Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Anime Monsters That Are Absolutely Terrifying

Japanese anime has had a wide amount of influence all over the world, boasting high-concept ideas, stunning animation, interesting characters and situations, and some of the best drama, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror onscreen in any form. What shouldn't be underestimated, however, is another major anime contribution to our film and TV landscapes: some of the greatest and scariest monsters ever created. Some of the most imaginative and disturbing scares in any medium have come out of this Japanese art form. 

From mutated nature gods that grow to hate humanity to bored death gods who cause chaos for fun, from humanoid cockroaches who want our extermination to extraterrestrial parasites who feed on us like candy, the monsters of anime are diverse, complex, and memorable. Here is a list of 15 anime monsters who you don't want to meet, no matter what planet or layer of the afterlife you find yourself on.

The Bunny Elder Bairn are bunnies you don't want to meet

The 2001 anime series "Blood-C" (second in the "Blood" franchise) follows Saya Kisaragi, a schoolgirl who secretly slays monsters by night. Her worldview changes when she hears monsters (Elder Bairns) discuss some sort of "broken covenant" while her visions get stranger. Something in her small town is not what it seems. The Elder Bairns, also known as the Old Ones, see humans as a food source, and their primary drive is to kill and consume them.

The Elder Bairns take a number of different forms in the series, each with different powers — a Bat, Monk, Shadow, Train, and more. The last form that appears in the series is that of a Bunny, a particularly sadistic variant with an active obsession with torturing its human prey. What's worse is that it can transform its limbs into various horrific weapons and can divide and regenerate, making it/them hard to kill. While large bunny monsters shouldn't be that terrifying at face value, sadistic, multiplying bunny monsters with morphing weapon limbs are quite frightening.

Genocyber is a destructive menace with a terrifying backstory

"Genocyber" is a 1993 original video animation series that follows a pair of psychic sisters who are subjected to illegal experiments in the hope of creating a super soldier. The two end up merging, with sister Elaine taking over sister Diana's newly enhanced cyborg body, creating a fearsome mutant cyborg bioweapon called Genocyber that wages war against the Earth. It's intended to be the ultimate weapon, and indeed, this mutant cyborg abomination is just that. The nigh-indestructible (and, as far as we know, immortal and omnipotent) being has vast power, and if that isn't frightening enough, it's worth noting that it actually has more than one stage. 

Genocyber's first stage is a blue humanoid with a pair of horns atop its head. It takes a second form (and here's where the truly interesting monstrosity starts) which is massive, the size of a building, and rampages on a considerably large scale. Finally, its third stage is a dragon-like creature. The horror of this being's assault on humanity really comes forward in the series, which is notoriously violent for its era. Its continuous and realistic animated violence grotesquely feature the brutality of the attacks on humans, making Genocyber a memorable malevolent entity in anime history.

Spirited Away's No-Face grows obsessively menacing over time

The fantasy animation film "Spirited Away" was written and directed by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki, and it focuses on Chihiro Ogino, a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new neighborhood with her family. They discover an entrance to the Kami world, a place full of the spirits from Shinto folklore. A witch, Yubaba, turns Chihiro's parents into pigs, and she has to navigate the spirit world while trying to free her family and herself from their grasp. While the film is one of the greatest animated features of all time, and it's surely memorable, it also contains one of the greatest and scariest anime creatures ever put to screen.

The world of "Spirited Away" is full of everything from dragons to witches and spirits of all shapes and sizes. The scariest monster, perhaps, is No-Face, an unsurprisingly faceless specter who initially appears as a floating black spirit with a white mask where its face should be. We discover that it can ingest individuals to gain mass, personality, and physical traits. At first, it seems like a simple and harmless entity, but No-Face gradually ingests the greed and vices of the workers it absorbs. This corruption transforms it over time into a massive, hulking beast obsessed with consumption and with Chihiro. Our connection with the young protagonist makes the horror hit home especially well, given that the increasingly dangerous being cannot leave her alone. 

Every thing about Shiboroba is unsettling

"Blood Blockade Battlefront" is set in a world where a gateway between Earth and the Beyond opens up and traps both New Yorkers and a variety of extradimensional creatures in a cordoned off area, forcing them to live together. The series follows Leonardo Watch, a photographer who gains powerful visual powers (called "the All Seeing Eyes of the Gods") from a mysterious entity, but the powers come at a cost: his sister's eyesight. He joins the Libra Organization to provide for said sis through dealing with the city's myriad threats, from terrorists to monsters. 

The series boasts a whole host of memorable creatures, like Dr. Gamimotz and his skeletal frame, sharp insectoid limbs, top hat, and cape, or Gemnemo the intelligent terrorist microbe (yes, terrorist microbe). One of the scariest, however, is Shiboroba, a beyondian who transports humans as cargo, food for the alterworld. Its entire function in existence is unsettling, but between its bony fingers, otherworldly visage (a "face" that isn't a face), and obsession with dissecting the hero, it's one of the most unnerving monsters on the list.

Nago's transformation into a Demon God is tragic and scary

"Princess Mononoke" takes place in Japan's Muromachi period, following an Emishi prince named Ashitaka and his role in the conflict between forest gods (led by the brave Princess Mononoke) and the humans that want to use that nature and its resources. It's a classic story reflecting the relationship between humanity and nature, with otherworldly and fantastical elements. The most frightening entity among all the magical gods and beings is Nago the boar god (and leader of the boar clan), or at least what Nago becomes.

In the middle of the conflict, Lady Eboshi shoots Nago with an iron ball that lodges itself into his flesh. The iron begins to corrupt the god as his rage increases, transforming him into a Demon God full of anger and hate in his heart. His brown fur and green eyes give way to a spider-like being with a worm-covered body and glowing red eyes, a shocking and deadly transformation that turns him into one of the most dangerous anime monsters of all time. It's one of the most philosophically complex and adult-oriented of Studio Ghibli's masterful creations, and while what Nago becomes is tragic, it's also evident that he's one of anime's scariest transformations.

The Gillians in Bleach are terrifying cannibal giants

"Bleach" follows Ichigo Kurosaki after he takes on the powers and responsibilities of a Shinigami, a Death God (here called a Soul Reaper, an in-universe take on the Grim Reaper). With his new powers, he must defend people from evil spirits both human and otherwise as well as guard departed souls. The series navigates the world of current and fallen Reapers, and it contains a number of interesting entities. Most commonly, you have the Hollows, terrifying ghosts that originate from human souls and seek to feed on other souls.

While your typical Hollows originate from human souls, a subset of Hollows are known as Menos Grande ... and they're a different threat entirely. When a Hollow reaches the point where human souls can no longer sustain its hunger, it can turn to consuming other Hollows. Of course, these cannibalistic Hollows will seek each other out and attempt to consume each other, creating a tendency that increases the Menos Grande's power and size pretty quickly. 

In this nonstop series of supernatural predators, there are three types of Menos Grande. In order from least to most powerful, you have the massive and slow Gillians, the smaller but stronger Adjuchas, and the rare but powerful Vasto Lordes. Conceptually, all of these powerful soul predators are frightening, but it's the Gillians, predatory, slow, plodding, white-faced behemoths, that are the most visually shocking as they tower above their prey and blunder about. They're truly menacing foes that no one wants to meet in the afterlife.

The Gauna are absolutely frightening in Knights of Sidonia

In "Knights of Sidonia," a spaceship world is under siege by a shapeshifting extraterrestrial threat, the Gauna. A millennium prior, the Gauna had nearly driven humanity to extinction when the survivors escaped to the stars. We follow the Sidonia, a celestial human settlement that may be the last remaining bastion of the human race. The series' main protagonist is Nagate Tanikaze, an "under-dweller" destined to become a pilot and defend the Sidonia and its human inhabitants. 

The Gauna are a very hard-to-destroy shape-shifting alien species. Each Gauna is composed of a True Body covered in a substance referred to as Placenta. Gauna can be taken out only with the destruction of their True Body, and it must be pierced by a Kabizashi, a spear-like weapon that is fairly rare in this world. The Placenta that covers their True Body is malleable, fast, can morph and move a great distance, and is extremely adaptable. It's a frightening enough premise that humanity was nearly rendered extinct by this species, the survivors sent retreating across space, but with these enemies having so many advantages, it's a terrifying, monstrous foe our human heroes have to contend with. Also ... look at them. They're horrendous!

The Terraformars hate us as much as we hate cockroaches

In "Terra Formars," 21st-century humanity attempts to begin the colonization of Mars by sending two resilient species: algae and cockroaches, which evolve over centuries to adapt to the Martian environment. Fast-forward to the 26th century, and the human species faces a deadly disease known as the Alien Engine Virus. This pathogen has a death rate of 100%, and it appears genetically unrelated to any existing virus on Earth. To cure the Alien Engine Virus, they'll need to travel to Mars (under the hypothesis that the virus' strange independent evolution makes Martian origin likely). The unfortunate obstacle? Mars is now controlled by the Terraformars, a large humanoid species that evolved from those original cockroaches and harbor a natural hatred of humanity.

Terraformars are strong, adaptable, and effectively emotionless, with a single-minded pursuit of their goals. What's most shocking is they have gained nearly all the benefits of humanoid evolution, like intelligence and opposable thumbs, without losing any of the cockroach's strengths like extreme resilience (despite their humanoid heads, decapitation doesn't affect them) or the ability to fly. They're a terrible nemesis to the now-desperate human race, and the reason they oppose humans — instinctual hatred — adds to their terrifying visage. Imagine that the entire species faces extinction, and the only way forward is on a hostile alien world full of beings that are stronger than you in every way and hate you as much as you hate cockroaches? Exactly. Horrifying.

Death Note's Ryuk gives a madman godlike power over life and death because of boredom

"Death Note" begins when Light Yagami finds a supernatural notebook called the Death Note. The mysterious book allows him to write any name down while picturing their face, and the individual in question dies. Light gradually becomes consumed by this power, taking on the godlike moniker Kira as he kills individuals around the world in an attempt to cleanse the world of all he considers evil. His opposition? The brilliant detective L., who attempts to stop his efforts.

We discover that the Death Note was dropped by the Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk, a spike-haired, long-lipped entity with oddly proportioned limbs who stole another Shinigami's Death Note and left it in the world for a human to find. Unlike other Shinigami, Ryuk isn't content to simply serve his function and pass his time, so he allows a human access to these supernatural abilities because, in his own words, "I was bored, that's why." Beyond his own vast power over life and death and his willingness to let that power be used irresponsibly, he facilitated a human's ascendance to powers he should not have had because of mere boredom... Frankly, that's terrifying.

You don't want to know how Claymore's Yoma are made

The "Claymore" series takes place in a world full of predatory shape-shifting beings, Yoma, who are secretly created from orphaned boys by the mysterious Organization. The Organization creates parasites that can change their hosts' form after infecting their brains, and these Yoma attack human beings to feed off them. "Claymore" follows Clare, who is a Claymore — a half-human, half-Yoma hybrid who fights to dispatch these monsters. Claymores, too, are sent from the Organization, created from orphaned girls — it's beyond creepy that the same organization makes a perpetual stream of mutated heroes and manufactured monsters, and all out of orphans.

The predatory Yoma are powerful, with speed and strength that exceeds humans alongside an ability to regenerate from damage. They often have oddly proportioned limbs, skin of various inhuman colors, and sharp teeth and claws. Flying Yoma also exist, adding an entirely different layer to this breed of dangerous predators. Being transformed into a Yoma takes such a toll on human host bodies that the parasite has been known to move to a new host. Altogether, their single-minded pursuit of human flesh, heightened power, and horrific origin story makes the Yoma thoroughly haunting anime monsters.

Neon Genesis Evangelion's Angels sure want us all dead

"Neon Genesis Evangelion" follows the invasion of Earth by monstrous and powerful beings called Angels who are offspring of the First Angel Adam, an entity sent by the First Ancestral Race (along with Lilith, from whom spawned humans). Both Adam and Lilith landed on prehistoric Earth, where Adam lay dormant until its later scientific discovery and subsequent awakening. Upon awakening, Adam had one goal: the absolute annihilation of the human race and takeover of Earth. It's a Lovecraftian premise, with humanity confronted by barely comprehensible beings of immense power that want our decimation.

Toward the purpose of this genocidal end, Adam generated a succession of Angels, similarly massive engines of destruction of a variety of forms that have one goal: the eradication of our species. These Angels are all terrifying in different ways, like the spider-like Ninth Angel Matarael, the spherical Twelfth Angel Leliel, or the geometric Angel Ramiel. The power and widely different forms of the various entities suggests that we're both gravely at threat and ultimately have little understanding of the Angels.

An endless parade of hungry Titans will end humanity

"Attack on Titan" follows a human race on edge: One day, over 100 years ago, humanity became beset by Titans, a wave of massive, mindless humanoid monsters that want nothing but to consume people. At the time, humanity was overwhelmed by their power, but they regrouped and built a series of massive walls to keep the beings keep out. For a century, the relative peace lasted, until one day, a Colossal Titan, far larger than any seen before, emerged and breached the outer wall, allowing Titans to once again prey on humans, who were forced to retreat into the inner walls. We follow Eren Yeager, a boy who joins the military in search of the eradication of Titans.

The Titans are a variety of massive descendants of Ymir Fritz, a young girl who awakened the Power of the Titans. Upon her death, her spirit split into the Nine Titans, a variety of Titan Powers that have been passed down. While there is variation among the Titans, they're broadly best understood as gigantic, often skinless humanoids that want nothing but to consume people. Some of them vary, like the Armored Titan and its hardened skin, or the Colossal Titan who is (of course) massive. The bottom line is that there's a whole army of giants who want to eat us and are more than capable of doing so.

The Skull Reaper is literally a skeleton centipede made of blades

In "Sword Art Online," players of a massive virtual reality game of the same name become trapped in its world and are forced to beat the game, all 100 floors, and its final boss in order to escape. The game boasts a number of creatively frightening or odd bosses, from the Irrational Cube to Wadjet the Flaming Serpent, but one of the most frightening monsters in the series is the Skull Reaper, the boss of the 75th Floor's labyrinth.

The Skull Reaper is a massive entity that appears as a skeletal centipede with a front pair of massive scythe arms, a fanged jaw, and an elongated skull head with glowing red eyes. What's worse is that most of its bones, from ribs to legs, also function like scythes, so in essence, it's a massive, quick-moving pile of skeletal blades. It even moves like its centipede inspiration, adding a level of speed and unnaturalness that make it even creepier. It is easily one of the scariest creations ever.

Parasytes will kill, eat, and then become you

"Parasyte -the maxim-" follows Shinichi Izumi, who lives in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood with his parents. One night, the area is secretly invaded by extraterrestrial worm-like parasites who infest and transform the heads of their prey into cannibalistic shape-shifting extraterrestrials who survive off the human's host body. Shinichi encounters one of these worms and prevents it from embedding in his head, so it attaches to and takes over his hand, which becomes a sentient alien parasite that has to co-exist with Shinichi amidst this harrowing alien invasion.

Once they take over a host and reach maturity, these extraterrestrial parasites can appear completely human. Simultaneously, in an instant, they can alter their physical form, size, and makeup to create other appendages or organs (like grow new eyes and mouths or become a heart), weapons, or whatever is necessary. Beyond their vast intelligence, ability to hide in their host's visage, and capacity to change into pretty much anything, the parasytes are driven only by self-preservation and, towards that end, an insatiable drive to consume their host body's species. Terrifying.

Claymore's Awakened Beings are vastly powerful and extremely frightening

As terrifying as the Yoma are in "Claymore," the series boasts an even more dangerous set of monstrous foes in its Awakened Beings. After their transformation into powerful monster hunters infused with Yoki (Yoma energy or essence), Claymores are powerful warriors with strong control over every aspect of their body in addition to their martial arts training. On occasion, however, Claymores transform into something else entirely, massive monsters known as either Voracious Eaters or, as the Organization calls them, Awakened Beings.

Claymores become Awakened Beings after losing control of the Yoki inside them, upon which they take massive Yoma forms that are much more powerful than either Yoma or the Claymores themselves. Awakened Beings look entirely unique and take the appearance of anything from animal-like forms to inorganic visages, and like the Yoma, they are driven by a desire to consume humans. Between their vast power, myriad complex forms, and insatiable drive to consume people, Awakened Beings are easily some of the scariest monsters of all time. The scariest thing, though, is they're something the series' heroes can turn into for no fault of their own ... a terrible transformation if ever there was one.