The spooky season is finally here. Vampires and witches are taking the spotlight, but let us not forget that go-to classic costume of eyeholes cut into a sheet. There have recorded sightings of ghostsas far back as the Roman Empire in the 1st-century C.E, and tales from The Odyssey to Hamlet to Sleepy Hollow have used spirits from beyond the grave to frighten and disturb. Asian folklore has a rich history of the ghost as well, including the preta, a flesh-eating ghost, and ayakashi in Japan, spirits only few can see and range from harmless to malevolent.
Ghosts continue to fascinate to this day, said to take on many forms to befriend, outwit or simply terrify any human they come across. Anime and manga feed into this ghostly obsession as well, whether through drawing on Japanese myth and urban legend or using materials such as the early Gothic novels that were written for the purpose of sending shivers up spines. Whatever your pleasure for scare-factor is, these five anime and manga series are a celebration of ghosts, bringing the story back around to one of the most infamous supernatural creatures.
There is a shop that grants wishes, owned by the witch Yuuko Ichihara. For high schooler Kimihiro, the shop is a last hope to prevent him from being able to see ayakashi. The price is to be Yuuko's cook and housecleaner, but soon Kimihiro is being sent out on errands involving the supernatural. Kimihiro is joined by his classmates Himawari and Shizuka, and the three tackle the assignments that Yuuko sends them on. But with each passing day, Kimihiro wonders what Yuuko's own wish must be.
As a crossover with artist group CLAMP's other work, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic reintroduces old names and concepts that CLAMP fans will appreciate while still delivering an original story that stands completely on its own. xxxHolic is stylish and full of character introspection, pulling heavily on emotional connections and the nature of relationships to sell its world of spirits and dreams. For people who love the aesthetic of the season and the allure of the supernatural, xxxHolic is a forgotten classic.
Based on the Japanese urban legend, Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun follows Nene, who is desperate enough in her failing love life to try summoning the spirit of Hanako-san in the girls' bathroom. Instead of a young girl, however, Nene finds herself face-to-face with the ghost of a boy who died in the school many decades ago. It seems that Nene's school is actually quite special, home to various spirits and powerful occult creatures known as the Seven Wonders.
Nene is locked into being Hanako's assistant as he attempts to enforce order upon the school as the incredibly powerful Seventh Wonder, but there are plenty of secrets Hanako is keeping to himself and much more dangerous things lurking just out of sight. Combining unnerving scenes with humor and almost childlike whimsy to the art style, Hanako-kun is perfect for those who like the chills without the bloodshed.
Blood Blockade Battlefront
One day, New York City merged with a place called the Beyond, and ever since then, it has become known as Hellsalem's Lot, a mishmash of monsters, vampires, ghosts and all manner of creepy creatures living alongside humans. The secret organization Libra works in the shadows to try and keep things balanced using their own inhuman abilities. Amateur photographer Leonardo Watch was enjoying a day in the city with his sister when a celestial being appeared, forcing the siblings to choose one to go blind and the other to receive All-Seeing Eyes.
Leo's sister was the one who got the words out first. Now, cursed with All-Seeing Eyes that cost his sister her sight, Leo is roped into Libra, hoping to find some clue as to how he can get his sister's eyesight back as he's dragged into a world of otherworldly nightmares. For horror fans who like a healthy dose of action on the side, Blood Blockade Battlefront is a sharp, battle-heavy series that is literally Hell on Earth.
Mononoke began with the horror collection Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, leaping off of that series to trace the footsteps of the Medicine Seller and his continued interaction with the supernatural, traveling with a sword that no mere peddler should possess in Japan's Edo period. The episodes of Mononoke occur in separate arcs telling five separate stories, but in each, the Medicine Seller must determine the spirit's Form, Truth and Reason before he can exorcise it using the sword.
The spirits might be terrifying in appearance, but it's the truths the Medicine Seller uncovers about the humans around him that form the true horror of every story. Every spirit must have a reason for being, after all, and sometimes it seems the humans would deserve their fate. With horrific stories of spirits and the humans who created them alongside an art style that lends itself to frightening sequences, Mononoke is the perfect ghost story for those who are frightened the most by the human capacity for evil.
A high school boy creates a website to chronicle fake supernatural phenomena, and by doing so, ends up linking nine different people to a plot that is larger than any of their individual stories. Normally these people should have never met, but still the motley crew collects: the fortune teller, the spirit guide, the doubter, the reporter, the detective, the psychometrist, the dark magician and the devil. Each of them have their own secrets, and each of them have their own path they'll be forced down now that they have met.
In the midst of it all is Yuuta, who created the blog to try to dismiss the existence of ghosts and demons, but now finds himself the lynchpin in the murder investigation of a professor of the supernatural. With engaging characters and stylish animation, Occultic;Nine is perfect for those who love a good conspiracy and a whodunnit where the clock is ticking and the devil is looming over their shoulders.
Whether a bit of a fright or a jump scare fiasco is more to your taste, one of the ghost stories here is sure to help with the Halloween spirit. Each series listed also has a manga or light novel as well, so there's plenty more content if something happens to catch your attention. Now's the time to make a choice, turn off the lights and prepare to feel spooked if something goes bump in the night.