While I’m planning to sit back and watch The Wickerman (the original, not that crappy Nicholas Cage remake), there are certainly a number of anime that are suitable to the Halloween mood. I’ve tossed together a list of the best here.
Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek
Central Park Media released this a number of years ago to little fanfare (I believe it is also one of the last anime properties they ever licensed, incidentally), which is too bad, as this is a genuinely creepy movie. Essentially, the premise is this – in a wasteland of a city, children can participate in a sinister version of hide and seek, one wherein it is rumored that participants never return. All that’s needed is to doin a fox mask and show up in groups of seven in front of a gate within the city. From there, they enter the game.
As the screenshot and the mention of the fox masks suggest, there is a strong element of traditional Japanese horror to be had here. However, the modern makes terrifying appearances here, lending further depth to the unnerving atmosphere and the unsettling nature of the game itself. And, as usual, the placement of children within a horror movie engenders more of an unpleasant feeling than would if these were adult players. Its a movie that steadily gets creepier, and much of it in retrospect is even creepier than it was when you view it for the first time; as such there’s a pretty good re-watch value on this one.
Honestly, this is probably one of the best things I can recommend for Halloween anime viewing. Not to be missed.
Vampire Princess Miyu OVA
While the TV series is certainly creepy as well, the Vampire Princess Miyu OVA doesn’t have the mitigating factor of Miyu pretending to be a regular schoolgirl and making friends. Instead, the OVA sticks pretty much to straight-up horror, Japanese-style… which is to say, nasty, unpleasant things happen to several innocent people for no apparent reason. Usually these nasty, unpleasant things involve getting eaten by demonic creatures. Since most blog readers have at least passing knowledge of VPM, I won’t take the time to go into details as I did with the more obscure Kakurenbo.
Another thing in the OVA’s favor for Halloween viewing is that it takes much less time than the TV series does, as it consists of four episodes total. So you could watch this all in one evening, and still have time left over for other types of Halloween pursuits.
Ghost Hunt: The Blood-Soaked Labyrinth
(episodes 18 – 21)
Ghost Hunt is an okay show, overall, but its Blood-Soaked Labyrinth arc really outshines anything else it has to offer. Here, the proceedings actually cross over into scare territory, something that I find is more difficult to do with animation than with live-action simply because I don’t live in an animated world; which is to say, its easier to separate one’s own reality from it. In this arc, people vanish in a demonic mansion, and an evil aura persistently hangs over the property, while the walls are tainted with desperate pleas written in blood by the dead. While most of Ghost Hunt is better described as ‘supernatural’ as opposed to ‘horror’, this arc rests firmly in the horror genre.
Even if you haven’t ever watched Ghost Hunt before, you honestly don’t need to have in order to enjoy this set of episodes. The entire show is structured in arcs of two to four episodes, and they work fairly well as standalones. The Blood-Soaked Labyrinth is no different, although perusing a brief character guide might help with the initial proceedings.
Hitsuji no Uta
Its a little hard to recommend the Hitsuji no Uta anime, as it compacts seven volumes of material into four episodes. While it certainly doesn’t have to resort to the hack and slash that some manga have had when turned into an OVA, it nevertheless leaves out some details. As such, I can’t exactly say that the OVA is a great one. However, at the same time, it is fairly solid, and is certainly in keeping with the Halloween mood.
Hitsuji no Uta is about a pair of siblings who suffer from a vampiric-like disease. The story begins with the boy, Kazuna, beginning to show symptoms of the disease, which bewilders him and leads him to seek out his older sister, whom he has not seen since he was very young. It is she who informs him of what is happening, having already gone through it herself, and the remainder of the story essentially consists of Kazuna’s development of the disease and his learning the cope with it, along with a lot of creepy family politics/dynamics.
Hitsuji no Uta is another deeply unsettling show; although the vampiric disease is certainly part of the creep factor, what is more disturbing here is the relationships amongst the characters. Yes, there’s horror-type imagery concerning blood and drinking of it, but the stuff that’ll leave you feeling unnerved is more troublesome than that.
Anyway, since Hitsuji no Uta is an OVA, you can easily power through it in one setting.