When most people think about horror films, they imagine terrifying images of malformed slashers and excessive gore. Some of them are even pretty good. The anime horror genre, however, isn’t limited to the slice and dice characteristics most well-known in horror flicks. In fact, some less frightening Japanese horror anime that's not that bad to watch include titles with supernatural occurrences, creepy mysteries, and monsters and/or demons. These movies and series can produce chilling sensations without being overtly nightmare-inducing. This makes them ideal options for those evenings you feel like viewing something creepy and getting a good night's sleep.
You may be wondering which spine-chilling anime titles are thrilling enough to satisfy your inner-horror junkie, yet gentle enough to ensure you get your full eight hours? Wonder no more! There are plenty of pretty good horror anime titles that aren’t as terrifying as the typical horror title, but still provide a reasonable thrill factor. Here are some great horror anime series and movies that you won't regret watching.
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This series follows a group of paranormal investigators as they examine reports of spiritual activity. Kind of like anime Ghostbusters, they help solve mysterious cases and free trapped spirits from the places they’re haunting. Throughout the series, there’s an abundance of super spooky ghosts as well as some interesting use of psychic abilities. The show is definitely quite suspenseful.
However, because of the mix of comedy and shoujo drama, the mood never gets super scary, which makes this horror anime a safe bet to watch before bed. Still, you may not enjoy the series as much if you’re looking for extreme thrills or don’t enjoy some laughs with your screams.
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If you love telling ghost stories, you’ll enjoy this anime horror series. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, also known as Theater of Darkness, is told in the tradition of Kamishibai storytelling. Kamishibai is generally a paper play, a form of street theater storytelling that was popular in Japan during the 1930s.
The animation greatly reflects the 2D art style of Kamishibai, and the stories are based on Japanese folklore and urban myths. Because of these features, the series may not appeal to everyone. However, if you're into Japanese culture, each four-minute tale provides just enough eeriness to keep you entertained without crossing any boundaries.
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Looking for a horror anime with a bit more action? Give Shikabane Hime a try. It's really not bad. The series revolves around a dead girl who comes back to life. She’s seeking revenge for the brutal murder of her entire family, so it's pretty metal. The overall mood and dark animation style of the series are spine-tingling, and some of the scenes in the series are hella creepy.
Although spooky, the fast-paced action scenes and comedic situations keep the show from becoming tipping over into "pants-sh*ttingly-terrifying" territory. The main downside of the series is the slow development of the main characters, as well as a reasonably confusing first act. Still, the series provides a good watch for horror anime fans looking for something with a marginal scare factor.
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If you’re looking for a horror anime with a unique animation style and beautiful art, this series is right up your alley. The series follows a medicine merchant as he goes around vanquishing evil spirits, known as Mononoke. The animation in Mononoke is fantastic, sharing a similarities to Kamishibai storytelling techniques and traditional Japanese wood cuts.
Although each episode has an exceptional eeriness to it, the overall atmosphere and bright colors of the scenes will help keep you at ease. This scary series is placed in the feudal Japanese era, so if you’re not interested in Japan’s historical horror legends you may want to pass on this one. If you are looking for a more hardcore Inuyasha, however, give this a watch.
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If you’re looking for a psychological and supernatural twist on a traditional horror anime series, Ghost Hound is for you. The series focuses on three young junior high students who can cross their souls between parallel worlds: the "present world" and the "ghost world." This allows them to interact with ghosts and investigate the strange occurrences happening in their town.
The series' use of creepy visuals and spooky static noises keeps the avid horror fan easily entertained. The presence of real-world situations helps to keep the story from becoming too scary, however. The only downside of the series is the juxtaposition of the mature atmosphere and annoyingly childish main characters. It can get kind of distracting. Still, if you’re prepared to go on a supernatural mystery tour into another world, this chilling supernatural series is a pretty okay watch.
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Nothing could be creepier than watching a bunch of masked kids playing hide and seek in a dark, haunted, abandoned building, right? Right! If you’re looking for a quick thrill, Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek will scratch that itch. The story follows a group of children as they play a game known as Otokoyo, which is a Japanese form of hide-and-seek. The main boy in the story, Hikora, plays the game hoping he can unravel the mystery behind his sister’s disappearance. Apparently, she went missing after playing the game.
The spook factor in this animated film lies in its chillingly dark atmosphere. Also, missing children are always creepy. However, there are two key downsides to the film. First, because it’s only 20 minutes long, you’re not given enough character development and are left wanting more story when it ends. Second, the entire show is completed in 3D, so if you’re not into anime with CGI effects then you may find this short horror anime OVA unsatisfactory. Regardless, it's not too freaky and eminently watchable.see more on Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek
Nothing says horror like demons, right? If you’re looking for a horror anime with a dash of fantasy and comedy, you won’t be disappointed with this series. Maybe you won't be over the moon, but definitely not disappointed. The Devil Is a Part-Timer is a fun and fantasy-oriented series that has a bit of romance and magic mixed in with its terror.
The story follows Lord Satan as he is forced to live in the human world in disguise and work at a fast-food restaurant. While the majority of the series is pretty comedic, it does have its serious undertones and moments where demonic beings appear. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more frightening then this series may not appeal to you. It's right on the edge of scary and sleepy-time appropriate.see more on Hataraku Maou-sama!
Ghost, werewolves, vampires, and demons are all mixed together in this comedic horror anime series. Although Blood Lad is a comical series, it's certainly has its brutal moments. This series follows a Japanese culture-obsessed vampire who sets out on a mission to bring a ghost girl back to life.
While it does provide some thrilling action scenes and spooky characters, it’s far from too scary, making it a fun watch. The huge downside of this series is that the series ends on a cliffhanger and season two seems to be in limbo. Really, that's probably one of the most frightening parts.
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