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A-List Of 30 Psychological Anime You NEED to Consider

A-List Of 30 Psychological Anime You NEED to Consider

  • Emily Anime

There’s nothing like observing excellent psychological anime.

Psychological anime tends to discover the human psyche, digging into common grasp and scary thought, all while supplying an enthralling story.

The hallmark aspects of psychological testimonies are:

Internal/Interpersonal conflict(s).

Philosophical themes.

Character pushed storytelling.

Exploration of personality motives.

Stream of recognition and indoors monologues.

MyAnimeList defines it through the thinking video games between the characters, claiming it to be “when two or more characters prey each others’ minds, both by means of taking part in misleading video games with the different or by means of trying to demolish the other’s mental state.”

You can additionally consider Google’s definition of psychological as “of, affecting, or arising in the mind; associated with the mental and emotional state of a person” and practice it to how we view the anime genre.

Although it can be a broad genre, these kinds of indicates are all mentally stimulating in their personal way.

Anime labeled as psychological tend to be my private favorites, and I have compiled a listing of anime that I believe are worth sharing!

1. Death Note

  • Total Episodes: 37.
  • Years: 2006.

Perhaps the most popular psychological anime of all time, Death Note should need no introduction.

The story follows the highly intelligent high school student Light Yagami, who finds a mysterious notebook called the “Death Note”. Capable of killing anyone the user desires by writing their name in it. 

The show gives you plenty to contemplate:

  • How do we define proper morality?
  • What is justice?
  • What is utopia?

Psychological anime tend to provoke thought in this manner.

Death Note is not shy about its themes, but where it really shines is the incredibly gripping, intense mind games between Light, and L, and the renowned detective tasked with finding out Light’s identity.

These two elite minds bring out the best in each other, and it’s truly a spectacle to behold. 

2. Monster

  • Total Episodes: 74.
  • Years: 2004.

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster is an intense psychological thriller following. Kenzo Tenma, who saves the life of an innocent boy named Johan over the elderly mayor (that his boss preferred the save).

He does this because he was there first.

Since that moment, Tenma’s life goes downhill, and to make matters worse, the child whose life he saved grows up to be a serial killer.

 Tenma feels a lot of responsibility for the lives of those that Johan takes, motivating Tenma to find and kill Johan.

The tale is rooted in reality making it a far cry from all anime.

There are many personalities, all feeling very real and all with an important part to play. While it is a slow burn, every story

3. Code Geass

  • Total Episodes: 50.
  • Years: 2006.

Packed with brilliant strategy and war tactics, Code Geass is quite a compelling watch.

Lelouch vi Britannia gains a power called “Geass” which allows him to make anyone do anything, through direct eye contact.

He uses this power to start a rebellion against the Britannian Empire to create a less corrupt world.

Lelouch is faced with a lot of tough decisions in the 50 episodes of Code Geass. So many of this put him in a position where he must decide what takes priority over his goal of a better world where the Britannian Empire has fallen.

The thrilling psychology of this series is accompanied by high-class mech action and flashy animation.

4. Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • Total Episodes: 26.
  • Years: 1995.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most influential shows in anime history. An absolute must-see for anyone who fancies themselves an anime fan.

It follows Shinji Ikari, who is tasked with piloting a mecha called an “Evangelion”, to protect the world from destructive alien beings called “Angels”.

Shinji and the other Eva pilots have their own fair share of psychological issues that tie into their personalities and why they defend the Earth.

The show uses the pilots and other characters to explore the psychological hurdles that plague all of us, in a way that was groundbreaking and innovative. 

5. Future Diary

  • Total Episodes: 26.
  • Years: 2011.

12 people are chosen by the god of space and time to play a survival game where the winner gets to replace him.

Each person has a cell phone (or “diary”) that predicts the future in different ways, tailored to each character’s personality.

They use their diaries to kill each other.

Amano Yukiteru is our protagonist who seems to be the least insane diary user… Especially compared to Yuno Gasai, a psychopathic Yandere who will defend Yuki with her life.

This series is a chaotic frenzy.

Every person with one of the diaries has a unique disposition which makes for a lot of different methods of attack. This keeps the plot fresh and never fails to surprise while keeping you on the edge of your seat. 

6. Parasyte: The Maxim

  • Episodes: 24.
  • Years: 2014.

Parasyte: The Maxim is centered on Shinichi Izumi, a high school student who is attacked by a strange alien creature called a Parasyte.

These are worm-like creatures that burrow into the human body and take over the brains of their human hosts. They act like humans for the public eye but feed on unsuspecting human flesh when they can.

Shinichi stops the Parasyte before it gets to his brain, enabling him to use the powers of his Parasyte and live alongside it.

Together they fight parasites hiding among society. 

The series explores human nature and the role that humans play in society. It begs the question of whether other creatures can be humanized, and provokes sympathy for other inhabitants of the earth.

7. Terror in Resonance

  • Episodes: 11.
  • Years: 2014.

Terrorists have attacked Tokyo, devastated the city. These terrorists are Nine and Twelve they are our protagonists.

They want to wake up the world plus they use terrorism, and cryptic messages they leave behind as a means of doing so. They threaten police with the widespread destruction of Tokyo, which puts the detectives in a race against time. 

From episode 1 to 11 I could not turn this show-off.

This psychological crime thriller is a tale about the hopeful rebellious spirit of youths and has loads of socio-political commentary on isolation, the fragility of modern society, and what defines the crime. 

 

8. Perfect Blue

  • Episodes: 1 Movie.
  • Years: 1998.

Perfect Blue follows pop idol Mima Kirigoe, as she leaves her J-pop group in hopes of becoming a big-time actress.

This sad some of her fans, including a creepy stalker. The transition from pop star to the actress has more obstacles than she expects, some of which are psychological. 

Reality, fantasy blend together for Mima in the only movie entry on this list, making the plot extremely mind-bending.

Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece explores our own preoccupations with perception, pop idol culture, consumerist society, and the effects of all of it on one’s mental health.

This story really tests the mind. 

 

9. Psycho-Pass

  • Episodes: 33.
  • Years: 2012.

The story takes place in an authoritarian society, in which the Sybil System can determine the level of a threat any individual poses.

This objective system examines their mental state for any bad intentions they have, and the results are reflected as their “Psycho-Pass”. The story follows Akane Tsunemori as she starts her career as an Inspector for the Sybil System.

Psycho-Pass brings the fallacies of an “entirely objective” justice system to light.

The protagonist struggles with enforcing a system that does not exactly enact justice perfectly as advertised, and all the Inspectors carry their own trauma from being on the police force.

 

10. Welcome to the N.H.K

  • Episodes: 24.
  • Years: 2006.

This entry is much different than others on the list because it’s more of a psychological slice of life, rather than a psychological thriller, horror, or game anime.

The protagonist is Satou Tatsuhiro, a college dropout who’s unemployed for 4 years.

He’s a shut-in and blames everything for his lifestyle. He gets the help of Misaki Nakahara and a mysterious girl claiming to be able to help him stop being a recluse. 

Welcome to the NHK explores the psychology behind shut-in lifestyle, depression, otaku-culture, and suicidal thoughts.

I’d recommend this anime to everyone who felt like they don’t know their place in society.

 

11. Death Parade

  • Episodes: 12.
  • Years: 2015.

The premise for this series is simple. Whenever some people die, they are sent to a mysterious bar where they participate in death games with their “soul” on the line.

Unknowingly to the participants, the bartenders mediating the games are judging them based on the way they conduct themselves during the game, and decide whether or not they deserve to be reincarnated or banished into the oblivion. 

With every game, unique human circumstances are presented, and it builds into a psychological exploration of how people act when they’re put under the pressure of such high stakes.

The bartenders also have their own fair share of issues, feeling the weight of making the decisions regarding others’ afterlife. 

 12. Serial Experiments

  • Episodes: 13.
  • Years: 1998.

Lain Iwakura receives an unsettling email from a classmate who committed suicide, from then on she becomes consumed with the Wired. A global communications network that mirrors the real world’s internet.

Lain gets caught up in a series of events that range from cryptic to surreal, have her investigate the mysteries behind the Wired.

These anime find issues of how identity and consciousness are affected by the advancement of technology.

The internet can be a worrying thing when you think about the impossible wealth of knowledge that it holds, and Serial Experiments Lain is a manifestation of that. 

 

13. Paranoia Agent

  • Episodes:13.
  • Years: 2004.

There’s a terror plaguing Musashino City and his name is Lil’ Slugger.

Lil’ Slugger runs around town on rollerblades, hospitalizing people with his signature golden baseball bat. Detectives Keiichi Ikari, Mitsuhiro Maniwa are working on finding out his identity and capturing him.

As the name implies, Paranoia Agent handles the contagious nature of paranoia anxiety.

With each attack, the fear of Lil Slugger becomes more intense the paranoia reaches a fever pitch that presents a commentary on how people act under intense paranoia.

14. No Game No Life

  • Episodes: 12.
  • Years: 2014.

Sora and Shiro are a pair of step-siblings who are undefeated at various games in the online gaming world.

After defeating the god of games in a chess game online, they are transported to a world where major conflicts are solved by playing games.

Sora and Shiro set out to use their skills in games to unite this “game world” and forcibly become the God of it. 

With everything being solved by playing games, there is no shortage of interesting happenings and unique strategies taking place every episode.

Seeing how these two manage to come out on top even when the cards are stacked against them, makes this anime a worthwhile watch. 

15. Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji

  • Episodes: 52.
  • Years: 2007.

Kaiji Itou is tricked into signing off on a loan for one of his co-workers, and it seems to be an overwhelming amount of debt.

He’s offered a shady deal to participate in underground gambling on a cruise ship to try and regain the money.

There is no shortage of mind games between Kaiji his opponents.

This anime also exposes the nature of what human beings can be like when survival instinct kicks in, there is nothing left to lose.

These characters all have a lot at stake, so cheating, deceit, and any other methods to win by any means necessary are taken into consideration

 

16. Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

  • Episodes: 24.
  • Years: 2017.

Hyakkaou Private Academy seems a prestigious school with a high standard for its students on the surface, but it doubles as a gambling den by night.

Student hierarchy at this school depends on their monetary contributions to the student council, and they gamble in a variety of games in hopes of rising up the ranks.

Almost students gamble with their future in mind, but not our protagonist Yumeko Jabami

Much like Kaiji, Kakegurui provides intense, high-stakes mind games in each episode. It displays the corruptible nature of money, and how the value of money can create a hierarchy.

17. From the New World

  • Episodes: 25.
  • Years: 2012.

Set 100000 years in the future, psychic humans live in an isolated society with complex rules.

12-year old Saki Watanabe who has just awakened her powers, and gets to join her friends who have awakened powers as well.

However, she starts to wonder what happens to those whose powers never awaken, the kids begin meddling with these secretive matters.

The New World is a coming-of-age story of Saki and her friends as they try to grow into their roles in the complicated world they live in.

As they discover the harsh and dark truths behind this supposed utopia, so many introspections come into play as to whether they want to agree with their roles in such a society or not. 

 

18. Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex

  • Episodes: 52.
  • Years: 2002.

Menkind has advanced to the point where body transplants from flesh to machine is possible.

Naturally, this causes a great increase in physical and cybernetic prowess. However, criminals have access to the same technology, leading to an even more dangerous crime scene.

Section 9 has been established by the government to deal with such crimes, with cyborg Motoko Kusanagi at the forefront.

This series is increasingly relevant as technology gets stronger and more advanced every day.

There are questions being raised about the connections between body, soul, as well as questions about how beneficial the advancement of technology truly is. 

This series is increasingly relevant as technology gets stronger and more advanced every day.

There are questions being raised about the connections between body, soul, as well as questions about how beneficial the advancement of technology truly is. 

19. Revolutionary Girl Utena

  • Episodes: 39.
  • Years: 1997.

Utena Tenjou attends Ootori Academy and where she duels for the prize of the Rose Bride with Anthy Himemiya.

As the series progresses Utena’s attention shifts to discovering the secrets behind Ootori Academy and hopes to revolutionize the world. 

There are too many themes packed into this series. Childhood idealism, adulthood, sexuality, abuse,  identity are all explored extensively in Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Common tropes in fairy tales and the magical girl genre are included, subverted, deconstructed. 

 

20. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  • Episodes: 12.
  • Years: 2011.

Life changes for Madoka Kaname and her friends when they meet Kyuubey, a cat-like magical creature.

Kyubey gives them an offer that will grant any one of their wishes, and in exchange, they’ll become magical girls.

Speaking of deconstructing tropes, Madoka Magica not only does this but also deconstructs the entire magical girl genre.

Gen Urobuchi (the novelist behind Madoka Magica) wanted to explore aspects of the genre that are troubling and problematic.

And he and succeeds in doing so while providing many plot twists, and an overarching feeling of discomfort for the viewer as the show gets darker.

21. One Out

  • Episodes: 25.
  • Years: 2008.

The Saitama Lycaons are the worst team in Japan’s premier baseball league.

Toua Tokuchi intends to change that with their best player who’s desperate to win a championship.

The owner is skeptical about bringing on a player with no professional experience, in turn, offers him a special contract. For each out he pitches, he’ll receive five million yen.

For each run he gives up, he will lose fifty million yen. 

One out documents the intense psychological warfare taking place between Toua and those he faces

22.Ping Pong the Animation

  • Episodes: 11.
  • Years: 2014.

Peco and his friend Smile have been friends since childhood. Now, they are both members of the table tennis club at Katase High School.

Peco’s full of confidence, aiming to be the best in the world. The smile on the other hand shows little ambition and seems like a closed book, but he’s talented nonetheless.

23. The Tatami Galaxy

 

  • Episodes: 11.
  • Years: 2010.

The Tatami Galaxy follows an unnamed 5-years student at Kyoto University. He has regrets about how he lived through college and re-experiences life through different parallel universes.

Any time he’s at a different school joining a different circle of friends, but each time Akashi, the center of the protagonist’s romantic affections, is there with him.

This mind-bending series forces the nameless protagonist to experience the harsh realities of college life, as he’s forced to see that it’s not the rose-colored experience he always dreamed of. 

 

24. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

 

  • Episodes: 26.
  • Years: 2009.

Inferno is a mysterious company who uses their nearly invincible human weapon, “Phantom” to do most of their dirty job

One day, when a tourist accidentally witnesses a murder committed by Phantom, he’s captured all his memories are wiped.

Apparently he excited the leader of Inferno enough that he’s recruited to become the next Phantom. 

Without some memories of his past life, our protagonist fights to survive by killing for Inferno but often struggles with his lack of identity, the amount of deceit at play, and how much of a killing machine he’s become. 

25. Danganronpa: The Animation

  • Episodes: 13.
  • Years: 2013.

Hope’s Peak Academy is a prestigious school, so prestigious that only 15 students were admitted.

Unfortunately for them, when they come they’re trapped by the principal.

They’re only allowed to leave if they kill one of their classmates and get away with it. However, if they are caught will get executed.

And anyone remaining continues the “death-match” until 1 student left standing.  

As a mystery anime, there’s a lot of moments where we’re taken into the minds of the characters as they try to figure out the motives of potential murderers among them.

There’s also plenty of survival tactics that make this show entertaining and thought-provoking.

 

26. Aoi Bungaku Series

Episodes: 12.

Years: 2009.

This series consists of adaptations from six modern classics of Japanese literature.

Aside from the first adaptation which is 4 episodes, each adaptation is 2 episodes, all telling exceptionally realistic, deep, and mature stories.

Aoi Bungaku really puts you into the mind of the protagonist of each story.

The undeniably detailed insight into their feelings and thoughts fits right into the psychology genre. Best of all it does so while following an intense plot each any time. 

27. Devilman: Crybaby

  • Episodes: 10.
  • Years: 2018.

The devils in Devilman: Crybaby are immensely powerful beings, but they can only take form with a living host.

They plan to take the world back from humans and do so by taking their bodies.

However, if a host has a strong enough will, they can gain the powers of the devil and maintain their humanity. Akira Fudou has become one of the few to do this and will try to use it to protect his loved ones. 

Devil like Akira must resist the urges of the monsters within them. They walk a fine line between those urges and humanity their will allows them to keep.

The series uses violence to explore the themes of paranoia, prejudice, and the age-old question; Can a monster feel as a human does? 

 

28. Re: Zero – Starting Life in Another World

  • Episodes: 25.
  • Years: 2016.

Imagine walking into the store and walking out of it to see you are in a whole different world.

That is a reality for Subaru Natsuki and in this reality, he is attacked immediately, but thankfully saved by a white-haired beauty.

In return, he agrees to help her find what she is looking for. Unfortunately for them they are being followed by a dark force and the day does not end well, but Subaru will get to relive this day and attempt to save himself and the girl: Emilia

Subaru is a flawed protagonist and makes him realistic.

He thinks he’s in a better situation and he was in the “real world”, but it turns out to be more severe.

With home nowhere to be seen, and the circumstances worsening, Subaru’s forced to make the best of it.

 

29. Btooom!

  • Episodes: 12.
  • Years: 2012.

Another series in the same vein as Future Diary and the Hunger Games, Btooom! is about a game of survival.

Ryota Sakamoto is trapped on a deserted island playing a real-life version of his favorite game, in which every player must kill 7 other contestants with different kinds of bombs.

Different bombs, call for different strategies and our protagonist just happened to be Japan’s top player in the online video game with the same rules, so he uses those talents to stay alive in this game. The story pulls no punches on how people act in a kill or be killed environment.  

30. Kino’s Journey

  • Episodes: 13.
  • Premiered: 2003.

Kino is a young traveler, and with her bike Hermes, she explores many countries and towns.

Each location varies in customs and inhabitants, ranging from interesting to morally-gray to tragic.

Kino spends no more than 3 days at any given place, so we get to see a wide spectrum of practices across its 13 episodes.

Kino has no interest in influencing or changing the small worlds she visits, as they decide to be mere observers who believe that “the world is not beautiful; therefore, it is.”

This makes her a vessel of questions, someone who is in the same position as the audience.

Kino’s Travels has a lot of philosophical reflection baked into it.

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