I am not a fan of horror anime. I used to love scary movies, but that time has since come and gone. Nowadays, I stay away from things that give me frights, and am even more wary of series that feature gore/graphic violence (sorry, Inuyashiki, I barely knew ye), frightening or otherwise. But I can handle series that are a bit spooky, that put me on edge, that are more psychologically chilling – in fact, I sometimes really enjoy them. Here are seven anime that manage to be creepy without going full-on horror. Oh, and they’re also all really, really good series to boot!
Happy only-kinda-scary Halloween!
I just said that these were all really good series, but the first one on the list is actually kinda questionable (whoops). Actually, minus the last two anime-original episodes, which are an unforgivable trainwreck, Claymore is an awesome series based on an amazing manga. It’s not for everyone – the violence is graphic (it feels like this is a feminine version of Berserk) and there’s lot of nudity, but the story is captivating and the character designs are absolutely stunning. If you’re looking for something beautifully grotesque, look no further.
Claymore is available for streaming on Hulu.
Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners)
I’m reworking my way through the Kara no Kyoukai movies, which feature some of the best animation you’ll ever see and one of the most quizzically philosophical stories in anime. The setup itself is enough to give you the heebie jeebies – a soul, trapped in a “doll” (artificial forms that look and move like humans), can see the “mortality” of all things, which frequently leads her into violent contact with the supernatural. This stunning series is an anime classic, and will leave you equal parts excited for the action and grimacing for scenes and violence and sadness.
Garden of Sinners is available for streaming on Anime Strike.
Mouryou no Hako
Mouryou no Hako is the first of two detective stories in this group, which are often rich ground for creepiness. An excellent, excellent series based on a novel, the show features a crime writer, journalist, and spiritist who are investigating a a serial killer while kidnappings and supernatural events also seem to be occurring. It’s as close as anime gets to an HBO-style show, which has you thinking about what’s to happen next and also unsettled by the events of each episode.
The Perfect Insider
And here’s number two. A personal favorite, Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider features one of my favorite duos, Saikawa, a brilliant and slighly aloof professor, and Nishinosono, the excitable and equally clever student, as they investigate a mystery surrounding the shut-in genius, Dr. Magata, whose entire existence (and later backstory) feel spooky. If not in episode one, you’ll start feeling fully disconcerted by the second, when an armless, legless bride start wheeling toward the laboratory staff in the darkness.
The Perfect Insider is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Building on the success of Evangelion, RahXephon takes much of the same structure and details – conspiracy theories, young hero, beautiful mentor figure, mecha – and goes all out in setting a very specific tone, leading to a series that purposely feels a little off-kilter, and both beautiful and cold. That coldness permeates the series, which saturates with bluish tones throughout, heavily features the theme of death and loss, and uses music as a key component, primarily with sad, ringing tones, which carry the show throughout its melancholic run.
RahXephon is available for streaming on Anime Strike.
Serial Experiments Lain
Our own staff is diving headlong into Serial Experiments Lain for a group watch night, and I’m eager to see how they’ll like it. The imagery in almost every scene of this series, about the eponymous lead, a girl who discovers that her classmates, and then herself, are connected inextricably to technology and the Internet, is meant to be haunting and sometimes troubling (Lain’s father smiling uncontrollably while looking at a computer screen with Lain standing at the doorway particularly stands out to me). So, too, are the music and spoken parts. This series will surely stays with you after you flip off your computer screen or phone, as it’s meant to do.
Serial Experiments Lain is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)
Quick admission here – I haven’t yet finished Shinsekai Yori, but I will. Part of the reason for that is this is because as the most unsettling series on the list, each episode requires me to take some time to recoup; it’s an intense journey. Featuring children with psychic abilities living in an agrarian society, the show creates a haunting tone by removing certain characters and unveiling violent truths bit by bit. I won’t give away too much, except to say that as the series slowly moves on and mysteries unravel, it becomes more and more uncomfortable.
Shinsekai Yori is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Do you have any recommendations for us that fit this mold of spooky series that aren’t necessarily horror anime? Share with us in the comment section below!
- AniMarch Madness 2023: Final Four - 03.27.2023
- AniMarch Madness 2023: The Final Four is Set - 03.24.2023
- AniMarch Madness 2023: Elite Eight - 03.23.2023
22 thoughts on “Seven Creepy Anime for Halloween (That Aren’t Too Scary)”
Thanks! Kara no Kyoukai and RaphXenon are on my watching list, and The perfect insider sounds interesting, too. I recently finished Princess Tutu, which I found amazing, and tried FLCL, but it was too much sensuality for me. Enjoy Lain! It´s truly amazing. I know JoshW loves it, I wonder if the rest will.
Ah, I couldn’t get through FLCL because of how frenetic it is; I’ve started and stopped several times. I may try one more time before the new series arrives.
Great List. I’ve very rarely seen people remember Mouryou No Hako, even though it’s one of my favourites. I’m going to check out The Perfect Insider, since I’m always in search of detective stories.
It has that unsettling feel of Mouryou no Hako, though it’s probably better categorized as mystery rather than detective.
Rah Xephon: Blatant Eva riff with music instead of theology and twice the confusion.
You’re spot on about Lain. Try to watch it once a year.
For me on Haloween, it’s old school Universal Studios live action ’30s/’40s monsters and RKOs’ Val Lewton classics.
RahXephon is most definitely an Evangelion rip-off, but you know what? I think it’s technically a better series.
I’ve never been one for creepy anime but some of these sound really interesting. There’s a few here I’ve never even heard of. But I’m more likely to watch Stranger Things today than anything else, haha.
Same here haha. I’m up to episode five and doing everything humanly possible to finish it before I see any spoilers.
Speaking of Stranger Things, did you finish it? I completed it last week and I really enjoyed the series, even if it wasn’t as good as season one.
[…] Various people are recommending their favorite Halloween anime. There have been a number of series and movies mentioned, but they ultimately all fall into two categories: Mononoke, and everything else.12 […]
I heard a little bit about Claymore but not a lot. I hear it can be spooky but it’s also filled with action but not too graphic like Berserk. I haven’t seen this anime but I agree that it looks like female version of Berserk lol.
Yeah I would say that’s a good way to describe it? It “feels” feminine, too, though I think the audience is clearly meant to be males.
Yeah it looks like appeals to guys but also it feels like it is a little bit tamed compared to Berserk.
It is. It has a lot of grotesque imagery and there is quite a bit of violence, including some startling moments of it, but the mangaka rarely goes as graphic as he could.
Interesting. I am thinking about eventually watching this anime.
It’s great for 22 episodes. The couple of anime-only episodes conclude the series poorly, unfortunately. :/
I heard about that. It’s one of those cliffhanger episodes.
Well, not so much that. The emotional high point of the series is very early on and all the action is a result of that moment. The show comes to a conclusion when it hasn’t earned it (the manga runs far far longer)—its kind of like if Peter Jackson added a quick conclusion to Fellowship of the Ring because he didn’t think he’d get a chance to to make the other two films and properly complete the characters’ journey.
Oh that makes sense. Oh well, at least the anime ended and if anyone want more, they can read the manga.
The Anime I consider the best Horror Anime, also happens to be one I consider the most interesting to watch as a Christian.