|Look into my… um. Via.|
We're still finding empty candy wrappers in hidden corners of Japan Society from our OBAKE! Halloween party, and we've barley recovered from the exquisite psychological turmoil of our Onibaba screening last Friday. With no further frights in sight on the calendar, what better way to start a week than with a list of incredible horror/supernatural/thriller manga and manga-based anime!
I've compiled my 13 top personal favorites, ranging from delightfully spooky tales to extremely disturbing paranormal lore. There's lots of ways to pick up these titles (libraries, conventions, trading etc.), but a great source to learn more is Anime News Network. Enjoy a good ghoulish read, and I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments! Without further ado and in no particular order:
Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba
For fun, Shinigami (Death God) Ryuk drops his Death Note in the human world. When high school student Light figures out how to use it, he realizes he has tremendous power to shape the world into a Utopian paradise. But when the government notices mass death in the criminal world, they hire detective “L” to hunt down the culprit. This is a perfect psychological and supernatural cat and mouse game with deadly consequences.
Drifting Classroom, Kazuo Umezu
A strange earthquake engulfs an elementary school and drops it into a barren wasteland. As the whole school descends into macabre pandemonium, the survivors try to figure out what has happened and stay alive in the process.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (When they Cry) Series
Something is rotten in the village of Hinamizwa during the Watananagashi festival. Every night one person goes missing and one ends up dead, and the next day it seems as if nothing's happened. Can the village's newest member, Keiichi escape its dark secret? A well written, psychologically and visually intense novel.
Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl) Series, Miyuki Etoo
Do you desire retribution for a wrong that has been done to you? Enma Ai will ferry your tormentor straight through the gates of hell... for a price. Enma Ai's evolution to Hell Girl is fascinating, and Takahiro Omari's anime brings greater depth to the manga.
Shiki (Corpse Demon), Ono Fuyumi
The once peaceful village of Sotoba is struck with an epidemic of strange and unnatural deaths. Fed up, Natsuno Yuuki investigates, discovering that the village is becoming a haven for the undead.
Doll, Mitsukazu Mihara
Ever get that creepy feeling when you look at a doll: how human and “life-like”they are--for a moment, perhaps, you think they are alive. This is a series of short shorts about androids called Dolls and their effect on their owners’ lives. Great traditional Gothic tales that linger in dreams forever after.
Portus, Jun Abe
Portus is an old videogame with a deadly secret—a hidden level that leads to certain death. Young Asami and Keigo search for the truth behind the legend, and hopefully don't get killed in the process. If you enjoyed the movie Pulse, this is the novel for you.
Uzumaki, Junji Ito
This infectious story follows Kirei's decent into chaos and horror as her town succumbs to an obsession with… spirals.
Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror
Anime based on a collection of ancient Japanese horror stories: “Yotsuya Kaidan” (wife seeking revenge against husband), “Tenshu Monogatari” (forbidden love between goddess and human), and “Bakeneko” (one angry cat with a vendetta).
Mononoke, Kenji Nakamura
This is a continuation of the Ayakashi series through the medicine seller from the “Bakeneko” arc, who faces various ghosts, spirits and demons that walk this world.
Blood: The Last Vampire, Mamoru Oshii
In the prequel to Blood+, Saya’s life and mission gets deeper treatment as she investigates the dark secret of a gang and a certain victim of the gang. Could the two be related? I also recommend Asuka Katsura's Blood+-, another version of Saya’s life with a touch of romance.
Elfen Lied, Lynn Okamoto
This manga is based on the titular German poem (literally “Elf Song”), exploding the themes of social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge and the value of humanity and compassion. This very intense series will make you wonder which are the greater monsters: those imagined or we.
Ergo Proxy, Shukou Murase
Gothic sci-fi set in a post-apocalyptic future, we follow Re-l (pronounced like "real") Mayer through darker side of a fantastical Utopian world. With a manga spinoff by Yumiko Marao, the full series won't disappoint.
Also: Japan Society staff's favorite Japan-related reads.