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12 Terrifying Horror Anime to Give You Nightmares

Do you find yourself longing for even more thrills and chills this fall? Do you want your tsundere with a side of scary? Are your anime levels dangerously low? Don’t worry because I’ve got you covered with another edition of the spookiest horror anime that you need to put in your eyeballs on today’s episode of The Dan Cave.

And before we dive into today’s episode, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, Dan! Where the heck is THIS anime?” Well, I’ve covered this topic twice before, so watch both of those before you embarrass yourself and your eventual grandkids in the comments below.

Without further ado, here’s the third edition of The Dan Cave guide to horror anime…

Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek

Image: YamatoWorks

What’s the worst thing that could happen while playing hide and go seek? If you said, “Jonathan from down the street totally beefing it by trying to weasel his way into your hiding spot too so you both get caught,” then you’re not wrong. But in Kakurenbo, we see that the true answer is demons stealing your childhood friends away while you all wear fox masks in the ruins of an old city. It’s the story of a group of kids playing a game called “Otokoyo,” a variation on hide and go seek where the kids who play it are said to disappear, kidnapped by monsters to serve some sinister purpose. As it turns out, some urban legends have truth to them, a truth that becomes uncomfortably real for the kids at the center of Kakurenbo.

Blood+

Image: Production I.G.

While the conceit of a seemingly ordinary teenage girl fighting monsters by night may not be the most original in the world, Blood+ shows why it’s a narrative trope in the first place. Based on the film Blood: The Last Vampire, Blood+ starts as a fairly by-the-books story of Saya, an amnesiac girl who encounters a world of blood-sucking murdermonsters, and evolves into a genre-bending, addictive, and often unsettling anime for people who love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and like seeing vampire fiction with a fresh twist–one where anemia is finally cool.

Gantz

Image: Madman

When high school students Kei Kurono and Masaru Katowere hit by a train while trying to save a homeless man, they didn’t go to some paradisiacal afterlife where they lounged on fluffy, white clouds eating delicious grapes and plucking harps. They found themselves trapped in a life-or-death struggle against alien monsters with other recently deceased people at the behest of a mysterious black orb. It’s kind of like Men in Black meets The Good Place but with more gruesome murder than you can shake a stick at. This anime is not easy to watch. It’s hyperviolent, gory as all-get out, and deals with all manner of unsavory subject matter. So if your idea of hell is playing a multiplayer game with people you hate, then this is maybe the most frightening entry on this list.

Serial Experiments Lain

Image: Funimation

If your favorite kind of horror is the kind that sends you spiraling into an existential crisis, then Serial Experiments Lain is for you! Lain Iwakura is a soft-spoken fourteen-year-old girl whose life is thrown into disarray when she receives an e-mail from her classmate, Chisa Yomoda. The problem? Chisa recently commit suicide. In the e-mail she claims to have left her fleshy husk behind and has ascended to a new form within the Wired, a virtual world akin to the modern-day internet. Lain plunges headlong into a liminal space that leads to some truly horrifying realizations about the nature of her identity and reality itself. It’s a brain-melting, avant-garde cyberpunk mystery that expertly captured the horrors of a world in which we’re perpetually glued to our screens. Anyway, be sure to smash that like button and embrace the void in the comments below!

Blue Gender

Image: Funimation

In 2009, a young man named Yuji Kaido was diagnosed with a terrible disease and put into cryogenic stasis until it could be cured. He awakens twenty-two years later to find himself in the middle of a war between mankind and insectoid aliens hellbent on murdering and eating us like meaty, blood-filled Gushers. A postapocalyptic, sci-fi horror story of survival against impossible odds mixed with a LOT of the ol’ ultraviolence, Blue Gender is a creepy, unsettling Rip Van Winkle journey worth taking. It’ll also make you VERY worried the next time you find a bug in your house.

From the New World

Image: Sentai Filmworks

Set 1,000 years in the future, From the New World (a.k.a. Shinsekai Yori) tells the story of a world where much of humanity has developed powerful psychokinetic abilities. In the town of Kamisu 66, 12-year old Saki Watanabe attends the Sage Academy with her friends where she learns to harness her newfound psychic powers. But what about those students who can’t control their powers? What about those rumors of the “Tainted Cats,” who supposedly abduct underperforming children? Saki and her friends learn all about them and the horrifying truth of what they thought was a utopian existences as the story unfolds in a deeply disturbing fashion. And as someone who is allergic to cats, this movie is extra terrifying for me.

Ghost Hunt

Image: Funimation

I don’t know about you, but when I think about professional ghost hunters, I think of those sentient Monster Energy drinks wearing Tapout t-shirts that dominate the world of reality TV. The stars of Ghost Hunt are very different. The series follows Taniyama Mai, a 16-year-old high school student, who finds herself hunting down spirits with Shibuya Kazuya, the narcissistic young leader of the Shibuya Psychic Research Company, after she accidentally breaks their camera and injures Kazuya’s assistant. What follows is a creepy, cool story of paranormal investigators that isn’t as outright horrifying as some of the other entries on this list, but will keep you coming back for occult goodness.

Mononoke

Image: Toei Animation

If you were thinking I meant the Studio Ghibli version, then think again. Mononoke is chock full of Edo era horrors. It’s a voyage into feudal Japanese history, following a man known as the Medicine Seller, an occult investigator who travels across Japan seeking out and destroying evil spirits known as mononoke. Part detective story, part psychological thriller, all spooktacular storytelling, Mononoke is a treat from start to finish. Believe me when I say that resistance is feudal.

Umineko – When They Cry

Image: NIS America

 

What’s the worst thing that could happen at a family reunion? Some casual racism and some borderline inedible potato salad? Well, if you’re part of the Ushiromiya family, then it’s an ever-increasing string of murders in the middle of a typhoon that traps eighteen people on an island and forces them into a battle for survival against sinister force beyond their wildest imagination. But anyway, go ahead, you were saying something about how you’re not looking forward to Thanksgiving? Just remember: it could always be worse, and things get scarily bad in this creepy story of magic, murder, and misfortune.

School Live!

Image: Sentai Filmworks

For some people, high school was the best time of their life. It certainly seems that way for Yuki Takeya, a third-year student at Megurigaoka High School and a proud member of the School Living Club. She never wants to leave! But that’s because, in reality, she can’t. Yuki and her friends literally can’t leave the school because they’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and they’ve barricaded themselves inside. Yet Yuki can’t perceive this threat because she the shock of what’s happening caused her to divorced herself from reality. The result is a story that’s as much about how we deal with trauma as it is surviving in a world overrun by the living dead. And you know, the abject horror of having to live at your high school.

School Days

Image: Discotek Media

Sweet buttery Moses, this series is messed up. Does it look like yet another school romance anime? Yes. Is it problematic? Absolutely. Will you see that ending coming? No, not unless you’re a witch, in which case we have much bigger problems.

Berserk

Image: Crunchyroll

The third time’s the charm, right? Every time I’ve done an episode about horror anime, roughly 95% of the comment section is people frantically asking why I left Berserk off the list. The other 5% are Cory in the House fans. But the wait is over and they were all correct because the brutal, dark fantasy storytelling of Berserk is just as horrifying and unnerving as anything else on this list. Its grim tale of Guts, a mercenary on a quest for vengeance, is jam-packed with terrifying encounters with supernatural monsters, shocking betrayals, and murders most foul. Fill the void that Game of Thrones left in your hearts with even more medieval mayhem.

And those are some of the best horror anime to watch this Nerdoween season! But tell me — which are your favorites? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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