13 Terrifying Anime You Can Stream for Halloween This Year
by Lynzee Loveridge,
I've made no attempt to hide my affection for horror fiction of every stripe. Manga, novels, anime, and live-action TV or film, whether produced in the States or abroad, horror stories are some of my favorites to sit down and watch with a bowl of popcorn. Nothing gets me more in the spirit of Halloween than revisiting the quintessential slashers and boogeymen of yesteryear or trying out some of the new stuff. Netflix has a pretty decent selection whether you like your horror shlocky (American Horror Story) or you're seeking something to screw with your head (Gerald's Game). But no matter how you like your scares, there's an anime for that. Here's my picks for whatever flavor of chills and thrills you're in the mood for this Halloween.
Crazy B-Movie: Another (streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and HIDIVE). There's no wrong way to enjoy horror films, and that includes the "so-bad-it's-good" category of nonsensical plot contrivances paired with gallons of blood. Underneath its initial quiet goth-horror trappings, Another is the Final Destination of anime, where the slaughter begins in a cursed high school classroom when the students stop playing along. Protagonist Kōichi takes it upon himself to discover who the area's "ghost" is, someone who's actually dead but no one remembers. The mystery is halfway decent, but the real reason to watch is for the over-the-top deaths, one of which helps create one of my favorite beach episodes of all time. I'd also be remiss not to mention The Lost Village, whose plot is even more nonsensical and its monsters even more ridiculous, but it lacks the body count. It's a 100% meme-able trainwreck though, with exploding basketballs and dead hippopotamuses to boot.
Survival Game: The Future Diary (streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu). "Do you wanna play a game?" became the catchphrase for the survival game/torture-porn franchise Saw, and it changed the horror film landscape for a good decade to follow. It's not that mainstream horror hadn't indulged in the same kind of grisly shocks before, as evidenced by the original The Hills Have Eyes or The Last House on the Left. Of course, survival games are also a popular genre in anime and manga, with varying levels of extreme consequences. The Future Diary is one of the better examples of over-the-top characters killing each other with special abilities. In this case, their powers are tied to their cell phones, and the lead heroine is a yandere which is not a deal breaker for her love interest given his precarious situation. There's murder by dogs, cults, and toddlers with access to poison. Magical Girl Raising Project is another rewarding entry in this genre, with a more sincere and dramatic tone than schlocky, but no less propulsive pacing and gruesome demises.
Slasher Mystery: When They Cry (streaming on Hulu, Amazon, and HIDIVE). Higurashi isn't solely a slasher series in the vein of Friday the 13th or Halloween. The show and its sequel season have a recursive Groundhog Day thing going on, most of which is finally explained in the sequel. Before you get any solid answers, however, you can enjoy several arcs of surreal and gruesome mystery told by several unreliable protagonists. Are Keiichi's friends part of a local mafia drug ring or is it all in his head? Is the town curse real and are they still engaging in human sacrifices to a malevolent god of some kind? There are a lot secrets buried under Hinamizawa, but whether you want to crack open its extensive lore or not, the anime series has plenty of crazed cleaver-wielding kids to scratch your slasher itch. Of course, if you prefer your killers a little more naked and your kills a lot gorier, there's always the classic stomach-turner Elfen Lied.
Spooky Short Stories: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (streaming on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE). The Yamishibai shorts remain one of my favorite recurring seasonal treats. Barely animated, the show is based on the old tradition of kamishibai, which were originally serials with cliffhangers told by traveling performers. A series of colored slides were shown and the narrator would perform the all the dialogue in different voices. This was a popular form of entertainment during the World War II era, with Ōgon Bat being a popular character (if you're lucky, you can watch an Ōgon Bat kamishibai performance at the Kyoto Manga Museum).Yamishibai takes the same idea, but every vignette is a short horror story from folklore and urban legend. The first few seasons have some of the best tales, including "Contradiction" and "Tunnel." If you somehow manage to run out of these bite-sized terrors, KAGEWANI and The World YAMIZUKAN offer hokier but also enjoyable short tales of monsters and mystery.
Body Horror: Parasyte the Maxim (streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Amazon, and HIDIVE). Body horror can be particularly uncomfortable and grotesque to watch, as with Jeff Goldblum's transformation in The Fly or Tetsuo's terrible fate in Akira. Shinichi Izumi joins this genre when he unknowingly becomes the host to an alien entity that takes up residence in his right hand. The other parasites manage to successfully take over their host's brains, so the still-mostly-human Shinichi soon finds himself engaging in gruesome battles with shapeshifting, human-slaughtering monsters, all while he comes to terms with his transformation and the personality of the creature now living inside him. If you want something shorter and more to the point, RIN - Daughters of Mnemosyne uses its lead characters' immortality for sexually-laden body torture modification. Both options are plenty hard to stomach, but Rin goes for the gut harder and faster.
Vampires: Shiki (streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu). Anime loves its vampires, so much so that they're rarely more than a bad-boy trope in more fun-loving action fare than a genuine monster anymore. Shiki reclaims the coffin-living undead as a force to be reckoned with while introducing philosophical topics about humanity's inherent cruelness. The anime takes place in a small village where, after a mysterious family moves in during the night, many of the townspeople are struck by a deadly anemia. The town's doctor initially treats this as an epidemic, unaware of the true nature of what is happening to his patients. Of course, when one previously dead girl turns up not-so-dead anymore, the survivors have to grapple with rising suspicions throughout the village, if anyone can make it out alive at all. Alternately, though perhaps this very popular recommendation goes without saying, you can't go wrong with the bloodbath-happy vampires of Hellsing, in original recipe or Ultimate flavor.
The new poll: What's your favorite Halloween classic monster?
The old poll: What are your opinions on this year's anime trends?
56.4% of participants identified as male, 33.7% as female, and 4.4% as Other, Neither, or Both, and 5.5% as Prefer not to Say.
Overall Most Liked
- Post-Apocalyptic Setting 65.9%
- Nostalgia-Based 58.8%
- Western-Style Superheroes 54.1%
- Monster Girls 36.8%
- Isekai 35.5%
Overall Most Disliked
- Little Sister 64.0%
- Male Idols 40.1%
- Isekai 20.8%
- Monster Girls 19.9%
- Western-Style Superheroes 11.3%
Those polled were most ambivalent toward isekai (40.9%) and monster girls (39.6%).
Women's Most Liked
- Post-Apocalyptic Setting 62.4%
- Nostalgia-Based 61.6%
- Western-Style Superheroes 55.9%
- Male Idols 43.8%
- Isekai 30.4%
Women's Most Disliked
- Little Sister 83.7%
- Monster Girls 27.2%
- Male Idols 24.5%
- Isekai 22.5%
- Western-style superheroes 9.4%
Women were most ambivalent toward isekai (44.3%), male idols (43.8%), and monster girls (45.8%).
Men's Most Liked
- Post-Apocalyptic Setting 67.9%
- Nostalgia-Based 57.8%
- Western-Style Superheroes 54.9%
- Monster Girls 45.8%
- Isekai 40.0%
Men's Most Disliked
- Little Sister 52.1%
- Male Idols 51.0%
- Isekai 19.5%
- Monster Girls 15.5%
- Western-Style Superheroes 10.9%
None of the categories featured a majority of "ambivalent" answers from male respondents.
Those Identifying as Other/Neither/Both Most Liked
- Post-Apocalyptic Setting 69.8%
- Nostalgia-Based 66.0%
- Western-Style Superheroes 47.2%
- Monster Girls 30.2%
- Isekai 17.0%
Those Identifying as Other/Neither/Both Most Disliked
- Little Sister 73.6%
- Monster Girls 24.5%
- Western-Style Superheroes 20.8%
- Male Idols 20.8%
- Isekai 18.9%
Those identifying as other, neither, or both were mostly ambivalent toward isekai (60.4%), male idols (60.4%), and monster girls (39.6%).
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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