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.
Supernatural: The Animation
A supernatural horror anime with a realistic approach, Supernatural: The Animation is a solid mix of East and West. Based on the live-action CW series, also named Supernatural, this animation follows two brothers who set out to kill demons, spirits, and various other monsters. The series is pretty gritty and violent, providing some great spine-chilling moments and nerve-racking images.
However, it's also reminiscent of detective-style anime with its horrific crime scenes and street fighting violence. This seems to help tone down the terror a bit, making it a good show to watch at night alone. The only downside about this anime horror series depends on your opinion of the live-action Supernatural series, as the anime version shares strong similarities. If you've seen the CW series you might get a bit bored, but otherwise it's a decent watch.
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.
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.
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.