Looking for a good anime/manga/drama series to make you jump out of your skinsuit? Well, the following are my personal top 5 Horror & Suspense suggestions to get you revved up for Halloween.
5) Battle Royale: Battle Royale was first released in its original novel format in 1999. Heavily criticized for its controversial content, it was shunned for the Kadokawa Mystery Novel Prize that year. The story focuses on a group of middle school students (aged 14-15, so about grade 9 or 10 level) who are unwillingly forced to participate in The Program. This military operation has been using children in this ages range for years, manipulating them into killing each other and using fear to control the people in this alternate version of Japan. People even bet on the outcome of each round of The Program.
This time around, students of Shiroiwa Middle School have been taken to an island, given survival packs, fitted with explosive collars and told the same thing as the groups before them: kill your classmates. Last one standing gets to go home. If no one dies within the 24hr time frame in which the game takes place, then the collars will all be detonated and everyone will die.
The popularity of the novel lead to a manga adaptation which spanned fifteen volumes. Due to the intensely graphic nature of the content within, each volume is sealed in shrink wrap and is definitely not for eyes of anyone under 16 years old. There were also two films based on the novel which were released in Japan. I suggest watching the first movie, but passing on the second, as it takes place after the events of the actual novel and it’s just not nearly as interesting (in my opinion) as the original.
4) Parasyte: I first read Parasyte when it had been released in flipped format (meaning read left to right, instead of the traditional right to left) by Tokyopop. I found the original translation a bit hard to understand, and so I suggest that anyone looking to get into this series checks out the Del Rey version instead.
Aliens attack a peaceful neighbourhood in the middle of the night. These aliens burrow into their hosts through their ears, but in Shinichi’s case (he was wearing headphones), his Parasite decides to take up residence in his right hand. In order to keep out of a lab or wind up dead, Shinichi and his Parasite (affectionately called Migi, the Japanese word for “right”) take out other Parasites who threaten their existence and try to save humanity.
3) Kitaro: Unfortunately neither of these have been picked up for a North American distribution license, but Kitaro is on my list because he is the creepiest kid I have seen since the girl from Ringu climbed out of her well. Kitaro is a youkai, a spirit monster, born in a graveyard as the last member of the Ghost Tribe. The young boy lacks an eyeball in his left socket, but the way his hair falls you can’t even tell. His father barely holds onto his life, living out his last days at his son’s side in the form of an eyeball.
I have not seen the traditional Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro series that have been popping up every decade. I have seen Hakaba Kitaro which is based more closely on the original manga. In this version we see Kitaro born in the graveyard and taken in by Mizuki, a company man who does not believe in ghosts. Kitaro wants to go back to the Underworld, however he has made some interesting friends and enemies in the land of the living.
2) Priest: My favourite manhwa (Korean manga) of all time, Priest is the latest series to be picked up by a North American studio for a live action movie. The story of Ivan Issacs and his personal crusade of revenge against the Fallen Angels who would abuse their powers and attempt to play God, for which God in turn punished them, casting them into the statues built by their followers. These fallen angels are eventually released, and one in particular decides to use humanity to get revenge on God. Ivan, a priest in his own right, witnesses horrors brought on by the most demonic of the Fallen Angels. He is born immortal through the gifts of another like him, and he fights to avenge his beloved Gena and wipe out the Angels.
Priest is best known for its cross over between time periods. While the majority takes place in a Wild West setting, there are parts that take us back to the Crusade periods. I just personally love all the Wild West meets Zombies bits. I highly recommend that you read this manhwa, especially if you plan on seeing the movie once it’s released (in a year or so). Because it is Korean, you would read this like you would normally read any other graphic novel, in left to right format. I must also point out that the art style is gorgeous, even if it is sharp, angular lines. The drawing even looks evil and angry when it needs to, which just adds so much to the story.
1) Monster: A true suspense story, Monster (which is currently airing on SyFy) is one of my all-time favourites. There is no need to add in demons or yokai. The people and the past of Monster is what creates the atmosphere for this tale. After promising young brain surgeon Dr. Tenma risks his career by saving the life of a boy with a headshot wound instead of the mayor who is rushed into the ER moments before he is to begin operating, mysterious deaths take place in the hospital. KGB Detective Runge investigates Tenma, and even though he cannot charge the doctor with anything, he remains ever suspicious. When Tenma’s career is just about over, he leaves the profession, in search of the monster who has ruined his life.
The young boy and his sister, Johan and Anna, have a haunted past. One that Anna has blocked from her memories, but her brother has not. Runge is forced to deal with the loss of family after he shows he cannot help but put his job first. Everyone is looking for answers, and what they find is corruption of government and human hearts. There are 18 volumes of beautifully drawn manga and 74 episodes in the anime version, virtually chapter perfect. Where the anime stands out is with the addition of the audio. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and I do love the manga, but the anime just has that little bit extra and can make you jump out of your seat when you least expect it.
A title that I always recommend is Boogiepop Phantom. It contains a very unique way in telling the story (it's like a puzzle) and it has a creepy atmosphere.