans of the classic mystery formula, this is a must watch.

Warning: depicts scenes of sexual violence, as well as contains outdated portrayals of persons with disabilities that should have been unacceptable in 1997, let alone today.

Students share horror stories before the fun begins in "Corpse Party: Tortured Souls."

Students share horror stories before the fun begins in "Corpse Party: Tortured Souls."

5. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (2013)

  • What you should be scared of: A supposed good luck ritual.

In Corpse Party, a group of students perform a friendship charm on behalf of their friend Mayu who is transferring to a new school. The idea of the charm is that it's supposed to promise that they will always be friends forever, but instead, it causes an earthquake that engulfs them and transports them to Heavenly Host Elementary, a cursed school that was shut down after a series of grisly murders.

The students, having been split up during the transport now must try to find each other in this maze of a school while surviving all the horrific ghosts of the children, as well as the evil spirit of the murderer, and perform the ritual again to return home.

Extremely Graphic and Gory

Okay, this series has to come with a serious content warning. This OVA mini-series was released direct to DVD so the usual restrictions on violence don't apply here. It is extremely graphic and depicts ghosts of young children as well as flashbacks involving violence with young children. If any of these things disturb you, do not even consider this.

Still reading? Okay. This four episode series is gruesome, yes. But also genuinely frightening. Usually in the horror genre, you have to decide between a frightening story or gruesome one.

Constant Feeling of Suspense

In Corpse Party you get both. It contains suspense, mystery, despair, and excellent pacing. The story, once it gets underway, never really gives you a break. Of course, there are scarier moments and less scary moments, but there is always a feeling of suspense.

Corpse Party never asks you to let your guard down, in fact it encourages you to keep it up. It keeps a feeling of tension the whole way through.

Story Can Be Predictable

It's only downfall is that as far as Japanese horror goes, it is by the numbers. Group of people encounter supernatural phenomena, realize there's a curse attached, and have to quell the malevolent spirits to defeat the curse and save their lives.

In that sense, it's not unlike The Grudge or Ringu. It is much better paced however, and if you're a fan of the genre, there's plenty here if you like what would make a normal viewer uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, I can't talk about this in more detail without jeopardizing my ad revenue, so if this sounds like your thing, you'll have to trust me and decide for yourself if you want to watch it or not.