Supernatural shows tend to receive large followings due to their nature. They showcase people with super-human abilities, demons, monsters, and basically anything frightening our imagination can come up with.
There is no shortage of ideas when it comes to this genre. Plus, a ceaseless hunger for these stories leads to an ever-growing amount of options. So, I’m here to dwindle it down to a few key choices.
Here are the most approachable and overall best options for beginners to supernatural anime.
1. Blue Exorcist / Ao No Exorcist ( JPN )
Blue Exorcist Synopsis - From Anime News Network
The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other, but demons still possess creatures in Assiah in spite of this. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists.
Rin Okumura is a boy who bears the curse of being Satan's illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons.
To avenge his foster father's death as well as to prove himself, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist.
Blue Exorcist Trailer
- 25 episodes
- April 17, 2011 - October 2, 2011
Why Should You Watch Blue Exorcist / Ao No Exorcist?
This anime has the most typical storyline out of the three recommendations. There really aren’t any crazy surprises or plot twists.
But, then again this show doesn’t need them. It executes the narrative so well that it doesn’t need to throw anything unexpected your way.
Though, this is an easily accessible shonen-type of anime the main characters don’t suffer from the typical syndromes. Rin isn’t a one dimensional character whose core beliefs carry him through any situation. Also, he isn’t given crazy power-ups just so that he can defeat whoever he happens to fight next. He matures as a person, and skill-wise in a understandably gradual fashion.
Being the son of a demon is not something that you can come to terms with easily. So, its nice to see him struggle with figuring out his identity and how he can live among people who hate and destroy his kind.
This is a show that does most things well and is appealing to a wide audience. It’s not very gory or as edgy as some other shows. But, that’s the main draw of this and why it was recommended. It’s something that you can sit through and enjoy. You can receive a nice introduction to the genre and get a feel for what supernatural means when it comes to Japanese animation.
2. Hellsing Ultimate (OVA)
Hellsing Ultimate Synopsis - From Anime News Network
It is the duty of Hellsing, a secret organization sponsored by the British government, to hide that frightening fact and protect the blissfully unaware populace. Along with its own personal army, Hellsing has secret weapons.
Alucard, an incredibly powerful vampire, has been controlled by Hellsing for years. It is unclear how he feels about being a servant to the Hellsing family, but he certainly enjoys his job as a vampire exterminator.
Seras is a fledgling vampire and former police woman.
Although reluctant to embrace her new self, she is a valued member of the organization.
Integra Hellsing, the current leader, is usually fully capable of fulfilling her duty, but lately, vampire activity has been on the rise.
Unfortunately, the cause is more alarming than anything she could have imagined. A group long thought dead has been plotting in secret since their apparent destruction over 50 years ago.
Plotting to plunge England, and perhaps the entire world, into war.
Hellsing Ultimate PV
- 10 episodes
- February 10, 2006 - December 26, 2012
Why Should You Watch Hellsing Ultimate?
Remember earlier when I said some supernatural anime could be gory? Yeah. This is definitely one of them. At times there’s so much blood that the screen basically turns to a reddish hue for few seconds while you’re treated to the sound of flesh being torn to shreds.
The premise is very interesting. It takes the age old tale of Hellsing vs Dracula and gives it a nice twist. The heir of the Hellsing family receives Dracula as her servant and uses him to protect England from supernatural attacks. Alucard (Dracula’s name in this series) is the most powerful vampire in existence and possibly the strongest character in the series. But, he can still be damaged and defeated with the right know-how. Obviously, Abraham van Hellsing was able to do this before the start of the series.
So, you see an immensely powerful being fighting other supernatural threats with the use of his vampiric abilities as well as dual wielding his twin handguns, The Casull and The Jackal.
It’s not everyday that you see the lord of vampires fight other monsters to protect humans. It’s even less likely to think of him hacking through holy warriors of the Catholic church and still be considered on the side of good. But, in this case some of them deserve it.
Besides the Vatican, Alucard and the Hellsing organization also take on the mysterious Millennium group. This is faction is composed of members of the former Nazi SS. They have been hiding underground since the end of World War II. They have continued to conduct secret experiments on creating artificial monsters to serve their needs. Obviously, Alucard is going to have to step in and take some Nazi soldiers down.
Action, animation, gore, and charismatic characters are the core strengths of this series. The OVA is ten episodes long with each reaching about the 50 minute mark. This “ultimate” version is a close adaptation of the manga source. That, coupled with the fact that so much time was given in between OVA releases means that each episode was given thorough care and produced to the best quality possibly. It really shows and it helps solidify Hellsing Ultimate as a cornerstone of the supernatural genre.
Shiki Synopsis - From Anime News Network
The boundary of technology and humanity has been stretched beyond imagination with lives being led in both the electronic and physical worlds.
With the melding of man and machine, a new cybernetic level of existence is being created —an existence that continues to redefine mankind.
- 22 episodes
- July 8, 2010 - December 30, 2010
Why Should You Watch Shiki?
The other two recommendations are more mainstream and focused on action as well as character development. This supernatural thriller takes the opposite route and is better classified in the horror subgenre.
It focuses more on the psychological aspect of storytelling. There are other anime who have a similar basic premise, but they fell short of their ambitions. This uses tone, setting, and suspense to create a sense of uneasiness and fear that those other shows failed to achieve.
The pacing of this show is much different than the other two. It may feel a bit slow for the first 10 or so episodes. But, that time is used to flesh out the situation taking place in this rural town. After the exposition is laid out, the story picks up a bit and it more than makes up for the first half of the series.
Definitely check this one out if you’re looking to develop some nightmares and unreasonable fear of glowing red lights in the dark.
Fear, suspense, action, character development… these shows will deliver whatever you’re looking for.
Fulfill your need for looking at grotesque creatures and develop a stronger fear of the dark in the process. Take a look at some of our other recommendations for horror fans out there.
Stay tuned for the next recommendations!
I’m sure that once you’ve finished these you’ll want to move on to other series. So take a look at our Tips for choosing anime.
Also, be sure to check out our Guide to streaming anime so that you can watch these and other great shows.
This is an article in a series written for anime beginners.
Here is a previous article written about action anime. And one more about sci-fi anime.