The absurd, the disturbing, and the chilling are all part of the supernatural genre. From vampires to werewolves, demons to haunts, and ghosts to geists, there are plenty of characters and tales that fit the horror bill. Although the supernatural is varied, some common denominators make it a perfect genre for any fan of fiction. If you enjoy a good scare, then you’ll love the world of manga. Manga is a Japanese form of comics. It shares a lot of common traits with horror, including dark themes, twisted plots, and a focus on characters over action. Read on for our list of the best mangas to read if you love horror.
1. “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki
Spirited Away is one of the most famous manga horror titles in existence. It was also the first successful attempt by legendary manga artist Hayao Miyazaki at creating a horror manga. Set in an alternate reality where humans are transformed into spirits by use of a magical incantation, the story follows 10-year-old Sen who is whisked away to a magical world. There, she meets the enchanting spirits of her family who were all transformed into pigs by the power of the same incantation. Miyazaki’s artwork and ability to blend fantasy with reality make this a compelling read while still maintaining a PG rating.
2. “The Bridge” by Yoshitoshi Abe
This classic shōnen manga by Yoshitoshi Abe centers on a boy who is murdered and reborn with a new name. He is reborn in a world where people can only cross a bridge that spanned the very divide between life and death. The boy is given a chance to right the wrong committed against him as he must kill his killer. This intriguing story, which tells us how we should all seek atonement, has been adapted into a live-action movie, an anime series, and numerous other forms of media.
3. “The Shining” by Stephen King
Although it may seem strange to include a work of fiction on this list, there is a strong argument to be made in favor of including The Shining. Considered one of King’s creepiest works, The Shining tells the story of a winter stay at an isolated hotel where a family fights to survive a siege of madness led by their father. As with all of King’s works, The Shining is essentially about family breakdown and the responsibilities that come with raising a small family.
4.”The Evil Dead” by Bruce Campbell
As the first entry on our list that is essentially a made-for-manga horror movie, The Evil Dead is a great place to start if you’re new to the genre. In the film, five college students are holed up in a cabin in the woods with a film projector and a bunch of gore-hounds. When a mysterious book called the Necronomicon is discovered, the readings from its pages induce the five to summon up an evil force that takes the form of a demonic tree.
5.”The Guts” by Junji Ito
If you’re looking for something a little more bizarre, check out The Guts, the first manga on our list written and illustrated by Junji Ito. It tells the story of a wealthy businessman who visits a restaurant where he meets a strange, but strangely familiar, girl. What follows is a tale that is part coming of age story, part slice-of-life, and part horror as the girl tries to turn the businessman into a zombie. Ito’s unique style and use of body horror make this one a must-read.
6.”Hell Teacher Nami” by Keiko Sui
For something a little more mundane, we have Hell Teacher Nami, which is about a teacher who is assigned to a school where nothing seems to happen. Nami is determined to change that and to make her students happy she takes drastic measures. Little does she know that the students are being haunted by a malevolent spirit. Sui’s story is full of unexpected twists and turns, making it a great choice for readers who like their horror realistic rather than supernatural.
7.” Tokyo Ghoul” by Sui Ishida
Although it is set in a similar universe as the manga series mentioned above, Tokyo Ghoul is an entirely different beast. It follows one of the many young people caught up in the struggle between humans and ghouls, a cannibalistic species that inhabit the city. The combat between the two species is an arms race that continues to escalate, and it will take all of the skills of its combatants to survive.
8.”20th Century Ghosts” by Tom Gauld
If you enjoy the darker side of humor, 20th Century Ghosts is the manga for you. It is a very grotesque, frequently disturbing, and very funny story about a group of people who unwittingly summon up some rather unusual characters when they play an Ouija board game. The people being summoned are every bit as bizarre as their hosts and are eager to play a game that brings out the worst in everyone. Gauld’s story has an excellent twist ending and is a great read for horror fans.
9.”Parasite” by Nobuyuki Fukumoto
If you’re looking for a mangaowl that is terrifying and deeply unsettling, check out Parasite. It tells the story of an office worker who catches a cold while traveling and ends up accidentally eating someone’s parasite. The cold itself is not dangerous, but the worm inside the victim can kill if untreated. This is only the first of many body-horror-inducing parasites that our protagonist will come across.
10.” Vampire Hunter D” by Hideyuki Kikuchi
If you like your vampires classic and dark, Vampire Hunter D is the manga for you. It follows D, a vampire hunter who is dispatched to destroy the vampire race. The only problem is that D is himself a vampire. He has been tasked with killing himself, and the only way to accomplish this is to drink blood from other vampires. Although the story is set in the same universe as King’s classic, it is a completely original work.
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These are the 10 best manga horror titles if you love horror. Are there any we missed that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comment section.