Spooky season is upon us and has a tight stranglehold on our necks! This is also normally the time of year when online writers trot out our lists of scary anime, and I’m no exception. This year, however, I wanted to do something a bit different and mention some forgotten gems of the genre that you might have to actively seek out if you want to watch them. Some are harder to find streaming or even just plain out of circulation.
With that said, here are five horror anime that you (probably) haven’t watched yet:
Le Portrait de Petit Cossette
An early work of director Akiyuki Simbo (who would later find fame and fortune with Monogatari, Madoka Magica, and a host of other popular titles), this horror story is nothing like it seems on the surface. In this short OVA, a man falls in love with a girl trapped inside a painting and is driven mad as he slowly learns the truth of her tragic life.
The artwork and music in this short series are simply outstanding and it is a title that will stick with you for many nights afterward and every single time you see a sad-looking portrait.
Hell Girl is the perfect example of a series that didn’t know when to stop. The first season, though, should be required viewing for anyone who wants to get into the horror genre.
In Hell Girl, the mostly episodic story features a website that can only be accessed at midnight by someone holding a strong grudge against another person. Upon entering the name of those that the person wants to see cursed, they are visited by a mysterious girl named Ai Enma who makes people an offer; they can curse their rival to hell immediately but at the end of their life, they will be sent to hell themselves.
How much is revenge worth to you? Is it worth enough to curse yourself to eternal torment in the afterlife? And who is Ai Enma? What does she get out of sending these people to hell? These are all questions that are asked over the course of 26 episodes. Whether the answers they provide are worth the journey is entirely up to you.
Madoka Magica may have popularized the dark magical girl story in the 2010s, but years earlier, Uta~kata was among the first to break new ground with this dark magical girl story years before, in 2004. In this story, the main character is a fourteen-year-old girl named Ichika who discovers a girl inside a mirror. After releasing the girl from the mirror, Ichika is given powers as a magical girl, which at first is just fine. After a while, though, Ichika relies on her powers more and more, which erodes her physical and mental health.
This dark and mostly forgotten story chilled me to the bone the first time I watched it and, to this day, I find it an amazing look at the human psyche. If you were granted magical powers, would you be able to resist using them for your own personal enjoyment and needs? What if you became addicted to the power? Would you be able to stop even after you realized what it was doing to you? This is a powerful story that will resonate with many people on many levels.
Airing back in 2008, this is a story that makes you wonder what your final thought will be upon your death. In Shigofumi, the main character is a girl named Fumika who delivers after-death letters. These are letters written by people after they die that are delivered to a person in the living world. The letters contain anything that the dying person couldn’t say to the person before they died. As you can imagine, not every single one of these letters is happy.
While this series tends to walk a very fine line between horror and drama, I am including it because of one particular scene which still haunts my memory. I can’t say what the scene is because of spoilers, but I can tell you it is one of the most chilling moments of anime within this century.
Magical Girl Raising Project
This series is one that will subvert your expectations at every single turn. In this battle royale horror series, the main story involves a mobile game that has a 1 in 10,000 chance of turning a player into a real-life magical girl. One night, though, the game’s administrator determines that there are too many magical girls in one area and so they must cut the number in half. It doesn’t take long to realize, though, that the administrators want these numbers cut by any means necessary, which pits the girls against each other in bitter, cut-throat fights to the death.
Magical Girl Raising Project will keep you guessing until the very final moments. Every single time you think that you have a handle on this series, it will do something so completely out of left field that your jaw will be bruised from hitting the floor. This is a series that plumbs to depths that even Madoka Magica didn’t dare explore.
And there you have it. Five horror series for you to seek out and enjoy during the tail end of this holiday season! Do you have any recommendations? Drop them in the comments.