Japanese comics, or manga, have the unfortunate connotation of being girly or goofish–think Sailor Moon or One Piece–but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Manga can get dark, and I mean dark. While this specific genre isn’t for everyone, it certainly is for me.
Here are a few of my favorite manga that will leave you completely horrified:
A relatively new series, this manga revolves around a group of friends trapped in a game of wits, luck and trust. With millions of dollars on the line, things can get pretty serious and dangerous.
The Promised Neverland
Don’t let the title trick you, these orphaned kids definitely aren’t in Neverland. These children compete against one another for test scores. The only problem? These scores determine how valuable–and tasty–their brains are. This manga definitely isn’t for kids.
A fresh spin on the classic fairy tales we’ve all grown to love, this manga series is about a prince on a search for a princess to wed. Unfortunately, he’s a bit picky, especially when it comes to looks.
While it starts innocently enough, you quickly learn things aren’t what they seem in this manga. It really makes you question who to trust, and shows just what people are willing to do for their loved ones. The popular series is both a manga and anime, so you have two ways to watch the horror unfold.
Forget the Hunger Games, this is the original killing competition. With gruesome killing scenes and some truly evil characters, this is a manga only the brave should read. The Battle Royale live action film is one of director Quentin Tarentino’s favorites, and it even provided inspiration for Kill Bill. Feel like reading it now?
Gamers, this is the manga for you. The main character is one of the top players of a video game, only to eventually be transported to a place where he has to physically play the graphic game he’s so great at.
As you can probably guess from the title, this series is inspired by the tale of Frankenstein. With seriously messed up experiments and mind-boggling storylines, it might leave you feeling a tad nauseous.
This series is like Saw, but with a bit more intrigue. The characters play as “rabbits” in a game where one person is secretly a “wolf”. The wolf has to eat all the rabbits without anyone finding out their true identity. A group of people eventually find themselves playing a real version of the game, but one of them is the wolf. The manga was so popular that it spawned two equally horrific spinoffs.
This disturbing series shows just how important social media can be. The characters must fight and trick one another to survive, all the while making sure they do nothing to lose their followers, which means instantdeath.
Apocalypse no Toride
Have you ever wondered what would happen if zombies were real? Well, that’s what this bloody series is about. It goes around the usual formula by creating characters you can’t quite root for. Everyone’s in jail, and for good reason too.
The characters in this manga have the ability to use their blood as a weapon. They are prisoners of a game where they’re required to fight one another, and the contestants have to lose a body part any time they don’t win. It’s even bloodier than you’d think.