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 I recommend checking out. Whether I am watching my favorite horror movies, like It Follows, Deathgasm, The Witch, or Train to Busan, who's director also created The Hellbound by the way, 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 man, there's a lot to explore within 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, every monster you can imagine from zombies to vampires to ghouls. By the way, if you like zombie stories, check out the best zombie manga!
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's even some horror series that have romances in them, albeit twisted ones, that I added onto 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 are terrifying, or at the very least creepy or unsettling, in their own unique and interesting ways.
Looking for new horror manga to get into? Check out all of the manga that's releasing in 2022, including a Collector's Edition of Dissolving Classroom, PTSD Radio and more! And if you are interested in picking up any of these series, but aren't quite sure where to buy them, check out the best places to buy manga! Quite a few of these manga are available to read digitally on manga readers and sites as well.
That all being said, here are the best horror manga you need to check out now!
Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul is somewhat of an obvious choice for a best horror manga list, because it is one of the most popular horror manga, but it is recommend by everyone for good reason. It makes you think about the true nature of the whole good vs. evil narrative in a situation where there are grey areas that make the depiction between the two not all that clear. One of Tokyo Ghoul's biggest strong suits is that its main character Kaneki exists between two worlds, the world of the humans and the world of the ghouls.
One of the most terrifying things about Tokyo Ghoul is that it takes an everyday kid, who could have been any one of us, and puts him through the ringer. If you place yourself in his shoes, the fear that comes with knowing you'll never be fully human again, let alone the fact that he now has to survive off human flesh, is unsettling to say the least.
Everyone, including your friends, now look and smell like food, and that's quite honestly the thing that struck me most about the series when I first read it. Kaneki has to fight not only his instincts as a ghoul, but he now has this "other self" that's constantly trying to take control, and this in in itself is psychologically taxing on both Kaneki and the reader.
Apart from the gravity of his situation and the life he's now forced to lead, Kaneki is now part of the Ghoul's world, which has factions that are more sinister, like the Gourmets, a group of ghouls that seek out new "delicacies" to satisfy their foodie taste buds. As Kaneki spirals into madness, Tokyo Ghoul becomes more intriguing, but also more horrifying as well.
If you enjoy Tokyo Ghoul, be sure to check out it's continuation Toyko Ghoul:re! You can collect Tokyo Ghoul through the singles, the manga box set, which is one of our favorite box sets to release to date, or the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Tokyo Ghoul Monster Editions.
Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei
Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei is a science fiction, action, horror manga that is set in a futuristic, cyberpunk world. The story isn’t necessarily given to you at all times, but is instead shown, and this makes reading Blame! a unique experience. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have dialogue along the way, because it definitely does, but that in comparison to other manga, it has quite a bit less.
For a manga that doesn’t have much dialogue, where the main character hardly ever speaks, to keep me thoroughly engrossed in its story, is a huge feat to accomplish, but Blame! and Tsutomu Niehi did so with ease because what it lacks in terms of dialogue, it makes up for in visuals. And by the way this isn’t to say that the story is lacking because it has no dialogue, but rather that it proved to me that an incredible story doesn’t necessarily have to be told with words and that it can be done through art instead.
How is it possible though that something with few words can be so successful? It comes down to the emotion and the feeling you get when viewing Tsutomu Nihei’s panels and the incredible job he does with world-building and how not only he tells this story with what dialogue is there but also how he tells the story with his art.
Some might think because Blame! Has little narration that it lacks direction, but to me, that’s far from the truth. At all times, Blame! has a driving narrative, which is given to us through Killy. He has set out to find the Net Terminal Gene and everything else that happens along the way is either to help him in his endeavor to do so or stop him from doing so entirely.
Also the designs of the Silicon Life are as breathtaking as they are horrifying to witness. Sometimes I forget how terrifying these creatures are while reading because they are marvelous to look at, but when I stop to really look at them, they are the stuff of nightmares. Everything is subjective, but to me, Tsutomu Nihei's brand of horror is just so effective and he’s amongst the best of the best.
I have to mention too that I am at times reminded of H.R. Giger’s art, the artist behind Alien universe, when viewing his designs, which have a lot of bio-mechanical elements added to them. Apart from having terrifying designs, the seclusion that you would experience living in the world of Blame!, make it one of the most terrifying horror manga in my opinion.
Tsutomu Nihei is a master at what he does and there’s just something truly sinister about the way that Silicon Life in particular look and the feeling you get as Killy’s making his way through this dark and cold world. But there’s also some blood and gore in this one as well that I really enjoy.
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 keep an eye out for Blame!'s prequel NOiSE, which is being reprinted by Kodansha.
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. Unfortunately, Homunculus has yet to be translated in English, but I'm hopeful it will be some day.
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, that 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 its the after effects 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.
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 that 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 that 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.
It's one I was recently introduced to and I couldn't be happier that I was, because it is a hidden gem. It hasn't been translated in English yet, but Comic Tatan are currently publishing the series in Japan.
BioMeat Nectar by Yuki Fujisawa
BioMeat Nectar by Yuki Fujisawa is a survival horror manga, and it is an absolute gem. It's highly, highly underrated 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 this all 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 2000's, 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 manga, but it's one of the best mystery manga too. It's 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.
It's one of those stories where you never know what's fully happening until you're almost done reading all the arcs, but I think this makes it even more fun of a read, because there's always something new to discover and each arc brings something different to the story.
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!
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 that now has to survive in an anything but average world.
The plot in this manga is great. It's a more realistic telling for a zombie manga, which I don't see too often in other series. The ending had mixed reception, but it's an incredible journey that's still worth the read. It's amusing and fun, but it's also very gory and can get pretty dark at times as well. This series is very psychological too. You even get a glimpse into how it affects the MC's psyche, which is something I haven't seen explored in any other zombie manga-at least to this depth.
Another strong suit of I Am A Hero is that it gets into the thick of things fast, which I really appreciated. This is something that is common for zombie manga given that things go from 0 to 100 pretty quickly in these stories, but I Am A Hero jumps into things even quicker than most without sacrificing any context or buildup. One minute you see this guy struggling in his average daily life and the next you see him trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse.
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 amusing and fun to see this average hero try to find some semblance of normalcy in an increasingly insane world.
For these reasons and more, I Am A Hero is one of the best horror and zombie manga you need to check out! You can read I Am A Hero via the 2-in-1 omnibuses released by Dark Horse!
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 2000's.
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.
One thing I want to mention about the Toykopop editions is that the translation in them could have been better. They changed a lot things in the English editions and there are a lot of inconsistencies in comparison to the Japanese volumes. That being said, it is still a fantastic story to get into, but I hope it gets reprinted one day with an updated translation.
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 gave its characters some backstory. This is also the main reason as to why it shines so brightly in comparison to other survival manga. You really see the best and worst of humanity in this manga. Battle Royale may not be a full-fledged horror manga, but it has its fair share of horrifying moments that fans will enjoy.
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, who's 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 that 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.
Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida is one that you can experience through the manga or anime, which was animated by MAPPA and is one of my top anime of 2020. Want to get into more of Q Hayashida's works? Check out her latest series Dai Dark that's releasing now!
Gantz by Hiroya Oku
Gantz may not be a horror manga per se, but it definitely feels like one while you are reading it. Not only is it full of blood and gore, but there are specific arcs in the series that lean more into horror, including sci-fi horror and body horror, than others.
Gantz follows Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, both of whom died in a train accident and become part of a semi-posthumous "game" in which they and other recently deceased people are forced to track down and kill aliens armed with a handful of futuristic equipment and weaponry. The missions they go on typically result in the brutal and gory deaths of their targets as well as their teammates, with the survivors being returned to their daily lives until their next mission.
Gantz has all of the elements that make a good action manga: It’s suspenseful, it’s fun thanks to its over-the-top-ness, it’s badass, and it has amazing action scenes and fights. It has elements that make it a great science fiction, horror manga as well with otherworldly, horrifying aliens, which have some of the best designs I've ever seen, exciting technological advancements and weapons, and a unique world aside from that which we know.
It keeps your attention, knows how to be shocking, but it also knows how to touch your heart as well. One of Gantz's biggest strong suits, though, is its art. When viewing the panels, you can hear what’s happening, like the boom from an explosion, the sound of a giant alien’s feet crashing into the ground, their guns firing, etc. It’s a cinematic experience even though you aren’t experiencing it on screen. Out of all the manga I’ve read Gantz has the most potential to be a blockbuster hit.
And then there are the alien designs, which are absolutely terrifying. The aliens, which are their "targets", range anything from simple humanoids to horrifying monsters or even giant mecha. This one feels more like an action at times, but it also feels more like a horror at times as well. It's one of my favorite manga and I hope you'll give it a shot if you haven't done so already!
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 familar 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. If this series were adapted into an anime, it'd have a lot of jump scares.
It's about a girl named Naoko Kirino that'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 catch 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 story 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 the vampire, especially if it has a unique twist and take on them like Hellsing does. It's one of the best 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, which are out of print, 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.
Jagaaan by Muneyuki Kaneshiro & Kensuke Nishida
Jagaaan by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Kensuke Nishida is one of the best sci-fi, horror manga I've ever read. Muneyuki Kaneshiro is a name you may have already heard because he is the writer of Blue Lock, which Kodansha announced that they are physically releasing the series in August. Also, the artist of Blue Lock created another manga that's on this list called Dolly Kill Kill that you'll want to check out as well. Unfortunately, Jagaaan has yet to be translated in English, so needless to say, it's one of my most wanted releases.
There are actually a lot of manga written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro that I would love to to see translated one day, including Bokutachi ga Yarimashita, Kamisama no Iutoori, which is a survival game story, and Billion Dogs. I want them all, but Jagaaan is my most wanted of the bunch right now.
Partially because it has elements of sci-fi horror that make it similar to others I love, like Gantz and Parasyte. But while it's reminiscent of those and is right up my alley as a result, it is very much its own thing. It’s easy to compare Jagaaan to Parasyte because the MC’s are both infested by parasites, which would normally take over their hosts, but in both cases, they manage to somewhat control it.
In Jagaaan, these parasites are parasitic frogs called Frenzied Frogs that morph their hosts into these terrifying visions and once turned are appropriately called “fractured humans.” The monstrous forms they take on are a representation of their deepest and strongest desires, which is unique. Similarly to Gantz, it’s very graphic in nature. It’s bloody, gory, shocking at times, and it holds nothing back. There’s also a great deal of mystery in both too. That being said, if you enjoy manga like these, you’ll enjoy Jagaaan!
One of the things I love most about Jagaaan is the fact that its MC, Jagasaki isn’t your typical MC. He’s actually quite flawed and has a lot of room from growth, which makes him a believable character. Your first impressions of him might not be all that great but he’s still relatable, especially in the way that he views life. Plus, you just know he’s going to grow and develop as a person in the volumes to come–and man, he does and then some so character development is one of Jagaaan’s strong suits.
Not to mention the fact that it has some of the best art I’ve ever seen and some of my favorite panels in all of manga. The character designs are great, their expressions as well. Sometimes there are some pretty wild facial expressions, which really mirror the characters inner feelings well, and are all too reminiscent of series like I Am A Hero. But it’s the designs of the fractured humans that I love the most; They are nightmarish and they bring the hosts' innermost desires to light in a physical form.
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Parasyte has some of the most horrifying alien designs I've ever seen, but it also has some of 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 maintain somewhat of a human form albeit a twisted one, that creeped me out most.
Parasyte is one that may not inherently be scary, because it seems so far out of reality given that it's a sci-fi, but if you actually stop and picture the events in this one happening, it's a terrifying vision. This is similar to how I felt about Gantz. It seems so far out of reach, but if you picture these aliens standing in front of you, it's an unsettling feeling to say the least.
What is Parasyte about, though? 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 to 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 infested by Parasites have not had such luck and have been taken over by these otherworldly beings. Their bodies now hosts under the control of the Parasites, who morph their bodies any way these 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 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!
Creature! by Shingo Honda
Creature! (Hakaijuu) is a horror, survival manga by Shingo Honda. Not only is it one of the most underrated horror manga, it 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 that 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 English translation, but I hope it gets a print release some day!
Franken Fran by Katsuhisa Kigitsu
Body horror is something that is explored a lot in manga as seen with 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 it's absurd body horror, is its humor. I absolutely love dark humor as seen with other manga series on this list, like Dorohedoro. There's a cheekiness to these types of series that make them as charming as they are mortifying. Although, I will say that Franken Fran's humor is more so black than it is dark.
While the humor is bit of an acquired taste, the social commentary and the way it explores human nature make it well-worth the read. I also want to mention that Franken Fran takes things to the extreme. There are a lot of grotesque moments in this one that make it not for the faint of heart.
Franken Fran is about a girl named Fran, a soft-hearted patchwork girl created by the notorious Dr. Madaraki, that 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 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 horror as well as a slice-of-life 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 on 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 one's 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!.
Here are some more zombie manga you'll want to check out!
Mieruko-chan by Tomoki Izumi
Mieruko-chan is a comedy horror manga with a simple premise that works so 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 this list and my top comedy manga list.
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.
The characters are a strong point of the story. You have different people from all walks of life in this manga and they all handle the situation they've been thrown into differently. You see how different people handle being put in extreme situations and how it impacts them mentally as well as physically. Even though there's a large cast of characters, I found them all to be realistic and believable, which made me enjoy the story that much more.
The games themselves are always interesting. The characters don't know what game they'll be playing until it actually happens, so there's this added element of surprise both for the characters and the reader. Because of this, the characters have to adapt quickly to the situation and essentially learn as they go in a high-stress, deadly environment. In addition, there are consequences in this story for our main characters, so it adds another layer of suspense, because you never know if something bad will happen to them or if they'll make it out alive.
So Alice in Borderland is full of puzzling games that are suspenseful to watch as the spectator, but it also makes good use of its characters. Even more so than that, it's an intense story that really hones in on the meaning of life and what it means to live a fulfilled one.
There are a lot of manga in the death game category, but Alice in Borderland manages to stand out from the pack with its unique concept and games. It shines a forefront on the characters and has on overall message that make the games these characters are playing mean something instead of just being added for horror, shock, or suspense.
If you love twisted stories like Battle Royale, Death Parade, or Future Diary, you should give Alice in Borderland a shot! Viz just recently began releasing the series with English translation, so you can pick up the series now!
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 follow 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. The series has since gone out of print, but you can still pick up a few of the volumes on select sites while supplies last.
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 so like a horror as well.
It’s hard to really explain it without giving too much away, but it’s one that has made me cry, not just because it hit me hard emotionally, but because it touched me as well, and while it's full of blood and gore, which I personally love, there’s so much more to this story. Also, while it’s set in a world where otherworldly monsters reside, it still feels real due to the struggles and the dynamics of the characters.
One of the things I love about Kentaro Miura’s artwork is that a lot of the panels he draws are full of chaos, because a lot of the time the characters are in the thick of battle. Even so, while there’s so much going on in these moments-swords are clashing, spears or arrows are flying, there’s people on horseback, people charging on the ground-you can still tell what's going on. There’s what feels like 100’s, if not 1000’s, of people at a time in action in his panels, yet you still know where your main focus should be thanks to the way he highlights his characters.
The way he’s able to convey the grandiosity or the importance of a moment as well in his artwork is incredible. I really think of that panel where Guts and Griffith are about the fight atop the snow crested hill. The way the sunshine is breaking through the clouds, how the two are standing at opposite ends, their shadows on the ground, the way you can see the kingdom behind them in the distance. There’s just something about it that really conveys just how pivotal of a moment this is and he does this time and time again in panel after panel.
While his artwork is beautiful, it is also extremely brutal to witness at times as well. 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 genres you are into. You can currently collect Berserk via the singles or the Berserk Deluxe Editions released by Dark Horse!
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 so 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.
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, 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 a 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.
The main yokai that helps Sakurai out is a yandere character, so she's obsessed with in a very twisted sense of way. She doesn't want anyone else to have him, so she vows to help him essentially. These type of characters shine in horror and she adds a lot to this story.
Also, since the main character is always being stalked and can never catch a break you really feel for the guy. Usually in stories where there is a stalker, or in this case stalkers, I know what to expect, but not with August 9: I Will Be Eaten by You. 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 in the horror category, because it is one of the best ecchi manga and best zombie manga as well. The story is about a guy named Chihiro that has been obsessed with zombie movies since he was little. But rather than feeling bad for the people that 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 it's more light-hearted and comedic tone.
With an original and unexpected premise, it's a stand out on this list. Aside from that, it's also a cute 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. 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.
It's full of exciting twists and turns, especially in later volumes. At times you can tell how certain manga panels were purposefully drawn out to create a sense of suspense or drama, which really works well with this series' dark tone. Magical Girl Apocalypse is a unique take on the concept of an apocalypse and you'll never come across another series like it.
Highschool of the Dead by Daisuke Sato & Shouji Satou
On top of being one of my favorite ecchi manga, Highschool of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie manga. It's as gloriously fun and action-packed as some of my favorite b-horror zombie movies and the art and story are fun to experience.
If you are new to Highschool of the Dead, the story follows a group of high schoolers that are working together to survive the zombie apocalypse. It's also about all of the obstacles they have to overcome in their new and scary reality. It really takes a good look at how these teenagers quickly adapt to the circumstances and how this new world shapes them.
Of course, situations like zombies taking over are going to bring out the best and worst in people, and Highschool of the Dead does a great job at showing how it pushes people to either work together to rise out of that darkness or pushes them further into it. Most of all, though, it explores the gray area that many of these characters reside in.
You have a lot of interesting characters that all excel in different areas that are pertinent to surviving the zombie apocalypse. There are various groups as well with different intentions and a look into how both people and nations would respond to this threat, which make it more interesting as well. I really think the story is done well here and, on top of that, the art and panels are amazing to witness. Some of the best drawn zombies I've seen in all of manga.
Highschool of the Dead is a fun, light-hearted take on the zombie apocalypse, and even though it leans heavily into the action side of things, the high-stakes, blood, and gore are still present in this series. Because of this and more, it is one of my favorite horror manga to release so far!
If you have yet to do so, you'll want to check out the Highschool of the Dead Full Color Editions. Shouji Sato's art is amazing already, but it looks even more amazing in the Full Color Editions, especially when it comes to the larger, more impactful panels.
Dolly Kill Kill by Yukiaki Kurando & Yusuke Nomura
Dolly Kill Kill is a horror manga series by Yukiaki Kurando and Yusuke Nomura, who you may also know as the artist of one of my favorite sports manga, Blue Lock. In this story, the world is invaded by mascot-looking aliens and their flesh-eating bugs.
I enjoyed Dolly Kill Kill for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoyed Magical Girl Apocalypse by Kentaro Sato (which I also highly recommend and is on this list). In both stories, the main characters find themselves in extreme situations where they need to fight for their survival against cute yet menacing foes.
The manga is full of action with well drawn fights and battles. The monster designs are quirky as well, which make for some interesting panels. The art style overall is unique and Yusuke Nomura does an incredible job at showcasing the panels in an interesting way. The story is great too with twists and turns and developments that keep you invested.
If you’re interested in manga with quirky monster designs, a cool art style and manga panels, or you are into stories that are full of action (and twists and turns), then you'll enjoy Dolly Kill Kill! Dolly Kill Kill has not been printed in English yet, but Kodansha have released the series digitally with English translation.
Fort of Apocalypse by Yuu Kuraishi & Kazu Inabe
One of my favorite zombie and horror manga of all time is Fort of Apocalypse by Yuu Kuraishi and Kazu Inabe. In addition to I Am A Hero, which is also on this list, Fort of Apocalypse is one of the manga I recommend most if you like stories about zombies.
What makes Fort of Apocalypse unique from the other manga series on this list, is that it's set in a prison, but it also has some of the creepiest, most unique zombie designs I've ever seen. In addition to being terrifying at times, you also connect with the characters, because it is a character-driven series. Most zombie manga series don't develop the characters enough, but this one does. The pages are gore-filled, but the violent action in Fort of Apocalypse is balanced by the connection you'll have with the characters.
The story is about Yoshiaki Maeda, who has been falsely accused and imprisoned in Shouran Institute, a juvenile correctional facility that's more violent than your average prison. Yoshiaki is the typical boy next door until he finds himself in this terrifying place.
As if things weren't bad enough, his cellmates—Iwakura, Yamanoi and Yoshioka—pull him into a feud going on in the prison. Just when he thought his life couldn't get worse, a van carrying inmates crashes into the facility, but what crawls out of the wreckage is anything but human. Yoshiaki initially thought he'd have to survive a life in prison, but now he has to survive a zombie apocalypse as well.
Fort of Apocalypse was cancelled at volume 10, and although the ending feels a bit rushed as a result of this, I hope you'll still enjoy this incredible manga. It has only been published digitally with English translation, but I'm hopeful we'll get a print release some day!
The Strongest Haunted House and the Guy With No Spiritual Sense by Keisuke Ikeda
The Strongest Haunted House and the Guy With No Spiritual Sense by Keisuke Ikeda, who once worked as an assistant for My Hero Academia's creator, is one of the best comedy horror manga I've read in addition to Mieruko-chan. It's about a guy, who as described by the title, has absolutely no spiritual sense and lives in a haunted house. Much to the spirits surprise and anguish, they can't seem to get a rise out of him no matter what they do. Kinako-sama, who is the self-proclaimed strongest spirit, is on a mission to make this guy's life a living hell before he moves out.
It's funny watching these spirits come up with strategies to scare the main character, but it's even more funny that he has absolutely no awareness of the terrifying things that are happening around him. All in all, The Strongest Haunted House and the Guy With No Spiritual Sense is a fun and hilarious story, but it has fantastic art as well.
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.
The Drifting Classroom is possibly 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 make 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.
Another thing I want to mention is that The Drifting Classroom has an older art style, which some may or may not enjoy, but it has a great story and the cartoony look of the characters mixed with the dark environment creates a sharp contrast between the age of the characters and the dire situation they are in.
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 first released in the 70's, it's one of those manga that never gets old because it's such a well-written and detailed story.
High-Rise Invasion by Tsuina Miura & Takahiro Oba
High-Rise Invasion (Tenkuu Shinpan) is one of the best horror manga, and it's not just because it has gore. It's also because it's full of suspense, anxiety-inducing situations, and interesting characters.
High-Rise Invasion is an action horror manga about Yuri Honjo, a girl who finds herself trapped in a strange world where masked people hunt you down on high-rise buildings using bizarre weapons. Yuri has no idea how she got there or why these people want to kill her, so there's an air of mystery to this one. The story is full of gore, so if you like violent manga series, you'll love High-Rise Invasion.
What makes the manga particularly interesting, though, is that you never really know who you can trust while reading the series. High-Rise Invasion's best feature is its unpredictable and sadistic characters. We never truly know who will die next or what will happen next, which makes it an exciting read.
On top of that, this story focuses on two major fears that humans have: the fear of heights and the fear of dying, which add even more to your anxiety while reading. It has cool character designs and masks that add to the overall creepiness of the story as well. Seven Seas released the series in 2-in-1 omnibuses, which you can pick up now!
The Voynich Hotel by Douman Seiman
The Voynich Hotel by Douman Seiman is a 3-volume black comedy and horror manga with supernatural themes. It reminds me of series like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, so it's a quirky and unsettling read. There are ecchi elements in this one too that make it unique from the rest of the horror manga on this list.
The Voynich Hotel is somewhat of a disorienting read, because you never know what's real and what isn't. This is also part of its charm, though. There's a little bit everything happening in the Voynich Hotel, which is your anything but average vacation destination. It's a hotspot for criminals and it resides on a mysterious island, so it's the perfect place for ex-Yakuza Kazuki Taizou to lay low. It's probably best described as a horror slice-of-life, because it follows the everyday, 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. If you are looking for a quick and incredible read, you'll want to check out The Voynich Hotel!
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, which is getting a print release in Fall 2022. 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, or Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami.
In other manga news, check out all of the new manga that are releasing in 2022!