It’s the time of year when everyone has ghosts and other assorted creatures on the brain. It is also the time of year when people begin to crave horror media. TV shows, movies, books, video games, everyone wants that perfect scare. When it comes to anime, there aren’t many series that I’d consider to be horror shows. Most of them have some other genre mixed in that prevents them from being full on horror. That hasn’t stopped me from finding a few shows that I consider to be perfect for stormy nights.
As I mentioned before, there aren’t many shows that I would classify as strictly horror, but Shiki is one of those few. It’s not an action show, it’s not a slice of life show, it’s nothing except psychological horror. Its appeal lies in a haunting musical score, gorgeous art style that hides no gruesome details, and the perfect setting for superstition and terror.
The show takes place in Sotobamura Village which resides basically in the middle of nowhere and is one of the few places that still buries the dead and marks the graves with wooden markers made from the trees surrounding the village, leading to people saying that the village is surrounded by death.
While the show never really tries to hide the fact that the things that go bump in the night are the very definition of classical vampires, it does ask its viewers one simple question: Who are the real monsters?
Shiki’s brand of horror relies on suspense and the fact that it goes out of its way to make sure you understand that no character is safe. It sends chills down peoples spines, makes them tense, but never outright scares you. Or at least, it doesn’t go out of its way to scare you since there aren’t really any jump scares. It’s all about psyching you out, about instilling terror. And that is what makes it so great. It doesn’t really on cheap tricks to be horror.
Based on the games of the same name, Tortured Souls is a 4-part OVA series that is the literal definition of horror. It doesn’t get any purer than this. A bunch of kids perform a ritual and end up in a nightmarish version of a school that once stood where their current one does. Roaming the halls of this school are spirits of all sorts, most of which will kill them given the chance.
Probably the best part about this series is that it spares no expense when portraying the various ways that characters die. Entrails are drawn with so much detail that I almost vomited. Ever wonder what the sound of someones tongue being cut off with a pair of scissors sounds like? Me neither, but now I know and I wish I didn’t.
Weren’t expecting this one, were you? Highschool of the Dead is one of those strange series that is supposed to be horror, but ends up being funnier due to the excessive amounts of fanservice. However, I’m that rare breed that, while I do enjoy some fanservice, I can look past it to see the rest of the show, and what I see here is probably the best zombie anime out of there. I’ve watched many anime over the years, and none of them have honestly come close to depicting zombies the same way HOTD does. It depicts them as they’re meant to be: Shambling corpses of friends and strangers who, in large enough numbers, are a very serious threat to your life expectancy.
But HOTD goes BEYOND the ever present threat of the zombies themselves and decides to show you just how far humanity can fall when faced with the apocalypse. Morals fly out the windows and ones baser instincts become the law of the land. Survival of the fittest, messiah complexes, repopulation, insanity, you name it, the show touches on it in some capacity. And that makes it hit a lot harder because it shows humanity at its lowest and with hope nowhere to be found.
When I first started watching Higurashi, it seemed like the perfect horror show. Within the first five episodes, I got everything I wanted. It was so psychological and intense that I wanted MORE of that. I didn’t get more of that. What I got were time loops, more moe(Which admittedly actually added to the creepiness), and more slice of life. But it was still very much horror and quite unsettling, which is why it’s an honorable mention.
Ghost Hunt isn’t a horror show, persay, it’s more of a mystery show. The catch is that it’s a paranormal mystery show, dealing with spirits and such. Some of the story arcs are just nice, while others are downright unsettling. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s on this list because it can still instill terror in you when it wants too.