I’ve long accepted the fact that I’m a horror-loving fiend. Now, take horror and put it in manga format. What more could I want? Thankfully, there’s a lot of great horror manga out there! You’d think I’d get sick of reading it. How much horror manga can I possibly read before burning out? I’ve certainly gotten tired of reading certain genres. Dare I say, I might even over-read in some categories before deciding, “That’s enough, no more!” But when it comes to horror manga, that hasn’t happened yet. Will wonders never cease?
I suppose I really enjoy seeing how different mangaka depict the terrifying and the macabre. Some artists rely on nightmare-inducing visuals. Others use exquisite paneling and layouts to build the tension. Combine that with different plots? The possibilities are endless. You can have an episodic slice of life story set in high school. You can have a twisty and turning psychological saga. And, of course, as series like Demon Slayer and Jujutsu Kaisen have demonstrated, you can deliver a supernatural action adventure to enormous success.
But let’s look beyond the popular and mainstream to find other great horror manga to check out.
Mieruko-chan by Tomoki Izumi
This comedy blends slice of life with horror by introducing us to Miko, a teenager who suddenly gains the ability to see ghosts. Her random encounters with these malevolent spirits and her determined efforts not to reveal that she can see them are hilarious, but the longer you stick with her journey, the more invested you get. This poor girl has powers she doesn’t understand and can’t really control, which end up being a huge problem when she keeps running across progressively bigger and stronger ghosts.
Until Your Bones Rot by Yae Utsumi
In this psychological horror manga, a secret binds five childhood friends together. Five years ago, they killed a man and buried his body. Every summer since, they gather and perform a ritual where they swear never to forget what they did but also never to reveal what they did. But in the summer of their 16th year, everything changes. Someone steals the corpse and begins blackmailing them.
Blood on the Tracks by Shuzo Oshimi
If there’s one thing the horror genre has taught us, it’s that we have no idea what can lurk in the most seemingly mundane and normal of places. A nice, quiet neighborhood? The perfectly normal family next door? That quiet, stay-at-home mom? Nothing at all suspicious here. Right? If you like spiraling domestic horror, this is the one for you.
Mermaid Saga by Rumiko Takahashi
They say that if you eat mermaid flesh, you gain immortality. Yuta is one such person, but he wants to find a way to reverse it. Eternal life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. During his journey, he encounters another girl who — through no fault of her own — has also gained immortality through this method. He thinks this might be his chance at salvation, but it turns out that it can be difficult to retain your humanity when you can’t die.
Shibuya Goldfish by Hiroumi Aoi
Love monster horror? Give this great horror manga a try! Shibuya is known as one of the coolest wards in Japan. It’s got great shopping, great fashion, and great nightlife. Who wouldn’t want to visit? Well, maybe you’d want to rethink a day trip when giant goldfish starts appearing and eating people. Sound ridiculous? Sure, we normally don’t think of goldfish as scary, but goldfish also normally don’t bite people’s heads off.
Limit by Keiko Suenobu
Mizuki may not be the most popular girl at her high school, but she’s well-liked by the top of the social hierarchy. While this position is tenuous at best, it’s enough to garner the envy and dislike of some classmates. And this simmering resentment boils to the surface when an accident kills most of their class during a field trip. Now Mizuki and four other girls must survive the wilderness. Alas, their hatred for each other makes that pretty difficult.
Dai Dark by Q Hayashida
Q Hayashida made a huge splash thanks to her previous series, Dorohedoro — boosted in no small part by the anime adaptation available on Netflix. If you loved the twisted visions from that series, you’ll love her latest manga. Someone put a curse on Sanko’s body. His bones can grant any wish. That’s not great, because the galaxy’s a big place and there are many people who see no problem with ripping a teenager apart if it means achieving their greatest desire. Sanko’s only option? Finding the person who cursed him and killing them. Because that’ll put a stop to everything, right?
Orochi by Kazuo Umezz (March 2022)
Kazuo Umezz, or Umezu as he’s sometimes known, is the creator of many great horror manga — including the highly influential The Drifting Classroom. Even Junji Ito cites Umezz as an inspiration. Orochi is a series of interconnected stories following the titular character, a young woman with mysterious powers and a fascination with the human condition.
There’s a lot of great horror manga available, if you’re interested in exploring the genre in this format. Hopefully, this gave you a good place to start. If you’re interested in finding more horror manga, here are some of the scariest manga and psychological horror manga.