Girl with horn coming out of her eyes in 'Nocturne' on WEBTOON

The Best Horror Manga to Read Right Now

Girl with horn coming out of her eyes in 'Nocturne' on WEBTOON
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The first time I read a horror story collection by Junji Ito, I thought most of the stories were sexist. However, because Ito’s well-respected, I’ve set out to learn more about mangaka and horror to make a more informed opinion.

Cat-Eyed Boy: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1

'Cat-Eyed Boy: The Perfect Edition'

This fall, VIZ Media released Cat-Eyed Boy: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1, a deluxe hardcover edition of Kazuo Umezz’s Eisner Award-nominated collection of horror stories, with the second volume arriving on December 26, 2023. Born to a nekomata, or a cat goblin, but cast out of the demon village for looking too human, the titular Cat-Eyed Boy dwells in the shadows of the human world. With dangerous events seemingly following him wherever he goes, each chapter finds the morally ambiguous protagonist living with a different human family.

Mimi’s Tales of Terror

'Mimi's Tales of Terror'

Mimi’s Tales of Terror consists of nine scary stories about university student Mimi and her boyfriend Naoto based on the Shin Mimibukuro, a collection of “true” horror tales from people living in Japan. In one story, when Mimi moves into a new apartment located next to a cemetery, she soon learns that her next-door neighbor likes to perform the gravestones, and in another, Mimi moves to a new apartment next to an enigmatic woman in black… or is it just one woman?

Witches: The Complete Collection

An image of a witch holding two goat heads from 'Witches: The Complete Collection'
(Seven Seas Entertainment)

Witches: The Complete Collection by Daisuke Igarashi (Children of the Sea) explores different traditions of witches. Like many of Igarashi’s works, Witches features naturalistic drawings, untouched natural environments, and spiritualism. Witches was Igarashi’s third major serialization, originally published in 2004 as 魔女 (Majo). Upon its release in Japan, Witches won the Award for Excellence for Japan Media Arts Festival Award and was one of the selections (read: very prestigious nominations) for the Best Comic award at Angouleme in 2007.

Wonder House of Horrors

'Wonder House of Horrors' cover image (cropped)
(Starfruit Books)

A 10-story horror anthology by Miyako Cojima, Wonder House of Horrors is the creator’s first work translated into English. Fittingly, the horror collection inspired by America’s old EC Comics (which is obvious from the cover alone) is described as “sometimes kooky, sometimes gory, and sometimes positively profound.” For example, in chapter four, “Severance,” Cojima uses manga’s multimodal format to tell a horror story based on the wordplay of the Japanese word “kubi,” meaning neck, which is used to describe someone who has been fired.


Tomie Junji Ito

Junji Ito, a former dental technician, is considered one of the greatest contemporary artists in manga and one of Japan’s greatest horror manga-kas. If you are new to horror manga and have not read Ito’s work yet, start with his first published work, Tomie, about the titular femme fatale Tomie Kawakami, who keeps coming back to life after her classmates brutally murder her.

Be Very Afraid of Kanako Inuki!

Young girl devouring a man in 'Be Very Afraid of Kanako Inuki!'
(Kodansha Comics)

Although Be Very Afraid of Kanako Inuki! was released in October 2022, it wasn’t until this year that I saw the collection featured prominently on bookstore shelves. Described as having a cartoony style by some well-meaning critics, that description carries a negative connotation in the U.S. market, which is dominated by a misapprehension that somehow cute artwork is less than. So instead, I would describe her cartooning style as the intricacy of manga meets Ernie Bushmiller.

Betwixt: A Horror Manga Anthology

Ryo Hanada Illustration - 'Betwixt'

Betwixt: A Horror Manga Anthology consists of six short stories revealing the universal fear of the space between the known and unknown. In one of my favorite short stories, “The Window” the creator explores ideas that haunt women even after their deaths: femicide, feudalism, and lookism, which turn the suffering of women into ghost stories. Then, in another story, “Shadow,” cat owner and concept artist Huahua Zhu weaves a tale about an abandoned black cat and the girl who finds it, a story I loved because it reminds me of my adorable black hellion with watery eyes.


Girl with horn coming out of her eyes in 'Nocturne' on WEBTOON

Created by Nathan Koia, Nocturne is a thriller/horror anthology webcomic about our fear of things that go bump in the night. Each story is told in black-and-white but varies in length, with some entries being only a single WEBTOON chapter long, whereas others consist of up to six WEBTOON chapters. Nocturne is updated every Friday.

Orochi: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1

'Orochi: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1' panels

Orochi is a recurring character in a series of horror manga by Umezz, with Orochi: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 collecting two of the tales that feature her. One of Orochi’s gifts is that she can make herself look like someone who is supposed to be there, which she uses in the collection’s first story “Sisters,” in which Orochi affects the lives of two wealthy siblings affected by a curse (or maybe a rare genetic disorder) where there appearance changes on their eighteenth birthday. In “Bones,” the second story, Orochi helps a man come back to life after a terrible accident.

Dementia 21

'Dementia 21'

In the manga’s commentary on how society mistreats the elderly, Dementia 21 by ero guro nansensu manga artist Shintaro Kago reminds me of one of George A. Romero’s lesser-known films, 1973’s The Amusement Park, commissioned by Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania as an educational film about elder abuse. Each story follows home help aide Yukie Sakai as she is sent to assist all of the home healthcare support center’s most difficult clients. One woman is set on avenging her dead husband, who was tortured to death by a home help aide, whereas another woman’s memory loss literally causes things to disappear.

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Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he) is a comics critic and entertainment writer, who's dipping her toes into new types of reporting at The Mary Sue and is stoked. In 2023, he was part of the PanelxPanel comics criticism team honored with an Eisner Award. You can find some more of his writing at Prism Comics,, Comics Beat, Geek Girl Authority, and in Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority, which she co-authored with her wife, Avery Kaplan. Rebecca and her wife live in the California mountains with a herd of cats.