Top 20 Best Horror Manga That Put 2020 To Shame
The horror genre in the world of anime and manga has its own niche. Although often unmatched in bringing out the human mind’s ingenuity, most such manga lie in obscurity. While not as popular as their shounen and romance counterparts, horror manga deserves quite a bit of appreciation. With 2020 gone, we have curated a list of some of the top horror manga that will make 2020 seem like a breeze in the air. Enthrall yourself with aspects of the freakishly grotesque, blood-curdling terror, mind-boggling plots, and flying gore and viscera. So ready your flashlights and light your candles as we go through some of the best horror manga that surpasses the horrors of 2020.
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20. Shoujo Tsubaki – by Suehiro Maruo
Ranked 20th on our list is Shuojo Tsubaki. This novel follows the unforgivable misfortune that continues to strike an orphaned girl named Midori. While filled to the brim with grotesque characters and unspeakable horrors, it is as freaky as horrifying. Being a pioneer of the ero guro genre, it touches themes of gory sexual violence. It portrays the amoral and corrupt nature of the society and the human mind with atrocities inflicted on the marginalized. It is sure to arouse feelings of discomfort and disgust. Moreover, the horror itself arises from the story’s psychosexual and dreadful nature, the characters, and their actions’ depravity. So much so that even the anime film adaptation was nearly banned everywhere due to its controversial, dark, and outrageous nature. Despite being a touchy topic, this one is your perfect getaway to a weird and freaky style of horror.
19. Elfen Lied – by Lynn Okamoto
Secrecy, conspiracy, and government experiments on aliens are nothing new to the world of fantasy. Still, Elfen Lied manages to take all of that up by a few notches. Having blood and guts flying around, there is no dearth of bloody onslaughts in all its gory glory. Yet, that is not all that is there to it. Beneath the layers of unending bloodshed, the manga uncovers the various motivations that drive the characters. Thus, bringing out conflicting feelings within the reader, too, so all is not black and white either. Its totality sheds light on topics such as child abuse, global terrorism, unethical scientific research, mutations, and more. If you can stomach all the bloodshed and carnage, this one will definitely satiate your horror manga cravings.
18. Zero – Kage Miko – by Amagi Seimaru
Ranked next on our list of horrors is a spin-off series based on the Fatal Frame game series. While set in the same universe as the game series, there is little relation to any games’ events. There are some minor changes in the lore and other aspects of the game. But nothing too alarming for the games’ fans. Speaking of alarming, the artwork and the panels on each page will surely send shivers down your spine. While the story itself offers little in terms of bone-chilling horror, it is still a highly recommended treatment for the Fatal Frame game fans or any video game player in general. And for the others, give it a shot if the realm of the paranormal horror does tickle your fancy!
17. Ore to Akuma no Blues/ Me and the Devil Blues – by Akira Hiramoto
Disclaimer:- No deals were made with the Devil in the writing of this manga nor for this list.
The next entry on this countdown brings the mythos of the West to the readers of the East. It is a perfect blend of fact and fiction, spoonsful of making a deal with the Devil. The mythos and the racial history of America’s southern parts with aspects of horror and pure, raw emotions. While based on the blues legend Robert Johnson’s life, it is also imbibed with fictional myths surrounding him. The characters’ overall execution, their virtues and vices, desires and aspirations, the plotline, and most of all, the illustrations, all of the pieces come together in perfect symphony. This is not something that you can find every day. A truly rare manga series, and a horror one at that, to leave you terrified.
16. Hakaijuu – by Shingo Honda
As the name of this manga suggests (hakai and kaiju), it is indeed a creature feature horror series with destruction aplenty. Beginning as an unsuspecting sports story with nothing out of the ordinary. But soon enough, nothing is ordinary. Nothing is as they seem. The plot will keep you on your toes with its twists and turns. And there is plenty of bloody gore and devastating destruction to keep you glued to the series. If that’s not enough either, the art and the attention to detail that it captures will surely keep you coming back for more. Grotesquely gross yet horrifyingly captivating is one way to put it. As for the horror freaks who haven’t read this yet, you’re missing out on some super freaky yet cool content. So, put on your reading glasses and chant your prayers for a fun ride ahead, minus the horrors of your nightmares. Surely a horror manga to check out!
15. Zashiki Onna/ Phantom Stalker Woman – by Minetaro Mochizuki
Zashiki Onna is a manga that is far more relevant in the present times than ever before. It follows the story of a young lad getting stalked by a creepy lady. The series does a wonderful job building up horror as readers find themselves in the protagonist’s shoes. The fear of the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead, the suspense, it all builds up. Ultimately impacting the protagonist and the readers alike as they try to escape the grasps of paranoia. The creepy illustrations add to the thrill and fear. Did you know that this series was published much before stalking was a serious concern? The realism and plausibility of the series’ events are what makes it far more terrifying! An addictive plot reeking of suspense from the start is what this horror manga is!
14. Pumpkin Night – by Masaya Hokazono
Gore galore! Pumpkin Night gives glory to all that is gory! Puns aside, this manga is a sweet treat of gorefest for horror lovers. Especially those who love to see loads of bloody, visceral matter flying around. A slasher story follows a girl out on a murder spree, rampaging around to exact revenge on those who wronged her. The plot by itself will leave its reader base divided into the rights and wrongs. And the striking artwork adds plenty of brownie points, making it a clear choice of horror manga to be read. And once you pick it up, chances are you won’t be stopping till the end as each chapter builds its own suspense.
13. Skyhigh – by Tsutomu Takahashi
Skyhigh is something different than what we’ve seen so far. Unlike the other horror manga, it doesn’t base itself entirely on the grim and the ghastly’s terrors and horrors. Instead, it challenges the readers’ intellect, rooted in human actions’ ethicality and morality. While reading the chapters, you’ll find yourself in the characters’ shoes, debating by yourself what path to take. The story revolves around Izuko, the guardian of a gate to the afterlife, offering three choices to departed souls- rest in heaven awaiting reincarnation, reject death and wander the Earth as ghosts or condemn and curse someone but face the infernal wrath of Hell. And it is all a gray area with no clear right or wrong. Additionally, the tastefully done art and panels perfectly capture the emotions and themes of each chapter. A must-read if you’re into horror manga but want something different.
12. Can You Just Die, My Darling? – by Majuro Kaname
Can You Die, My Darling? is like a mixed bag of romance, horror, mystery, and thriller while maintaining a fine balance. It has plenty of blood lust and a few dashes of gore. Romance goes awry as love turns into an obsession to kill the beloved. Add to this a mysterious illness and some superhuman powers, and voila! This horror manga follows the characters as they try to uncover the mysteries behind the abnormalities while dealing with their bloodlust. Sanity and rationality come into question as they battle or give in to their murderous impulses while plagued by similar delusions. As they say, “love kills’, the manga gives a new meaning to the saying! All in all, it sets up for some intrigue that won’t leave you disappointed. It is one hell of a rollercoaster ride that you wouldn’t want to get off from!
11. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Onikakushi-hen/ Higurashi When They Cry – by Ryukishi07
Being a murder mystery sound visual novel, the 11th entry is different from most other series on this list. Set in 1983, the story takes place in a blissfully tranquil village that celebrates a local annual festival with much vigor. A blessed paradise, the village seems to be, but not for long. Dark mysteries await throughout the story, waiting to be uncovered. As paranoia grips the characters with unsettling twists, readers are left anxious as well. It’s certainly not for the weak of mind, as the characters try to unravel the secrets behind the murders. At the same time, the plot skillfully sways between sanity and insanity and some moments of violence. All the characters are well done, and the music, sound effects, and visual artwork all add to the charm. There’s plenty of blanks left to be filled, so get started on reading this horror manga!
10. Pet Shop of Horrors – by Matsuri Akino
Pet Shop of Horrors shifts from the usual grotesque horror and brutality to soft horrors and macabre elements. This horror manga takes you out of your pandemic lockdown boredom as you travel to Chinatown, Los Angeles. After a day of stuffing ourselves with all sorts of gastronomical delights, you encounter a strange pet shop that gets our attention. Entering the shop, we are greeted by a certain Count D, the elegant shop owner. He presents a weirdly unique creature as a pet, but with certain caveats. Breaking these conditions will lead to dire or even deadly consequences. And that’s the basic premise of the series. Most of the chapters are standalone too. However, the plot comes together with some recurring characters, and each story building up into a larger one. Each chapter follows the buyers, what they do ahead and end by giving a deep, profound message to the readers.
09. Jigokusei Remina/ Hellstar Remina – by Junji Ito
Gore meets science fiction in a futuristic world is a sure-fire way to get more readers. Junji Ito, one of the most popular horror mangakas, does just that but with his own swag. The story begins with discovering a rogue planet drifting in Space as stars and planets disappear in its wake. Soon, it sets its eyes on Earth, entering the Solar System. The plot revolves around this planet and the female lead, which the planet takes the name after. Destruction and violence aplenty, the artwork also depicts hellish landscapes of the alien planet. Even more striking is that the real gloom and doom comes not from the planet itself but the people. Their fickle-minded reactions as the planet approach. It shows how far people will go, discarding their morals, to survive. All things considered, it’s a great read with space flick vibes to it. A horror manga to consider for sure!
08. Hideout – by Masasumi Kakizaki
Hideout brings to life an overused plot- stranded on an island with the horrors that follow. But what makes it impressively different is the execution of the plot with brevity and superb artwork, making this horror manga a good read. Swaying between the present and the past, the story follows a failing writer and his wife, with their marriage in shambles after losing their only son. Stranded on a lone island, they must survive, but they aren’t alone, and for the worse too. The plot may be cliched, and readers may or may not like it. But what really steals the show is the creepily alluring artwork. It gets the readers invested in the story, despite being short. This goes on to say a great deal about the mangaka’s skills. You won’t regret reading this one, finishing it within a few hours, tops!
07. Kiriko – by Shingo Honda
A somewhat short horror manga series with a slasher, revenge sub-genre going for it. A group of people gets mysterious invitations to attend a get-together and remember a past, deceased friend. However, soon the gathered start to fall one by one. That too, in such a dreadful fashion, that it will give you more chills than the cold Winter air! The manga explores various aspects of the human psyche, focusing on guilt and one’s guilty conscience, suppressed memories, and slow descent into insanity. The artwork has lifelike qualities with surprisingly unsettling expressions and disturbingly gruesome characterizations. So, there is plenty in this series for horror lovers, and you have to stay back for the plot twist!
06. Panorama of Hell – by Hideshi Hino
A one-shot manga that puts the reader with a strange artist painting landscapes of Hell with his blood. The plot is more of a conversation with the said artist, who details each of his works’ story. Being a post-nuclear apocalypse survivor, his work contains symbols of suffering, torture, grief, violence, and gore. The manga is itself built upon truckloads of symbolisms with the metaphorized paintings. You may feel disgusted by the painter, by the paintings, and by the story, but there are still slivers of sympathy. Sympathy for his condition, his past, and events that have led to the present. The artist goes on to paint his final masterpiece. This horror manage is a gloomy tale full of morbidity, trauma, and despair with a high shock value!
05. Kami no Kodomo/ God’s Child – by Nishioka Kyoudai
Being a dark story with a sadistic plot, Kami no Kodomo is about a child growing into a serial killer. It explores his sociopathic tendencies and sick and twisted accomplishments. The manga includes copious amounts of all things icky and disgusting to the point of stomach-churning as well. The art is simple yet effective in obscuring what needs to be hidden. While controversial and disturbing, it is still a great horror manga, with plenty of ominous vibes, that delves into the human mind from the view of a homicidal maniac.
04. Kichikujima – by Masaya Hokazono
At first glance, the manga seems to be heavily inspired by other popular slasher films. The characters and the plotline itself don’t seem to be too interesting. But, it can be compared to a 2nd-grade horror film. The environment setting and the character designs scream creepy. The series performs a good execution with the artwork and builds tension that perfectly aligns with the storyline. Body parts, guts, and entrails fly around with plenty of dismemberment. If you’re into survival horror involving lone islands, crazed cannibals with freaky masks, and protagonists trying to survive, then this one might be perfect for you. It’s an enjoyable read, especially if you are in a dilemma about watching a horror slasher film or reading a horror manga. This one brings you the best of both worlds!
03. Lychee Light Club – by Usamaru Furuya
Despite being another ero guro entry on this list, Lychee Light Club is more than just that. It shows how easily freedom and rights can be stripped away through fear and subordination. The story sets into motion as the Light Club group of boys mature from fun and frolic into perversion and depravity. Insanity builds up as they try to build the perfect AI to kidnap pretty girls and to use as a murdering machine. It borrows concepts from love and romance, sexuality, yaoi, brutality, violence, murder, bloodshed, and much much more. Most of the characters are well developed and fleshed out, each having their unique personalities that we come to love and hate. It perfectly captures twisted mindsets and perfectly builds up the atmosphere with the locational imagery where it is set. While it may be off-putting for some, it is nothing short of a dark, twisted masterpiece of horror manga.
02. Ibitsu – by Haruto Ryo
Number 2 on our list of best horror manga is one that brings to life an ominous urban legend. Urban legends are no stranger to horror anime and manga. Yet, each stands out from the other. Similarly, Ibitsu is one of our top picks in this horror manga countdown. As the legend in this series goes, misfortune befalls those targeted by a girl dressed as lolita when she asks the passersby if they have a sister. Say your prayers because there is no happy, jolly, sweet ending, no matter what you answer. Our protagonist with his sister finds themselves in a similar fix. Increasingly relentless intense episodes of stalking and attacks by the phantom presence leave the characters and the readers traumatized. This is definitely not for the faint of heart either, with its gruesome imagery to go along. So keep your lights switched on and hide well, for who knows who the ghastly lolita shall target next!
01. Uzumaki – by Junji Ito
And finally, ranked number one on this list, is none other than a masterpiece by the master of horror manga himself, Junji Ito- Uzumaki! Set in a town plagued by a supernatural curse revolving around spirals, literally. The chapters slowly build tension and create a grim atmosphere that leads to terror. The slow burn aside, more surprising is that the manga’s grotesqueness doesn’t lie in its gore. Instead, it is the spinalization of everything- body and body parts to the environment and the city’s features, that is almost hard to look at. There is plenty of death throughout while maniacal terror sets in. Thus, the plot itself unravels into a grim and grisly one with little hope for the characters. After all, is said and done, Uzumaki will surely concrete itself in your mind for quite some time – Much after you’ve finished reading this horror manga.
With this, we have reached the end of the post. The entire genre of horror manga is by itself a vast territory. It can’t be summarized and compressed into a small list. But we have covered almost all sub-genres from the paranormal and supernatural to bloody carnage full of gore as well as soft horrors that are equally terrifying in their own right. So what did you think of this list of horrifying horror manga that can horribly horrify simpler minds? Would you have liked to see other manga on this list? Do let us know!