Halloween is just a few days away now, and we’re rounding off our Halloween recommendations with a list of great Halloween manga for you to sink your teeth into. We’ve got some slow-burn spine-tinglers, some laidback spooks and goofs, and some slasher silliness. Whatever your preference, our offerings will help you build a formidable Halloween reading list.
To start off our list of Halloween manga, here’s a short read you could easily get through in one night. Hideout, written by Masasumi Kakizaki, follows the story of a young couple as they vacation on a peaceful island. The couple is trying to recover after the death of their son, but there is something sinister behind the facade of this family holiday. The couple aren’t all that they seem, and there’s a dark force waiting for them on the island. Hideout fits the Halloween mood well. It carries a kind of b-movie charm, with deeply flawed characters pursued by a mysterious monster, ready to inflict some gruesome punishment.
You might be familiar with Mieruko-Chan by way of its anime adaptation that found some success in Autumn 2021. For my money though, the manga is the best way to enjoy the series. The story follows Miko Yotsuya, a young girl who is suddenly cursed with the ability to see monstrous spirits all around her. If she gives away that she is able to see them, the spirits will attack, forcing her to remain calm despite their unsettling presence. Mieruko-Chan is a fairly light read, punctuated by some incredibly eerie monster designs. This is a great choice for those looking for some creepy vibes, but not outright horror.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that any list of Halloween manga is going to feature the work of Junji Itou. Anyone who’s decently into manga has, at this point, at least heard of the legendary horror mangaka’s incredible body of work. Hellstar Remina is my Itou pick this Halloween. The story begins when a mysterious planet appears from a wormhole in Earth’s orbit. The planet is discovered by Dr. Ooguro, who names it after his daughter, Remina. When the planet begins to move and threatens to destroy Earth, people turn against Remina, believing that she is responsible. Hellstar Remina is packed with Itou’s signature strangeness, and whilst it isn’t as well loved as his more famous titles, it’s well worth the read this Halloween.
Tasogare Otome X Amnesia (Dusk Maiden Of Amnesia)
Now we have a crossover with our Halloween anime list, Tasogare Otome X Amnesia brings the Halloween spirit with a side of romance. The manga is a little bit darker in tone than its anime counterpart, but it’s still on the upbeat side of things. The story follows Seikyou Academy’s paranormal investigation club. Unbeknownst to most of the club’s members, its founder, Yuuko, is still knocking about as a ghost. Only our protagonist, Teiichi, can see Yuuko, and she’s become quite fixated on him. Tasogare Otome combines comedy, mystery, romance, and tragedy quite deftly. A fun read for anytime of the year, but particularly perfect for Halloween.
Interested in some rural horror? Shiki takes place in Sotoba, a small Japanese village that is beset by a wave of mysterious deaths. It isn’t clear what is causing these deaths, but it is obvious that something is gravely wrong in this quiet little town. Shiki is great for those looking for an engaging horror narrative with a heavy focus on character writing and depth. Sotoba is full of interesting people, all of whom are threatened by the growing plague of unexplained deaths. The horror of Shiki builds slowly as you’re drawn into Sotoba and the lives of its residents, the mystery unfolds at a fantastic pace, always leaving you satisfied but still curious to know more.
Sankarea: Undying Love
As you might guess from the title, this is another romantic addition to our Halloween manga collection. Chihiro Furuya is a young man obsessed with zombies, more specifically zombie girls. His passion for the undead has led to a dream, to create an elixir that can reanimate the dead. Rea Sanka is a girl from a rich family, trapped in an oppressive family hierarchy. She is tired of her life and wants to escape from it all. When the two cross paths, their dreams intertwine. I love Sankarea. It’s a joy to read through and its spookier elements make it ideal for the season.
Maybe romance isn’t your thing and maybe you want your Halloween manga a little darker. Happiness is darker, ironically. The story follows the miserable life of Makoto Okazaki, who each day is tormented by bullies and let down by those he trusts. Things take a turn though, when Makoto is attacked by a vampire girl who makes him an offer: he can die, or become a vampire himself. Becoming a vampire would allow Makoto to put right everything he sees as wrong in his life, and you can imagine how that might well go off the rails. Happiness is written by Shuuzou Oshimi, who you may know from his more famous work, The Flowers of Evil, which got an anime adaptation in 2013.
Machikado Mazoku (The Demon Girl Next Door)
If dark and dreary isn’t your speed, Machikado Mazoku is the polar opposite. This is the most upbeat pick of our Halloween manga list, but it still fits the season perfectly. This 4-koma comedy manga follows Yoshida Yuuko, a normal high-school girl who one day wakes up to find she’s grown a pair of demonic horns and a devil tail. It turns out her family is actually descended from a clan of demons. In the past the family line was defeated by the forces of light, their power was sealed and they were cursed to live in poverty. Now that Yuuko’s powers have mysteriously awoken, it’s time for her to break the curse. To do that though, she will have to take on a magical girl, who just so happens to be her sweet and kind classmate, Momo. Plenty of goofs and gaffs follow from this whacky premise, and the manga’s soft spooky aesthetics keep up a bouncy vibe that will go down a treat this Halloween.
Dark Gathering is another series that’s landed on two of our Halloween lists, previously appearing on our rundown of Halloween anime. It earns its double-feature with engaging writing, fascinating characters, and some beautiful artwork. The story focuses on Keitarou, a young man who is like catnip for spirits, and a student he agreed to tutor, Yayoi, who can see those spirits as if they were fully corporeal. Dark Gathering only has 11 officially translated chapters so far, with plenty more to come, so this Halloween season is the perfect time to get on board.
The Drifting Classroom
To finish off our Halloween manga recommendations, we’re going way back. 1972, long before I was born, before even my mother was born. The Drifting Classroom is a horror classic, written by Kazuo Umezu (noted as an inspirational figure for Junji Itou). The story centers on a school that one day mysteriously vanishes. The faculty and students of this school find themselves stranded in a horrifying world, where they have to fight everyday to survive. It’s a spooky Japanese take on a Lord of the Flies style premise, and it’s phenomenal. For those interested in the history of manga, this is a must-read, and for those just interested in an engaging horror story to spice up their Halloween, this is also a must-read.
If you’re looking for some great manga for anytime of the year, why not check out our review of The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You. Or for more Halloween recommendations, check out our list of Halloween visual novels.
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A man described by critics as “pretty normal” and “memorable in the abstract”. He has committed his life to the consumption of anime and games, against the advice and wishes of his family and friends. Now writing about his passions, hopefully for your enjoyment.