While there are a lot of horror anime both new and old I’d recommend you give a watch, I wanted to do something a little bit different by creating a list of horror manga recommendations. Whether I am watching my favorite horror movies like It Follows, Deathgasm, Rosemary’s Baby, Battle Royale, Psycho, Ringu, The Witch, or Train to Busan to name a few, or reading one of my favorite horror manga, horror is one of my favorite genres, no matter what medium I am experiencing it in.
And there’s a lot to explore within the horror manga genre as a whole from body horror to psychological horror to sci-fi horror to comedy horror to slashers and more. You have series that are about death games, serial killers, and every monster you can imagine from zombies to vampires to ghouls. Many of these series are also some of the best seinen manga of all time.
Then you have the horror manga series that are a bit more out there, in the best way possible, and throw more whimsical ideas into the mix, such as murderous magical girls, parasitic frogs, and killer goldfish. Into romance manga? There are even some horror series that have romances in them, albeit twisted ones, that I added to this list as well.
There’s everything from bloody gorefests to psychological thrillers and supernatural titles on this list, so hopefully, there’s something for everyone. Some manga on this post have horror elements in them, while others are pure horror. Still, each is terrifying, or at the very least creepy or unsettling, in their own unique and interesting ways.
That all being said, here are the best horror manga you need to check out now!
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Parasyte has some of the most horrifying alien designs I’ve ever seen, but it also has some of the most effective body horror I’ve witnessed in manga. Something about the way the aliens pop out through people’s heads in their grotesque forms really sticks with you, but even more so than that, it’s the fact that they still have somewhat of a human form, albeit a twisted one, that creeped me out most.
Parasyte follows Shinichi Izumi, who’s your everyday, average high school student. His life changes forever one day when an alien creature called a Parasite invades his body. Somehow, he manages to prevent it from infesting his entire body though, containing it only in his hand. No longer the same, with his hand under the control of a murderous alien named Migi, Shinichi will have to face this new reality head-on.
Others who have been infected by Parasites have not had much luck and have been taken over by these otherworldly beings. Their bodies are now hosts under the control of the Parasites, who morph their bodies any way they please into horrifying visions and use their bodies to hide within the crowd as “humans”.
The only one who knows of their secret is Shinichi, so he will have to find a way to warn humanity of the horrors to come. It’s a series that was released over 30 years ago and is still highly influential and loved to this day. It’s a sci-fi horror classic that has withstood the test of time, and it’s without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best horror manga to release so far. You can collect the Parasyte manga via the singles released by Kodansha, but also keep an eye out for the upcoming Parasyte Full Color Collection that’s releasing in 2022!
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
Uzumaki by Junji Ito, who is one of the most popular horror manga creators and is well-known by horror fans everywhere, is a horror manga that follows a young girl as she and her family become increasingly obsessed with spirals. The spiral phenomenon affects their town, causing people to disappear or die. Out of all of Junji Ito’s works, Uzumaki is probably my favorite.
Uzumaki showcases how one can spiral into madness well. Full of drama and suspense, the manga focuses less on blood and gore and more on psychological horror. The story is episodic in nature at times, but it still has an overarching story that ties everything together. His creepy, highly detailed art style is something to behold as well. To me, Uzumaki is more disturbing than it is scary. That being said, it is one of the most unsettling reads on this list.
It’s hard to talk about Uzumaki without giving too much away. All I can say is that this manga is in a class of its own when it comes to horror. It’s extremely weird and messed up, but at the same time very original in its storytelling and art style. If you are looking to get into more of Junji Ito’s works, I recommend checking out Tomie, No Longer Human, Sensor, Gyo, and Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories. These, in addition to Uzumaki, are some of the best manga by Junji Ito.
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Berserk by Kentaro Miura is my favorite manga of all time, and while it’s more so a dark fantasy manga, its pages are full of horror, so it’s one that horror fans are sure to enjoy. It features some of the best manga panels and artwork I’ve ever seen, but it also has one of the best stories in all of manga as well.
Berserk is a story about so many things—Human nature, struggle, one’s own will vs. their destiny, the sacrifice we make for others but also those we make for ourselves and so much more. It’s set in a brutal world that’s plagued by war and our main character Guts is quite literally born into it.
Later on in the Golden Age Arc, he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk that’s led by Griffith, a charismatic leader. This is the arc where things really take off in the story. But this is of course a dark fantasy, so something happens later on that changes everything for Guts and the story develops in a way that continuously keeps you invested. This is also where the story begins feeling more like horror as well.
While Kentaro Miura’s artwork is beautiful, it is also extremely brutal to witness at times. Even though it’s bloody and gory, the story always remains front and center. Everything in this manga serves a purpose and the violent moments are never there to just shock and awe you, although they will at many times, do just that. The panel when Guts and Griffith first meet Zodd still gives me chills to this day.
It’s just a masterpiece through and through and I highly recommend it to any manga fan, no matter what genre(s) you are into. You can currently collect Berserk via the singles or the Berserk Deluxe Editions released by Dark Horse.
Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul often appears on ‘best horror manga’ lists, and rightfully so. It challenges the black-and-white narrative of good versus evil, plunging readers into a world where these lines blur. At its heart is Kaneki, a regular kid thrust into the nightmarish intersection of the human and ghoul worlds. The horror isn’t just in his transformation, but in his realization that he now craves human flesh, with every familiar face, including friends, looking and smelling like food.
Beyond his internal struggle with his ghoul instincts and the looming presence of a darker self, the ghoulish world introduces Kaneki to factions with sinister tastes, like the Gourmets, adding layers to his spiral into darkness. As the story unfolds, its horror deepens, making it an unforgettable read. If you’ve enjoyed it, be sure to check out its sequel, Tokyo Ghoul:re. The series is available as single volumes, a box set—one of my favorite manga box sets—or the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Tokyo Ghoul Monster Editions.
Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei
Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The journey centers around Killy and his relentless search for the Net Terminal Gene and the allies and threats he faces along the way. Diving into a blend of sci-fi, action, and horror, I found myself immersed in a cyberpunk world where the story is told more through art than words. This isn’t your typical dialogue-heavy manga; it’s a testament to Tsutomu Nihei’s talent that he can evoke so much emotion and depth just through visuals alone.
The designs of the Silicon Life are as breathtaking as they are horrifying to witness. At times, I felt echoes of H.R. Giger’s art from the Alien universe, especially with those intricate bio-mechanical touches. The sense of isolation in Blame!’s world only added to the chilling vibe. It’s not just about the visual horror, though. It’s Tsutomu Nihei’s portrayal of a desolate, haunting world and how he makes the structure feel so expansive that struck me most.
You can collect Blame!‘s manga via the singles or the Blame! Master Editions released by Vertical. Read up more on why I think Blame! is one of the best manga. Also, if you enjoy the series, be sure to check out Blame!‘s prequel NOiSE, which is released by Kodansha.
Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
Dorohedoro is a dark manga that doesn’t necessarily feel like one. Despite it being chock-full of gruesome fights, blood and gore, and messed-up developments, you still feel warm and fuzzy while reading, thanks to the dynamics between the characters and its sense of humor, which while dark, lightens the mood of the series. Later on, though, the series’ tone changes, so while it’s a fun read, it’s dark as well, thanks to the world and the issues these characters have to overcome.
The story is about Caiman, whose head was transformed into a lizard head and has no memories of his past. He teams up with Nikaido, the owner of a small restaurant called the Hungry Bug, to find the sorcerer who did this to him and get revenge on them. Along the way, they meet other characters in this strange world they live in called the Hole. But later on, the story expands to the Sorcerer’s World, which opens this story up to a new world of possibilities.
Dorohedoro is an incredibly weird and lovable series that’s funny because of its dark humor and over-the-top gore. It has a lot of fun nods to horror, including The Night of the Living Dead and more. The art style is unique from any other manga I’ve read before too, which makes it stand out even more than it already does. On top of all that, it has some of the best characters in all of manga. For these reasons and more, it is one of my favorite manga of all time.
Want more? Check out my full review of Dorohedoro.
Homunculus by Hideo Yamamoto
Homunculus by Hideo Yamamoto, the mind that also brought us Ichi the Killer, is one of the best thrillers and psychological horror manga. Seven Seas recently announced that they will be releasing Homunculus with English translation in an oversized omnibus format.
The story follows Susumu Nakoshi. One day he’s in a lavish hotel, the next he’s living in his car. He is approached by the mysterious Manabu Ito, a 22-year-old medical student, who says he’s a perfect candidate for his experiment. He initially rejects his offer, but later accepts it when his car is towed and is in need of cash. In exchange for 700,000 yen, Nakoshi lets Ito drill a hole into his skull via a method called trepanation. At first, everything seems normal for Nakoshi following this experimental surgery, but this all changes when the effects kick in and he begins seeing the homunculus in every person.
Watching Nakoshi undergo this experimental surgery is a horror in itself, but it’s the aftereffects of the surgery and the distorted humans that Nakoshi now sees that are the most unsettling. It’s hard to really know what’s real or not in this one too as you are reading, so there is an element of mystery to the series as you work to understand what is happening to Nakoshi as he himself is trying to understand what is going on as well. You really feel like you are in this story with Nakoshi as a result.
Blood on the Tracks by Shuzo Oshimi
Blood on the Tracks by Shuzo Oshimi, the creator of The Flowers of Evil, Happiness, and Inside Mari, is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read. And while it’s not necessarily classified as a horror, I’m including it on this list, because it’s unsettling as well as eerie, and if you put yourself in the MC’s shoes, it’s a truly horrifying read. Thanks to the chain of events that occur in this series, it gets creepier and creepier as it goes on, but it’s Shuzo Oshimi’s art that further sets its dark tone.
Blood on the Tracks is about a relationship between a son, Seiichi, and his mother. But they don’t just have any ordinary relationship…She loves him so much she will do anything to keep him to herself and protect him, even if that means doing the most heinous and unthinkable things. Their extremely toxic relationship prevents Seiichi from living his life because there are no lengths his mother won’t go to to keep him under her grasp.
You really wish for Seiichi to break out of this terrible relationship, which is ruining his friendships, opportunities, and more. Over the course of the chapters, it’s easy to question how someone could become so easily controlled by their mother, but Shuzo Oshimi does an incredible job at explaining the how and why behind a toxic mother-son relationship. To me, Blood on the Tracks is Shuzo Oshimi’s best work yet, and this is saying a lot because he’s created many series that I love. It’s a fast and effective read that features a horror that’s quiet yet so loud at the same time, and it’s one that will make your skin crawl.
Gantz by Hiroya Oku
Gantz is a rollercoaster of emotions, blending dark sci-fi with elements of horror that had me gripping the edge of my seat. The story revolves around Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, who, after a tragic accident, find themselves in a macabre “game” of hunting aliens in futuristic gear. The result? Bloody, gory confrontations that are shocking, dreadful, and thrilling.
What sets Gantz apart isn’t just its pulse-pounding action or the eerily unique alien designs—which are some of the most haunting I’ve come across, by the way. It’s the depth, the suspense, and the unexpected moments of emotion that are experienced amidst the chaos. The art itself is next-level; I felt as if I was in a movie. I could almost hear the explosions, the alien footsteps, and the sounds of their weapons. It’s rare for a manga to immerse in its world as much as Gantz does.
Although there are times Gantz feels more like a hardcore action series, its horror undertones are ever-present throughout the chapters. If you’re looking for a visceral, cinematic experience in manga form, Gantz should be at the top of your list. If you’re still on the fence, here are 7 reasons why Gantz deserves your attention. For a more in-depth and spoiler-free review of Gantz and a look at the manga, you can also check out my video on YouTube below.
I Am a Hero by Kengo Hanazawa
I Am A Hero by Kengo Hanazawa does many things right. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and always guessing what’s going to happen next, but it also has an average main character who now has to survive in an anything-but-average world. I Am A Hero leans heavily into the psychological. You get a glimpse into how these events affect the MC’s psyche, which is something I haven’t seen explored in any other zombie manga—at least to this depth.
I Am A Hero is one of my favorite horror manga, and it’s a series I’d especially recommend to any zombie fan. It follows an average guy named Hideo Suzuki, a 35-year-old manga assistant. When the world is taken over by a zombie apocalypse, he finds himself struggling to survive with his trusty old shotgun against hordes of zombies and other survivors vying for the same food and shelter he needs. It’s interesting watching this average hero try to find some semblance of normalcy in an increasingly chaotic world. You can read I Am A Hero via the 2-in-1 omnibuses released by Dark Horse.
The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu
The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu is similar to the Lord of the Flies, except much darker. The environment is just as important as the characters in this story, and Kazuo Umezu developed both extremely well.
It is one of the most disturbing horror manga I’ve read. It’s a story about survival, but it takes place in a school and the characters are all kids, which makes it all the more disturbing. The story starts off with the usual school shenanigans, but this all changes when things take a turn for the worse. When everything outside their school mysteriously disappears, these kids now find themselves fighting to survive in a terrifying desert wasteland.
The Drifting Classroom is a horror manga classic, but it has elements of mystery and sci-fi that keep things interesting as well. Even though it’s an older series that was first released in the 70s, it’s one of those manga that never gets old because it’s such a well-written and detailed story.
Gannibal by Masaaki Ninomiya
I included a lot of hidden horror gems on this list, but Gannibal by Masaaki Ninomiya is currently one of the most underrated manga in the horror genre. When we are first introduced to our main character, he has just moved to a remote village in the mountains with his family. But, it’s not just any ordinary village… It’s one that’s shrouded in a lot of mystery. More terrifyingly than that, it’s a place where cannibals are rumored to reside.
Everyone jokes about this at first, but when the local policeman goes missing and our MC is sent in to take over his post, he begins to wonder whether or not these rumors are actually true and starts to investigate. The only problem is that one particular family in the area doesn’t like him poking around in their business.
It reminds me of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a lot of ways because there’s the townsfolk and then there’s the main family—in this case the Goto family—that puts the whole town in a state of unease. The townspeople acknowledge them, but they don’t pry into their lives. It’s a rather suspenseful but also horrifying read, as a result, and it constantly puts you on edge.
Through his interactions with the people in this town, but also the Goto family, you uncover this mystery alongside the MC and others. There are some pretty gruesome scenes that really chill you to the bone, but it’s a mysterious and thrilling series also. Gannibal is being released with an English translation by Ablaze.
Brutal: Satsujin Keisatsukan no Kokuhaku by Kei Koga & Ryou Izawa
Brutal: Satsujin Keisatsukan no Kokuhaku is an extremely underrated horror manga about a detective named Hiroki Dan who will do anything, even the most unthinkable, to get revenge on criminals that slip through the cracks of the justice system. When all else fails, he is there to make sure they never hurt anyone else ever again, even if he himself must dirty his hands to do so.
He has this eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth type of mentality, but the people he kills are the absolute worst of the worst who live out their days harming and taking the lives of others. It creates a sense of uncertainty within you as the reader. On one hand, you’ll think they got what they deserved, while on the other hand, you find yourself questioning his methods as well as the joy he gets from killing them. In this way, he is very similar to characters like Light in Death Note or Dexter Morgan in Dexter, so if you enjoyed watching these series, you will enjoy Brutal: Satsujin Keisatsukan no Kokuhaku as well.
Due to the nature of the content in this story, it is quite graphic. Seeing that many of you came here for horror, this is something that most likely isn’t of concern, but it is more violent than most because of the brutal way in which Hiroki kills these criminals. On top of that, there are some gruesome murders that happen in this manga. That being said, if you enjoy gory manga, Brutal: Satsujin Keisatsukan no Kokuhaku is right up your alley.
Starving Anonymous by Yuu Kuraishi and Kazu Inabe
Oftentimes, horror manga have something to say or a message they’d like to give. A lot of them have unique takes on morality or human nature, but manga like Starving Anonymous by Yuu Kuraishi and Kazu Inabe, who you may also know as the creators of one of my favorite zombie manga to release to date, Fort of Apocalypse, takes it a step further by taking a hard look at society as a whole.
Starving Anonymous really dives into humanity’s excessive as well as gluttonous need for things as well as our inability to look at the effects our actions have, especially when it comes to the food industry. It has some of the most effective and highly detailed panels I’ve seen to date in a horror manga.
It takes a grim look at what it would be like if we weren’t at the top of the food chain and conspiracies are involved too, which keeps things fresh and interesting. If you don’t like manga that are cynical, Starving Anonymous may not be for you, but if you are someone who likes manga that are brutally honest, it’s one you don’t want to miss. Kodansha published Starving Anonymous digitally with an English translation, but the series has never been printed physically with an English translation. Here’s hoping this changes one day!
The Summer Hikaru Died by Mokumokuren
The Summer Hikaru Died is one of the best new horror manga series I’ve read in a while. The story follows Yoshiki and Hikaru, childhood friends from a secluded village. But suddenly, Hikaru changes—as if something else has taken over him. It dives deep into Yoshiki’s turmoil, grappling with the loss, and making a tough choice to hold onto this ‘new’ Hikaru. As far as the setting goes, think of an unsettling village in the countryside, reminiscent of Higurashi. There’s a palpable tension, from hushed conversations to the uneasy atmosphere that exists in this town and the mountainous forests that surround it.
As the village seems to spiral into madness, the story continuously captures your attention not just because it’s full of emotion, but because of its eerie and mysterious atmosphere as well. Our MC, Hikaru, is puzzling. He recalls past memories, yet there’s an innocence to him, which is contrasted by the potential danger that we as readers know he may pose. It’s a layered mystery, with each volume unveiling more, so it’s one you won’t be able to put down.
The story and emotions of the characters are expressed well, the art is beautiful, and it’s the best new horror manga I’ve read to date. If you love mystery as well as supernatural manga, you’ll want to give this one a shot. Yen Press is releasing The Summer Hikaru Died with an English translation if you’d like to check it out.
BioMeat Nectar by Yuki Fujisawa
BioMeat Nectar by Yuki Fujisawa is a survival horror manga, and it is an absolute gem. It’s such an underrated horror manga for how amazing it is. If you are looking for a series that has blood, gore, action, drama, a high-stakes survival situation, and odd creatures, BioMeat Nectar has all this and so much more. It is more so a survival manga than anything, but it definitely has its roots in horror as well.
BioMeat Nectar is set in a world where the food supply is dwindling, so bioengineers create a meat substitute called BioMeat that feeds on everything except for glass and vinyl. In return, it produces an endless supply of food. One day, a piece of BioMeat escapes into the city, and this is where all hell breaks loose.
The only thing I will say is that BioMeat Nectar has an older art style given that it was released in the early 2000s, but if you can get past this, I promise you won’t regret checking it out. Even though it’s not inherently scary, there’s something so realistic about this series that makes it unsettling, especially since it explores the dark side of humanity.
Higurashi When They Cry by Jirou Suzuki & Ryukishi07
Higurashi When They Cry is a horror manga by Jirou Suzuki and Ryukishi07 and it is a must-have on this list. It isn’t just one of the best horror series, but it’s one of the best mystery manga too. It is about a group of friends and their interactions with each other in a small village called Hinamizawa. They have fun together, but there are dark secrets lurking beneath the surface that will change their lives as they know it for good.
I enjoyed Higurashi When They Cry because it has a lot of interesting elements in its story. I will say though that it starts off feeling a lot like a slice of life, but it introduces some unexpected horrors as the story progresses. It’s very psychological and it has supernatural elements as well, so there’s a little bit of everything in this story. There are gripping plot twists, unexpected developments, and more.
Higurashi When They Cry is a great horror manga because its story is engrossing and mysterious. It starts off with an idyllic setting when Keiichi first moves to Hinamizawa, but things slowly start to unravel, and this is where the story gets even more interesting. If you’re looking for a new horror manga series to read, Higurashi When They Cry is one you’ll want to check out.
Battle Royale by Masayuki Taguchi & Koushun Takami
Battle Royale by Masayuki Taguchi and Koushun Takami is a classic death game manga. It is a series that has inspired everything from film to video games, like Fortnite and The Hunger Games to name a few, as well as other death game series. Death game series have increased drastically in popularity thanks to Netflix’s Squid Game, but Battle Royale has been going strong since the early 2000s.
In Battle Royale, a class is chosen at random to be placed in a deserted area where they must kill each other to survive. On Shiroiwa Junior High’s Class B’s graduation trip, they discover that they have been chosen to participate in a kill-or-be-killed game called “The Program.” The series was released with English translation by Tokyopop in singles and hardcover Battle Royale Ultimate Editions, but they are both out of print.
Battle Royale is one of the most thrilling, gory manga series I’ve ever read. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, but the thing I love the most about Battle Royale is that it actually gives its characters some backstory. This is also the main reason why it shines so brightly in comparison to other survival manga. You really see the best and worst of humanity in this manga.
Pumpkin Night by Masaya Hokazono & Seima Taniguchi
If you are looking for a slasher manga that’s an absolute gorefest, you’ll want to check out Pumpkin Night by Masaya Hokazono and Seima Taniguchi. On top of having a deranged serial killer that uses witty, funny lines that are familiar to series I love like Scream, it has some of the most graphic, highly-detailed gore and best artwork I’ve ever seen in a horror manga.
It’s about a girl named Naoko Kirino who’s bullied by the kids at her school. She is admitted to a mental hospital because of this but later escapes to exact revenge on all who wronged her. She now wanders around town wearing a distorted pumpkin head, taking out her bullies one by one.
I will say that the story isn’t as complex as others that are on this list, but it’s a slasher, so you kind of have to go into this one knowing what to expect. These stories are usually just about the killer stalking and killing their victims, who often arrive in a group and are picked off one by one. Many times, you also get some insight and backstory into why these killers are the way they are as well. The most amazing slashers, though, have a twist(s) in them that catches you off guard and this is present in Pumpkin Night as well.
This is the same formula that’s used in Pumpkin Night, so if you aren’t a fan of slashers, you most likely won’t enjoy this one, but if you are, you are in for a treat with this hidden gem.
Hellsing by Kohta Hirano
Hellsing by Kohta Hirano is a bloody and thrilling series that follows the vampire Alucard and Hellsing as they take on a myriad of monstrous foes. Admittedly, if a manga has vampires in it I’m going to buy it, because I love anything that explores the world of vampires, especially if it has a unique twist and take on them as Hellsing does. It’s not only a good vampire manga, but it is also one of the best horror manga to release so far.
The story is set in a world that has monsters but humans as well with warring factions and groups that make things interesting, so it’s more than just a vampire series. Because of its fast pace, unrelenting action, unique art style, and the fact that it’s a manga with an antihero as well as an overpowered MC, Hellsing is a gory and exciting read.
I think it is an excellent take on the vampire genre, and I highly recommend reading Hellsing if you’re into these types of series. You can collect the Hellsing manga via the singles or the Hellsing Deluxe Editions!
BIBLIOMANIA by Macchiro Oobaru
If you are looking to enter a strange and horrifying world, BIBLIOMANIA by Macchiro Oobaru is a must-read. With some of the most terrifying visions I’ve seen in manga, this one is up there with the likes of Blame! and its Silicon Life. With Macchiro Oobaru’s meticulous attention to detail and unique style, BIBLIOMANIA is one of the most visually striking horror manga I’ve read to date.
BIBLIOMANIA is a twisted spin on Alice in Wonderland, and while I’m not usually big on stories inspired by others, they excel when done right, as seen with series like this one and others, such as No Longer Human by Usamaru Furuya.
In this series, Alice wakes up in Room 431 of a mysterious manor where she meets the Serpent, who tells her not to leave the room. Alice, of course, doesn’t heed his warning, which has major consequences. There’s a sense of whimsy and curiosity that you’ll feel while reading BIBLIOMANIA, but curiosity as seen in this manga, while very much a good thing, can get you into trouble as well.
Ghost Hunt by Shiho Inada & Fuyumi Ono
Ghost Hunt is more so a mystery and psychological manga than it is a horror manga, but it’s one of the most horror-leaning shojo manga I’ve read and the subject matter and premise are ones that horror fans will enjoy. The cast of Ghost Hunt is great. You have the stoic and serious owner of the Shibuya Psychic Research group, a Buddhist monk, two psychic mediums, and more.
Together, they solve hauntings and mysteries one by one with their ghost-hunting tools and abilities (they rely heavily on science as well as the supernatural to ascertain what causes these paranormal occurrences). As they work together to uncover the truth behind these hauntings, you learn about the legends and lore that surround them, but the romantic side plots are also highlighted. If you like stories about a group of individuals working to solve ghostly mysteries or are looking for a unique horror shojo, I highly recommend it.
Ghost Hunt was published with an English translation by Del Rey. Kodansha later took over the license for the series, but only 11 out of the 12 volumes were released and it has since gone out of print.
Jagaaan by Muneyuki Kaneshiro & Kensuke Nishida
Jagaaan by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Kensuke Nishida is an unforgettable sci-fi horror manga. You might know of Muneyuki Kaneshiro from his other series, Blue Lock, which was recently released by Kodansha. While I’d love to see all of their titles be released with English translation, it’s Jagaaan that I’d love to see most.
On the surface, it’s easy to compare Jagaaan to other manga like Gantz and Parasyte, but as you dive deeper into the series, its unique voice surfaces. Both Parasyte and Jagaaan have protagonists who are affected by parasites. In Jagaaan, creatures called Frenzied Frogs morph their hosts into manifestations of their most profound desires, dubbing them “fractured humans”. Their gruesome transformation paired with Jagaaan‘s penchant for violence makes it an edge-of-the-seat read, which makes it similar in the vein of series like Gantz.
From the detailed character designs to their lifelike expressions, each panel feels alive and in motion. The fractured humans, in particular, are both haunting and intriguing, visually representing the hosts’ innermost desires. The art reminds me a lot of the detailed panels you see in series like I Am a Hero and Gantz, so it’s a visually striking series. Unfortunately, Jagaaan has yet to be translated into English, but I hope it is soon.
Shadows House by Somato
Shadows House by Somato is a mystery manga with horror themes that is set in a gothic setting and is full of mystery and suspense. The big appeal of this manga is the art. Every page is beautiful to witness thanks to the detailed backgrounds and settings, which further add to its eerie and unsettling atmosphere.
The story starts off innocent enough and adorable at first as it follows a living doll named Emilyko as she attends to a shadow named Kate, but things take a turn and it’s deceptively dark. As you get further into the story, it becomes more twisted and creepy than expected, so the horror elements don’t kick in until later on.
You’ll have so many questions while reading Shadows House, but as you traverse this labyrinth of a house and learn more about it, everything will start to make sense. The plot is really well-thought-out and it contains many unexpected twists, so you never know what to expect while reading this one either. More so than that, though, it has a unique world and premise that make it one of the most incredible reads. If you are looking to read Shadows House, Yen Press began releasing the series for the first time with English translation in 2022.
Creature! by Shingo Honda
Creature! (Hakaijuu) is a survival horror manga by Shingo Honda. Not only is it one of the most underrated horror manga, but it also has some of the best manga panels I’ve seen as well. The panel above is only a small taste of what you are going to witness in this manga.
The story starts out normal with Akira Takashiro and Eiji Kudou, two rivals and basketball players who have a crush on the same girl, preparing for the upcoming inter-high basketball tournament. But things quickly take a turn after an earthquake knocks Akira out and he wakes to find out that terrifying monsters have taken over his school and have killed the students on campus.
There’s everything from government conspiracies to Kaiju-esque creatures in this one, so in addition to a lot of gore, there’s a lot of mystery in this manga too. The monster designs are some of the best I’ve seen, the artwork is extremely detailed, and the battles are epic. But what makes this one so compelling is that it really highlights the fear of the unknown. Along with the characters and survivors in this story, you are left guessing and you want to know more about what’s going on. As a result, you really feel like you are a part of this story, so it’s a fun read.
As of now, Creature! has only been digitally published with an English translation, but I hope it gets a print release someday!
Franken Fran by Katsuhisa Kigitsu
Body horror is something that is explored a lot in manga as seen in titles like Parasyte, but one of my all-time favorites in this category is an underrated manga called Franken Fran by Katsuhisa Kigitsu. You may also know Katsuhisa Kigitsu as the creator of Helen ESP.
What I love so much about Franken Fran, apart from its absurd body horror, is its humor. I absolutely love dark humor as seen in other manga series on this list, like Dorohedoro. There’s a cheekiness to these types of series that makes them as charming as they are mortifying. However, I will say that Franken Fran‘s humor is more black than it is dark. While the humor is a bit of an acquired taste, the social commentary and the way it explores human nature make it well worth reading.
Franken Fran is about a girl named Fran, a soft-hearted patchwork girl created by the notorious Dr. Madaraki, who loves nothing more than helping others. But her idea of “help” might not be the same as yours. Even when her experiments go according to plan—which is never guaranteed!—they often have unanticipated consequences. Playing with life and death can be a messy business, but whether in her lab or making house calls, you can always expect the unexpected with Fran.
Franken Fran may be shocking at times, but it’s full of heart as well. It’s one of the best black comedies and body horror manga I’ve read to date. I know the reviews for this one, which are quite polarizing, scare some people off from checking it out, but I really hope more people give it a shot and see what they think about the series themselves.
School-Live! by Norimitsu Kaihou & Sadoru Chiba
School-Live! is a unique title on this list because it is a slice-of-life as well as a horror manga. Before I got into the series I thought this combination would be an odd mix, but Norimitsu Kaihou & Sadoru Chiba proved me wrong. School-Live! follows the everyday lives of the girls of the School-Life Club. It’s ultimately about escapism because even though the world has crumbled around them due to a zombie apocalypse, they continue living their lives like nothing’s changed to prevent the weight of everything that’s happening around them from crushing them.
Unlike other zombie stories, where there are a few detestable characters that have lost their humanity, School-Live!‘s characters are ones you can’t help but love and wish the best for. You’ll fear for their health and safety and you not only want them to survive but thrive as well. This is yet another unique thing about School-Live! that will invest you in its story. Out of anything, though, I think it’s the fact that School-Live! is different from any other zombie manga I’ve ever read that makes it such a refreshing and exciting read.
If you are looking for a story about a group of high school students that kill zombies, you’ll be more interested in manga like Highschool of the Dead, but if you are willing to give one that’s cute and heartwarming a chance, you’ll want to check out School-Live!.
Mieruko-chan by Tomoki Izumi
Mieruko-chan is a comedy horror manga with a simple premise that works very well. Miko, a normal girl, can see ghosts everywhere she looks, but her friends and family are totally oblivious to them. The manga has an overarching plot that ties everything together, but it’s episodic as well, which keeps things interesting.
The manga is a comedy horror, so it’ll make you laugh as much as it will scare you. It’s a very interesting blend because it’s a lighthearted read, but at the same time, it’s filled with monsters that look like they are straight out of Silent Hill. Mieruko-chan is a recently released horror manga that is picking up steam thanks to its anime adaptation, but it is still underrated for how amazing it is. I think it deserves more praise because it strikes the perfect harmony between horror and comedy, which landed it on both this list as well as my best comedy manga to read this year.
The story is funny with bone-chilling monster designs, which fit perfectly with the tone of the story. It is one of the most enjoyable and best horror manga you can read right now, so if you’re looking for something fresh and new to read, look no further than Mieruko-chan. Tomoki Izumi also created a horror one-shot called Gemini that I highly recommend checking out as well.
Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso
Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso is one of the best death game manga out there. While it’s not necessarily a horror manga, it has horror-leaning elements and themes that fans will enjoy. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic type world where a life-changing game called Borderland forces players to fight for their survival.
What truly drew me in, though, was the series’ diverse cast of characters. They come from all walks of life, and watching them grapple with their grim reality is both heartbreaking and relatable. They’re not just characters in a story; they feel like real people trying to navigate an unimaginably tough situation. Every time a new game starts, there’s this palpable tension—neither the characters nor us as readers have a clue about what’s going to happen next, which makes it unpredictable.
Like any good survival story, Alice in Borderland isn’t just about the art of survival. It delves deep, making you ponder life, its value, and the lengths we’d go to find purpose. Out of all the death game manga I’ve read, it’s one of the most unique. It’s not just about thrill and suspense; it’s also a journey of introspection and growth. If you enjoy series like Battle Royale or Future Diary, I highly recommend giving this a read.
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otsuka & Housui Yamazaki
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is an extremely underrated horror manga by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki. It follows the adventures of five young Buddhist students as they go about their days working in an unusual trade.
What’s most surprising about this series is that despite its dark subject matter, it manages to feel light and fun thanks to its quirky characters and black humor. There are plenty of moments in this manga series that aren’t for the faint of heart, though. The premise features main characters with supernatural abilities that use their powers to help the dead move on to the next life.
They work together to solve mysterious deaths, so it’s a great mystery manga as well. Each chapter is a self-contained story but there are recurring characters and long-term plot lines that run through the entire series also. Since each chapter is a standalone story that roughly follows the same formula: A corpse is found and they try to figure out how they died and then try to put their spirit to rest, I was slightly concerned that it would become predictable. I’m happy to report that it was actually quite the opposite. Even though it has the same formula throughout, for the most part, the story always felt fresh and exciting as new mysteries and jobs came into the picture.
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service manga was released in English for the first time by Dark Horse in 2008. It was also released in a new omnibus format by Dark Horse as well.
August 9: I Will Be Eaten by You by Tomomi
August 9: I Will Be Eaten by You is about a guy named Sakurai that’s been stalked by monsters, who disguise themselves as beautiful women his whole life. Little did he know, though, that these monsters are closer than they seem, even in his classroom. When his classmate Ueda suddenly transforms one day, Miyako, a yokai in love with Sakurai, appears to save him.
He learns from her that the monsters he is being stalked by are actually the urban legends of Japan and that they are after him because they all love him. August 9: I Will Be Eaten by You is about stalking, but stalking at its extreme. The MC never knows who is the stalker or when they will reveal their true form, so it’s suspenseful. The designs of the monsters are horrifying too. The first monster you’ll meet looks like a human centipede, so you can only imagine what’s in store for you in the rest of this story.
It’s a unique concept that has a compelling story and great art, and it’s one of my favorite new horror manga to release as of late. August 9: I Will Be Eaten by You is not published in English yet, but it began releasing in Japan in 2020. It’s also being published in France with the title Le 9 août, tu me dévoreras.
Sankarea Undying Love by Mitsuru Hattori
Sankarea Undying Love is a unique entry because it is actually a zombie romance manga. The story is about a guy named Chihiro who has been obsessed with zombie movies since he was little. But rather than feeling bad for the people who are trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, he feels bad for the zombie girls they slaughter instead.
When his beloved pet passes away, he decides to brew up a resurrection potion in secret. But he’s discovered by popular girl and local heiress Sanka Rea, whose life isn’t as perfect as it seems and Furuya jokingly suggests that she could serve as a test subject. This, of course, is where things in this story get interesting. Sankarea feels a bit like Reanimator or Pet Semetary in this respect, but it’s a lot different than these two as well given its more light-hearted and comedic tone.
With an original and unexpected premise, it stands out on this list. Aside from that, it’s also a charming yet twisted romance. Despite all of the horrifying elements in this story, the love story in this one is adorable and the interactions between the main characters are sweet. So whether you are a fan of horror manga or you are a fan of romance manga, Sankarea Undying Love is one of the best you can read.
Magical Girl Apocalypse by Kentaro Sato
Magical Girl Apocalypse is one of the best horror manga I’ve ever read simply because it’s so unique and unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It has a bonkers premise that shouldn’t work but does because of its excellent execution and characters. An ordinary high school guy named Kii Kogami is living in a world where magical girls are real. But when one appears in his classroom on the first day of school, it’s not at all what Kii expects. Instead of being cute and cuddly, they are vicious and have a sweet tooth for murder.
I like how this manga has over-the-top blood and gore, but it never overshadows the plot or the characters. The art style is also unique. There’s a strong juxtaposition between the cutesy characters and art style and the brutal events that happen in this manga that make it intriguing and unlike anything else I’ve ever read before.
Highschool of the Dead by Daisuke Sato & Shouji Satou
Highschool of the Dead has earned its place in my collection, both as a top ecchi manga and as one of the most memorable zombie stories I’ve encountered. It perfectly encapsulates everything I love about B-horror zombie movies. The story, which follows a group of high schoolers trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse, resonates because of its real portrayal of their adaptation to their grim reality and the internal battles they face. The series doesn’t just paint characters as purely good or bad; it delves into the grey areas, exploring the complexity of human nature when pushed to the brink.
The diversity of the characters’ personalities is great as well. Each brings a unique skill set vital for survival, and the broader glimpses into how various groups and even nations react to the apocalypse add depth. Beyond the story, the artwork is beautiful. The zombies in this manga are among the most detailed I’ve ever seen. Highschool of the Dead is full of action, but there’s much more to this one than meets the eye; the series maintains a balance between action-packed sequences and the high stakes that come with living in a world that’s full of zombies.
I highly recommend picking up the series any way you can, but the Highschool of the Dead Full Color Editions are a game-changer because they highlight Shouji Sato’s unparalleled art in a whole new light.
Fort of Apocalypse by Yuu Kuraishi & Kazu Inabe
Fort of Apocalypse by Yuu Kuraishi and Kazu Inabe stands out as one of my all-time favorites in zombie and horror manga. Along with I Am A Hero, it’s one I can’t recommend enough if you are a fan of zombie stories. What sets it apart from others is its chilling prison setting, but it also has some of the most uniquely designed zombies I’ve ever come across. Unlike many zombie series where the main characters often fade behind the gore and terror, this manga prioritizes its characters, so it’s as much about their journey as it is about survival. Fort of Apocalypse‘s balance between heart-stopping terror and heartfelt character-driven plots makes it one of the best.
In this series, we follow Yoshiaki Maeda, a falsely accused inmate at the brutal Shouran Institute, a place far more intense than your typical prison. Yoshiaki’s life takes an unexpected turn when, amidst internal prison conflicts, a catastrophic event introduces an even graver threat: zombies. Not only does he have to grapple with the day-to-day challenges of a tough prison life, but he also faces a new terrifying ordeal…A zombie apocalypse. Although the series was sadly canceled at volume 10, the impact it leaves is undeniable. It’s currently available only in a digital English version, but I’m still holding out hope for a printed release in the future.
High-Rise Invasion by Tsuina Miura & Takahiro Oba
High-Rise Invasion is one of the best horror manga, and it’s not just because it has gore. This series skillfully combines suspense, anxiety-inducing situations, and a cast of fascinating characters, which make it an exciting read. We follow the journey of Yuri Honjo, a young girl thrust into a perplexing realm dominated by skyscrapers, where enigmatic masked figures relentlessly pursue her with bizarre weapons. The atmosphere is thick with uncertainty as Yuri navigates her way, attempting to decipher the reasons behind her mysterious circumstances and their relentless pursuit.
This manga is unpredictable. When reading its chapters, there’s a constant underlying tension and you’re never quite sure who to trust. The narrative constantly keeps you on your toes, unsure of what the next turn might bring or who might be the next to fall. On top of all that, High-Rise Invasion expertly conveys some of our most innate fears: fear of heights and dying, which makes the series all the more effective. The captivating character designs, especially the masks, further heighten the unsettling atmosphere. If you are looking to get into the series, the 2-in-1 omnibus editions released by Seven Seas are well worth picking up.
The Voynich Hotel by Douman Seiman
The Voynich Hotel by Douman Seiman is not your run-of-the-mill read. It’s darkly comedic and delves into the supernatural in a completely unique way. Its vibe is somewhere between ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’, so it’s full of twists and turns but has a lot to say as well.
Reading it feels a bit like being lost in a maze, but in the best way possible as you explore the peculiar world that Douman Seiman has created. The setting, which is a peculiar hotel that’s anything but your typical vacation spot, is interesting too. It’s full of shady characters and is located on a mysterious island. In the midst of this is ex-Yakuza Kazuki Taizou, who’s just trying to keep a low profile. It felt like diving into a horror-infused day in the life at this bizarre hotel.
The Voynich Hotel is probably best described as a horror slice-of-life because it follows the every day, strange lives of the hotel’s residents. There are a lot of different events occurring within one story, but they all come together to create one over-the-top yet unforgettable experience.
Dragon Head by Minetaro Mochizuki
Dragon Head deserves more attention than it gets because it expertly conveys humans’ deep-seated fear of the unknown. Following a catastrophic train accident in a gloomy tunnel, three students are plunged into profound darkness, both real and psychological. Their goal is to escape the tunnel, but there’s more to this series than meets the eye as it explores their unraveling sanity, but that is just scratching the surface because there’s a fair amount of mystery to this one.
What sets Dragon Head apart is its masterful exploration of the human psyche under extreme duress and its breakdown of societal constructs. The raw visuals add even more to this series. If a deep, psychological horror manga is what you’re looking for, Dragon Head is a must-read. Dragon Head has yet to be published in English, but I hope this changes soon.
Killing Stalking by Koogi
Killing Stalking is a deep dive into the dark corners of obsession and manipulation. The story follows our main character who becomes dangerously infatuated with someone he believes is his savior from a traumatic incident. But when he takes that obsession too far and breaks into this man’s home, he’s thrown into a nightmarish world. It turns out he’s stumbled upon a sadistic serial killer who not only captures him but also ensnares him in a disturbingly toxic relationship.
Beyond its chilling plot, the strength of Killing Stalking lies in its deep psychological interplay between the main characters. It’s intense, gripping, and not for the faint-hearted, given its mature and potentially triggering themes. But if you’re a fan of intricate horror and psychological thrillers, it’s one I highly recommend. You can collect the series now via the Killing Stalking Deluxe Editions released by Seven Seas. The volumes are beautifully made and I made a video showcasing the series if you’d like to check it out below.
Bastard by Carnby Kim & Youngchan Hwang
In Bastard, the story of Jin Seon unfolds in a way that’s both compelling and chilling. Here’s a boy, living under the shadow of his father who, to the outside world, is the epitome of kindness. But once you step inside their home, the façade fades, revealing a man capable of unthinkable horrors. It’s not just the acts themselves that send shivers down your spine—it’s the unnerving way Jin’s father can seamlessly transition between being the neighborhood’s charitable guy and a cold-blooded murderer.
This one leans more into the psychological side of things, so it really messes with your head as you read it and there’s a wickedness to his Father that feels just all too real as well, especially since this one is rooted in reality rather than fantasy. The boogeyman in this story isn’t a supernatural monster, it’s a Father, a son, and the guy next door, and it’s highly effective as a result. It’s interesting to see the dichotomy that exists between his world and Jin Seon’s.
I’ve read a lot of manhwa over the years, but Bastard remains a standout and it’s one of the best. Here’s hoping it’s printed in English soon.
If you are looking for a terrifying horror manga that has creepy monster designs, check out Jinmen. Interested in a story about gang warfare and a twisted killer? Check out Ichi the Killer, which inspired the film by Takashi Miike.
Would rather pick up a collection of short horror stories instead of a full series? Check out PSTD Radio. Do killer goldfish sound interesting to you? Check out Shibuya Goldfish. If you are looking for a shonen that has horror-like themes, check out Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku by Yuji Kaku, Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto, The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu, or Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami.
As of now, these are the best horror manga I’ve read. I will continue to update this post as new horror manga are announced, so stay tuned for more. In other manga news, check out all of the new manga that are releasing in 2023!