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There’s fifty different shades of horror. So when somebody recommends a horror manga, it sort of unclear which of those shades they talk about. Isn’t it better to be perfectly clear when recommending something?
That being said, I couldn’t talk about all fifty shades, nor do I know what they are since I only use the expression to spice things up a bit. So let’s shoot for a reasonable ten subgenres instead, shall we?
So for this Halloween, I offer you these ten manga from ten horror subgenres.
1. Body horror: Uzumaki by Junji Ito
If you look up “Body Horror” in the manga dictionary, the name Junji Ito will jump to scare you off the page. He may not be the first, nor the last, to work on the genre, but he is certainly one of the best one.
The entire catalogue of Junji Ito is filled with body horror, but Uzumaki is still arguably one of his best one yet. From a kid who slowly morphed into a giant snail to a girl with a spiraling hole drilled into her head, Uzumaki is filled with some of the finest collection of stomach-churning body horror that ever grace the world of manga. Read the review.
2. Psychological horror: Kasane by Daruma Matsuura
Kasane has a very interesting and unique premise. The daughter of a famous actress was born with a hideous face. She got bullied all her life until one day she found something that allowed her to steal the face of those gorgeous girls that she always looked at with envy.
There’s no grotesque murder or body horror in Kasane. But the choices that the characters make, their actions, and the thing that they sacrifice, is enough to let the horror creep into your skin. You can’t help but put yourself into the character’s shoes and get pulled into the abyss of regret, anger, and betrayal.
3. Slasher/Gore: Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Slasher is one of the most famous horror subgenres and lots of manga incorporate slashers elements to their story. But if I really have to pick one definitive slasher manga, then it has to be the vicious Parasyte.
The story of this cannibalistic alien that takes over people’s heads is already pretty bizarre, but when it adds piles of cleanly cut human bodies on top of it, then it really becomes gore and sinister in a heartbeat.
But Parasyte is not just mindless blood and violence, it also talks about a matter of identity, coexistence, human nature, tragedy, betrayal, and badass action sequences.
4. Dark Fantasy: Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Every dark fantasy has an element of horror in it and in the world of manga, there’s no fantasy that is darker than Berserk. This masterpiece from the late Kentaro Miura is truly an exercise in nightmarish fine arts using the medium called manga.
Every panel is so meticulously crafted that you’ll see eerie details even in the smallest panels. As if that’s not mind blowing enough, the story itself is an epic adventure filled with flawed and relatable characters. If you love manga, even if you hate horror, then I urge you to read Berserk.
5. Lovecraftian: Remina by Junji Ito
Lovecraftian horror, also known as Cosmic Horror, is all about the size. The scary stuff comes from astronomical beings or events. Something that goes not only beyond our reach, but often time, beyond our understanding.
That is the perfect description of Remina. A story about a rogue planet that seems to have a consciousness of its own. But while the alien planet itself is scary as fuck, the true horror comes from the earth. As the planet draws near, natural disasters happen frequently, and more and more people lose their sanity.
6. Zombie: I Am Hero by Kengo Hanazawa
Horror has lots of iconic monsters throughout the years, such as vampires, werewolves, and the like. But the most iconic of them all has to be zombies. The living dead have a unique universal charm to them. And if we talk about a great zombie manga, then it has to be I am Hero by Kengo Hanazawa.
I am Hero follows the life of an ordinary man that suddenly turns upside down due to a zombie outbreak. What I love the most about this manga is its realistic approach to these unrealistic events.
The human reactions and interactions are so relatable that if a zombie apocalypse did happen, I believe our reaction would be similar to those depicted in this manga.
7. Monster horror: Starving Anonymous by Yuu Kuraishi & Kazu Inabe
Moving on from the iconic monsters, we move on to a general man-munching creature. And my recommendation for this category is an underrated manga called Starving Anonymous.
There are so many chilling things and layers to the story that I am genuinely surprised why it flew under so many radars. What started as a simple human slaughterhouse turns deeper and more complicated than you’d ever imagine.
There are new twists to be found as you read more of the story. And as you press on forward, you’ll begin a rapid descent into madness.
8. Supernatural horror: Another by Yukito Ayatsuji & Hiro Kiyohara
After the monsters and scary creatures, we’ll enter the realm of the supernatural. Ghosts, spirits, and all of the usual suspects. For this category, I choose a title that you should already know if you like horror manga. Another by Yukito Ayatsuji as the writer and Hiro Kiyohara as the artist.
Another takes place in a small town. A new transfer student encountered an odd event in his class. As he began to dig deeper, he started to uncover a dark past of the school, the town, and his own family. Another is a slow burn yet quite short manga. So you’ll definitely enjoy the condensed horror in this title.
9. Nature horror: Dragon Head by Minetarou Mochizuki
This category is all about natural catastrophes and disasters. You could even call it a survival horror. And my pick for this category is Dragon Head. A story about students who ride a train on their way back from a school trip when a massive earthquake happens and swallow them underground.
Three students survived while the rest of their friends and other passengers died. As they struggle to survive in a collapsed underground tunnel, surrounded by darkness, wreckage and corpses, just keeping their sanity intact proves to be a grueling task to do.
10. Comedy Horror: Mieruko-chan by Tomoki Izumi
Comedy horror may be a recurring theme in movies, such as with Shaun of The Dead and Zombieland, but it is a rather rare genre in manga. There’s not many titles to choose from.
Thankfully, when a title that bear this genre do appear, like this Mieruko-Chan, it is extremely good and funny as fuck. The story itself is rather simple. A highschool girl named Mieruko-Chan suddenly wakes up one day with the ability to see spine-chilling ghosts.
As the rule goes, if the ghost realizes that you can see them, they will prey upon your soul. So Mieruko-chan tries her best to ignore them no matter how bizarre and terrifying they look. This leads to lots of awkward and hilarious situations.
As I mentioned before, the number of titles varies between each subgenre. Some, like slasher and body horror, have so many titles that it could be hard to decide which one to read. While others, like lovecraftian and comedy horror, are such rare specimens.
That being said, I’m quite happy with this pick and if you decided to read any of them, I’m sure you’ll feel happy and terrified as well.
And one more thing, as you can see, there are affiliate links under each title to point you towards the relevant page on Amazon/RightStufAnime. If you’re interested in getting any of this manga, please consider buying it through those links. It will help this blog grow at no additional cost to you. Thanks for reading!