Arts & Entertainment

5 Japanese horror mangas to read

As anime and manga grows in popularity in the West, so does its horror genre.

Japanese horror manga is seemingly thriving in American culture, being attracted to its unconventional approaches to psychological and supernatural elements. Junji Ito is one of the most well-known Japanese horror mangakas in America, with merchandise associated with the artists offered at various retail locations such as Hot Topic. However, there are still plenty of artists left untouched by this growing trend. This article recommends some of Ito’s works along with other artists for fans to broaden their knowledge of the genre.

“Tomie” by Junji Ito

Junji Ito is probably one of the most notable mangakas in the world of horror manga, “Tomie” is one of his most popular works. The titular character is a hedonistic, beautiful girl who possesses succubus-like characteristics. Not only does she have the power to have people driven to insanity and commit brutal acts of violence in a jealous rage, she also has the ability to regenerate a clone of herself from even the smallest parts of her body such as hair, making her effectively immortal unless every part of her is burned.

More than this, she can also biologically take over someone’s body if her organs are transplanted into them, even if removed from the host later. “Tomie” is one of Junji Ito’s most recurring characters, appearing in three series: “Tomie,” “Tomie: Part Two” and “Tomie: Again.”

“Uzumaki” by Junji Ito

In the fictional city of Kurouzu-Cho there is a supernatural curse that centers around spirals, and this story follows the citizens of Kurouzu-Cho as they become either paranoid or obsessed with them. Spirals are everywhere in nature, but with the town’s fixation, it manifests them more so. Like a plague, it begins to distort people’s minds psychologically while simultaneously physically contorting their bodies, eventually causing a series of natural disasters. Beautifully, Ito starts the story off small and builds it bigger and bigger.  

“Franken Fran” by Katsuhisa Kigitsu 

The story follows the titular character on her misadventures, finding a perfect balance between dread, horror and comedy. Franken Fran is a girl created by a top surgeon, Dr. Naomitsu Madaraki, to be his assistant. In his stead while he is away, she takes over his work. All of the stories within the series center around monsters and mutated people created via scientific experimentation. There is a bit of dark humor as Franken Fran turns her patients into gruesome mutations or brings misfortune upon them, as Fran has a genuine but warped sense of life-preservation.

“I Am a Hero” by Kengo Hanazawa.

At age 35 being overworked with unfulfilled dreams, Hideo Suzuki is a young manga artist assistant who suffers from low self-esteem. One day the world around him begins to change as a disease known as ZQN begins to turn people into homicidal maniacs with zombie-like behaviors. Armed with only a shotgun, Suzuki must find a way to survive while he and his companions question their moral choices along the way.

“The Drifting Classroom” by Kazuo Umezu

Kazuo Umezu is another name maker of the horror manga genre, publishing multiple horror works from the 1960s to 1970s. In one of his prominent works, “The Drifting Classroom,” a group of students are trapped on a moving train that transported them through time to a post-post-apocalyptic future struck by environmental disasters. The students must challenge their claustrophobia, food and water shortages along with the slow creeping insanity. They will also be faced with nightmarish monsters and megafauna creatures.