Halloween in anime: Despair, thrillers, and the horror aesthetic

There isn’t a lot of Halloween in anime but influence from the West is steadily increasing as time goes on. Anime is largely a reflection of Japanese cultural norms and traditions. So as the Halloween influence spreads, we should see more of the Halloween we know enter the genre.

Halloween is more than trick or treating and dressing up though. There’s the whole horror/spooky aesthetic that is prevalent in anime. The thriller genre finds itself an ample place. The scary vibe isn’t ignored either. So, that is what I want to share with you today. Let’s look at the truly frightening moments in anime.

Warning: Spoilers will be present but I’m going to be as mindful as I can with them. Just like a character’s death, knowing that a scary moment is coming can be among the worst kind of spoiler. I’m just hopeful that you’ll see my examples and be encouraged to try out these animes.


Halloween in anime – So terrifying it’ll turn your hair white

Halloween in anime - Tokyo Ghoul
Anime: Tokyo Ghoul – Gif: Funimation

First thing first, ghouls are horrifying undead monsters most definitely. While not as in the spirit of Halloween as ghosts or vampires, any sort of undead can fit the Halloween aesthetic. What we have here is the scene of Kaneki being mercilessly tortured. Snipping off his fingers and toes one-by-one is just one of the techniques his torture employs. Not to mention, a centipede is placed into Kaneki’s ear. Ultimately, Kaneki’s torture causes his hair to turn white at the culmination of this terrifying ordeal.


Halloween in anime – Cheating death Final Destination style

Halloween in anime - Another
Anime: Another – Gif: Sentai Filmworks

The saying goes “you can’t cheat death”. In the paranormal world of Another, reality reaches out with all its strength to correct irregularities. Class 3-3 is suffering under an eternal course with a series of ghosts populating their classroom. The students are safe (for the most part) until “the one that does not exist” comes into view. Reality tries to amend the anomaly of the extra student by grisly killing off actual students.


Halloween in anime – The thrill of DESPAIR

Halloween in anime - Danganronpa
Anime: Danganronpa – Gif: Funimation

Being locked up in a school and set on some murder mystery sounds like an adventure straight out of Scooby-Doo. For the unfortunate students of Hope’s Peak Academy this is reality. The only way out of this imprisonment is to successfully murder one of their fellow classmates. Plus, by the way, they must get away with the deed. This mystery thriller finds itself on a knife’s edge. If you think about it, being at “hope’s peak” means the only way to go is down. In other words, it is sort of like a reverse Pandora’s Box. Likewise, hope is the last thing in the Box – despair is the only route after reaching the peak.


Halloween in anime – Magical girls aren’t this dark

Halloween in anime - Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Gif: Aniplex

Magical girls are all about light and love and friendship. Sure, they fight evil to save lives. The world of Madoka reveals one of darkness for the magical girls. They are offered a wish in exchange to fight wishes. In reality, the trade is their very soul for the magic to fight witches. The peril, suffering, and torment of fighting witches distorts the soul of all magical girls. Madoka’s wish is to erase that horror but, in the result, she erases herself. Isn’t that a frightening outcome?


Halloween in anime – Terrifying yandere

Halloween in anime - Future Diary
Anime: Future Diary – Gif: Funimation

Okay, how can love be present in this horrifying genre? Maybe you’ll remember my explanation of what a yandere is. This crazy in love Yuno Gasai is a frightening sight to behold. There is no hyperbole in her actions or devotions to her love. Yuno will literally do anything to ensure that she ends up with Yukiteru. That includes manipulating and kidnapping Yukiteru as well as murdering anyone who would prevent their coupling. Nevertheless, Future Diary has many thrilling aspects, but the existence of this dangerous yandere is in line with the horror aesthetic.


Halloween in anime – Conclusion

Not much of the going door to door in costume in these examples, huh? I think it is appropriate though because the horrifying aspects you can find in anime. However, if you’re more into the humor side of Halloween, I recommend you try Ghost Stories. Is it wrong to hope that the examples I included will bring you a little fright this Halloween season? If any of them did, please let me know. Leave a comment here or let’s talk about it on my social media (FacebookInstagramTwitter).


Featured image: Funimation


The Otaku Antics

Hello there – I’m Steven. I’m some combination of otaku, hikikomori, nerd, weeb, dork, and geek. Within this passion comes a fact that I cannot ignore: I love sharing the things that I obsess over. That’s what I want to write about in these articles. There’s nothing more exciting than getting someone interested in the things I hold dear. I also love dogs and occasionally moonlight as a cosplay handler for some of the most creatively geeky people. I get caught in binge-spirals watching all kinds of wonderful things. But here in this space I want to share a bit of my mania for all things anime, manga, and light novels with you!

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