The spooky season is upon us, and this is the perfect time to binge some horror-themed or supernatural-themed anime to get in the mood for Halloween. With that said, there are only so many hours in the day, there are tons of anime that would fit the bill, and October is almost half-over! What’s an anime fan wearing a witch’s hat or hockey mask to do?
Luckily for you, Anime Obscura has curated a list of quick anime watches that fit the bill. These are all selections of episodes from longer series that don’t require a ton of prior foreknowledge. If you enjoy this sampling, be sure to put them on your list to check out later… maybe in November. (To the best of my knowledge, there is a marked lack of turkey-themed or Thanksgiving-themed anime, so you’ll need something to tide yourself over till Christmas.)
Before anyone gives me the Freddy Kreuger treatment for omitting Higurashi: When They Cry or your favorite horror anime of choice, keep in mind that there are going to be some fantastic horror-themed anime that won’t make this particular list, sometimes because they’re too long to qualify as bite-sized, sometimes because I haven’t watched them personally… and sometimes because a guy has to stop typing sometime.
So, let’s get with it, ghouls and guys!
Ranma 1/2 Episodes 73 and 140 (“My Fiance the Cat” and “Pick a Peck of Happosai”)
Let’s start things off on a light note… For anime watchers of a certain age, Ranma 1/2 needs no introduction, but the main points an unfamiliar viewer really needs to know are that Ranma is a powerful teenaged martial artist who is cursed to change sex every time he’s splashed with hot or cold water, and he’s semi-unwillingly engaged to a girl named Akane, whose family he and his dad now live with. A bevy of cute girls and weirdos who love or hate Ranma constantly make their lives difficult, and the biggest weirdo of all is Ranma’s dad’s evil martial arts master, a two-foot-tall panty thief named Happosai. Oh, and as an “important-only-for-here” aside, Ranma is deathly afraid of cats, and overexposure to him causes him to go into a berserk psychotic state.
In “My Fiance the Cat”, Akane becomes haunted by an amorous ghost seeking a bride. Ranma ain’t afraid of no ghost, but when the ghost becomes visible and turns out to be an 8-foot-tall ghost cat, he becomes pretty much useless.
In “Peck A Pack of Happosai”, the Ranma 1/2 gang discovers that messing with the occult has consequences. A couple of misplaced tarot cards cause Happosai to be split into multiple supernatural personas — a knight, a witch, a centaur, a vampire, an angel, and a devil. Ranma and company have to figure out how to re-seal this horrible horny horde before they destroy the city or maybe even the world.
Ranma 1/2 is streamable subbed or dubbed for free (with ads) on Vudu. Episode 73 is part of Season 4, and Episode 140 is part of Season 7.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia – Episodes 1 and 6 (“Ghost Maiden” and “Maiden of Vengeance”)
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is my all-time favorite anime, not least because of the clever ways it explores how strong emotions, rumor, and belief all function together to make the phenomenon of ghosts possible within its world. The series follows a high school’s “Supernatural Investigation Club” whose club president (Yuuko) is actually a ghost herself, seeking answers about her dimly-remembered past. Only the main protagonist (Taiichi) and a distant relation of hers (Kirie) can see her, while the club’s most enthusiastic member and comic relief (Momoe) is blissfully unaware of her presence.
The first episode is necessary viewing to meet the members of the club and get a sense of what each of them is like and how they interact with one another. The sixth episode, “Maiden of Vengeance”, is the closest thing to a stand-alone horror tale that this series contains. The Supernatural Investigation Club is still poking around the school, trying to figure out if Yuuko is the school’s only ghost, when a girl who is an apparent paranormal-skeptic starts spreading a rumor out of the blue that quickly metastasizes into a full-blown panic among the student body. Her tales of a bloody executioner named Akahito-San roaming the school is making people act crazy with fear… and she seems to be encouraging this for some reason.
The entire 12-episode series is outstanding Halloween viewing, but these two episodes can be watched by themselves as a great snack-sized sample.
Princess Resurrection – Episodes 1 and 13 (“Princess Resurrection” and “Princess Sacrifice”)
Princess Resurrection is another fantastic anime whose 26-episode entirety makes for good Halloween viewing, but in keeping with our promise to keep this bite-sized, I’ll recommend episodes 1 and 13.
Episode 1 introduces us to our main protagonist, Hiro, who has traveled to a remote town to visit his sister, an airhead who has taken a job as a maid at a creepy Addams-Family-style mansion on the mountain overlooking the city. While in town, he sees a disaster about to befall a beautiful blonde girl dressed all in black, and in pushing her out of the way, he gets himself killed. Series over! (Okay, not really.) It turns out that the blonde, Hime, is his sister’s employer, and something of a literal princess of darkness. She resurrects him to a form of semi-life, but that comes with a bit of a price and a lot of trouble, as you and he will both soon find out.
Plenty of episodes in Princess Resurrection make for great October viewing, as they’re packed to the gills with monsters, vampires, zombies, Lovecraftian beasties… you name it. However, Episode 13 always stuck out to me as being particularly suspenseful and fairly unique for featuring an “unkillable slasher” villain a la Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, or Leatherface. (For whatever reason, that trope is almost never used in anime apart from a humorous reference.) In any case, Hiro and Hime find themselves alone in an otherworldly village where one such monster holds bloody sway over the inhabitants. It’s genuinely creepy, and good stuff.
Another – Collected Manga or Episodes 1-4
Another has often been nicknamed “Final Destination: The Anime”, and that description certainly isn’t wrong. Death itself seems to be stalking a group of high schoolers, with ordinary accidents turning lethal at the drop of a hat. The reason why is gradually revealed over the course of the entire series, and it would be a disservice to you to try to explain it to you here in summary form. It is clever, though, and feels like a worthy payoff for the most part. It’s also probably the goriest anime I’ve ever watched, bar none.
It’s worth noting that Another actually started off as a novel, then got adapted into both an anime and a manga shortly thereafter. Personally, I would actually suggest the collected all-in-one manga from Yen Press as the best way to experience this story. Being a comic, it’s a fairly fast read, and it explains a couple of things (especially about the ending) better than the anime did. However, unlike the anime, you can’t exactly “stream” a graphic novel and may not want to plunk down $30 on a lark, which is totally understandable. In that case, the anime absolutely won’t disappoint in terms of intensity and violence.
The first four episodes introduce us to Koichi Sakakibara, who has recently moved to a remote town in the Japanese countryside. His classmates seem oddly standoffish, as if his presence there is unwelcome, but not due to anything against him personally. At the same time, he takes notice of the fact that he keeps seeing a pale girl at the school wearing an eyepatch who none of the other students seem to see or acknowledge. Soon afterward, strange and horrible accidents begin befalling his classmates. Could the silent, ghostly girl be the cause? Or is there something else afoot?
Episodes 1-4 absolutely won’t explain the weird situation Koichi finds himself in, but it does give you an idea of the overall flavor of the anime and serves as a good jumping-off point should you wish to pursue it further.
Ghost Hunt – Episodes 18-21 (“The Blood-Stained Labyrinth Parts 1-4”)
Ghost Hunt is a great anime with a simple premise and a very episodic nature, which makes jumping into a spot in the middle of the series easy as long as you know the setup. It follows the exploits of a group of ghost hunters and exorcists with a huge diversity of backgrounds and strengths. You have a paranormal researcher, an onmyoji (magic practitioner), a Buddhist monk, a Shinto priestess, a Catholic Christian priest, and a psychic, all of whom are loosely aligned as friends who help each other out on exorcism “jobs.” Joining them is our protagonist, Mai, a high school girl who made herself useful to the team in the first few episodes and started working with the paranormal researcher as his part-time assistant.
The team takes on a number of different cases during the anime series that get resolved over a number of episodes. Sometimes these involved solving a mystery but were not terribly dangerous, while others featured a supernatural threat that was actively harmful. Nothing before or after touches the Blood-Stained Labyrinth in terms of its deadly threat level, though. The team travels to a huge estate where people have simply been disappearing without a trace. The house is a massive complex with secret passages, dead-end halls and doorways… et cetera. It’s the labyrinth of the title. The kicker here is that these missing people have been gone for far too long to simply be playing hide-and-seek. And if the team isn’t careful, they may be added to the number of the house’s victims shortly… This story arc feels almost like an anime adaptation of The Shining or Hell House, and it’s great viewing. Without giving anything away, I also appreciated how this particular case wrapped up.
Ghost Hunt is streamable on the Funimation Channel.
So, there ya go, five anime selections to keep your Halloween spirit alive… or dead… or undead… however you prefer, really… in 2020. There are plenty of other anime and even other episodes I could have included, but hey, there will be other Halloweens and hopefully other Halloween-themed anime articles to write.
Take care, everyone! Stay safe, and may you always get nothing but the good stuff in your trick-or-treat bag!