Welcome to the fourth and final part in my blog series of spooky anime shows for the Halloween ’21 season. The links to the previous three posts can be found below. We’ve already covered a lot of good content, but there’s more to come, because the items on my list today are mostly shows that I love. They are also mostly obscure or unknown by casual anime fans, so I love spreading the word about them. The theme for today is spooky anime that may not be horrifying, but is somehow unsettling. It’s creepy or has an ominous tone or atmosphere. The ten entries are listed in alphabetical order. With that, let’s get started!
Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil)
Flowers of Evil is the uncomfortable story of an awkward, bookish boy named Takao Kasuga and his descent into bizarre and harmful behavior under the influence of his corrupt friend Nakamura. The weird girl nobody talks to, Nakamura, has uncovered Kasuga’s dark secret: that he stole his crush’s gym uniform. Nakamura then blackmails Kasuga into spending time with her, promising that she will make him into a true deviant.
This plot actually sounds rather comical, but in execution it’s creepy as hell. Nakamura is horrifying, and Kasuga’s feelings of losing control of his life are upsetting. The final element that makes Flowers of Evil so creepy is the art and animation. It’s hyper-realistic and uses rotoscoping for smooth but weird-looking movement. The color pallet is also sort of ominous and sad. If you want to watch Flowers of Evil and experience this discomfort, you can do so using Crunchyroll, VRV, and Hulu.
Boku Dake no Inai Machi (Erased)
Due to the winter weather seen in most of the anime, Erased could potentially be a December Holiday recommendation. That’s especially true since there are some very sweet and moving moments in the show. However, dark moments and a creepy atmosphere are also common. The story is about Satoru, a man with a very fickle, limited time travel power, as he attempts to change the past to prevent his mother’s murder. Along the way, Satoru discovers he must also save the lives of his old elementary school classmates, three of whom were kidnapped and murdered.
Given the nature of the story– a serial killer who preys on children– it makes sense for there to be some potentially disturbing thematic elements. In addition to that, there is some pretty intense child abuse of one classmate at the hands of her mother. So as much as Erased is an awesome and exciting anime, it certainly has eerie moments. Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu have this anime available.
Boogiepop wa Warawanai 2019 (Boogiepop and Others)
This entry is actually a double recommendation for the two Boogiepop series: Boogiepop Phantom (year 2000) and Boogiepop and Others (year 2019). Both were based on light novels from the late 90s. Rather than being a remake, Boogiepop 2019 is a prequel, showing the events leading up to Boogiepop Phantom. Now, I’ll say right now that the Boogiepop world is not for everyone. It’s hard to follow, being more atmospheric that plot-driven. It’s also vague and extremely heavy on symbolism. The characters are hard to get to know and tell apart early on. Nevertheless, I love the Boogiepop series and I’m recommending it in case there are any odd ducks like me reading.
So what is this anime about? A strange existence calling itself Boogiepop has appeared, manifesting its consciousness through an ordinary girl named Touka. According to the ageless, genderless entity, it is here to bring balance to the city and deal with threats to humankind. The story shows bits of the lives and psychology of numerous characters, most of whom end up with a creepy supernatural dilemma or unexpected power. In each of the four arcs, Boogiepop is there to help restore order. Both series have a creepy atmosphere and some level of weird, uncomfortable content. Boogiepop 2000 can be found on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and VRV. Boogiepop 2019 is so far only available on Crunchyroll.
Cossette no Shouzou (The Portrait of Cossette)
While working at an antiques shop, a young man named Eiri becomes entranced with a certain venetian glass. On the shining sides of the item, he can see the impossible image of a beautiful but haunting girl trapped within. When Eiri stays late to close shop one night, he is launched into a supernatural experience where he finally meets the girl, Cossette. But what does she want from him, and what cost will it take on his mind and soul?
The Portrait of Cossette is a series of three obscure OVA episodes. The visuals of the anime are bizarrely beautiful and the mood is ominous and unsettling. The plot and conclusion are somewhat vague, but I recommend Portrait of Cossette for the art style and creepy vibe if nothing else. Unfortunately, an unknown miniseries like this can only be viewed on underground streaming websites or by acquiring the 2010 DVD release.
Ergo Proxy is a strange, dark, and philosophical sci-fi anime. In a domed city in the post-apocalyptic world lives a small population of humans aided by capable androids. A girl named Re-L is investigating a new problem: the cogito virus, which makes the androids self-aware. Strange things happen one after another, including the seemingly innocuous arrival of an immigrant man named Vincent. It ends up with Re-L and Vincent on a mission to uncover the truths of the world. The whole tone of Ergo Proxy is slightly creepy, and several episodes are downright unsettling at times. This is part of why I love the show so much. Another reason to enjoy it is the presence of psychological and philosophical discussion as well as plot twists. Ergo Proxy can be found on Funimation and Hulu.
Mouryou no Hako (Goblins of The Box)
Due to an unusual style of storytelling, it’s hard at first to know what Mouryou no Hako is actually about. It’s set in Japan in the 1950s. The first little arc focuses on the romance of the young ladies Yoko and Kanako, leading up to a violent climax. Afterward, the story switches gears to focus on a series of dismemberment murders and the private detective who is trying to solve them. In addition, the dreams and imagination of a horror novel author sometimes appear in the anime, which may throw off the plot at times. The stories eventually tie together neatly though.
I’ve never met another Mouryou no Hako fan, but I hope to soon, because I really love this anime and wish to discuss with it others. Use underground streaming sites such as gogoanime if you want to watch Mouryou no Hako.
Mousou Dairinin (Paranoia Agent)
A weird, creepy, and extremely thought-provoking anime, Paranoia Agent starts by following the lives of various characters who have at least one thing in common: they were each attacked by a juvenile criminal with a baseball bat. This perpetrator is known as Shounen Bat. In a seemingly unrelated plot piece, a young artist’s new plushie character, Maromi, is becoming extremely popular. Welcome to Paranoia Agent, full of dementia, psychology, drama, social commentary, and more. The story is surprisingly spooky throughout, despite a fair share of humor. I highly recommend this to people who like “trippy” anime series featuring profound themes. To watch Paranoia Agent, you can use underground streaming sites like 9anime, or purchase Amazon Prime Video.
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is regarded as a cult classic in the anime world and is a staple of the genres of psychological, dementia, sci-fi, and avant garde storytelling. It’s about a seemingly normal girl named Lain as she becomes increasingly captivated by the world of The Wired– which is basically the internet with extra steps. Here, she beholds many mysteries and horrors, as her life and the world itself turns chaotic. Virtually everything in this anime is creepy, and rather than trying to explain it, I’m just going to tell you to watch it yourself. Serial Experiments Lain is available on Funimation, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV.
An unusual girl-like entity named Fumiko works with her magical talking staff, Kanaka, to perform a particular kind of supernatural work. If a person dies with a strong enough unspoken sentiment in their mind, they create a shigofumi: letter from the dead. It contains their final thoughts that they want the living to know. Fumiko and Kanaka have the important job of delivering the shigofumi letters to the living world.
Compared to something like Serial Experiments Lain, Shigofumi is not nearly as creepy, trippy, or thrilling. However, the anime does possess a calmer, quieter sort of spookiness in its overall tone. Not many people have ever heard of Shigofumi, but I love it and recommend it. Amazon Prime Video, HIDIVE, and various underground streaming sites have Shigofumi available to watch.
Shinreigari (Ghost Hound)
Ghost Hound is easily one of the creepiest anime shows I’ve ever seen, though to be fair, I think that’s mainly personal to me. Still, for anyone, the anime can be a bit eerie. It’s about some kids trying to deal with both supernatural and psychological problems in the town and in their personal lives. One boy, Tarou, has severe trauma from being kidnapped when he was a small child. Miyako, the local Shinto priest’s daughter, has started seeing visions. The other two boys in the show have their share of issues, too. Just what is going on in this town? As with most of these obscure anime, Ghost Hound is not available on the major platforms. Try underground sites like gogoanime and 9anime to watch it.
Well, friends, we have at last arrived at the end of the spooky anime recommendations series. I hope you have found a few titles that sound interesting to watch. Thanks so much for reading, and Happy Halloween a little early!