In the realm of anime, one genre stands out for its ability to transport viewers to otherworldly realms and delve into the unknown—the supernatural genre. From ghostly encounters to battles with demons, supernatural anime offers a captivating blend of mysticism, horror, and the fantastical. With its rich storytelling, stunning visuals, and thought-provoking themes, supernatural anime has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans worldwide. As such, we put together a list of what we consider some of the top supernatural anime out there!

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Ghost Hunt (2006)

Ghost Hunt (2006)

Freshman Mai Taniyama is fascinated by the unknown and her growing psychic abilities lead her to join the Shibuya Psychic Research teama group of individuals from varying backgrounds who investigate supernatural occurrences all over Japan.

Beginning life as a light novel series originally titled Akuryō Series and written by Fuyumi Ono, the anime series adaptation is a skillful blend of atmospheric horror, thrilling mystery, and a deep dive into all things paranormal. With its well-written, continuously evolving characters, chilling sound design, and intricate storyline, Ghost Hunt is an incredibly thrilling anime that balances eerie encounters with character-driven narratives perfectly, making it a must-watch for fans of the supernatural genre.

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (2013)

Corpse Party

After performing the mysterious ritual “Sachiko Ever After”, which will unite them forever as friends, a group of students finds themselves trapped in an otherworldly dimension known as Heavenly Host Elementary School. As they navigate the haunted halls of the dilapidated school, they encounter vengeful spirits and confront their darkest fears in a desperate struggle for survival.

An astonishingly brutal and harrowing descent into regret, redemption, and the personification of deep-rooted fears, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is a disturbing and intense supernatural anime that plunges viewers into a nightmarish realm of terror. With its graphic violence and unsettling atmosphere, the series keeps audiences on edge as a group of students faces unimaginable horrors in an eerie and haunted school. The anime doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of gore and psychological torment, delivering an unrelenting experience that leaves a lasting impression. While it may not be suitable for the faint of heart, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls stands out for its unflinching approach to horror and its ability to evoke a sense of dread, making it a must-watch for fans of macabre and visceral storytelling.

Meiruko-Chan (2021)

The Daily Life of Meiruko Chan

One day, Miko suddenly started seeing grotesque beings that others couldn’t. Her response was not to run and not to face them, but to do everything she could to completely ignore them! Can she keep a straight face and continue her day-to-day life while surrounded by horrifying monsters?

Although portrayed as more of a slice-of-life comedy than a horror, Meiruko-Chan still successfully delivers some incredibly potent scenes of supernatural horror exceptionally well. Imbuing an overwhelming sense of existential dread in an otherwise typical or even comedic scene, the blending of these polar opposites certainly accentuates both the shocking elements of unsettling horror as well as the calming, Iyashikei style of slice-of-life anime tremendously. Additionally, with the introduction of elements of fan service, these tonal variations never cease to evolve a scene past expectation.

Magnetic Rose (1995)

In the year 2092, The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter working on a skeleton crew, receives a distress signal whilst out on a recovery mission. As they investigate the signal, they come across a huge ship graveyard orbiting an abandoned space station. Inside they discover a world built by one woman’s memories and have to navigate their way through before their ship is drawn into the wreckage by the station’s strong magnetic field. 

A personal favourite of mine, Magnetic Rose is the first in a three-part sci-fi anthology series called Memories (1995)which also features Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder respectively. Starkly different from the latter two which mostly have a comedic overtone to them, Magnetic Rose is a haunting tale of ghostly entities adrift in the solitude of space. Set against the backdrop of the solemn classical piece Un Bel Di Vedremo from Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, this sorrowful track is a striking accompaniment to a powerfully haunting story.

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (2013)

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories

Step right up and gaze upon tales of horror and wonder, of urban legends and terrifying mysteries alike. From a man who suffers a mysterious accident on a business trip, to a boy who witnesses a horrifying family secret, to even a man who’s certain he’s being watched by a long-haired creepy woman, there are plenty of harrowing stories to be told.

A chilling horror anime that skillfully incorporates many different supernatural elements to create an unsettling and atmospheric viewing experience, Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories utilises a unique storytelling format of short episodic tales presented in the style of traditional kamishibai (paper theater) while showcasing a wide array of eerie and haunting ghost stories deeply rooted in Japanese folklore, drawing upon the rich mythos of yokai, vengeful spirits, and other supernatural entities to instill a sense of dread and unease. The minimalist animation style, combined with eerie sound design, amplifies the supernatural ambiance and allows the stories to take center stage, effectively sending shivers down the viewers’ spines.

Mononoke (2007)

Mononoke (2007)

In feudal Japan, evil spirits known as mononoke plague both households and the countryside, leaving a trail of fear in their wake. One mysterious person has the power to slay the mononoke where they stand; he is known only as the Medicine Seller, and he vanquishes the mononoke using the power of his Exorcism Sword. However, in order to draw his sword he must first understand the Form, Truth, and Reason of the mononoke. Armed with a sharp wit and keen intellect, the Medicine Seller wanders from place to place, striking down the mononoke in his wake.

The most visually unique on this list, Mononoke implements an atypically abstract art style to portray its encounters with the supernatural. Broken up into separate, single-episode arcs, this 12-part series that acts as a sequel to Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror is an intrepid adventure into the realm of the mononokeevil spirits that plague households and countryside throughout feudal Japan. Not only does the mysterious protagonist aid in ridding these poor souls of their unfortunate supernatural woes, but an air of investigatory work is also undertaken to understand the human emotions that caused these creatures to come to be; leading to the anime’s deep-seated symbolism and thought-provoking themes of guilt, regret, and the human psyche.

xxxHOLiC (2006)

xxxHOLiC (2006)

Kimihiro Watanuki is cursed with the ability to see evil spirits known as yōkai. Due to this power, the yōkai are attracted to him like a magnet, and each time he is close to being devoured. One day, fate drew him to a strange store where he met Yuuko, who was dressed in a very exquisite fashion. As destiny would have it, Yuuko has the ability to save Kimihiro from seeing the yōkai, but for a price: Kimihiro must work for Yuuko by performing chores around the store and other odd tasks until she deems fit. With his “friend” Doumeki and his secret crush Himawari, they will discover that the world they live in is nowhere close to ordinary!

In xxxHolic, Clamp uses adult puns, their distinct elongated limb art style, incredibly detailed fashions, and more to explore a world of psychological, supernatural horror. Watanuki was born with the ability to see spirits, yet he wants nothing more than to be normal and live without them. When he meets Yuuko, the time-space witch who grants wishes, will he be able to get his wish granted?

Hell Girl (2005)

Has someone done something to hurt you or the ones you love? Are you seeking revenge? Rumor has it that there’s a website that can service your needs. Titled “Hotline to Hell”, it contains a form that can be accessed only at midnight. Type in a name, and the Hell Girl will carry out your biddingfor a price. For though your appetite for revenge will be satisfied, your soul will also be condemned to hell after you die. But who is the Hell Girl, and does she care whether your revenge is justified? Apparently not, as long as she gets more souls…

Hell Girl is a dark classic that asks one, would you be willing to risk your entire afterlife in hell to have your deepest wish of atonement granted? While the first season focuses primarily on an episodic structure similar to a “villain of the week”, later seasons grant deeper continuity and character development exploring Ai’s background that will leave fans longing for more.

Vampire Princess Miyu (1988)

As a spiritualist, Himiko investigates events of the strange and paranormal. While dealing with an exorcism of a child, she encounters Miyu, a child-like vampire who sends stray shinma (demons) into the night. The Vampire Princess Miyu OVAs follow Himiko as she tries to track down Miyu and discover her secrets… but does she have other motives?

Vampire Princess Miyu is a much older but often overlooked piece that deserves much more attention. Bleak in its attitude and gorgeous in its artistic styling, it’s a perfect fit for fans of Pet Shop of Horrors and Monster. Miyu has been tasked with hunting down stray shinma (a race of “god-demons”) from Earth and banishing them to the “Darkness”.

Otherside Picnic (2021)

Moments from death, Sorawo is saved by the mysterious Toriko in the Otherside. Attracted to its beauty, she soon discovers that this dimension is inhabited by monsters once thought imaginary. Joining Toriko in her search for a missing friend, they set out to explore this nightmare realm and maybe make a little money. What they encounter could bring enlightenment—or drive them mad!

Otherside Picnic uses many creepypastas to establish its “Otherside”a dangerous realm reached through portals that have appeared all over the world mysteriously. Two girls cross paths there, and become closer as they go back and forth between worlds, risking their lives to search for someone missing. If you’re a fan of yokai and creepypasta and are either learning more about them or feeling smart when you understand the references used, this series is for you!

Natsume’s Book of Friends (2008)

Natsume is lonely. He has an ability that separates him from others: he can see and interact with spirits. Soon, however, Natsume discovers that he’s not alone: his grandmother Reiko also had the gift. But things get hectic and possibly dangerous for Natsume when he finds out that he also inherited the ‘Book of Friends’, a book that contains the names of all the spirits Reiko defeated and subjugated. He finds himself hounded by his grandmother’s underlings and, with the help of a ‘cat’ charm spirit, decides to free them from the book’s shackles, as well as protect the book from those who seek to misuse its power…

Proof that all supernatural anime doesn’t have to be spooky, Natsume’s Book of Friends is a heartwarming and enchanting supernatural anime that seamlessly blends its supernatural elements with a touching exploration of human emotions and personal growth. As Natsume interacts with these spirits and powerful yokai, helping them find peace, the supernatural elements serve as a catalyst for profound character development and meaningful relationships. The anime delicately weaves together themes of loneliness, friendship, and acceptance, while presenting a captivating array of yokai and their fascinating supernatural abilities.

Another (2012)

26 years ago, something terrible happened in a middle school’s third year classroom. A popular, talented student named Misaki suddenly died, and the ramifications of that incident have caused each third-year class since then to live in fear. It is now 1998, and Kouichi Sakakibara has just transferred into the notorious classroom, curious about the mysterious secret that his peers are hiding from him. He’s drawn to one enigmatic girl named Mei Misaki, a quiet student who wears an eye patch and warns him about getting involved with her, and continues to seek her out against the pleas of his classmates. And that’s when people begin to violently die…

A gripping and suspenseful horror anime that expertly incorporates supernatural elements to create an atmosphere of dread and unease, Another’s cursed setting, gruesome depiction of death, and spine-chilling sound design undoubtedly create an incredibly oppressive atmosphere that hardly falters throughout. Additionally, with a deep level of intricate storytelling, these elements combined instinctively keep viewers on edge, engrossed in the twisted and haunting world this anime effortlessly creates.

The Curse of Kazuo Umezu (1990)

Beware the world of the supernatural, for their tricks and secrets will terrify and potentially even kill you! Two groups of girls experience the horror of the unknown in two very different ways: Masami has begun to have terrible nightmares after the arrival of a new transfer student, and a separate group decides to enter a haunted mansion alone at night. Their lives will be inexplicably changed forever once they discover the truth behind these strange events…

The Curse of Kazuo Umezu is a spine-chilling and captivating supernatural anime that immerses viewers in the world of fear and macabre that exists in the mind of this infamous mangaka. Based on the works of the renowned horror legend Kazuo Umezu, the series weaves together two eerie and interconnected stories that delve into the darkest recesses of the human psyche. With its striking art style, haunting atmosphere, and grotesque imagery, The Curse of Kazuo Umezu delivers a potent blend of psychological horror and supernatural elements.

Trese (2021)

Trese 2021 tv series

Set in Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings.

Beginning life as a Filipino komik by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo released in 2005, Trese was adapted for an anime series by Netflix and released in 2021. Retaining the source material’s affinity to Filipino culture along with its folklore, the anime is an amazing representation of life in Manila that is sure to resonate with fellow countrymen, even including a Tagalog dub of the entire show. However, Trese isn’t without its problems, suffering from an abundance of info dumps on the audience that slow the pace somewhat. Despite this, Trese still manages to transcribe the world-building and character history of the original komik into an effortlessly stylish anime series. Check out our review of the original komik here.

Ghost Stories (2000)

Satsuki and Keichiro are new students of the haunted Amanogawa Elementary Schoola school that their late mother attended as a child. Soon they meet the perverted Hajima Aoyama and #1 spirit researcher Leo Kakinoki, and thus their ghost-hunting group is formed! With the help of Satsuki’s mother’s ghost diary and the crafty wiles of Kaaya, a cat that has been possessed by the demon Lord Amanojaku, the gang will seal away ghosts in order to rid Kaaya’s body of Amanojaku and save the day. Can the four friends manage to seal away toilet ghosts, deadly nurses, creepy dolls, and a variety of supernatural phenomena, all while passing their classes?

Originally featuring a mediocre story and incredibly slow momentum, the original release of Ghost Stories (Gakkō no Kaidan), while not outright bad, did very little to differentiate itself from other similar supernatural shows. However, when ADV Films was tasked with recording an English dub, this prosaic series truly escaped monotony to become a cult classic. Retaining only the character names, traditional Japanese mythology, and core meaning behind each episode; the writers were given complete creative freedom to deviate from the original story and, as a result, created fast-paced, semi-ad-libbed scripts full of self-reflective, forth-wall breaking humour, tongue-in-cheek stereotypes, and (now-dated) pop-culture references that vastly improve the overall entertainment valuecementing itself as one of the best supernatural anime’s out there.

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