Every culture has their own unique vision of the occult that weaves in their societies most important values in hair-raising or heartfelt ghost tales. Through Japan’s occultic stories, you can uncover many Shinto concepts of purity, punishment, and respect for spirits.
Episodes: 46 + 2 specials + 1 movie
Quick pitch: Mushi are basic lifeforms that exist without goals or a purpose outside of living. Ginko is a mushishi: a person who can see mushi and help people who are being troubled by the beings in this slow burn drama.
2. Natsume’s Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou)
Studio: Brain’s Base (seasons 1-4) / Shuka (seasons 5-6)
Episodes: 67 (74 when season 6 ends) + 2 OVAs
Quick pitch: Takashi Natsume has always been able to see spirits, which was inherited from his grandma. When she dies, she passes him the Yuujinchou (Book of Friends), which contains spirits that she formed a contract with. Takashi wishes to dissolve the contracts, so the spirits would stop harassing him. But, he slowly warms up to Madara and his classmates due to his interactions with the spirits.
3. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Episodes: 11 + 1 Movie
Quick pitch: Jinta Yadomi lives life as a shut-in. One hot summer day, Jinta sees Meiko Honma, who is an old childhood friend. She spends the day pestering Jinta about a wish but he ignores her since she died several years ago. Thinking this was a hallucination, Jinta is convinced that he has been seeing Meiko’s ghost. He must reunite their old friends so that Meiko’s soul can be put to rest.
4. Mob Psycho 100
Quick Pitch: Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama was born with powerful psychic powers, but he tries his best to live an ordinary life. As he enters adolescence, his emotionally-fueled powers become harder to suppress and threaten to break through its limits.
Episodes: 97 +3 Movies
Quick Pitch: Koyomi Araragi is a vampire trying to return back to his human form. One day, he meets the weightless Hitagi Senjougahara and offers to help solve her problem. After that fateful meeting, Koyomi gets roped into helping other girls with supernatural problems.
6. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Studio: Studio Deen
Episodes: 50 + 11 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Keiichi Maebara moves to the quiet village of Hinamizawa during the summer of 1983. He quickly becomes friends with schoolmates since all of the grades share a single classroom. While Keiichi’s life seems idyllic and laid back, there is a darkness lurking in the town’s history of murders and disappearances that occur in connection with an annual festival.
7. Hotarubi no Mori e
Studio: Brain’s Base
Episodes: 1 Movie
Quick pitch: Six-year-old Hotaru Takegawa loses her way in an ancient forest while visiting her uncle. Hotaru meets a masked spirit named Gin when she is alone and desperate for help. Gin is willing to help Hotaru but he warns her not to touch him or else he will disappear forever. As she grows older and develops feelings for him, their resolve is put to the test.
Quick Pitch: Kazuya Kujo moves from Japan to the fictional European country of Sauville. While visiting the school’s library, he meets a girl named Victorique de Blois. She possesses a brilliant mind that she uses to help her detective brother solve crimes.
9. Occult Academy
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Quick pitch: In 2012, the world is invaded by aliens. To stop this from happening, Fumiaki Uchida is sent back to 1999 to prevent the apocalypse from occurring by destroying the Nostradamus Key. In order to find the key, he forms a partnership with a girl with a strong hatred for the occult.
10. Ghost Hunt
Studio: J.C. Staff
Quick Pitch: Mai and her friends love to share ghost stories. While telling a story in an abandoned building, they get interrupted by Shibuya, who is the president of the Shibuya Psychic Research Company. The next day, Mai accidentally breaks Shibuya’s camera and injures one of his assistants. To repay for the incident, Mai is forced to join Shibuya’s group.
Studio: Toei Animation
Quick Pitch: Kusuriuri is a wandering medicine seller who seeks out malevolent spirits called mononoke. Once Kusuriuri arrives in an area, he must discover the Shape, Truth, and Reasoning of the spirit before it can be exorcised.
12. Hell Girl (Jigoku Shoujo)
Studio: Studio Deen
Quick Pitch: Bullied and tormented people can visit the Hell Correspondence website. They can submit requests to have their tormentor taken to hell and receive karmic punishment. After the request, Ai Enma will appear to hand the person a doll, which will result in their tormentor being sent to hell once pulled. Upon doing so, the requester must pay with their soul and be taken to hell as well.
Studio: Production I.G.
Episodes: 37 + 4 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Kimihiro Watanuki can see spirits and supernatural creatures. While he finds his power bothersome, it leads him to a strange woman named Yuuko. She claims that she can get rid of Kimihiro’s power, but he must work at her store and grant customers’ wishes first.
Studio: P.A. Works
Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
Quick Pitch: In the spring of 1998, Koichi transfers into Class 3-3 at Yomiyama North Middle School. There is a strange atmosphere in the class and he slowly learns the strange rules that he must follow. Even more distressing is his classmate Mei, who seems to be ignored by everyone. As he tries to get closer to her, Koichi slowly learns about the dark secret of Class 3-3.