by

When I was a kid, I was over at a friend’s house and found a magazine with a bunch of comics in it. As I started looking through it, I found a horrifying comic. I’d never really seen a comic like it before, and was really freaked out by what I saw.

Even today, a decade and some change later, I remember sitting in the back of my family’s minivan on the way home with those images still in my head, more than a little shaken.

Guess what happens next.

This week I found out that the comic that had scared me so much as a kid is called Parasyte, a manga about alien parasites that take over human bodies and kill and eat people.

I read through it recently and was kind of underwhelmed. Even though I remember Parasyte being so freaky and unnerving when I was a kid, it doesn’t have the same effect on me now.

Although Parasyte isn’t the scariest horror manga out there, it taught me early on how manga can really scare you and shake you up.

For Halloween week, I decided to look into more horror manga and explore the different Japanese artists who frighten us to our core.

Shigeru Mizuki

I don’t think that many people would be very scared of Shigeru Mizuki’s manga, but he has to be included in any conversation about manga featuring the spooky and supernatural.

Mizuki is most famous for his manga ゲゲゲの鬼太郎, or GeGeGe no Kitaro. It’s a story about a boy trying to bring peace between the warring worlds of humans and supernatural beings.

Kitaro is about as scary as Casper the Friendly Ghost, but what is lacks in creepiness it makes up for in traditional Japanese folklore. There’s probably no other manga that’s so full of different obake, or Japanese monsters and spirits.

Over the years, Kitaro has gone through (approximately) a billion iterations, from manga to anime to live-action features. Kitaro isn’t the scariest manga out there by a long shot, but it’s still very near and dear to most Japanese.

Kazuo Umezu

Kazuo Umezu is another old-school manga artist. Besides being known for dressing like he’s starring in Where’s Waldo?, Umezu has been making manga for decades.

His most famous work is The Drifting Classroom, an eerie story of a school miraculously transported into a post-apocalyptic future. Separated from their families, the kids and teachers begin to snap, grow paranoid, and drift apart.

It’s a chilling world that Umezu has created, and one that’s resonated for the forty-some years since its release.

The Drifting Classroom was also made into a laughable, English-language movie in the 80s that pretty much destroys the eerie atmosphere that Umezu worked to build. But let’s not talk about that.

Junji Ito

We wrote a whole post about Junji Ito last year, but he’s still worth mentioning here.

There’s a reason he’s so iconic and such a favorite of mine. His stories and art are bleak and convey a sense of hopelessness that’s hard to shake.

Ito’s created classics like Uzumaki (which was made into an awful movie), Gyo, and The Enigma of Amigara Fault.

You can read our whole post about Ito here.

Hideshi Hino

Hideshi Hino really stands out from a lot of other manga artists; his art style is radically different from what you normally expect out of manga. His characters are simple, cartoony, and he’s all but thrown anatomy out the window.

Even though Hino’s art looks less realistic than most manga artist, the effect is that it’s more frightening. Something about these inhuman characters doing such horrifying things seems to take it to the next level.

Hino’s more than a manga artist; he also directed and starred in a movie in the infamous Guinea Pig horror movie series. The movie, Flower of Flesh and Blood is so gory and realistic that, before his life became the train wreck that it is today, Charlie Sheen reported the movie to the FBI because he thought it was all real.

About all I want to show you of Flower of Flesh and Blood

Needless to say, we can’t really show you anything from Flower of Flesh and Blood, so use your imagination. Think Cannibal Holocaust and you’re probably pretty close.


This is just a small dose of all of the horror manga out there. There were some artists whose art was so gory and graphic that I decided against putting them in this post, and I’m sure there are a ton of incredible artists that I’m completely unaware of.

What’s your favorite horror manga? Who’s your favorite artist? Let us know!

  • HatsuHazama

    I recognise Ito from someone’s WaniKani avatar. I shall never look at them in the same way.
    I also recognise Kitaro from a random second hand media store. Me and my friend laughed at the cover of the movie for a good five minutes.

    You want scary, look at Boku no Pico. Young readers, do not look. Others, well, Wiki it first.

  • http://twitter.com/rapchee rapchee

    “Something about these inhuman characters doing such inhuman things seems to …” that would be really creepy if that was the last sentence. although it could still mean that a parasite took over and missed this bit …
    and i don’t really like horror. these few pictures were quite enough for me XI
    perhaps tsumotu nihei’s works, but i don’t recon many consider that horror.

  • ジョサイア

    Very strange…

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, I’m going to say that unfinished sentences was a parasite’s fault. Normal Hashi always finishes his sentences and proofreads thoroughly :x

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Charlie Sheen is no joking matter!

  • Raph95

    There’s no Shintaro Kago?

  • Lily Queen

    You have to mention Sakaiminato! http://www.sakaiminato.net/foreign/en/mizuki.html

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Wiki’d it. I’m far too exposed to Internet to be scared by such mainstream stuff.

    …And now I have become suddenly depressed.

  • HorrorChan

    Boku no Pico. Never got passed the intro. Noped right out of youtube. It’s also why I check links my friends send me from now on.

  • Yuume

    I’m so glad you featured Hideshi Hino! I love all of his manga, they are completely and utterly creepy! Even the ones he tries to make into a “good” story (like the one where the kid finds the mermaid or whatever it was in the sewer and takes care of it). I love love love him! And yes, Flower of Flesh and Blood was pretty realistic o_o Isn’t it illegal to screen or sell in Japan and Korea now?

  • http://twitter.com/JACKTHEDANIELS ジャック (Jack)

    As messed up as it is…I have seen some of that guinea pig film. I also watched some weird mermaid one. Cannibal holocaust was meh, but i’m probably just incredibly desensitized >:(

  • Gabe

    How about MPD Psycho? It’s not exactly a horror story (maybe?) because it features a lot of detective stories and such, but it has a lot of gore and whatnot (I believe it was made into a series of movies) Definitely my favourite in this category

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    The internet will do that to you!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I don’t think that they’re illegal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.

  • http://twitter.com/treeghosts bauauamgeggeist

    You can still buy it legaly in france and italy, even in germany if you get your hands on the limited box edition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kittonni Hugo Botelho

    My favorites are easily Nakayama Masaaki’s 不安の種 (Fuan no Tane) and Yamazaki Housui’s MAIL. Great plot, and boy, do they make you jump.

  • フレヂィー

    Just recently started reading 黒鷺死体宅配便
    and, not bad so far.

  • DAVIDPD

    I dig Ito’s MC Escher like handiwork. It’s like if Escher had ever found mushrooms he would have done the same kind of stuff.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Actually, why hasn’t anyone mentioned this yet?

    DRR DRR DRR

    Greatest sound effect ever.

  • Jon

    This reminded me of this one disturbing manga I came across in the one manga issue I purchased. Now that I’ve found it again, I can tell you it’s called Corpse Party: Another Child, and it was Chapter 6, in the March issue of Comic Blade. One of the characters is missing the part of his/her head above the jaw!

    By the way, does anyone know what the people who have a monthly subscription to the manga issues due with them after they read them? These things are HUGE, and I’ve always kind of wondered if people just keep them in a bookshelf specifically for old issues, sell them, or just throw them away or something.

  • HatsuHazama

    No worries. Boku no Pico was my RESTRICTED choice.
    There are some things that must not be mentioned…

  • Rashmi

    ‘The Drifting Classroom’ was also made into a JDrama, as I recall. Starring Yamashita Tomahisa (among others:-P)

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Ah, yes, Corpse Party. Based off a PSP game. Which was based off a PC game. Which was based off a PC-98 game. Directed by Christopher Nolan. We call the kid missing half her head “Gurgles.”

  • Inkfection

    My favorite that is apparently semi-unknown would be Ibitsu by Ryou Haruka. The artwork and little girl in this story pretty much was a nightmare waiting to happen. You should all check it out if you can find it. I get chills just thinking about it. o_O

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001887233580 Nicole Jones

    I love Parastye!!!

  • http://twitter.com/meganekkomegami サンロック sunrock

    Do you know つのだじろう(Tsunoda Jiro)? He drew 恐怖新聞(Kyouhu Shimbun)

  • Brittney

    This is only relatively related, but does anyone remember “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” illustrated by Stephen Gammell? The images are seriously disturbing, even now. I can’t believe my parents gave these books to my brothers and me. Here is the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark
    Check it out, and relive your childhood nightmares!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001343990735 ReyCarlo Castillo

    what about Ultra Gash Inferno?

  • wreck-it-may

    of course uzumaki,prepared a doze of bucket in case you need it.well the ending it’s very absurb i though,but i like it anyway..

  • Eliy

    Oh wow, i love horror manga! Although all kinds are good, i do have preference for more modern horror manga, since i have a tendency to dislike older art styles. Not really horror, but mangas like Another, or Corpse Party, or Ibitsu, or Doubt, are definitely among favourites! Pretty art and a pretty delectably spine-chilling storyline!

  • http://asidcast.com/ SunnyTheFunnyBunny

    Uzumaki is one hell of a manga!