Shiki Is the Perfect Classic Horror Anime For Beginners

Horror anime aren’t the most common titles when compared to other genres, but they’re still fairly popular. One of the best examples of this is the supernatural thriller Death Note, which is so well-regarded that even those outside of the anime fandom love it. This makes it something of a good beginner’s anime for newbies to try out, but it’s not the only horror series that fits this bill.

Adapting a Japanese horror novel, Shiki is the perfect amount of spook for horror fans, anime fans and anyone in between who’s looking to try anime out. From its use of a certain horror archetype to its similarities to other classic horror anime, Shiki is a great way to break new viewers into the medium.

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What Is Shiki, the Unique Vampire Horror Anime?

Produced by anime studio Daume, the 2010 series Shiki is based on a preceding manga by Ryu Fujisaki, which itself adapts Fuyumi Ono’s novel from 1998. The series is set in the town of Sotoba, which is being plagued by numerous mysterious deaths. Amid these murders, a just as esoteric family moves into a mansion on top of a hill, with their arrival coinciding with the death of a local girl.

Looking into the town’s deaths is Toshio Ozaki, a doctor who initially suspects that an epidemic is to blame. Over time, however, the true culprits are revealed to be shiki — a type of creature that combines elements of vampires and zombies. Created from corpses, these beings have blackened eyes, sharpened fangs and feed on the blood of the living. Natsuno, a local boy who was once friends with one of the shiki’s victims, soon becomes a target of their bloodlust, with the village becoming a battleground for a war against supernatural monsters.

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Shiki Is a Great Gateway Anime, Just Like Death Note

While some audiences might not be into anime, they may still be interested in vampire fiction. Shiki not only provides vampire horror in spades, but it does so in a way that’s unique from most Hollywood takes on the bloodsuckers and anime versions of vampires. Accentuating this is the show’s visuals and audio, all of which add to the spooky macabre vibe. Yasuharu Takanashi is the series’ composer, and he also provided the music for another horror anime series: the hellish-sounding Hell Girl.

Speaking of horror comparisons, those could easily be made between Shiki and Death Note. Both are psychological thrillers as much as horror stories, showcasing both sides of a supernatural conflict in a modern setting. This makes both factions feel fleshed out and developed, with moral lines being blurred throughout the two series. In fact, it could be argued that Shiki does a better job of developing its side characters than Death Note, especially when it comes to the supernatural side of things. Although Ryuk is an iconic character in his own right, the shiki faction has a lot more focus given to them. The contemporary setting further makes the horror stand out, although the rural environment again keeps things from being too predictable or familiar.


With its amount of blood and gore, another infamous anime might immediately come to mind: Elfen Lied. That iconic and influential series likewise deals with moral complexities amid tons of violence, but Shiki is far less gratuitous than the sometimes overrated Elfen Lied. This ends up making it a much better series to help newcomers break into anime, as it isn’t as blatantly “anime-ish” as Elfen Lied may come off as with its pink-haired, sometimes unnecessarily nude protagonist.

By taking these similar themes and presenting them in a palatable yet horrifying fashion, Shiki is a great gateway drug for curious horror fans to get into anime as a whole. Sadly, it’s not available to stream on any service, and its Blu-ray collection on Amazon is rather expensive. Nevertheless, those looking for a great horror series to help get their friends into anime need look no further than Shiki.


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