Lucy from Elfen Lied

The Best Horror Anime on Crunchyroll, Ranked

Senpai, I’m scared. I get the feeling that our high school is … haunted. And I don’t mean by adorable ghost dogs or tiny capitalist specters. I mean real ghosts. The vindictive, dangerous kind seen in horror anime.

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Maybe it’s one of our bullied classmates come back from beyond the grave? Or maybe it’s some kind of ancient curse? Whatever it is, senpai, I don’t think we should be spending all of our time trying to break into the school after dark. I don’t care that participating in the after school Ghost Club will make our resumes look more attractive to universities! Because if we don’t make it out of here alive, the only higher education we’ll be receiving is on the spiritual plane. Because the ghosts will have killed us.

I have a better idea. Let’s just watch a bunch of spooky anime on Crunchyroll! That way we can “study” the safe, fictional kinds of ghosts by ranking them in order of spookiness! I’d really like to not shuffle off my mortal coil until I absolutely have to, catch my drift?

16. Ghost Hunt

Mai Taniyama from Ghost Hunt
(J.C. Staff)

A perfect place to start! Ghost Hunt is doing exactly what you wanna do in a spooky situation. Except no one has to actually die when this hunt gets started. This anime is about a young girl named Mai Taniyama, who works with a team of paranormal investigators to solve supernatural mysteries! And guess what? It’s even got a little comedy thrown in! I’m all in favor of keeping the mood light and NOT considering the existential ramifications of the beyond.

15. When They Cry

the cast of higurashi when they cry
(Studio Deen)

So remember when I said that Ghost Hunt is funny and horrifying? Well, this anime has a weird little dichotomy, too! When They Cry is simultaneously adorable and terrifying. A bunch of sweet-faced school children are preparing for a festival in a remote village in the Japanese countryside. Everything is fine until people end up dead, or vanish without a trace. And worst of all, some of the kids appear to be possessed by supernatural forces. Just like I’m possessed by the will to live!

14. Elfen Lied

Lucy from Elfen Lied
(Arms Corporation)

More adorable children in horrifying situations! Elfen Lied is about a species of humanoid called Diclonius. They look like adorable teenage girls with cute horns, but they also possess invisible psychic arms that tear people limb from limb! One Diclonius, a girl named Lucy, escapes from a government research facility after slaughtering the staff, and now she’s on the run for her life! She and I have that in common.

13. Tokyo Ghoul

Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul

Senpai, have you ever wondered what people taste like? Now you don’t have to! Tokyo Ghoul is about a young boy who is transformed into a half-ghoul after being attacked by one of the creatures. What’s a ghoul? It’s a flesh-eating humanoid with supernatural powers. And now this kid has to live as one of them while still trying to maintain his humanity.

12. Attack on Titan

Promo art for attack on titan season 4

While this anime isn’t strictly horror, it’s got wayyyyy more blood, guts, and existential despair than some of anime’s best horror titles! Attack on Titan follows the last remnants of humanity who are trying to survive against flesh-eating giants called Titans. A must-watch!

11. Hellsing Ultimate

'Hellsing Ultimate'
(Geneon Entertainment and Studio Gonzo)

Hellsing Ultimate is an action-horror anime about a vampire named Alucard and his battles against other supernatural creatures. He technically works for the good guys in a supernatural branch of the government, but he’s also willing to kill the innocent as a means to an end. Or just for fun! If watching vampires cut bloody swathes through SWAT teams is your idea of a Friday night, then this is the perfect anime for you! Also, I’m worried about you.

10. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls

Characters in 'Corpse Party: Tortured Souls'

This is the worst party ever! And WAY too close to home. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is about a group of high school kids who are trapped in a haunted school. I empathize with them, but I’d rather not walk a mile in their shoes for any longer than I have to. I would rather run a mile a minute towards the nearest exit and AVOID the gruesome fate that awaits most of these kids, but that’s just me!

9. Shiki

Megumi Shimizu from Shiki

Have you ever wanted to watch a vampire girl get her head crushed by a tractor? And still be alive? That look in your eyes says “yes” in a really concerning way. Shiki is about a small Japanese town in the countryside where citizens are transformed into vampire-like Shiki after contracting a mysterious illness. This is why I’m never leaving my house!

8. Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai

A spooky little girl sits in a microwave while a man watches in "Yamishibai"

You might think that Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai couldn’t possibly be THAT scary considering that the episodes are only four minutes long, but you are WRONG. This horror anthology series is bone chilling because the episodes are so short! They’re more mysterious! More questions are left unanswered! And I prefer my questions to have answers. What makes things worse is the animation style; Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai is reminiscent of Kamishibai, a style of Japanese street theatre where a narrator would tell a story using images on wooden boards. And the only thing scarier than horror movie monsters are THEATRE PEOPLE.

7. Mononoke

The medicine seller smirks calmly in a hotel while two confused patrons look on in "Mononoke"
(Toei Animation)

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I definitely know that I DON’T want to have the Medicine Seller’s job in Mononoke. He wanders a technicolor nightmare version of Ego-period Japan looking for yokai to slay. Yokai are monsters of Japanese folklore, and this series renders them in horrifying detail. Seriously, the colors in Mononoke look like a Teletubby threw up. But like … in a really aesthetic way.

6. Parasyte: The Maxim

Migi and Shinichi form Parasyte

I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that you’d be into some Lovecraftian body horror, right? Then you’re sure gonna love this series! Parasyte: The Maxim about a horrifying group of parasitic aliens who infect human bodies, devour their brains, and then use them as wandering meat puppets! To do what? Infect and eat more humans, of course! One human gets infected by a parasite that burrows into his right hand, but the alien is unable to take over his brain for plot reasons. The alien, which the protagonist names “Migi,” now helps the young man fight other parasites. Why? Selfish reasons. If the parasites kill Migi’s host, Migi will die as well.

5. Boogiepop Phantom

An eyeless girl prepares to strike another girl in "Boogiepop Phantom"

Boogiepop Phantom is yet another show about high schoolers getting off’d by supernatural forces beyond their control! It all begins with a mysterious bright light appearing in the city, and then teens start getting gored! The rumors say that Boogiepop, a ghost of urban legend, is behind it, but others think that Boogiepop is actually trying to protect the kids from something even WORSE.

4. Junji Ito Collection

A bunch of human heads float like balloons in "Junji Ito Collection"
(Studio Deen)

I can barely handle one horror story, and the Junji Ito Collection is a WHOLE ANTHOLOGY. Bad things happen to high schoolers in this series! They turn into snails! Freaky black holes appear in their heads! They get ripped apart by monsters while trying to make student films! MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE.

3. Another

Kouichi and his ghost friend!
(P.A. Works)

Oh great, more high school horror. Another is about a high school student named Kouichi Sakakibara who transfers to a spooky new school. His class is always eerily quiet, but there’s one student who the others consistently ignore. In fact, it’s almost as if the girl isn’t there at all. So why can Kouichi see her? And what is she trying to tell him? And why do students keep dying in horrifying ways that resemble unfortunate accidents? And why are there so many twists and turns in this plot? I want to twist and turn AWAY. PLEASE, LET’S GET OUT OF HERE.

2. Paranoia Agent

A character wields a baseball bat in the Satoshi Kon anime series 'Paranoia Agent'

Senpai I am getting REALLY paranoid right now. And it’s not because of the joint you rolled for us (that was oregano, btw). I heard the other kids talking about this show called Paranoia Agent that features the scariest monster of all: children. And not just any child, but a ghost child on roller skates that appears when you’re alone to beat you to death with a baseball bat. People across the city tell of “Shonen Bat,” the Bat Boy, but no one knows how to stop him!

1. Perfect Blue

Mima screaming under water in Perfect Blue

Senpai my complexion is turning a shade of perfect blue because I literally can’t BREATHE, I am so scared. Perfect Blue is a film by acclaimed anime director Satoshi Kon, and is about a young Japanese pop star who is attempting to become an actor. The problem is, she has a creepy stalker following her around, and this stalker is growing more and more murdery by the minute!

(featured image: Arms Corporation)

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Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.