When you use animation to create fear, you don’t have to be constrained by our understanding of reality. As in anime, the human body is capable of extreme deformations that can only be achieved through the use of hand-drawn or computer-generated visuals. “Vampire Hunter D” and “Wicked City” are two examples of horror anime films that grasp the hideous potential of the medium. Resurrected monsters like zombies are reimagined in ways that actors on the other side of the camera could never achieve.
Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, famed for his remarkable ability to construct repulsive, sexually perverse creatures, will have a heavy hand in the gore on this list. After all, the medium of animation is ideal for depicting gore and other forms of bodily harm. However, there are plenty of disturbing ghost stories and psychological thrillers in the world of horror anime that will appeal to people who are more interested in the supernatural.
1. Perfect Blue
‘Perfect Blue’, Satoshi Kon’s first feature-length directorial effort, explores the psychological ramifications of fame and obsession. Mima Kirigoe, the lead singer of the girl band CHAM!, is the subject of the film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. On message boards, Mima’s admirers express their displeasure at her decision to go to acting instead of singing. A stalker named Me-Mania stalks Mima, and someone is killing people in her vicinity as she tries to deal with the backlash and make it in the sleazy world of acting.
To preserve her reputation as a grown-up female celebrity and to deal with her trauma, Mima loses all sense of time and distance from reality. She begins to go into a coma and loses all recollection of what happened during the killings, which makes her an obvious suspect. While Mima’s true identity continues to fade, her own sense of self fades away. As Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” provides a framework for studying modern obsession and its lasting psychological effects, “Perfect Blue” provides a framework for examining how your sense of self evaporates when you walk into the public glare.
2. Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack
“Uzumaki” and “Tomie” are two great manga by Junji Ito, a master of the horror genre. There is “Gyo,” which was made into an anime film called “Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack” in 2012 by Takayuki Hirao and released that year. It’s a story about fish that aren’t afraid of humans. But these aren’t just any deadly fish—they’ve mutated and developed legs. Kaori, the protagonist, is particularly sensitive to the stench of these creatures, which emit a harrowing and nauseous odor.
In the opening of “Gyo,” a seashore Japanese village is invaded by fish, led by a giant white shark that walks. And there’s more to come. Japan conducted biological warfare tests on these fish during World War II, it has been revealed. In “Gyo,” Ito is at his craziest and nastiest, and Hirao does an excellent job of bringing that tone to the screen. Fans of horror humor, aquatic horror, and body horror will find plenty to enjoy in “Gyo.”
3. Vampire Hunter D
Two “Vampire Hunter D” movies have been made, and tragically, the 1985 original is sometimes eclipsed by the 2000 remake. Aside from the fact that “Vampire Hunter D” has some impressive monsters and death sequences, there is much to like about it. D is a vampire hunter, but he’s also a dhampir, or a hybrid of human and vampire ancestry. D is lost in a post-nuclear world ruled by vampire nobility, demons, and mutants. A powerful vampire noble has kidnapped Doris Lang and plans to marry her to his blood-sucking bride, Count Lee.
As a last resort, D accepts the task of saving Doris from a tortuous fate, but it will be difficult. He’ll have to take on a slew of terrifying foes, each one more formidable than the last. In addition to the human face parasite in his left hand, he also has a parasite in his right hand that tells D to consume human blood. Much of “Vampire Hunter D” is slow-paced, focusing on developing the world’s lore, despite its claim to be “dark future science-fiction romance,” despite the film’s horrific gore. Filmgoers will enjoy this visual feast even if the story isn’t always obvious.
4. Seoul Station
An animation from Yeon Sang-ho, “Seoul Station,” is the official prequel to “Train to Busan,” a smash hit in Korea’s zombie genre. When the zombie epidemic was just getting started and the country was being overrun by the undead, this story takes place. Her lover, Ki-woong, is a sex worker and pimps her out for money. She’s been subjected to a lifetime of pain and torture, and she’s fed up. The two are separated by a zombie outbreak after a violent confrontation at Seoul Station. In the meantime, Suk-gyu, Hye-father, sun’s is looking for his daughter in the city and finally meets her boyfriend.
In “SeoulStation,” the two groups split off during a zombie onslaught, but the beautiful animation and political commentary regarding Korea’s handling of its unhoused populace keep the formula fresh and interesting. Squatters were among the first to fall victim to the virus because they were treated with contempt by authorities and the general public. Despite the fact that zombie flicks have become overdone, “Seoul Station” breathes new life into an old trope by animating it.
5. Bio Hunter
The 1995 film “Bio Hunter,” directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, is set in a world where a disease known as the Demon Virus is wreaking havoc on Japan. People afflicted with the virus become grotesque, flesh-eating monsters. Humans are ripped apart as blood pours out of their open mouths in this gruesome scene.
Two men stand firm against the infection in this hellhole. A pair of molecular biologists/demon hunters, Koshigaya and Kamada, are striving to find a treatment and track down those who have been afflicted by the virus at the same time. Kamada, on the other hand, becomes infected with the virus, and their adventure takes an unexpected turn. His demonic nature is kept in check by the sickness, and he uses it to his advantage to save as many lives as possible.
For Kawajiri, this may be his first and hopefully not his final film on this list. Prolific director of provocative films that test the boundaries of the animated body Teeth erupt from the flesh, bodies morph and evolve, and any semblance of humanity is taken from the face of the beasts. Not all animated films are suitable for children, as this hypersexual, hyperviolent horror anime shows.
6. King of Thorn
The 2010 horror film “King of Thorn” has been compared to a twisted version of “Sleeping Beauty” because of its blend of science fiction and monsters. A global pandemic has decimated the planet, and the Medusa Virus, which causes victims to turn to stone, has struck again.
For the sake of humanity, 160 volunteers who have been diagnosed with the sickness are put into a state of cold sleep while scientists work on a solution. However, when they awaken, they find the facility transformed, covered in thorns, and home to a swarm of terrifying animals who attack the freshly awakened survivors.
Only seven people have made it out alive, and it’s up to them to figure out what occurred, when it happened, and how they can preserve the planet. The use of both 2D and 3D animation in “King of Thorn” helps to convey the enormity of this universe. The 2D work provides intricate personalities, while the 3D work better depicts the massive number of creatures and their almost inconceivable scale. In “King of Thorn,” the characters’ objective becomes all the more useless because of the enormity of the undertaking.
7. Empire of Corpses
This anime is for those who enjoy gothic horror, so get ready. An alternate 18th-century England is the setting for this 2015 film. Necroware is a technology used to resurrect corpses on a daily basis in this era. They’re then used as laborers; they don’t think, feel, eat, or need to be compensated. ” They’re the ideal new source of labor.
Victor Frankenstein, on the other hand, is said to possess a machine that is capable of reanimating not only bodies but also souls. When these corpses were brought back to life, they would no longer be just the charred remains of their former selves. To develop a new method of bringing the dead back to life, John Watson is sent on an expedition to gather Frankenstein’s notes.
As a classic steampunk adventure, “Empire of Corpses” features many nods to other notable historical and literary personalities, such as the “Brothers Karamazov” and Colonel Frederick Burnaby himself. In addition, Watson’s reflections on his own desire to bring the dead back to life and the meaning of a corpse’s true sovereignty over its body are both intensely emotional and heartbreaking. There are some unsettling undertones in “Empire of Corpses” that provide a whole new meaning to the narrative of “Frankenstein.”
Anthology “Memories” is a collection of short stories by manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo, well known for his work on the series “Akira.” Satoshi Kon, Kji Morimoto, and Tensai Okamura have all worked with Otomo before, thus this isn’t simply Otomo’s project.
‘Magnetic Rose,’ directed by Morimoto and written by Kon, is the first story. An abandoned spaceship with opulent furniture is discovered by two engineers, who progressively uncover the ship’s mysteries. Okamura and Otomo’s “Stink Bomb,” which tells the story of a man who takes the wrong medicine and experiences hazardous farts, is the next film. Yes, there is a dramatic shift in tone.
Otomo also directed and wrote the film “Cannon Fodder,” about a little child who aspires to be a military officer and fire cannons at an imaginary opponent. Although these three unrelated films have quite diverse visions of the future, they all have a beautiful animation style and smart script. There is a psychological and unsettling quality to these stories, which focus more on the mental feeling of terror than on visceral violence.
9. Wicked City
“Wicked City,” Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s first film as a filmmaker, was released in 1987. There is a shaky peace deal in effect between Earth and the demon-infested “Black World” for the sake of maintaining some form of order. To ensure that the pact is kept, a special police force made up of humans and demons is sent in. Agents Taki, a human, and Makie, a demon, must protect the diplomat responsible for renewing the pact. Even so, a radical faction of demons opposes it, and Taki’s and Makie’s combined powers are needed to keep humanity safe.
This picture served as a showcase for Kawajiri’s horrific aesthetic and penchant for graphic violence. His debut in the anime world, “Wicked City,” established him as a filmmaker who had no qualms about defying conventions. For the animators to play with, the human body is nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle piece. It’s not for the squeamish: This is another another hypersexual, hyperviolent film. It’s worth checking out “Wicked City” if you’re up for some gut-wrenching terror.
10. Demon City Shinjuku
“Demon City Shinjuku” by Yoshiaki Kawajiri was released in 1988, and it was a continuation of his demon-obsessed aesthetic. If you’re a fan of Kawajiri’s other films, such as “Wicked City,” “Ninja scroll,” and “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust,” this is a hidden treasure that takes things a step back from the gore and sexuality.
A young guy, Kyoya, must defend the universe from a powerful psychic named Rebi Ra in “Demon City Shinjuku.” Retribution for the death of Kyoya’s father, Ra, is on the agenda as Kyoya stalks a demon-infested city in search of revenge. His powers have yet to be fully explored, and he is running out of time to master them. A mystical plant ties the Planet President to a massive crucifix, and he will be sacrificed to further destabilize the world.
Demon City Shinjuku, like all of Kawajiri’s work, contains numerous action sequences that compensate for its uneven pacing.
In 2006, Satoshi Kon’s final picture, “Paprika,” made it onto this list before he died in 2010. “Paprika” is a psychedelic voyage through dreams that explores the horrifying malleability of the human mind, unlike “Perfect Blue,” which contains a psychological hellscape.
Dr. Atsuko Chiba unlawfully accesses her patients’ dreams with a device called the DC Mini. Chiba uses her Paprika identity to enter people’s dreams in order to better understand their psyches. The equipment can be stolen and utilized by scientists with malign intentions to invade people’s thoughts and force them to commit suicide. For the sake of his sanity, Chiba retreats into a kaleidoscopic world of dreams.
Neither the stunning animation nor the film’s reliance on dream logic (Kon isn’t interested in simplifying this film) can be adequately described in words. A physics-defying corridor passage and other crucial scenes from “Paprika” were ripped from Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film “Inception.” Animation, on the other hand, is unmatched in terms of impact. With this film, Kon proves he’s up to the task by creating something absolutely exceptional.
12. Ninja Scroll
In addition to “Akira” and “Ghost in the Shell,” Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s “Ninja Scroll” is often considered as one of the three films that introduced Western audiences to adult-oriented anime. In Kawajiri, a film from 1993, the focus shifts from futuristic hellscapes to feudal Japan. The Devils of Kimon, a group of eight powerful demons that plan to overthrow the nation, are still out there.
Swordsman-for-hire Betrayed Jubei is offered a significant sum of money to find out more about these devils and uncover their motives, so he sets out to find out more. The last survivor of her clan is a female ninja named Kagero who joins him on his journey. While protecting the planet from whatever nefarious plot is brewing beneath the surface, they band together and, who knows, maybe even fall in love.
Ninja scroll’s action sequences are a feast for the eyes. In the blink of an eye, katanas cut across the screen, separating flesh from bodies. Like the rest of Kawajiri’s work, it’s a visual feast and crammed with as much startling sex and violence as is humanly conceivable.
13. Cat Soup
Cats are used in this weird, hallucinogenic short film by Tatsuo Sato about bereavement and the strong tie between siblings, all depicted as anthropomorphic characters. Young male cat Nyatta is in love with his ailing older sister Nyako. Nyatta drowns while playing in the bath one day and sees Nyako and Jizuo, the patron saint of children who have died, walking by. Her soul is torn in half by him and Nyako after they play a game of tug-of-war. As soon as Nyatta comes to life once again, he returns Nyako’s soul, but it’s imperfect. So, they’ll have to travel through Hell to discover the other half of her and bring her back to full health.
Because there is no speech in “CatSoup,” the short becomes a meditative sensory experience for the viewer. As a result, the viewer must take an active role in “Cat Soup” in order to fully immerse themselves in the story of these two felines. In spite of the film’s lighthearted appearance, “Cat Soup” is full of disturbing images and violence, which is all the more shocking when it occurs to animated cats.
14. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, a 2001 film by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, is the final Kawajiri film to appear on this list. Baron Meier Link, a vampire aristocrat, abducts a young woman named Charlotte from her home and hires D to find her. D is paid by Charlotte’s father to discover and return Charlotte unharmed. The Marcus Brothers have been hired by D’s brother to do the task, so he has some competition. In reality, Charlotte is infatuated with the vampire, who is shown to be Charlotte’s true love.
The improved pacing, action sequences, and animation style of “Vampire Hunter D” by Kawajiri set it apart from the 1985 original. That mix between gory action and character-driven moments is what makes it one of the best vampire films, according to critics.
15. Belladonna of Sadness
“Belladonna of Sadness” by Eiichi Yamamoto is a heart-wrenching rape-revenge masterpiece about a disgruntled lady who craves any kind of control. Jeanne and Jean, newlyweds in medieval France, revel in the glory of their new marriage. When a nobleman rapes Jeanne in a traditional ceremony, the joy is short-lived. In spite of the fact that it’s a tradition, Jean abandons Jeanne. Jeanne is granted powers by a phallic demon who guarantees revenge on those who have mistreated her in her time of misery.
Since she was born a woman, Jeanne has been doomed to a life of suffocation because of her gender. With each attempt at becoming more powerful, Jeanne’s flesh metamorphoses as though it were a wicked butterfly. Due to psychedelic animation, “Belladonna of Sadness” is both distressing and enticing, as it depicts violence against women in an abstract rather than actual way.