The Scariest Anime Series of All Time


anime. It can be beautiful, sweet, touching, and tender. It can also be a hideous carnival of violence and gore. For the purposes of this little article, we’re going to explore the latter. So, grab your behelit and make a pact with the dark gods, because we’re about to do a deep dive into the scariest anime of all time.

Berserk

(GEMBA)

The terror factor of this anime is legendary. The setting is a cruel pastiche of medieval Europe, complete with fanatical tyrants and bloodthirsty mercenaries, and that’s before the demons show up. The design of the infernal antagonists of the series, the apostles, is enough to bring a shiver down even the stiffest of spines.

I mean LOOK at this thing

These things are made for killing, and kill, they do. The infamous Golden Age arc culminates in one of the most horrific orgies of violence that I have ever seen in any medium, animated or not. But to say that the blood and guts and demons-eating-people is the scariest part of this series, I believe, actually does a disservice to the deeper and more disturbing themes.

Berserk is an anime about violence, as most anime is. but Berserk is unique in the sense that it paints a picture of a broad spectrum of violence, including the most upsetting of all: sexual violence.

Trigger warning for the next paragraph

All three of the main characters in Berserk have been sexually assaulted. And all as children. So, there’s terrible trauma from their pasts affecting each of them. The characters’ capacity for violence and mistrust is so deeply ingrained due to the horrific violence that they endured at a vulnerable stage in their development. Berserk is not popcorn horror, but a careful examination of evil and the vilest aspects of the human psyche. This show will haunt you, and that’s the point.

Elf Song

arms

Elf Song is, at times, legitimately hard to watch. The story centers upon a young girl, named Lucy, with a rare genetic mutation that has caused her to evolve into a diclonius, a human-like species with horns and invisible telekinetic arms called “vectors.” Most of the diclonii in Japan are incarcerated in a facility meant to house and study them. Lucy is a victim of this. However, she soon breaks free from captivity— after massacring a portion of the staff at the facility. While on the run, she is rescued by a young boy who has no idea who or what she truly is.

Due to her treatment, Lucy has an innate desire to kill human beings, and she does this in a myriad of horrifying ways. Her victims are dissected, dismembered, and beheaded. She is also a target of violence from the government and military forces bent on ruthlessly tracking her down. It’s hard not to feel conflicted when watching Lucy. Sometimes she is a cold-blooded and vicious killer, and other times she is an innocent child who desires nothing more than safety and belonging. The series also features an infamous description of animal cruelty, as Lucy’s pet dog was beaten to death by a group of young boys when she was a young child. like berserk, this is a series about the depths of human evil and the capacity for living things to do harm when they have no other options.

shiki

daume

Set in a small town in the Japanese countryside, everything is peaceful for the town’s inhabitants until a series of strange deaths begin to occur. These deaths coincide with the mysterious Kirishiki family, who moved into a previously abandoned castle on the outskirts of town. After an investigation from a doctor, at the town’s one and only hospital, the deaths are attributed to creatures called “shiki”—vampire-like beings whose name translates to “corpse demon”. Yikes.

While less thematically disturbing than the previous two entires, shiki delivers on scares. The most infamous of which is a scene where a young woman-turned-shiki’s head is run over by the wheel of a tractor. The worst part? She’s still alive after it happens.

Devilman crybaby

Netflix

This 10-episode remake of the famous anime Devilman is as ghoulish as it gets. In this story, supernatural demons run rampant across the world, possessing and devouring humans as they see fit. The main character, Akira Fudo, is a unique human/demon hybrid called a “devilman,” and is tasked with saving the world from the infernal threat. It doesn’t go as planned. This anime pulls out all the horror stops from the word “go.” In the first episode, demons possess the bodies of a group of teenagers partying at a nightclub, and the result is a truly nauseating display of body horror and sexual violence. Things only get worse as demons begin to possess more and more of the populace of Japan—until the series finally culminates in tragedy in the truest, most Shakespearian sense of the word. The ending of the series is a masterstroke of cosmic horror that, like the title suggests, may leave you in tears.

Junji Ito Collection

Studio Deen

Come on, did you really think I would leave out Junji Ito, the Stephen King of anime? The work this man has produced has singlehandedly shifted the paradigm of anime horror forever. It terrifies viewers in a way that other creators can only dream of doing. His work is the scariest there is. the Junji Ito Collection is an animated adaptation of some of the author’s most blood-curdling manga stories. It’s everything. Body horror. Murder. cannibalism. cosmic horror. courses. But the most unique thing about Junji Ito is his ability to find horror in the most unexpected of things: slugs, grease, even a jar of honey. When it comes to horror, Junji Ito is truly second to none. don’t believe me? Watch an episode of this anthology with the lights out and you’ll see what I mean.

(featured image: GEMBA)

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