Anime is amazing because it’s a catch-all term for animation out of Japan, which can be anything, from the classic Shonen of Dragon Ball Z and One Piece to the isekai of Reincarnated as a Vending Machine Now I Wander The Dungeon to the slice-of-life comedy Spy x Family. Over the years, there have been some incredible horror anime that are also perfect to binge-watch for Halloween. Not all of these will make you scream in terror, but each one approaches the dark and macabre in its own way.
Junji Ito Collection
Manga artist Junji Ito is considered to be a master of horror, with his artwork providing some of the most memorable and horrifying images in pop culture today. Junji Ito Collection is a brief anthology series that adapts his short stories and a longer story, “Tomie,” into anime. While fans are divided (and that might be putting it lightly) as to the quality of the series compared to the manga, it’s still a fun, terrifying watch for Halloween.
Watching the horror anime series makes it clear that H.R. Giger, the designer of the Alien from Alien, and the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft have influenced Ito. Ito’s use of body horror in his work also draws comparisons to Cronenberg (both of them) and early David Lynch.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is one of the most unique horror anime series on this list since it adapts a video game. Originally released in 1996, using the RPG Maker engine, Corpse Party was a massive hit that has since gone on to spawn a franchise that includes theme park attractions, live-action adaptations, and audio dramas. Tortured Souls is the second OVA (original video animation), consisting of only four episodes.
The series follows a group of friends transported to the Heavenly Host Elementary School after performing a ritual and find themselves wrapped up in a horror story involving long-suffering ghosts, dead classmates, and a surprising amount of jump scares for an anime. If you like the series, there have been recent Corpse Party remakes, with a new one scheduled to arrive next year on most consoles.
A 10-episode series, Hellsing: Ultimate is a different type of horror anime. Beautifully animated and filled with gallons of blood, it’s more of a slasher, while the first two on this list are more creepy and scary. Gothic monsters and architecture never looked as good as they do in this series, which was fully released back in 2011.
Hellsing is named for the Hellsing family, but the highlight of the anime isn’t Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing or the group named after her family; it’s Alucard, the organization’s most dangerous weapon. Decked out in a striking red outfit and armed to the teeth, Alucard is one of those anime characters that can be found at any Hot Topic.
All you have to know about why Tokyo Ghoul is a great horror anime for Halloween is that it’s set in a world where ghouls and humans co-exist, as best they can, since ghouls have to eat humans. Ken Keneki becomes a half-ghoul half-human, which also makes him super-strong and fast, and gets wrapped up with an underground group of ghouls. Oh, and he has to keep his undead half a secret from his human friends.
The halfway point between the body horror of Junji Ito Collection and Hellsing: Ultimate, Tokyo Ghoul adapts one of the best-selling manga of all time. A sequel series, Tokyo Ghoul:re is also available, as is a live-action movie which is decent, but entirely avoidable. The only horror anime on this list that will make you cheer for the undead, it’s short (only 12 episodes), and features one of the best opening theme songs of all time.
A dark comedy fantasy, Soul Eater is a strange mix of genres, tones, and, at times, settings. The students of the Death Weapon Meister Academy work in teams to secure 99 human souls and one witch in order to perfect a “death scythe” to be used by their teacher, Death. If that sounds strange, it’s because it is, but horror anime can include offbeat shows like this if horror movies can include both Saw X and Barbarian.
Soul Eater still has plenty of creepy moments, and at 24 episodes, the entire series is 2 percent the length of One Piece, making it another great choice for a Halloween binge. Just be careful, because Death the Kid will become one of your new favorite anime characters.
At first, Paranoia Agent is confusing to watch since it tells seemingly unconnected stories with only the barest thread, the Golden Slugger, tying them together. Over time, the real plot slowly unfolds and reveals itself through the dark and troubled minds of each protagonist. Compared to other horror anime, there are no buckets of blood, and the body count remains rather low, but the tense atmosphere has you questioning everything you’re watching, making it closer to Hereditary or Insidious than Nightmare on Elm Street.
While originally airing, Paranoia Agent was so dark and disturbing that it was actually banned from television. Today, it can be streamed in its entirety on Funimation, and it’s well worth the binge. The series length, of only 12 episodes, may seem short, but each and every episode will drain you emotionally.