It’s that time of year again, friends! It’s getting chillier, the sun is setting earlier, and we’re thinking about holing up for the winter. Our favorite holiday is coming up, so why not celebrate it with something unique this time around? We’ve put together a list of our favorite Japanese anime to enjoy this Halloween.
So grab a warm blanket, some snacks, and a victim… ahem, loved one… and check out a few of these series!
One of the most infamous series in all of anime, Elfen Lied is a chaotic gorefest mixed with the innocence of an amnesiac young girl. It’s a series that you either love or hate, as it is a roller coaster of different emotions. It follows a young girl named Lucy, who is a mutated human called a Diclonius. These mutants have two horns on their head (yes, they look more like cat ears) and possess a telekinetic sixth sense. All of them have been captured and sequestered in government laboratories to protect the public. Lucy, a particularly psychotic Diclonius, escapes her government prison and is shot in the head before falling off a cliff into the ocean. She survives but loses her memory. She is found by two teenagers, Kouta and Yuka. This harrowing ordeal leaves her with only the ability to say “Nyu,” which the teens decide to name her. However, Lucy still resides in this body as well, and the government is after her to finish her off.
Elfen Lied is a cult classic and well worth a watch. Be prepared, as it can be gut-wrenching, perverted, and grotesque. Violence, blood, gore, and nudity are not shied away from in Elfen Lied. So give it a watch if you think you’re up for the ride.
Here’s a series you might be familiar with if you’ve been following our anime reviews. We reviewed Yamishibai back in July and gave it high marks for many reasons. For those of you that haven’t read the review, here’s a brief rundown. Yamishibai is a unique series for two main reasons. One: Each episode is only around four minutes long. With most anime series running at least twenty minutes or more, this is highly unusual. Two: Yamishibai uses an animation style reminiscent of paper dolls. This is due to the fact that it is inspired by the Japanese tradition of kamishibai. A storyteller would travel the country on a bike and tell his tales with the use of paper figures, much like a puppet theater. Yamishibai takes this tradition into more modern times and tells stories from all eras of Japan. With each episode its own standalone story, it’s possible to skip around to the ones that intrigue you most without missing out on anything. Jump scares abound in Yamishibai, along with some more subtly unsettling spooks that make you ponder them long after you’ve watched them.
One of the more unknown anime series, Yamishibai is great for binge-watching. And the stories are perfect for recounting to all your friends to give them a scare during this Halloween season.
While reaping commercial benefits from prisons is not exactly a new idea, Deadman Wonderland is a series that brings this concept to the animated realm. The main character, Ganta Igarashi, is your average high school student, until one day a mysterious man dressed in red annihilates his entire class. Ganta is blamed for the slaughter and sentenced to die at the titular prison, Deadman Wonderland. All of the inmates are death row prisoners and are forced to participate in merciless death matches while the public spectates. The prison treats violence and death as entertainment, while the convicts themselves are living in a literal hell. In the face of this terrifying reality, Ganta loses all hope for the future–that is, until he realizes that he has the ability to use his own spilled blood as a weapon. Ganta finds out that this ability might be related to the man in red who got him into this mess. In an effort to find this man and avenge his dead classmates, Ganta learns secrets about the prison that could bring the whole enterprise crashing down.
Deadman Wonderland is a series that can be a little confusing at times, but the story is brutal and keeps you on the edge of your seat. For something a little different than the rest on our list, give Deadman Wonderland a chance.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
If you’ve watched the above trailer for Puella Magi Madoka Magica (or Madoka Magica for short), you’re probably wondering why the hell it even made this list. That question is one of the greatest reasons why Madoka Magica is worth your time. The series follows a young girl who is approached by a creature who can grant her one wish if she’ll make a contract with him and become a magical girl. Main character Madoka Kaname meets other magical girls first as she questions whether or not to make the contract. The girls use their power to fight “witches,” which are shown in a very acid trip sort of way. Everything about the series, from the character design, the trailer, to even the opening before every episode, indicates an adorable series about magical girls who have special powers. However, Madoka Magica has a much darker side. The creature that makes these contracts with these girls does not bother to tell them first that these surreal battles with the witches are incredibly life-threatening. There’s another big secret that Madoka discovers through her journey, but we won’t give that one away for you.
The juxtaposition between the cute and light and the dramatic and desolate is what makes Madoka Magica a fantastic series. Young girls are coerced into giving up their lives to do battle without knowing what they’re risking first. If you’re looking for something that’s deeper than what it first seems, Madoka Magica is your series.