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13 Creepy Psychological Horror Anime That Mess With Your Head

Updated June 16, 2021 5k votes 1.3k voters 50.8k views13 items

While it can be fun to watch horror anime that's focused on blood and guts, there's something uniquely satisfying about shows that manage to be creepy for more subtle reasons. That's where psychological horror, a genre that excels in creeping out viewers by making them think, comes in.  

The best psychological horror anime can still be bloody: while Higurashi: When They Cry will leave you with plenty of questions, it also boasts some of the most gruesome scenes in anime history. But others, like From The New World and Serial Experiments Lain are far more focused on forcing you to question everything you know about reality. 

Which of these anime would you recommend? Help guide your fellow fans by voting up the best ones.

  • 1


    Photo: P.A. Works

    When Kouichi Sakakibara transfers into class 3-3 of Yomiyama North, he doesn't think he'll have to deal with anything more difficult than making up for the schoolwork he missed while in the hospital with a collapsed lung. But he soon discovers that class 3-3 is under a horrifying curse that seems bent on taking the lives of every single persona associated with the class once activated. The story offers visceral, bloody horror while slowly unveiling the curses' psychological origins. 

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  • Photo: Madhouse

    After alien parasites start taking over people's brains and transforming their bodies into knife-wielding destruction-machines, the world becomes a far more terrifying place. Shinichiro Izumi, whose parasite didn't get past his right hand, finds himself constantly targeted by other parasites and must learn how to fight if he wants to survive. 

    Rich in both horrific imagery and existential questions about the ethics of different species using each other for survival, this is an excellent anime for fans of psychological horror.

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  • After moving to Hinamizawa, Keiichi Maebara thinks that he's living a normal life with new friends in a new town , but he quickly discovers that the town's festival might be connected to a series of murders. When he tries to ask his friends about it, they brush him off. He soon discovers that it's not that they don't believe him - it's that they're deeply embroiled in the terrifying mysteries swirling around the town. 

    Equally gory and emotionally resonant, this series is a must-watch for anybody who loves psychological horror. Want to watch a cute girl ripping out somebody's fingernails? This show has that. Want a deep dive into the complex dynamics of the families that populate a small town, and the horrors that occur when they get too insular? This show has that too.

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  • 4

    Perfect Blue

    Photo: Madhouse

    After spending two years as a pop idol, Mima Kirigoe leaves her group, CHAM!, to become an actress. Her new role is more demanding than she anticipated, and not all of her fans are happy about it - in fact, one of them responds with relentless stalking and harassment. All this stress combined with the fact that CHAM! seems to be doing just fine without her has Mima on the verge of a breakdown - and things only get worse when a mysterious website starts to impersonate her. In fact, the version of her on this website seems to feel more real than she is - but what is reality, and what is fantasy? As Mima continues to break down, she loses track of that distinction. 

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