Halloween is upon us, and it’s time for horror movie marathons, bag snatching Trick or Treating, and consuming all the creepy media we can. But what if you happen to be an otaku? What’s out there for you? Well, dear readers, plenty. You’re in luck, as the Japanator staff have debated on which series are worth your time and attention for this most spooky of holidays. We agreed on ten spectacular shows you can indulge on, one right after another. Just make sure you’ve got a trusty blanket to hide under and a flashlight in case the lights go out while watching. Because you never know what’s waiting for you in the shadows…
10. RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~
We kick off the list with a nice, off-the-beaten-path suggestion that, while readily available on Netflix and other distributors, might have escaped you. It combines yuri, violence, and gore for an unlikely combination that works despite its overabundance of fanservice. We join Rin Asogi, an immortal private detective, on a journey that spans over 65 years (!) as she is violated, pierced, and otherwise tortured by a being known as Apos, who is continually sacrificing her to Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life. As you can imagine, this results in some disturbing sequences, which make RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ an interesting watch, through and through.
9. Hell Girl
How far would you go to take revenge on someone who has wronged you? Would you surrender your soul to Hell to burn for all eternity, as long as you got to live out the rest of your life? Hell Girl, or Jigoku Shoujo, explores these questions with surprising delicacy, highlighting a different situation with each episode. Whether it’s animal neglect, extreme bullying, extortion, or avenging someone’s death, there’s a new story to be unraveled across three different series. When you’ve been wronged, you’re granted access to Hell Girl’s website, where you’ll input your request for revenge. Enma Ai, the girl herself, delivers a straw doll with a ribbon around its neck with the implication that you’ll pull the string when you’re ready for her to deliver retribution, sealing the contract that robs you of your soul. It’s heartbreaking, but oh-so-satisfying as it speaks to those primal urges for revenge.
8. Pet Shop of Horrors
Pet Shop of Horrors isn’t often given the recognition it deserves, though it’s a prestigious choice that is worth your time and attention, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more eccentric, like Count D himself. An anthology of one-shot tales stretched across a manga series and four-episode anime adaptation, the tale of Count D’s pet shop are bizarre and unnerving. You may select any pet you choose (all of which have strangely humanoid appearances), but each comes with a contract. Should you break the contract, you’ll find that the consequences are more than what you bargained for. Count D’s “shop” might be on the level, but his terms and conditions aren’t, and that’s what makes the property so compelling.
7. Hellsing Ultimate
The original 13-episode Hellsing anime adaptation was sufficient, but it didn’t follow the manga in all the right ways fans wished it had. That’s where Hellsing Ultimate comes in. It scratches all the itches brought on by Hellsing’s haphazard conversion to anime format, beefing up the violence, gore, and awesome levels considerably. Not only will you see Alucard in action like you’ve never seen him before, but you’ll see a whole new side to the rest of the, er, colorful cast of characters. Especially everyone’s favorite police girl, as the master/trainee dynamic is turned up to 11 here. It’s adorable, and yet, terrifying.
6. Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom may sound like some sort of crazy dance from the fifties, but it’s a smartly-written, expertly-produced series that’s content to stay tucked away in the cellars of many a fan’s mind. There’s talk of an urban legend around the city, and its name is Boogiepop, or what many believe to be the personification of death. The female apparition is said to “take” victims when they see her, which happen to be, handily enough, creeps who are abusing young teenage girls. That makes it all the more satisfying when a string of murders begins. It’s a satisfying mix of Lynchian filmmaking crossed with the best of Lain and Paranoia Agent, and if you haven’t seen it yet, now’s the best time to jump on board.
5. Perfect Blue
The trope of an idol gone mad isn’t necessarily new, but Perfect Blue perfected and elevated it to god-tier status. When Mimi Kirigoe decides she wants to leave the popular all-girl idol group CHAM! she’s met with a stalker known only as Me-Mania who isn’t down with that at all. Satoshi Kon weaves a powerful thriller that explores the mind of a famous pop idol whose reality is being shredded to ribbons with each day that passes, and as she settles into her new career, leaving the past behind, she comes closer and closer to death — or murdering her antagonizer. What’s real and what’s fake? You make the call as you enjoy this near-perfect anime thriller that we wholeheartedly recommend.
4. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is one of the most grisly series on our list, and it’ll leave you a shattered, crying mess on the floor. Take our word for it. The Diclonius (Lucy/Nyu) of our story is a human being with specific mutations, said to be chosen by God to become the destroyer of mankind. Thankfully (?) the government has isolated and hidden these creatures away from the public to keep them safe. That’s when Lucy, quite possibly the most powerful of them all, escapes and kills all within her path. When she ends up with amnesia after falling off a cliff, she lives out her days with a local couple who take her in as her new personality, “Nyu,” kicks in. It may sound quaint, or even cute, but you’ll be thinking twice when you’re forced to watch bullies slaughter young Lucy’s pet, or taking in the violence that occurs in nearly every episode. Lily of purity? Don’t bet on it.
Another is probably one of the closest things you can find in the anime realm that resembles theFinal Destination movies in tone and grisly deaths. It’s also an excellent choice for anyone looking for a murder mystery with a slow burn. You won’t get to the heart of it unless you can get past the first three episodes that focus on character development, but once you do you’re rewarded with a labyrinthine tale that delights in serving up gory deaths, mysterious occurrences, and creepy girls with eyepatches. You can never have too many of those.
Shiki may seem slow-moving and meandering at times, but underneath the veneer of hyper-colorful, shiny animation and cheery voiceovers, there’s something decidedly sinister at play. The vampiric Shiki who are obviously preying on the people of Sotoba are psychotic in their own special ways, and it appears early on in the series the vampires themselves aren’t even the creepiest aspects of this unique series. High-octane nightmare fuel awaits you in the form of vamps hanging around bedrooms at night, some horrific facial expressions, and moe. It truly channels acid-laced visions of Giallo fantasy and should not be missed.
1. Umineko no Naku Koro ni
The third series of the When They Cry franchise is the scariest, following its cast to the island of Rokkenjima, where the wealthy Ushiromiya family resides. The family gathers there each year for meetings about financial situations and inheritances, but this particular year is different. The head of the family is desperate, as he reaches the end of his lifetime, to meet the Golden Witch, Beatrice. A harrowing tale of black magic, bizarre ceremonies, and murders unravels, with all eighteen inhabitants on the island forced to fight against arcane magic (and each other) if they want to escape. And oh, the sights they’ll see. We won’t ruin this one for you. We’ll just let you check it out for yourselves. You know, as one final Halloween treat.