I feel like horror in any medium is one of these genre’s that you either love or your have no interest in. Some people like to be scared, other people, not so much. Although, to call any anime in the horror genre “scary” is usually kind of a stretch. However, if you want to get into the horror genre of anime to raise the little hairs on the back of your neck or feel a burst of adrenaline while being perfectly safe on your couch, there are some good entry series. I feel like for those trying to get into horror, it is better to choose series with an actually good and cohesive story (sorry Higurashi and your occasionally confusing visual novel narrative) rather than just mindless gore like Corpse Party. So while these aren’t necessarily the scariest shows, I feel they are a pretty good place to start.
There are times when watching School Live that you forget you are watching a horror anime. It is that moe art style and the way it disarms you that can make its horror moments pretty effective. Furthermore, this is one of your better options for zombie survival anime unless you want to watch the boobie-boobie-filled now to remain unfinished High School of the Dead.
The horror genre isn’t a stranger to ghost stories, but many of them fit the same formula as your standard B-horror movie. Mononoke, on the other hand, takes a more innovative approach to the supernatural, if only because it follows Japanese folklore that most people aren’t familiar with.
Berserk, for most of the series, is very much a standard action show. In fact, the horror doesn’t actually start until the end of the first season (or the third movie if you are watching it that way). However, those events are enough to make up for the lack of horror throughout. It is one of those endings that is notorious in the anime community. Of course, you are treated to a pretty interesting tale before that as well.
From the New World
From the New World is a series that presents ten tons of mysteries at the beginning, and you really keep watching to see if it can explain them all. However, the horror in the series is relatively low-key. It is not over the top violent or supernatural ghosts, but rather more mysterious horror like what happens to the under performing children that kept disappearing or what happened to those friends they left behind. The answers may horrify you.
If you don’t feel like committing to a long story, this show’s got you covered. Each episode is about five minutes and each episode is a different short horror story. Some of them fall flat, but overall, these short horror stories that often focus on Japanese folklore horror is a pretty interesting experience.
This series is generally more action oriented with an overall premise that is horrifying. It is your standard alien body snatcher sort of affair, but the body snatcher pretty much turns the body into a human weapon without empathy. If you like action and want to dabble into horror, this is a prefect mix.
This series starts off rather slow with the horror, but the neat thing about Shiki is that is kind of builds and builds to a crescendo that is basically vicious mob violence washing over a town. Furthermore, it is an anime series about vampires that isn’t obnoxious with traditional vampire lore.
Similar to other shows on this list, Hell Girl tells self-encapsulated tales every episode ranging from sad to kind of horrible in nature. However, among these short stories, the series also expands upon the past and persent of the mouthpiece – Ai Enma. It is rather chill, and that same chill lends to the overall creepiness of the show.
Monster is a masterpiece of psychological horror. While it has its violent moments, Monster is more of a complex game of cat and mouse where you watch the protagonist challenged by perhaps one of the greatest villains in anime, ever. If you aren’t looking for supernatural or gore, this psychological series is truly the way to go.
I was, in truth, conflicted between Future Diary and Elfen Lied in this last spot. However, Future Diary, while featuring some interesting characters, is in reality just a survival game that remains frustrating at the end without watching an OVA to explain the ending. Elfen Lied, alternatively, starts off with nude violence, but eventually takes its bloody horror story and elevates with with an interesting and sometimes surprisingly plot.