Anime is by all accounts a medium, and within that medium there can be many shows of different genres. Among them is a wide range of horror animes full of spooky atmospheres and terrifying images that could send shivers down even the strongest of spikes. That being said, there are times when even non-horror anime will spend a scene or even an entire episode dipping their toes in the scary end of the pool.
There are plenty of anime titles that can balance other themes with horror-centric ones, but it’s always interesting to see those that aren’t known for pushing the boundaries of how scary they can get.
10/10 Naruto & Friends Investigate a Haunted Castle (Naruto)
It’s no secret that the Naruto Franchise is home to numerous filler episodes, and while many are looked down upon by fans, there are some gems among them. As for The Mysterious Curse of the Haunted Castle episode, this might be as close as it gets Naruto came to a Halloween episode.
It centers on Naruto and Hinata investigating a disappearance that leads them to enter a spooky castle that could only be cursed. Despite the truth about the “haunted” castle at the end, this episode has all the hallmarks of being trapped in a haunted house with a being that wants the young ninjas dead.
9/10 Popuko & Pipimi turn a segment into a horror movie (Pop Team Epic)
Pop Team Epic is a sketch comedy best known for its surreal sense of humor that has poked fun at other genres throughout its run, which of course includes horror. In its eleventh episode, “Cursed Mansion”, the anime takes a sharp left turn into horror as the title segment features a group of students staying in a mansion cursed with the spooky Popuko and Pipmi.
Ironically, the ghostly duo doesn’t do much to the victims themselves, eventually being overwhelmed by their paranoia. They all end up killing each other, while the ghostly Popuko and Pipimi are unsurprisingly uninterested in these events.
8/10 Atsushi & Junichirō are trapped in Anne’s domain (Bungo Stray Dogs)
The world of Bungo Stray Dogs is a dangerous place filled with characters with their own signature abilities, but some are more terrifying than others. In the final episode of season one, Atsushi and Junichirō investigate a series of mysterious missing person cases, only to end up trapped in another dimension ruled by Lucy and her ability, a creepy doll-like creature named “Anne”.
Lucy challenges her to a game of hide-and-seek between them and Anne, the reward of which is freeing everyone she is holding captive, a game that is harder to win than it sounds. While Lucy would become an ally in future episodes, her first appearance made her a deterrent force to be reckoned with.
7/10 The Thriller Bark Plot Condenses (One Piece)
To be honest, pretty much everyone one piece “Thriller Bark Arc” was a chilling change from the usually colorful high-seas adventure that the series is known for. This arc of the Straw Hats’ journey full of ghosts, ghouls and zombies makes it difficult, if not impossible, to pin down an episode among them for its creepiness.
In the episode “Nami in Big Trouble! The Zombie Mansion and the Invisible Man lets Nami, Usopp and Chopper in Dr. This episode begins with a false sense of security before revealing that there’s more to Thriller Bark than meets the eye.
6/10 The digital world turns into spooky territory with The Dark Ocean (Digimon Adventure 02)
That Digimon franchise has ventured into darker and scarier territory here and there; Even the more optimistic early seasons have taken a foray into the spooky side of things. One episode in particular adventure 02 “His Master’s Voice” is one of them, in which Kari gets strange visions of another world and torments her until she disappears into the dark ocean.
To make things worse for Kari, she is attacked by an enemy Airdramon and threatened by a rather creepy Scubamon who is trying to make her their queen and warn her about their dark master, Dragomon. It’s an episode with a dark and sinister tone that sets it apart from the rest of the season.
The persecution of people trying to play god is seen more than a few times fullmetal alchemist, Many of these have some disturbing implications and results. Despite the Elrics’ attempts to bring their mother back, one particular episode from the original series stands out: “Night of the Chimera”.
Ed becomes suspicious of their host Shou Tucker and decides to investigate and eventually discovers that he created a new talking chimera and the horrifying truth that Tucker sacrificed both his wife for the first and his young daughter Nina for the second. This episode transforms Tucker from a kind father into a mad scientist Frankenstein.
4/10 Griffith Reaches the Point of No Return (Berserker)
Despite its frightening images, berserk is not technically considered a horror anime. That being said, this iconic dark fantasy is no stranger to mature themes and a terrifying atmosphere, and no episode of this anime is more recognizable for that than the final episode of the original series.
Broken both physically and mentally, Griffith brands the Band of the Hawk as victims to the demonic apostles, who transform him into the demon Femto. Most of the episode watches as characters are gory devoured and ripped to pieces by monstrous demons. Guts barely makes it out alive himself, and the anime ends with him swearing revenge on his former boyfriend.
3/10 Malamar is practically a horror movie monster (Pokémon)
Also the mostly kid friendly Pokemon Anime managed to produce some episodes that shed light on its dark side. There have been episodes about ghosts, psychic gym leaders, and cursed objects, but one of the scariest comes from a creepy Pokemon itself.
In which XY Episode “A Conspiracy to Conquer!” A mysterious figure known as Madame X targets Ash’s Pikachu using her mind-controlling Malamar. No one is safe from Malamar as it robs Team Rocket, Ash’s friends and even Pikachu of their free will and turns them into mindless zombies. The tone of this episode is disturbing, making it feel less like a Pokemon and more like a monster movie.
2/10 Crazy Pierrot’s Evil Smile (Cowboy Bebop)
Cowboy Bebop has many episodic stories of Spike and the Bebop Crew and their many jobs as bounty hunters, and some go to darker places than others. The most haunting of these would probably be “Pierrot Le Fou,” an episode in which Spike meets a sinister killer named Mad Pierrot, whom he narrowly survives.
Spike’s pursuit of Pierrot eventually leads him to an abandoned amusement park where he is hunted down and almost killed in a game of cat and mouse. While Pierrot isn’t actually a ghost or ghoul, but rather a genetic experiment that gave a man superhuman abilities, his creepy face, mental regression, and murderous lust make him as terrifying as a slasher villain.
1/10 Yoshikage Kira’s Introduction Is Beyond Chilling (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Considering that this anime started out with vampires and ghouls before getting into standing battles, JoJo’s bizarre adventure is no stranger to spooky horror elements. However, the scariest and most disturbing episode in the long line of this anime does not have a monstrous creature of the night, but a monstrous human, Diamond is owned by Unbreakable Main antagonist, Yoshikage Kira.
In Part One of Yoshikage Kira Just Wants to Live Quiet, viewers are introduced to serial killer Kira and given an in-depth look at his psyche, including his distorted view of reality that includes severed hands. The way Kira goes about his everyday life and his horrible deeds in a light-hearted manner makes this episode all the more awkward.
NEXT: 10 Horror Anime That Won’t Be Scary In One Repeat