Last Updated on July 23, 2022 by Jella Erhard
20 Best Horror Manga for Adults | List of Scary Manga Series
Discover the best horror manga for adults who enjoy scary but complex stories. Our list is filled with classics, horror manga legends, great psychological mangas as well as some lesser-known spooky and dark mangas.
These dark and scary mangas will not only give you nightmares but make you think and question traditional social norms. Because while horror Japanese graphic novels or mangas are usually really fun (in a completely petrifying way) they also often serve stunning art and surprisingly deep stories about the layers of humanity.
If you’re new to horror mangas you’ll find that they almost always make their readers question and think about social norms, dogmas as well as philosophical and ethical principles.
But don’t you worry, if you’re only in it for the fun we’ve got some pretty chilling stuff for you too.
From scary action and creepy sci-fi mangas to 70s classics and horror fantasy mangas, our list has everything that a real fan or a ‘manga beginner’ may need.
We always update our posts so don’t forget to check back from time to time to find a new terrifying gem.
Top Horror Mangas for Adults that will truly scare you
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20| Monster by Naoki Urasawa | 2002 | Crime Fiction, Mystery, Psychological thriller Manga
Musician and manga artist Naoki Urasawa wrote and illustrated this creepy piece. Monster is going to give you some restless nights as it does get pretty dark.
Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a gifted brain surgeon has rather different values than most of his peers at the Dusseldorf hospital. He doesn’t see ranks or social status on the table, he wants to save everyone. One day he makes an unpopular decision of saving an orphan who was wounded in a massacre instead of the mayor.
Because life isn’t always fair, Tenma’s decision results in a blood bath. The boy disappears but nine years later they meet again to unveil horrible secrets.
Monster is one of the many successful horror mangas that was adapted to anime as well.
Monster by Naoki Urasawa is a pretty dark psychological thriller manga set in socialist Europe that creeps the hell out of everyone.
19| Homunculus By Hideo Yamamoto | 2010 | Sci-Fi Psychological Mystery Horror Manga
Here is another psychological horror manga that will leave creeped you out for a while. Writer and illustrator Hideo Yamamoto did a great job of making a truly depressing and nightmarish story.
34-year old Susumu Nakoshi is not having the best time of his life. He is living in his small car and there aren’t any prospects of life getting better.
Susumu refuses to bunk with other homeless people and even turns down a rather strange offer to take part in an experiment. However, when his car is towed, another scientist approaches him to be the subject of trepanation.
Not the most ideal to have a hole drilled in your skull, but when it pays well, who could say no?
The result of the experiment is unbelievable; Susumu begins to see ghosts and the real horrors begin.
For those in search of spine-chilling horror manga that will haunt you forever Homunculus is a perfect choice.
18| Pumpkin Night 1 by Masaya Hokazono | Horror Manga
True gore lovers will cherish this piece by Masaya Hokazono for sure. The story may not be the most complex, but sometimes the simpler the better.
Despite its simplicity, we can learn a lot from this manga. Bullies, it is payback time! Maybe after reading this blood-soaked series, they will think twice to ever hurt anyone in the future.
The story is about a teenage girl who is being bullied at school, to the extent of actually becoming mentally ill. She is admitted to a psychiatric facility. When she manages to break free, her only motivation is revenge. Puts on a pumpkin mask and grabs a knife, the rest is blood and slaughter.
It’s so scary that you can’t even buy it on Amazon. Just kidding. It’s actually a lesser-known gem so you’ll have to ask your fav comic store staff to order it for you.
Pumpkin Night 1 by Masaya Hokazono is among the bloodiest thriller mangas you can find out there.
17| Doubt by Yoshiki Tonogai | 2013 | Psychological horror Manga Series
Doubt is a very interesting manga because it does make you wonder how you would react in a similar situation. A group of teenagers begin to play a cell phone game, where they have to find the killer in their group.
But when the online game turns into reality, things become much creepier. Now it is a survival task, with very little chance to come out alive if they don’t cooperate.
This manga is definitely a series for psychological thriller manga fans and those who are looking for something new. Prepare for a read that will make you think twice about playing games and meeting random people.
Yoshiki Tonogai’s Doubt is surely one of the best psychological horror manga series of all time. If you enjoy weird mystery horror mangas you should pick this manga up.
16| Gantz by Hiroya Oku | 2000 | Sci-fi Horror Manga Series
Here is another superb horror manga series that will make you think twice about life on Earth. Are we alone, or are there different life forms? If so, what if they already live among us?
Kei and Masaru get answers without even asking the questions. When they try to save a drunk homeless from the train tracks, the two boys are killed.
Instead of eternal darkness or the promises of heaven, they are taken to an empty apartment in Tokyo.
There, with other clueless dead people, they meet Gantz, a large black sphere.
They have to take on a mission, to kill creatures disguised as humans. They can either earn back their old lives or step on a new path, depending on their decisions.
Gantz by Hiroya Oku is a unique sci-fi psychological manga that has just the right amount of scary and action.
15| Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi | 1991| Horror Fiction Manga
Prepare for a truly shocking experience immersing yourself in the life of Mima and a huge fan of hers.
Mima is a famous pop star, who has been building on the good girl image for years. Now, she feels it is time to make some major changes, but not everyone welcomes the new look.
It looks that a rather troubled fan doesn’t agree with the changes. It gets so creepy that Mima decides to try and stay away from this fan. Far away.
It is a pretty easy read, definitely fun for everyone. Also, the thriller anime that was made in 1996 is also incredibly great. It has gained critical acclaim and has a strong fan base for understandable reasons.
Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi is one of the best horror mangas for beginners. It is easy to read and digest.
14| Goth by Otsuichi and Kendi Oiwa | 2008 | Thriller Manga
It was first a novel by Japanese horror giant Otsuichi. Due to its success, it was adapted into a manga and the chilling story gained more popularity.
Goth was also brought to screen later on, so there are three different channels to dip into this creepy tale.
The meeting of a young girl and a young boy is always inspiring for love enthusiasts. Well, nothing is more dreamy than finding the one with whom you can share your life and even have similar interests.
It all sounds ideal until you realize Yoru and Kamiyama share a very unusual interest. They are both into gruesome murders and they don’t see the problem with that.
Goth by Otsuichi and Kendi Oiwa is undoubtedly among the scariest mangas because it might just be real.
13| Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki | 1989 -1985 | Sci-fi Horror Manga
No, it is not the Oscar winner movie, but do not despair, it is just as good if not better. Although it is a completely different world.
17-year old high school student Shinichi’s life changes completely when Earth is being flooded by strange creatures. These worm-like aliens crawl up in your nose and take over your body.
But when a parasite is attempting to take over his body at night, he wakes up.
Because of that, the creature can only take over his right hand and the two actually bond quite strongly. This friendship is certainly not an everyday one.
The two begin to hunt parasites and some exceptionally creepy situations arise.
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki is among the most exciting sci-fi thriller mangas you can put your hands on.
12| Pet Shop Of Horrors By Matsuri Akino | 1995 – 1998 | Horror Manga
If you like Stephen King and similar horror authors, it is very likely you will love Matsuri Akino too. She is very talented when it comes to creating suspense and the stories she came up with are also unique.
Not to mention the fascinating art that tells the tale of Count D. and his pet shop. It is no ordinary shop thanks to mainly its visitors.
In the ten volumes, you are going to meet some rather odd people with bone-chilling stories.
Have to mention that the cover arts are so beautiful, they would make a great decoration in every home. So after you have enjoyed the horrors of the pet shop, you can frame and hang them.
Pet Shop Of Horrors By Matsuri Akino is definitely amid the most beautiful scary mangas.
11| Helter Skelter by Kyoko Okazaki | 2003 | Horror Manga
Sort of Japanese urban life expert Kyoko Okazaki has a great sense of creating tension. Her psychological thriller manga Helter Skelter is an absolutely great example.
Supermodel Liliko is the current hit. She is everywhere, there is no corner you wouldn’t find her body or face displayed.
Despite everything looking perfect for an outsider, things are by far not perfect. She is losing it and constantly on the edge. Once on the top, there is only one way ahead and Liliko does go down rather ugly.
This thriller is definitely for adults only as well as the live-action movie that premiered in 2012.
Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter is one of the best horror mangas of all time because it shakes your world.
10| Domu: A Child’s Dream by Katsuhiro Otomo | 1980 – 1981 | Horror Manga Series
This classic horror manga by Katsuhiro Otomo has inspired many horror creators. We are brought to a residential complex tower, where over thirty people have died mysteriously in three years.
The investigating detective ends up throwing himself down from the top as well. It turns out all the suicides were the work of Old Cho, a senile old man living in the building.
At least he was thought to be senile, he is angry with special powers and doesn’t spare anyone. When he wants to kill a baby, he meets his match in Etsuko, a little girl who also has special powers.
Will she be able to end Old Cho’s rampage?
Domu: A Child’s Dream by Katsuhiro Otomo is among the scariest mangas that were created in the 1980s.
9| Tokyo Ghoul By Sui Ishida | 2012 – 2014 | Horror Manga
Sui Ishida gained popularity with his dark fantasy manga Tokyo Ghoul. It was later adapted into an anime series and even a live-action movie.
This supernatural thriller manga series with 14 volumes is going to put you on the edge of your seat.
It isn’t just a spine-chilling horror manga that will haunt you forever but also full of surprises.
In a world where ghouls live among us is definitely not an ideal one for humans. They have to feed on people and they are also seven times stronger than us.
Ken Kaneki’s first date with an attractive girl doesn’t end too well. He is almost torn into pieces by the ghoul girl and transformed into a half-ghoul. Not the excitement a teenager expects.
Sui Ishida’s career-maker Tokyo Ghoul is a remarkable supernatural thriller manga you cannot put down.
8| Fraction by Shintarō Kago | 2009 | Horror Fiction Manga
Fraction is only recommended for true horror manga lovers. It is very, sometimes even a bit too graphic, so make sure to be ready with a strong stomach.
Shintarō Kago is a great crime author and also has an eye for gore. What you are about to see is definitely not for the squeamish readers.
The book is divided into two parts, the first the titular piece, in which a serial killer goes wild. Emphasis on the wild, because the victims end up in a frightful state.
The second part allows you to get to know the artist behind it better. You can read an interview with Kago and pick his brain to understand how his horror crime mangas are born.
Fraction by Shintarō Kago is a gruesome spine-chilling horror manga that will haunt you forever.
7| Aftermath or PTSD Radio by Masaaki Nakayama | 2012 | Horror Manga
Aftermath is also known as PTSD radio is a still ongoing horror manga series so the horrors haven’t ended yet. Masaaki Nakayama is known to be a master of creating tension without violence.
This series is among the scariest mangas without bloodshed or serious violence.
Prepare to be creeped out so badly, you won’t want to leave the Hello Kitty-themed ride in the amusement park. Or at least leave the lights on at night, because nightmares will not elude you tonight.
Supported by remarkable art, this series is definitely a great pick if you had enough of spilling blood.
Aftermath or PTSD Radio by Masaaki Nakayama certainly one of the best ongoing horror manga series.
6| Opus by Satoshi Kon | 1995 – June 1996 | Action fiction, Metacomic Manga
This one is for younger audiences as well, Opus is categorized as seinen manga. This meta comic is a meaningful psychological horror manga that makes one think.
It goes into some topics that are often taboos. Such as religion so if not for a big scare, but a good philosophy session it is a great read.
Chikara Nagai is trying to beat the deadline of his manga series’ next chapter. As he is stressed out and gets deep into the story, the thin line of reality and fiction washes away.
He is torn between his past and present with serious matters bothering him. What is real and what is the figment of his imagination?
Satoshi Kon’s outstanding piece is definitely going to make you think. Opus is undoubtedly among those scary mangas that will make you get lost in your thoughts for a while.
5| Kasane by Daruma Matsuura | 2018 | Dark fantasy, Thriller Manga
Thanks to its huge success the manga was brought to screen in the form of a live-action movie. You are in for a proper, suspenseful dark fantasy packed with interesting characters.
Pick it up only if you are ready for some disturbing and shocking stuff.
Kasane is a terribly odd girl, who is acting out of rage towards people and hatred towards herself. Her looks are extremely memorable but not in the good sense. She was bullied, segregated, beaten, and treated like trash.
That terrible childhood definitely didn’t help her form a healthy personality. Well, she does inherit a lipstick with extraordinary powers from her actor mother.
It turns out to be able to steal the faces of others, so Kasane can pick the outlook she likes.
Kasane by Daruma Matsuura is hands down the weirdest and haunting thriller mangas you can find. It also teaches an important lesson on bullying and nurturing.
4| Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show by Suehiro Maruo | 1984 | Classic Horror Manga
If you are in search of scary mangas with quaint art, this gem from the 1980s is going to be your new favorite.
There is no question; Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show is only for the experienced horror lovers. It can be quite hard on the readers, quite graphic and there are some pretty triggering scenes as well.
Midori, a young orphan girl is taken by Mr. Arashi, the owner of a traveling freak show. She is not really kept in desirable conditions.
The cruel owner is particularly harsh on her and doesn’t allow much freedom. She is forced to look after the freaks, which is no little girl’s dream.
Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show by Suehiro Maruo is surely among the best horror mangas of all time. It is a truly nightmarish manga that offers very little hope to the protagonist.
3| The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezu | 1972 – 1974 | Horror Manga
The first of The Drifting Classroom horror manga series introduces the terrible world, where 6th grader Sho and his classmates have to survive.
As a result of an earthquake the whole school sank into a hostile dark world. Parents think they all died and my not be completely wrong.
Can they make it all out alive? It is going to be tough as everyone has only a very short time to adapt to the grim environment.
Umezo is pretty famous in the horror manga scene, he has created many bone-chilling stories. There is even an award named after him. His art is remarkable, the shading is often going to make you feel frustrated and bring darkness in the room.
The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezu is certainly in the top of all horror manga series lists. The art is outstanding and the protagonist is easy to grow fond of.
2| Ghost Hunt By Inada Shiho | 1999 | Horror Manga
One of the biggest hits of the 1990s was Ghost Hunt. First, the light novels swept the world. Then it was heard as a radio drama, adapted into a manga which then was turned into an anime.
So it literally can indulge all your senses. You are in for a good treat because Ghost Hunt is utterly fun, while also a little scary.
High school freshman Mai Taniyama becomes a member of the Shibuya Psychic Research. She has a special ability to retrieve information in her dreams that can help crack the actual case.
The story is pretty interesting, how Mai evolves over time, but retaining some of her originality.
The Ghost Hunt manga By Inada Shiho is a rather easy read, with loads of excitement and unique characters.
1| Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito | 2020 | Horror Manga
This magnificent manga collection is a fresh addition to the genre, it was just published on 18th august 2020. Legendary horror manga artist Junji Ito was awarded the Umazu award for his works.
Most of the artworks in this manga are so disturbingly beautiful that they make you want to both stare at it for hours and look away immediately.
Venus In The Blind Spot brings a good variety of short horror stories that will raise the hair on your neck. With plenty of odd surprises and even classics that have already amazed fans.
If you are familiar with Ito’s works, you are not going to be disappointed. In case you are new, it’s a perfect way to fall in love with his works.
While Venus In The Blind Spot just came out it already received raving reviews from both the media and manga fans.
Venus in the Blind Spot is another outstanding work of Junji Ito. It’s a remarkable horror manga collection about societal issues with stunning art that will keep you up at night.
If you’re a fan of Mr. Ito’s work you should check out this interview with him about his art and inspirations.
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