The intersection of horror and anime is growing, making ‘anime horror’ a legitimate subgenre of horror. And while most cinematic horror fans do not consider anime to be under the umbrella of the horror genre, the large numbers of good anime horror shows and their enormous audiences is making it difficult to dispute the emerging subgenre. So, Florida Comic Cons is here to explain more on the topic in this blog we call Anime Horror 101.
I’ll first define anime horror. And follow by looking into three examples of what I consider anime horror shows. For each show, I’ll look at its popularity, including Rotten Tomatoes scores, as well as tell you why it’s legit horror and trace the show back to its roots to the manga that inspired it.
And in a follow-up Anime Horror 101 blog, I’ll have three more recommended anime horror shows as well as further explore the subgenre. In essence, if you want to learn more about anime horror, or just celebrate the emerging subgenre, Florida Comic Cons has you covered.
What is anime horror?
Generally speaking, anime horror is an anime show with significant amounts of any of the following: Blood, gore, murder, supernatural activity, body horror, and other such disturbing content that arouses fear (that’s my definition, btw, as there are likely others that are more refined).
The notion of combining anime and horror seems odd at first, particularly considering the many anime characters who are so darn cute and adorable. But further exploration into anime reveals a seemingly endless number of horrific characters who are as scary as Freddy, Jason, and Michael (or any supernatural apparition, for that matter). I find anime horror is much like the Reese’s Cup. You initially wouldn’t combine the two separate ingredients of chocolate and peanut butter, but after doing so the two unlikely partners form a masterpiece of flavor.
3 good anime horror shows to try
If you’re new to anime horror, I recommend three shows to get you started: (1) Chainsaw Man, (2) Tokyo Ghoul, and (3) Attack on Titan.
# 1: Chainsaw Man
Chainsaw Man is an anime horror show that began last year and already is one of the most popular in all of anime. For instance, season one was very well received on Rotten Tomatoes, which gave the anime show high marks like a 97% Tomatometer (critics), and an 87% audience score.
WHERE TO WATCH
You can watch Chainsaw Man on crunchyroll and Hulu. And if you like Chainsaw Man and want to explore more anime horror, check out the blog ‘The 20 best anime to watch if you like Chainsaw Man.‘ Below is an official trailer with English dub.
WHY IT’S HORROR
The show is often described using terms like “gory,” “bloody,” “terrifying,” and “disturbing imagery,” which easily moves the anime into any definition of horror.
CHAINSAW MAN (MANGA)
The 2022 anime horror show Chainsaw Man is based on the popular manga of the same name that ran from 2018-2020. Chainsaw Man (Manga) continued in popularity in 2021as the seventh best-selling manga with more than 5 million copies sold that year. Also in 2021, the manga won the 66th Shogakukan Manga Award in the shōnen category, and won the Harvey Awards in the Best Manga category. And as of January 2023, the manga had more than 23 million copies in circulation, making it one of the best-selling of all time.
The manga series follows 16-year-old Denji who lives in a world that is cohabited by devils who can take the tangible form of fears and phobias. I think this is an exceptional horror plot that triggers fans to conjure what physical forms their fears and phobias might become. Denji is a devil hunter, who later is killed fighting a horde of demons. But Denji doesn’t perish, rather his soul fuses with the powerful Chainsaw Devil, giving him the power to transform into Chainsaw Man at will. If you want to learn more about the manga, I suggest the blog ‘Love and chainsaws: Why you should read the Chainsaw Man manga (if you haven’t already).
UPCOMING HORROR CON TO FEATURE ANIME HORROR AND SPOTLIGHT CHAINSAW MAN
Sunshine City Scare is a horror convention that features anime horror and video game horror as well as horror in movies and a very special guest. The new breed of horror con is on May 13-14 at the historic Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg. And Denji from Chainsaw Man will be there! Well, the anime voice actor Ryan Colt Levy who voices the enormously popular character. Also appearing is voice actor Lindsay Seidel, who portrays the popular character Pochita, a chainsaw devil (because he represents the fear of chainsaws). Pochita’s top endeavor in life is to see that Denji’s dreams come true.
# 2: Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul (東京喰種トーキョーグール) is one of the most popular modern horror and thriller anime series, according to Japan Web Magazine. The 2017 show, which started streaming the following year, garnered an impressive 82% Tomatometer (critics) on Rotten Tomatoes.
WHERE TO WATCH
You can watch Tokyo Ghoul on Hulu, Funimation, and crunchyroll. Below is the season one trailer.
WHY IT’S HORROR
Tokyo Ghoul has blood, gore, torture, and mild body horror, not to mention the serial killers and mass murderers — all of which places it into the horror category. In addition, some consider the manga to be more extreme horror than the anime show. And if you’re interested in other differences between the anime and manga, CBR provides a blog post titled “15 differences between Tokyo Ghoul anime and manga.”
TOKYO GHOUL (MANGA)
The three seasons of anime — Tokyo Ghoul, Tokyo Ghoul √A and Tokyo Ghoul:re. — are based on the manga series of Tokyo Ghoul that was published between 2011 and 2018. If you want to learn more about the manga, I recommend this blog by CBR titled “Tokyo Ghoul: 10 reasons it’s a must-read manga series.”
The plot involves a college student named Ken Kaneki who is attacked by a ghoul who feeds on human flesh. He later receives an organ transplant from the ghoul, becoming part monster. Organ transplantation — the theme of transplanted body parts that are evil or give supernatural powers to the recipient — is a common theme in horror movies, with several coming to mind: Body Parts, Hands of a Stranger, and The Eye.
HORROR CON SUNSHINE CITY SCARE TO FEATURE TOKYO GHOUL AND TOKYO GHOUL:RE VOICE ACTORS
Sunshine City Scare features voice actors of four characters from the franchise. For instance, anime voice actor Austin Tindle portrays the main character Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul as well as Sasaki Haise from Tokyo Ghoul:re. In addition, anime voice actor Adam Gibbs voices Kuki Urie from Tokyo Ghoul;re. And Lindsay Seidel voices the character Eto. You can follow Sunshine City Scare on Instagram and Facebook.
# 3: Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is an extraordinarily popular anime show, which in early 2021 earned the title of the ‘most in demand’ show in the U.S. And Rotten Tomatoes adored it with a 95% average Tomatometer, and a 95% average audience score.
WHERE TO WATCH
Attack on Titan can be seen on Netflix, Hulu, and crunchyroll. Below is the season one trailer.
WHY IT’S HORROR
Attack on Titan features pseudo-zombie enemies called Titans. And they had me at “pseudo-zombie” — I accept it as horror. In addition, Attack on Titan is not for kids, with some websites discouraging viewing by children, tweens, or some younger teenagers due to its brutal violence, not to mention the eating of people! If you want to learn more about why Attack on Titan is horror, check out CBR’s blog titled “Attack on Titan: The 15 creepiest titans in the show so far.”
ATTACK ON TITAN (MANGA)
As of September 2022, the manga has more than 110 million tankōbon copies in print worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series of all time. And the manga has won numerous awards, including the Kodansha Manga Award, the Attilio Micheluzzi Award, and the Harvey Award.
Attack on Titan is set in a world where to survive humanity must live in cities surrounded by three enormous walls that protect them from enormous man-eating humanoids referred to as “Titans.” The protagonist, Eren Yeager, vows to exterminate the Titans, who destroyed his hometown and murdered his mother.
SUNSHINE CITY SCARE TO FEATURE ATTACK ON TITAN VOICE ACTORS
Sunshine City Scare features anime voice actors who portray two Attack on Titan characters: Voice actor Lindsay Seidel voices the character Gabi Braun, and voice actor Austin Tindle voices Marco Bodt.
Be part of Anime Horror at Sunshine City Scare
Sunshine City Scare is a new breed of horror convention that features anime horror and video game horror as well as horror in movies and a very special guest. The event includes anime voice actors and live-action actors who have voiced, portrayed, drawn, or created wonderful horror characters in the various horror subgenres.
In addition, the horror con offers various contests, which includes two cosplay contests (one each day), a lip sync competition, a Tiktok Film Festival, and a fan art contest. Applications for contests are available.
And event tickets are $25 for single day, and $40 for weekend pass (prices increase $5 at door).
Need help finding cons in Florida?
Florida Comic Cons has the Con Calendar, a curated calendar of comic, anime, horror, and other pop-culture conventions to keep you, the fandom, informed and apprised (you’re welcome). Quit wasting time with internet searches that take too long and still leave you asking questions. The Con Calendar’s event listings include all the con info like ticket prices and links, vendor registration, and lots more!