Being a horror writer, I’ve always loved the horror genre and I’m always searching for new horror content. One medium I hold very dear is manga, namely horror manga.
There’s an enormous amount of horror manga out there which feature horrific incidents and combine them with a unique and breathtaking art style.
Horror manga can often be very effective and creative.
While I enjoy horror movies, novels and creepypasta, there’s something special about horror manga.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder why this genre stands out so much to me. It might be the detailed art that presents the horror that’s happening in all its horrific glory. Maybe it’s also the cultural difference. Japan is a country with a unique culture and one that’s always had firm beliefs in ghosts and other supernatural beings.
Whatever it is, horror manga are something that will delight many and offers a wide variety of unique and disturbing works.
In this list, I want to present to you many of my favorite horror manga that I uncovered throughout the years. While some are vastly popular, I’m sure there are some hidden gems that some of you might not have heard about.
A word of warning. This is a list of horror manga and will be accompanied by images of the respective works.
I’d also like to give a general spoiler warning. I’ll try not to go into too much detail about the plot points, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
So here’s my list of 33 horror manga that anyone should read.
33. God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand
Kazuo Umezu is one of the most popular early horror manga artists and one of those who defined the genre.
His most popular works include The Drifting Classroom, Fourteen, and Orochi:Blood.
Umezu’s style is quite recognizable, and his influence on the horror genre can’t be overlooked.
While I’ve read most of his works, the only one I can highly recommend is God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand.
Many of Umezu’s horror manga are strange and feature outlandish, bizarre, or downright silly scenarios.
This one here’s not too far away, but it’s a more traditional horror manga than for example Fourteen.
God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand features a young boy named Sou, who’s often haunted by visions of terrible things happening and tries to stop them from becoming reality.
Some scenarios in this manga are more normal, including serial killers or ghosts, but others are more bizarre, featuring heavy instances of body horror for example.
One definitely needs to get used to Umezu’s art style. It’s old-fashioned, and some people might call it downright ugly.
If one’s willing to overlook that, one’s treaded with quite a good horror manga. God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand can get quite gruesome and feature some terrifying imagery.
God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand is one of the oldest manga on this list and one of the more outlandish ones. If one’s interested to experience the earlier days of horror manga, one could do worse than read this one.
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service centers on a group of graduate students from a Buddhist college.
Each member of the group has a special skill related to the supernatural. One member, Kuro Karatsu, can commune with the dead.
The events of this horror manga center on the group’s titular business of fulfilling the last wishes of the dead.
Many times, however, they figure out that people didn’t die of natural causes and so encounter criminals or run into other troubles.
This horror manga, like many others on this list, has a more episodic structure. Many of its chapters are self-contained stories.
This manga is also not a pure horror manga, but could often be classified as a mystery one. Many stories feature mysterious deaths that the main characters have to unravel using their various abilities.
It’s an interesting and unique manga. While it’s not as horrible or graphic as others on the list, it makes up for it by its unique and creative story.
Manhole is a horror manga that will make anyone uncomfortable because it’s a realistic story that features biological horror.
It starts with a naked, bloody man, who emerges from a manhole one day. Unbeknownst to anyone, the man is host to a deadly biological agent.
As the story progresses, two detectives try to uncover the cause while the infection spreads.
This manga could be best described as a detective story, but what makes it truly a horror manga is the deadly infection and the things it causes to happen.
Manhole is a great, but unsettling read. There’s nothing supernatural happening. Instead, it’s a very realistic tale.
Especially in times of the global Corona pandemic, this one’s truly scary and might hit a bit too close to home for some.
Another older horror manga, but a classic.
The story centers on Count D, the caretaker of the titular Pet Shop.
Pet Shop of Horrors is another episodic horror manga. Each story revolves around a specific rare pet and the person adopting it. Each pet comes with a contract, comprising three rules the new owner has to follow. Should he fail to do so, there will often be dire consequences.
The manga features some overarching plotlines and reoccurring characters, but most of its chapters fall into the ‘monster of the weak’ category.
As this is an older horror manga, the art might take some time to get used to. It’s well worth the effort though, and some chapters are quite creative and unique.
Domu is a single volume-spanning horror manga by Otomo Katsuhiro, the creator of Akira.
The story of Domu is set in an apartment building that’s plagued by a series of mysterious suicides and other, similar incidents.
A group of investigators try to uncover what’s going on, but realize that there’s a lot that doesn’t add up.
It’s soon revealed that the perpetrator is a senile old man with psychic powers who holds sway over the apartment complex and its inhabitants.
Eventually, a young girl with psychic powers of her own moves into the apartment complex with her family. It doesn’t take long for a conflict between her and the old man to begin.
In Domu, one can already see Otomo’s interest in psychic powers which was carried over to his masterpiece Akira.
Domu’s definitely worth the read especially for Otomo’s detailed and amazing art.
Ajin is one of the more popular horror manga on this list, and for a good reason.
It tells the story of Kei, a student who one day learns that he’s immortal. After being fatally hit by a truck, Kai miraculously survives. Even stranger, his body will regenerate any injury, regardless of how bad it is.
The story revolves around Kei and how he handles his new powers.
Kei soon gets to know another Ajin named Sato, who escaped from the government and pledges to help fellow Ajin. However, we soon learn that Sato’s got much bigger plans and that he’s much more dangerous.
Ajin features quite an interesting and unique idea and interesting characters.
The manga also features a concept called Black Ghosts, which are entities that some Ajin can call forth to fight.
It takes a bit to get used to this horror manga, but once we get to know the character of Sato, the story takes up more steam.
Well worth the read.
Hideout looks absolutely stunning. It’s not the art alone, however, that sells this horror manga.
The story focuses on Kirishima Seiichi, a troubled writer who plans to murder his wife during a vacation. The reason for that is revealed throughout the story.
When his attempt fails, a chase emerges and soon Seiichi follows his wife into a cave. However, Seiichi and his wife aren’t the only ones in that cave.
Most of the story in Hideout is told via flashbacks and gives us glimpses into Seiichi’s life before the vacation.
Hideout is a great horror manga, but it’s also a gloomy, depressing tale. It’s a story that’s nothing but a downward spiral that keeps getting worse and worse.
Hideout is only 9 chapters long. It’s a quick and disturbing read that comes with some of the finest art I’ve seen in horror manga.
Heads is a horror manga by Keigo Higashino and Motorō Mase. The story centers on a young man, Naruse Jun’ichi, who gets shot in the head but survives miraculously because of a brain transplant.
He recovers quickly but slowly starts to change. It begins with little things, such as disgust about his girlfriend’s freckles. Soon enough, though, other areas in Jun’ichi’s life change as well.
It’s slowly revealed that it might be the donor’s brain that s taking control over his life.
Heads is a bit of a different type of horror manga. It’s a slow burn and most of the horror stems from the idea that you’re losing yourself and that you slowly become a different person. Would you even know you’ve changed yourself? Would you be able to see it? It’s those questions that make Heads quite scary.
25. I Am a Hero
I Am a Hero is a zombie apocalypse manga by Kengo Hanazawa.
The story follows a young manga assistant, Hideo Suzuki. He’s a strange character, and we learn in the very first chapter that he suffers from mental problems.
What makes I Am a Hero such an interesting read is to follow someone like Hideo around, a character who doesn’t seem to be able to handle an event such as a zombie apocalypse.
The zombies in I Am a Hero are also different from the ones we’re used to. They are not just walking corpses, but they are often contorted and twisted in various ways. As the story continues they slowly take on more and more horrific forms. They merge and melt into one another, creating giant, fleshy abominations.
I Am a Hero is a horror manga that starts slowly and takes a while to get going. Don’t be fooled by the first chapter though, it’s an interesting read and only gets more interesting the longer it lasts.
24. Zashiki Onna
Zashiki Onna is another, older horror manga, published in the early 90s. What makes this story stand out is the lack of supernatural elements.
What makes Zashiki Onna so terrifying is how realistic and plausible it is.
It’s the story of a university student, Hiroshi, who’s being stalked by a tall, mysterious woman. At first, she seems to only be interested in his next-door neighbor, but after a chance encounter, she turns her attention to Hiroshi instead.
From here on out, things slowly escalate and get more and more dangerous as the mysterious woman continues to invade his life.
Zashiki Onna is a haunting experience and presents us with the topic of stalking most chillingly. It’s not only an invasion of privacy, not only creepy, but turns out to be truly dangerous.
Zashiki Onna is a short manga, at only 11 chapters, but it’s nonetheless a terrifying and creepy tale.
There are many terrifying manga on this list, but only a few don’t feature supernatural elements. That’s what makes Zashiki Onna stand out. It’s a simple tale about a stalker, but that’s also what makes it so much scarier.
Ibitsu is another terrifying horror manga.
One night our main character Kazuki takes out his trash and encounters a strange Lolita Girl sitting next to the garbage.
The girl asks him if he has a little sister, which he answers with a yes. This soon results in the Lolita Girl becoming obsessed with him.
Similarly to Zashiki Onna, this story too focuses on stalking.
While Zashiki Onna develops slowly, Ibitsu doesn’t. Right from the get-go, we’re thrown into a deranged and twisted story.
From the Lolita Girl’s very first intrusion, things only get more disturbing and escalate further.
Ibitsu is truly terrifying and doesn’t shy away from graphic depictions of gruesome violence and torture.
It’s another shorter horror manga, with only 13 chapters, but it’s well worth the hour it takes to read it.
The Promised Neverland is another one of the more popular horror manga on this list. I discovered it a couple of years ago when it was relatively new and I couldn’t stop reading it.
The story features a young girl Emma who lives at an orphanage with all her other foster siblings.
Life is happy, the caretaker is kind, but there’s one rule, the kids aren’t allowed to leave their home, ever.
It’s revealed in the very first chapter, that their orphanage is a farm, created to raise human children as livestock for demons.
The story starts slowly with the kids trying to flee the orphanage and outwit their caretaker. As the story continues we learn much more about the lore of the world and the demons who control it.
The art in this manga is great and the many demons are rendered in gorgeous details.
The Promised Neverland is a Shonen manga, so it might not be as mature as many other works on this list. Still, it’s a great read, and I enjoyed it very much.
21. Shiga Hime
Shiga Hime is a vampire manga and a great horror manga.
One thing one should know is that Shiga Hime is quite sexually charged. There’s quite a bit of glorified nudity that might not be to everyone’s liking.
The story starts with two boys, Souichi and our main character Osamu. Souichi convinces Osamu to follow him to the home of a mysterious woman, Miss Miwako.
It’s revealed that Miss Miwako is an immortal vampire who lures people to her home to feed on them. As the story progresses, Osamu becomes her slave, or better her familiar. Cursed with a monstrous appearance, he’s forced to do Miwakow’s biding.
Shiga Hime doesn’t start too well because of its heavy reliance on sexual themes.
Before long, though, things pick up when Osamu’s forced to kill and when we learn that there are other vampires with their very own familiars around.
The longer the manga goes on, the more the art seems to evolve and we’re treated to some amazing creature design and some amazing battle scenes.
The story of this manga is multi-layers. On one hand, we have the master-slave relationship between Osamu and Miss Miwako. We also encounter other theme’s though, themes such as jealousy, vanity, obsession, and the corruption of those who were once pure.
If one can overlook the sexually charged art, Shiga Hime is a great read and a tragic story.
When I first found Shiga Hime, I enjoyed the manga so much, finished the entire manga throughout a single afternoon.
20. The Laughing Vampire
Now we’re going down the deep end of the horror manga genre.
Suehiro Maruo is most famous for his erotic gore work. Many of his works are strange and very disturbing.
The Laughing Vampire is no different and features quite a few sexually charged scenes.
It stands out however because of its horror and by how disturbing the story gets. Another thing is the characters are throughout the board terrible people or downright insane.
What makes The Laughing Vampire such a great horror manga is the unique spin it takes on the vampire genre in later parts and which inspired my story The First Few Times Always Hurt.
I’d like to point out that this horror manga is not for the faint of heart and probably one of the most twisted and disturbing works on this list.
19. Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show
Another horror manga by Suehiro Maruo.
The story focuses on Midori, a twelve-year-old girl who’s taken in by a freak show.
The girl’s constantly abused by the other, spiteful members of the show.
Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show features disturbing and graphical imagery, including abuse, both physical and sexual.
The story of this horror manga is a terrible if not downright tragic tale and will stay with you long after you read it.
As with other works by Suehiro Maruo, this one’s disturbing and horrific.
Lychee Light Club is one of the strangest additions to this list of horror manga. The art of this manga is very reminiscent of the works of Suehiro Maruo, and Furuya has mentioned that he was strongly influenced by Maruo.
The manga centers on the titular Lychee Light Club, whose members create an AI or better a robot called Lychee, who they program and task to bring them beautiful women.
As the club continues its methods become more brutal and outlandish, which eventually results in an internal struggle.
Lychee Light Club is another very disturbing horror manga that features a fair amount of gore and disturbing ideas.
Parasyte is one of the older entries on this list and was created in the late 80s and early 90s.
This horror manga centers on the titular parasites, worm-like creatures that infest human beings and take over their bodies.
Our main character Shinichi is victim to one such parasite but wakes up before the creature can dig into his head. Instead, the creature can only infest his right hand.
The two of them keep their separate personalities and are forced to share the same body. It’s a strange situation that gets worse when other parasites find out about them and attack them.
Before long, Shinichi picks up the fight, especially since other parasites prey on humans and devour them.
Parasyte is a horror manga that deals predominantly with themes of disgust and paranoia. Disgust about strange parasites who can infest anyone and the paranoia of not knowing who’s already infested.
While Parasyte can be humorous occasionally, it can also be quite gory. People are torn apart, shredded to pieces, and mauled in gruesome ways.
Parasyte is a delight for anyone interested in horror manga.
16. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is another widely popular horror manga.
The story is set in a dark, fantastical world. All that remains of mankind is living in a single, giant city surrounded by massive walls.
This city is the last bastion of humanity and its walls protect it from the titular titans. All other human beings have been killed off.
The titans are giant, humanoid monsters that feed on humans.
The story centers on Eren. During an attack on one of the outer districts, Eren’s home, his mother gets devoured by the titans. He vows revenge and joins the military.
The manga starts with a simple, but interesting premise. As the story progresses, however, we uncover how much more there is to the titans, the city and how the two are connected.
Attack on Titan is another Shonen manga and might be less mature than others on this list. It’s also much more action-oriented and relies more on battle scenes than simple scares.
What makes it so special to me is the scenario. I’m a big fan of apocalyptic stories and those set in confined spaces. I like the idea that all of mankind is restricted to a single city, while the rest of the world is filled with terrible dangers.
Another thing I love is the appearance of the titans. They don’t look like ghastly, twisted monsters, but more like giant, dim-witted humans. It’s their lack of emotions and their empty faces that make them truly outlandish and not just a bit creepy.
Attack on Titan is another, longer manga, but well worth the read. It’s an engaging, interesting storyline that features some memorable characters.
15. Franken Fran
Franken Fran is one of the weirder entries on this list. The horror manga follows the titular character of Fran, a girl created by a brilliant surgeon.
Franken Fran is mostly an episodic horror manga and can be compared to anthologies such as Tales From the Crypt or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Each chapter features a unique scenario involving Fran.
The world of Franken Fran is not all dark and gloomy. There are quite a few chapters that take on a more humorous or satirical tone. However, all chapters of this manga are disturbing in their own, unique ways.
Many chapters feature medical or surgical procedures performed by Fran with varying and often horrible results.
While there are some weaker chapters, often those relying more on humor than horror, when Franken Fran is at its best, it’s truly a horrible delight.
I love this horror manga, mostly because it’s so unique.
Mieruko-chan follows a girl named Miko who’s got the ability to see ghosts.
What makes this manga so special is that Miko doesn’t fight or even interact with the ghosts, but tries her hardest to ignore them. The reason is simple, normal humans aren’t able to see ghosts. Should a human see them or react to them, however, the ghosts might attack them. So Miko tries her best not to provoke them in any way.
Mieruko-chan can be best described as a horror-comedy or a slice-of-life. It even gets quite humorous as we follow Miko through her day.
There are no battles, no horrific incidents happen to Miko. It’s merely her observing the ghosts all around her.
As the manga progresses the story picks up a little by introducing some additional characters, however, the original premise stays the same.
What sells this manga is the amazing art. The ghosts taken on outlandish and disturbingly horrible forms and are a delight to look at.
This manga is definitely weird and usually not what people look for in horror. Still, it’s a great read, and I’d recommend it to everyone who likes horror, if only for the design of the various ghosts.
Goth is based on the novel of the same name by Otsuichi. It’s the story of two high school students fascinated by gruesome murders.
Goth was one of the very first horror manga I ever read, and I truly enjoyed it.
It’s a relatively short manga, comprising only five chapters, but it’s still a great read and might hold the occasional surprise or two.
What makes Goth so special to me are the unique characters. In horror manga, we usually encounter normal people who get thrown into horrible situations. In Goth, our two main characters are anything but normal. Overall one could say that quite a few characters in this horror manga are a bit special.
Another thing I enjoyed was the dynamic between the main characters and the backstory of one character revealed in later chapters.
Goth is a fantastic, quick read that features unique characters and quite the graphic imagery.
12. Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is another popular horror manga and one of the most popular manga of our time.
The story revolves around Kei Kaneki, who’s attacked by a young woman Rise. Rise turns out to be a ghoul.
Ghouls are creatures who look like humans and mingle with them. However, they have superhuman powers and feed on humans to survive.
After his attack, Kaneki’s rescued by Dr. Kanou but soon learns that he’s now part ghoul and can’t stomach normal food anymore. He finds support at a cafe called Anteiku, which is a safe house for fellow ghouls.
As the story progresses, we learn more about ghouls and the different members of Anteiku. Slowly we get introduced to the various groups and characters who make up the world of Tokyo Ghoul.
Tokyo Ghoul is a lot more action-packed than other manga on this list and can be best compared to the likes of Attack on Titan or Gantz.
The story starts slowly, focusing first on Kaneki and how he comes to terms with his new life. Soon enough though, as more lore surfaces, the story grows in proportion and gets much more interesting.
Tokyo Ghoul is a very enjoyable manga with lots of action and a fair bit of gore. It also features some great art, interesting characters as well as some amazing creature and weapon design.
11. The Shadow Out of Time
The Shadow Out of Time is my favorite story by H. P. Lovecraft, and this adaption of it by Gou Tanabe is amazing.
Gou Tanabe is an amazing artist and up there with the best of the genre, in my opinion. Everything about this manga is gorgeous.
There isn’t much to say about the story. A professor suffers from a sudden attack and collapses during a lecture.
Years later the man comes to himself only to discover that he wasn’t in a come, but that he wasn’t himself during that time and acted as if he was an entirely different person.
As the story progresses the man slowly unravels what happened by putting together bits and pieces of his memory. The Shadow Out of Time is a cosmic horror masterpiece and introduces us to one of fiction’s most unique races.
What is there to say, Gou Tanabe’s adaptions of Lovecraft? They are amazing and this one’s no different. Regardless if you’re a fan of Lovecraft or cosmic or enjoy horror manga, I can highly recommend this work as well as Gou Tanabe’s other horror manga.
10. Ichi the Killer
Categorizing Ichi the Killer can be hard. It might not be a horror manga, but it’s definitely horrible.
Full disclosure here, Ichi the Killer is one of the most graphical and most disturbing pieces of manga out there. It’s also one of the best manga I’ve read in my entire life. Which might say a thing or two about me.
The manga was created by Yamamoto Hide. He’s outdone himself by creating a manga in which almost every character is batshit insane.
I first got to know Ichi the Killer by watching Takashi Miike’s movie of the same name. It’s a damn fantastic movie and as insane as the manga.
There’s a key difference, though. The movie’s overdrawn and almost comical in its depiction of violence and depravity. The manga is not.
Ichi the Killer is the story of the titular killer, but more so of the Yakuza Kakihara.
After Kakihara’s boss vanishes, he first searches for him and later for Ichi. This eventually leads to a confrontation between the two.
Ichi the Killer is less a horror manga, but predominately a mature and psychological tale about two characters who are downright insane.
It heavily explores themes such as sadism, masochism, identity disorder, manipulation and mixes them into one of the most depraved manga of all time.
I like to warn you again. Ichi is fucked up, at times disgusting, and features graphical content. If one’s up for that though one’s treated with an amazing manga.
9. Fuan no Tane
Fuan no Tane written by Masaaki Nakayama is one of the best horror manga of all time. It’s one of the few pieces out there that focuses solely on being scary and creepy.
Fuan no Tane is also different from other, more conventional horror manga since it doesn’t have a plot or a story to follow.
Instead, it’s a collection of short and creepy incidents, often involving ghosts or other supernatural entities. As I said, there’s no plot. Each chapter of this manga comprises a few creepy incidents, based on a central theme. It might be a location such as a school or a concept, such as uninvited guests.
Each of these incidents is only a few pages on. Characters aren’t developed, but they are just there to witness these incidents. That’s what makes this horror manga so good. It wastes no time to show us who people are, doesn’t slowly introduce a story, no it goes right into the creepiness, right to the scary incidents that take place.
Some stories in Fuan no Tane are a bit on the lighter side and are more humorous than scary, but others are truly disturbing.
I highly recommend Fuan no Tane to anyone since it’s one of the best horror manga ever created.
Another work by mangaka Masaaki Nakayama. Kouishou Rajio starts similar to his other horror manga Fuan no Tane.
At first look, Kouishou Rajio seems to be a similar collection of short, unconnected horror incidents. As we continue reading though, we soon learn that something ties all those stories together. It’s hair.
Hair is a major focus of Kouishou Rajio and many of its shorts, often only a handful of pages long, center on it. People are haunted by images of losing their hair, encounter ghosts made of it, or those obsessed with it.
Slowly but steadily through an overarching narrative is established which revolves around a spiritual entity only known as the God of Hair.
Kouishou Rajio is a great read, especially since many of its tales are bite-sized glimpses at scary incidents. The art is as unique and amazing as it was in Fuan no Tane. Many of the ghosts encountered look scary, unique, and creative.
What makes it even better is when we slowly realize that everything that’s happening is connected.
Kouishou Rajio is another great manga that I can highly recommend, to fans of Fuan no Tane but also to horror fans in general
Dorohedoro is another really weird horror manga.
It’s the surreal tale set in the city of Hole and features Kaiman, an amnesiac with the head of a reptilian.
The city of Hole is connected to the Sorcerer’s World, a world populated by magic users. These magic users often visit the city of Hole to test out their magic powers.
Kaiman believes himself to be the victim of one such magic-user, and together with his female friend Nikaido, he goes after them. It’s Kaiman’s goal to figure out who transformed him and who he really is.
The story starts as weird as it sounds and only gets strange as we read on.
We get to know various characters, both in the city of Hole and the Sorcerer’s World.
The imagery in this horror manga is outlandish but absolutely beautiful. Both the run-down city of Hole and the weirdness of the Sorcerer’s World are rendered in gorgeous details.
The same is true for many characters. The transformed and disfigured inhabitants of Hole paint a strange picture while the magic users look outlandish and scary.
The manga also features a good amount of blood and gore, and the further it continues the more brutal and horrific the events become.
Dorohedoro is an incredible unique horror manga that can get quite disturbing. Overall though, it’s a great and unique read.
Homunculus is another horror manga by Yamamoto Hideo.
While Ichi the Killer is brutal and fucked up, Homunculus is way, way stranger.
It’s the story of a man called Susumu Nakoshi, who’s homeless and lives in his car.
He eventually encounters a young man, Manabu Ito, who’s researching the process of trepanation, the drilling of holes into the human skull, He proposes to Nakoshi that he’s looking for a test subject on which to perform the process.
As the story progresses, Nakoshi eventually agrees and undergoes the procedure.
From then on, Nakoshi can see distorted versions of humans when looking at them with only his left eye. These distorted versions are the titular Homunculi.
Homunculus is an absolutely amazing and unique manga. It starts relatively normal, but soon becomes very strange.
It’s a psychological masterpiece that deals heavily with various topics such as vanity, trauma, identity disorder, materialism, and many other things.
It’s definitely one of the stranger mangas on the list, but it’s also very, very interesting.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested in strange, psychological horror manga.
5. Kamisama no Iutoori and Kamisama no Iutoori Ni
I love horror manga including death games and Kamisama no Iutoori and its sequel are as good as it gets.
The story starts with Takahata Shun, a normal high school student who’s utterly bored with his life.
Things change when his teacher’s head explodes and a Daruma doll appears. Shun and his classmates are forced to play a game with deathly stakes.
As the series continues we’re introduced to more and more death games as well as some unique and fantastic characters.
The series also isn’t shy in killing off its characters. Many times a character’s backstory is revealed only to witness their demise a chapter or two later. No one’s truly safe in this manga.
It’s a great horror manga, especially because of the creativity of the death games and the unique characters.
Gantz is another one of my favorite horror manga of all time.
It tells the story of Kei Kurono. One day he and his childhood friend Kato die in a tragic train accident when trying to save a homeless man.
Following the accident, they awake in a Tokyo apartment in which a group of other people, as clueless as them, have gathered.
A black sphere in the center of the room, called Gantz, explains to them it’s now their job to hunt down aliens living among us. Soon after, they get teleported to a different location and the first of many similar hunts begins.
At almost 400 chapters Gantz is the longest manga on this list, but it’s well worth the read. The reason Gantz stands out among many other, similar action-oriented horror manga is the amazing art, the unique and creative alien design, and the sheer insanity of the story.
Another fantastic thing about Gantz is the main character, Kurono. He starts as an unlikable, egoistic teenager, but in the story’s course, he shows tremendous amounts of character development. It’s a delight to see Kurono grow and eventually become the leader of the Gantz team.
Gantz features not only Kurono though, but a plethora of memorable characters.
While Gantz’s story isn’t always clearly structured and some plotlines seem to be cut short or abandoned, it’s still a masterpiece.
What sells Gantz is the art, the craziness of the story, and the fact that it doesn’t shy away from presenting us with glorified violence, gore, but also deep emotions.
I’ve already featured Junji Ito’s masterpiece Uzumaki in the list of my favorite 40 Junji Ito stories.
Uzumaki is a tale that’s as simple as it’s weird. The small town of Kurouzu-cho is haunted by spirals. Yes, you heard that right.
The story features Kirie and her boyfriend Shuichi, who stumble upon one freakishly scary incident after another in the course of this three-volume long horror manga.
What makes Uzumaki so special is not its story, it’s the art and the creativity behind it. Junji Ito’s imagination is incredible and disturbing. People in Uzumaki are twisted, warped, and changed until they represent the titular spiral in various disturbing ways.
Uzumaki is as good as it gets in the world of horror manga and clearly one of the best horror manga of all time. Not only that, but it’s also a work that’s truly unique and at times utterly disturbing.
Blame! is one of the greatest manga of all time and my personal favorite.
It can best be described as a cyberpunk epic, but can also be called a horror manga. It’s an absolutely amazing read and the art in Blame! is some of the best I’ve ever seen Tsutomu Nihei is an absolute master of his craft.
Blame! follows the character of Killy as he travels through a gigantic labyrinth of concrete and steel, known as The City.
Killy’s mission is to find a human with Net Terminal Genes who’d be able to access the so-called Netsphere, a computerized control network of the City. Such a person could put an end to the chaotic growth of the city and stop the so-called Safeguard from exterminating all of humanity.
Throughout the manga, Killy travels through vast technological and architectural wastelands populated by cyborgs and other technological horrors.
Killy also encounters various pockets of civilization that make a living in this dangerous environment.
As the manga continues we see more of those communities, learn more about the Safeguard and The City itself.
Blame! is an absolute visual masterpiece. It’s not only the cyborgs or the other creatures Killy encounters, but the entire landscape that is rendered in fantastic detail.
The world of Blame! is huge, gigantic even, and it shows in many of the manga’s panels when we get a glance at the gigantic structures that make up The City.
The story of Blame! however, is complicated and doesn’t make much sense at the best of times. It’s divided into general arcs which are all combined by Killy’s overarching quest for a human with Net Terminal Genes.
Near the end, the story gets even more confusing and we’re left with not so much an ending but yet another mystery to add to an already huge list.
Even though the story is lackluster, Blame! is worth it for the art and the world it’s set in alone.
There’s overall few manga who can compare to Blame! Especially for fans of cyberpunk, there aren’t as many works out there as good as this one.
Blame! is a visual delight and a manga I can highly recommend to anyone who loves cyberpunk or is interested in a more technological kind of horror manga.
What better way to finish this list than with an absolute masterpiece such as Kentaro Miura’s Berserk.
Berserk is another one of my all-time favorites, both for the amazingly detailed art and the story told.
Berserk is the story of Guts, the Black Swordsman.
At first glance, Berserk might appear simple. We’ve got Guts, a man with a sword as huge as himself who fights giant monsters, so-called apostles.
That might be true for the first volumes of the manga, the so-called Black Swordsman arc. Soon enough, though, we discover that there’s more to Guts than we first believe and that he’s a much more complex character.
After the Black Swordsman arc, we enter the Golden Age arc. It’s here that we learn more about Guts’ backstory and his connection to the man named Griffith.
Berserk is deep, shows us a complex relationship between two complex and unique characters, and can get quite philosophical.
The art in Berserk is breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a reason that Kentaro Miura is not regarded as another mangaka, but a true master of his craft.
You can easily find more details on a single page of Berserk than in an entire chapter of a different manga.
It’s this art that brings forth the unique world of Berserk and the people and monsters populating it.
Berserk’s world is a dark and grim one though, much darker than what we’re used to. It’s a world rampant with war and atrocities.
Berserk also doesn’t shy away from gore and violence. Especially since Guts doesn’t shy away from cleaving anything standing in his way, be it humans or monsters. We see guts flying, people being cut to pieces, torn apart, and much worse things.
However, as dark as Berserk is, the story is masterfully told.
When Berserk’s at its best there’s very few manga that can compare to it.
At first glance, especially during the first chapters or even volumes, Berserk might not appear the masterpiece it truly is, but if you read on, you’re sure to be blown away by it.
I can’t recommend Berserk highly enough and it’s for that reason that’s the number one on this list. Anyone interested in horror manga or manga, in general, should check out Berserk. It’s at the very peak of the genre and as good as it gets.