There are a lot of TV shows out there, and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been more significant. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? We’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, most fabulous, and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to shows with psychologically solid aspects. From thought-provoking mysteries to intergalactic warfare, there’s an excellent choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below, and we’ll add them when we can!
One of the late Satoshi Kon’s best works. This anime offers a mind-numbing take on popularity and lust. In this film, we follow an idol named Mima, who tosses her idol career aside to become a famous actress. As time flies by, strange and disturbing events start happening around her.
This anime features a slew of uncomfortable imagery. Viewers will watch as Mima becomes more mentally unstable and broken. Many mysteries and subtle twists sprinkled throughout the film will keep fans on their toes. Despite being an older work, this film provides exquisite commentary on pop culture and its damaging effects on humanity.
Visually, this anime looks excellent and holds up well compared to modern films. It contains a blend of dream-like and realistic imagery that aims to tamper with viewers’ heads. If you ever wanted to know what it feels like to be placed in an anime protagonist’s shoes, check out Perfect Blue.
Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Where Perfect Blue offers a pessimistic take on pop culture, Jinrou: The Wolf Brigade features the horrors of warfare. This film balances its action and dramatic bits well. It puts our protagonist in the center of a world full of crime and terrorism.
This narrative’s set in an alternate reality where crimes occur consistently in Japan following the aftermath of World War II. At the center of it all is Kazuki, a soldier who fails to exterminate a female terrorist before she commits suicide via an explosion.
The girl’s explosion leaves Tokyo to suffer. Due to Kazuki’s failures, his higher-ups send him back to the military academy for re-evaluation. Kazuki will be unknowingly exposed to a web of government conspiracies that will determine Japan’s future.
In Jinrou, Kazuki treads the line between man and beast as fans wait to see how he will proceed. This is an emotional and psychological roller-coaster that depicts humanity’s darkest aspects. While it offers fun action scenes, viewers will enjoy seeing Kazuki struggle to find his way in life and seeing the tragedies of war through his eyes.
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is an anime with many thought-provoking elements. This series offers incredible details about its world promptly. Viewers may need to rewatch this show numerous times to get a general sense of its presentation. Its narrative is highly complex and well-written.
This story touches upon vital subjects and addresses why having self-worth and stellar communication skills is essential. This show excellently conveys these ideas through its slow pacing and story beats. The characters in this anime are well-written and experience steady growth.
Its protagonist Lain encounters many surreal circumstances in her cyber world. As she explores situations, she’ll question her humanity, consciousness, and perception of events. With twists and turns, Serial Experiments Lain will not disappoint critical-thinking fans.
The Legend of the Galactic Heroes
As with Serial Experiments Lain, The Legend of the Galactic Heroes offers slow-paced storytelling, dialogue, and information-heavy story beats. This space opera follows two masterminds named Reinhard and Yang. Each character manages a specific superpower that’s at war with the other.
Both factions want to claim victory. They will need to watch over their specific fleets and deal with personal issues that will further challenge them. Like its protagonists, the side characters receive enough screen time to warrant fans’ attachment.
The protagonists engage in various physical and mental conflicts concerning their rise in status. This anime is not afraid to discuss ideas regarding politics, rebellion, and morality. If you’re looking for an anime with a deep narrative, complex characters, and awesome space fights, check out The Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
From space battles to gambling mischief, we land at Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor. With its constant mind games, likable characters, and thrilling world, this anime offers just enough elements to tinker with your mind. In it, we follow Kaiji, a man with a lot of debt on his shoulders thanks to his lackadaisical co-worker.
Kaiji attends a gambling event on an illustrious cruise ship and plans to spend the night there. The reason is that attendees will have their debts cleared. Things don’t go accordingly, as he gets wrapped up in a game where he’s at risk of becoming someone’s indebted servant for life.
Therefore, Kaiji must act wisely and cautiously toward everyone involved. This anime delivers fun action scenes despite leaning toward psychological elements. Some comedic bits involve the characters’ exaggerated facial expressions and reactions to things.
Welcome to the NHK
Welcome to the NHK is a slice-of-life anime that delves into the psyche of an isolated college student named Tatsuhiro. Although it’s difficult for Tatsuhiro to break free from his failures, he’ll meet multiple people wishing to show him the better sides of life.
In this anime, Tatsuhiro encounters many obstacles that will shatter his self-esteem and self-worth. The anime jams so many relatable traits into his character to evoke empathy from viewers who can relate to Tatsuhiro’s situations. From lacking social skills to being susceptible to peer pressure, Tatsuhiro will have many hurdles to leap over in this series.
This allows the anime to maintain its audience’s attention from beginning to end. Viewers will be curious to see how someone like Tatsuhiro manages to overcome his hardships.
Furthermore, this is an incredible series that leaves viewers with an incredible lesson worth applying to their lives. If you’re curious to discover what that may entail then we suggest watching Welcome to the NHK.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Puella Magi Madoka Magica popularized the magical girl sub-genre with its dark yet refreshing take on the enchanting concept. This series changed people’s views of what a magical girl show could be like by placing severe and mind-numbing obstacles in our female cast’s path.
This is a depressing anime but has enough heartwarming moments to satisfy fans of the genre. Our tale follows Madoka and her friend Sayaka, as they encounter a mysterious cat-like organism named Kyubey. Kyubey informs the girls that it’ll grant them one wish if they vow to become magical girls.
Madoka and Sayaka accept Kyubey’s offer. Unfortunately, these girls will realize that they’ve made a grave mistake. Every character in Madoka Magica has an interesting personality, backstory, and goal. These girls will suffer from the trauma that comes with their new lifestyle.
At the same time, this series offers some fun action and fights between the girls and their witch-like enemies. If you’re looking for a dark take on magical girls, check out Madoka Magica.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Anime fans have come to the consensus that Neon Genesis Evangelion serves as a deconstruction of the mecha genre. Instead of focusing on giant robots fighting alien creatures, this series delves deeper into the minds of the mech’s pilots. It portrays these characters from a more realistic angle.
That said, some fans may find its protagonist Shinji to be wimpy or annoying. However, it’s Shinji’s weak-minded persona that makes Neon Genesis Evangelion a well-written anime to watch. This is a series that features themes regarding responsibility, self-affirmation, and tenacity.
This anime’s cast is well-rounded and receives great development over the course of the narrative. It does an excellent job of showcasing the divide between Shinji and his father, Gendo. At the same time, Neon Genesis Evangelion has its share of robotic action that’ll get fans excited. Nevertheless, it’s better to go into Neon Genesis Evangelion expecting a character-driven tale instead of an action-centric one.
The Tatami Galaxy
The Tatami Galaxy is an artistic and mind-bending tale. It follows third-year college student Watashi who encounters an eggplant-shaped head who calls himself the god of matrimony. Encountering this deity causes Watashi to recall his failed attempt at asking an underclassman named Akashi on a date.
As this thought seeps its way into his head, Watashi is hurled into the past. He arrives at the beginning of his college years and receives another chance at life. This is a fancy tale about Watashi’s new quest to make friends and find a lover. This anime was directed and storyboarded by Masaaki Yuasa, whose known for mind-numbing works like Cat Soup, Kaiba, and Mind Game.
Many anime fans consider The Tatami Galaxy to be his greatest work. This anime introduces many interesting characters who have different yet impactful narratives to tell. The stories offer subtle patterns but feel self-contained and remarkably written. Unfortunately, this is a dialogue-heavy piece and viewers can get lost in the grand scheme of things.
But if you pay close attention, you’ll manage to keep up with what Yuasa throws at you. With its diverse art style, well-developed characters, and charming world, The Tatami Galaxy is a must-watch!
Monster is a phenomenal detective anime. This series is riddled with well-written characters, a well-crafted plot, and a gritty yet familiar setting. With a slew of mind games and plot twists, Monster is one of the most fascinating and nerve-wracking series to watch.
This anime follows Tenma, a doctor who failed to save his mayor’s life because he chose to savor a child’s. The child in question is Johan. Johan became a cold-hearted murderer in his adult years, adding more regret and sorrow for Tenma to tackle. To make amends for his mistake, Tenma plans to bring Johan to justice.
This is an anime that wreaks guilt and despair. Considering how Tenma’s portrayed as this kind-hearted being, fans will find it difficult not to sympathize with his situation. This show can feel slow at times, but it knows how to build tension. It has some of the most fascinating twists and turns in all of anime.
With its gloomy soundtrack, well-rounded cast, and chilling vibes, Monster’s one of the best mystery thrillers to watch.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best psychological-themed anime series!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!