While terror is not a pleasant experience, many people enjoy watching horror films for the rush and stimulation it delivers without exposing themselves to actual danger. Japanese horror is a culturally distinct genre that entered the mainstream a long time ago.
People all around the world appreciate J-horror films and Japanese horror video games that are both immersive and disturbing. Nonetheless, the manga medium produces the most variety and, arguably, terrifying nightmares. From Junji Ito's disturbing body horrors to Kyoko Okazaki's world-famous psychological thrillers, the landscape of horror manga is infinitely varied and nuanced.
One genre in which manga outperforms most other mediums, including anime, is horror. Despite the often gory and filthy subject matter, horror manga continues to attract brave readers, and the number of excellent volumes in the genre is growing. This list has been updated to include even more horror manga that will make even the most apathetic fans' hearts skip a beat.
15 The Drifting Classroom
11 Volumes, 44 Chapters
Kazuo Umezu is a horror manga virtuoso whose stories never fail to send chills down readers' spines. While his body of work is vast, The Drifting Classroom, a dark sci-fi mystery about the problems of survival under severe conditions, has gained him worldwide acclaim.
While the premise of a school unexpectedly teleporting to a bizarre wasteland sounds outlandish, the tragedies of The Drifting Classroom are painfully reality. It goes into gruesome detail on the extremes individuals go to in apocalyptic times to survive.
41 Volumes, 364 Chapters
Berserk by Kentarou Miura is better known for its effect on the dark fantasy genre than horror manga. But, the terror that Berserk instills in its readers is unrivalled.
Miura's beautifully detailed graphic technique and nuanced psychological narrative collaborate to instill anxiety in the audience of living in Guts' merciless world. Some of Berserk's most powerful images still gives fans nightmares, and everyone who's read the series even once would agree that it's one of the most horrific manga of all time.
1 Volume, 9 Chapters
The first thing that stands out to anyone who picks up Hideout is the series' gorgeous yet eerily haunting art style. And while the manga's visuals are beautiful, the story it tells is grotesquely hideous. Seiichi Kirishima and his wife seek reclusion on a faraway island, attempting to get over losing their only son.
However, the vacation isn't Seiichi's primary motivation — he plans to kill his wife. Yet, when his target escapes, something far more horrific begins to hunt Seiichi in the island's caves.
12 Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show
1 Volume, 8 Chapters
Berserk by Kentarou Miura is more well-known for its effect on the dark fantasy genre than horror manga. But, the horror that Berserk instills in its readers is unrivalled.
Miura's beautifully detailed graphic style and nuanced psychological prose work in tandem to instill anxiety in the audience of living in Guts' merciless world. Some of Berserk's most powerful imagery still gives fans nightmares, and those who've read the series even once would never hesitate to call it one of the most horrific manga of all time.
12 Volumes, 84 Chapters
Less physically frightening and more mentally upsetting, Freesia is an ideal horror manga for action fans looking for something darker than modern fight series. The Japanese society depicted in Freesia approved a law authorising revenge assassinations, and its protagonist, a seriously mentally unstable man named Kano, works for a firm that carries out such strikes.
The terror of Freesia, however, stems from the deeply broken people who live this society, not from the killings. Their unsettling stories make for some of the best literature in psychological horror.
10 Dragon Head
10 Volumes, 89 Chapters
Some of the most effective horror stories avoid delving into the supernatural, recognising that the most horrifying events are unavoidable disasters that can happen to anybody. Dragon Head is a claustrophobia-inducing nightmare that depicts the aftermath of a horrific train crash in which just three teen survivors survive.
Teru Aoki, Nobuo Takahashi, and Ako Seto are imprisoned underground with little chance of escape. Surrounded by the mutilated carcasses of their classmates, the trio faces terror, hunger, and insanity as their odds of survival dwindle with each passing second.
9 Panorama Of Hell
1 Volume, 7 Chapters
Hino Hideshi is a one-of-a-kind horror author that draws heavily on his personal experiences for artistic inspiration. Panorama of Hell, his weird, horrific series, is no exception, as it is greatly influenced by the author's tragic youth.
This terrifying story delves into the personal torment of a timid painter born in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. Hino's character descends into unsettling psychosis, terrified by the indifference to death and horrified by the nuclear terror. Panorama of Hell is, at its core, an astute study of the nature of dread, both superficial and stunningly real.
8 Fort Of Apocalypse
10 Volumes, 49 Chapters
Zombie horror is frequently recognised as one of the medium's most clichéd and uninspired subgenres. Yet, Fort of Apocalypse transforms tired cliches into horrifying new ones, engaging readers in one of the best zombie stories available.
Yoshiaki Maeda, a murder convict, arrives at Shouran Academy Juvenile Detention Center believing that his life cannot get any worse. With the rest of the globe experiencing the first wave of a zombie outbreak, Yoshiaki is about to become embroiled in a gruesome, dramatic power struggle.
15 Volumes, 166 Chapters
Hideo Yamamoto's Homunculus is a disturbing story that depicts how much reality can morph based on warped perceptions. Susumu Nakoshi is a desperate homeless man living out of his car whose life changes forever after encountering a mysterious young gentleman.
He offers Nakoshi an irresistible sum of money in exchange for partaking in a gruesome experiment: becoming a subject of trepanation, the act of drilling a hole in the skull. The procedure results in Nakoshi gaining a repulsive perspective on the world, as he begins to see everyone as the disturbing homunculus.
6 God's Child
1 Volume, 11 Chapters
God's Child hides a highly distressing story of a monster developing from a misunderstood child to a being of ridiculous brutality beneath its exaggerated, cartoony art style. This psychological horror manga is a poetic, strange, and unsettling story of a boy carrying out his mother's wishes and exacting retribution on the entire world.
The ruthless, unsettling acts of cruelty committed by the main character during his transition are not for the faint of heart. God's Child's strange story is a distinct type of horror that forces readers to confront some of the most painful parts of human nature.
1 Volume, 12 Chapters
Any refined horror manga fan is familiar with the insanity-driven works of Shintaro Kago, an infamous master of the bizarre and grotesque ero-guro genre. His mesmerizing, unpredictable, and violent tales are notorious for their eroticized gore, incomprehensive storytelling, and terrifyingly insightful meta-commentary on manga as a form of artistic expression.
Beyond being a gruesome serial killer story, Shintaro's eponymous manga Fraction is a surrealistic experience. This work throws readers' expectations out the window and cunningly plays with form and content to create something unorthodox and terrifying.
4 Fuan No Tane
3 Volumes, 72 Chapters
Horror manga artists find great inspiration in Japanese folklore and superstitions. Fuan no Tane, Masaaki Nakayama's anthology series, goes all out in exploring the silent fear of strange Japanese spirits and ghouls.
Fuan no Tane's stories are unrelated, following different characters as they wander into uncomfortable, horrific situations, often unable to escape their awful fate. This is a brilliantly frightening read that doesn't require a lot of time or investment to give the audience shivers.
3 You Will Hear The Voice Of The Dead
12 Volumes, 79 Chapters
Sachiko Uguisu's You Will Hear the Voice of the Dead is a unique manga that masterfully mixes slice-of-life comedy with some of the most disturbing horrors in the medium, elevated by a gorgeous yet endlessly disturbing art style. The story's protagonist, Jun Kishida, is a school kid with an unorthodox ability — he can see and communicate with the dead.
One of the ghosts following him, his childhood friend, Ryoko Hayakawa, has a particular fondness for Jun. Ryoko aids him as the boy gets more and more entangled in the gruesome world of the supernatural.
2 Blood On The Tracks
15 Volumes, 139 Chapters
The quiet, lingering horror of Shuzo Oshimi's Blood on the Tracks gets into the reader's head without any need for terrifying jump scares or ghoulish monsters. The premise of this psychological horror tale is quite simple, following an ordinary boy named Seiichi Osabe and his overprotective mother, Seiko.
Seiichi soon learns that his mother's possessiveness is a sign of a much deeper mental disturbance. Seiko traps the boy in the arms of an unstable, abusive parent as he struggles to find a way to escape.
3 Volumes, 19 Chapters
Junji Ito's name is linked with amazing body horror, unique and terrifying visuals, and brilliantly immersive storytelling all around the world. Ito is a horror genre legend who has created countless unforgettable stories of gore and fear.
Uzumaki, Ito's most famous work, is still considered the gold standard of horror comics. This progressive, gripping tale of madness turns spirals, which are mundane and unassuming, into a cause of anxiety and crazy. Uzumaki is a disturbing, paranoia-induced descent into insanity that beautifully exemplifies its creator's creativity.