There is a lot of anime out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to thriller. From anime with excessive plot twists to those that offer nightmarish imagery that’ll last with you for decades, you’re guaranteed to find something here that’ll whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Perfect Blue is a deep, psychological film. It paints fame in a horrid light and shows what it can do to a person who’s completely full of themselves. Its protagonist Mima will encounter numerous phenomena throughout this anime. From running from a crazed mental image of herself to being monitored by a deadly stalker, she’ll suffer it all.
That said, this anime contains little to no lighthearted moments. It’s a genuinely chilling work that’ll hit close to home with many folks–especially those who adore platforms like Twitter, Tik Tok, and YouTube. You’ll be enamored with how well Perfect Blue’s director Satoshi Kon captures Mima’s reactions and expressions to her newfound livelihood.
If you’re looking for a mature anime with great themes, messages, and atmosphere, check out Perfect Blue.
Monster is a crime drama with great storytelling and characters. This is a slow-burner with an excellent payoff. Viewers will be amazed by how well-written Monster is with its overabundance of plot twists and turns. It’s a work that’ll insight fear into its audience and make them question the antics of its main antagonist, Johan Liebert.
In it, we follow Kenzou, a doctor who saves a young Johan Liebert’s life instead of his mayor’s. While this seems like the correct choice, Johan grows up to become a serial killer. Not only that but Johan’s murder spree leads to Kenzou being listed as the prime suspect for multiple crimes. To clear his name, Kenzou embarks on a journey to bring Johan to justice.
This is a show that’ll make you care about every single character. Whether they appear in one episode or multiple doesn’t matter. Series creator Naoki Urasawa gives everyone great backstories, personalities, and development to make you care about their well-being. It’s a well-loved work with a plot that’ll keep you on your toes.
Baccano is a unique crime series. It features multiple protagonists with clashing backgrounds and personalities. All their stories offer something that’ll interest viewers. They’ll all intertwine by the series’s conclusion, making your time with the show feel rewarding and less tedious. That said, some fans may want to rewatch the show to find the puzzle pieces for themselves.
This show has a large cast. While viewers may feel like it’s a red flag, Baccano gives its cast enough depth to help viewers recall them. No one overstays their welcome, and all of them serve their purpose. The show balances its action and comical moments well, so there’s no need to worry about one aspect overshadowing the other.
Like filling in a crossword puzzle, Baccano will keep you occupied with its jumbling plot. Give this one a shot if you’re looking for a well-crafted mystery anime.
Shiki’s a horror series that’ll make you question who and what are monsters. It’s a finely-written tale about vampires and offers enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. The art style feels gothic and elevates the show’s dark atmosphere well. The anime includes some gruesome deaths and terrifying creature designs to instill fear in its audience.
You can expect it all from characters’ bodies getting torn to shreds or based on a wooden object. This story takes place in a remote village that’s mundane and slightly mysterious. One day, a new family moves into the village, leading to several disappearances and deaths. The village’s doctor Ozaki suspects the new residents are responsible for these occurrences.
With the help of a teenager named Natsuno, Ozaki vows to solve this mystery and make the criminals pay. This anime tackles ideas regarding justice, death, and human nature. It’s a great horror series that’ll subvert fans’ expectations toward its middle half and onward. Give it a shot if you’re looking for a thriller that’ll make you terrified.
Psycho-Pass is a phenomenal sci-fi series with corrupt governments, epic gun battles, and stellar characters. It takes place in futuristic Japan monitored by the city’s Sibyl System. This system can determine someone’s threat level by analyzing their psyche. At the center of its narrative is Akane.
Akane uncovers the system’s shortcomings and vows to report her discoveries to the world. It won’t be an easy mission, but Akane’s determined to bring this technological system down in the name of justice. This anime maintains a serious tone and offers great messages that’ll make you contemplate.
It’ll make you perceive the human brain differently. To break away from feeling too complex, the narrative sprinkles into some well-animated action scenes to withhold your interest. If you’re looking for a police-themed anime with a beautiful setting, well-written cast, and excellent atmosphere, check out Psycho-Pass.
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is an intense gambling anime and one that will keep you anticipating grand things. With its numerous mind games, lovable characters, and exciting world, this anime contains enough elements to tinker with your head. In it, we examine the life of Kaiji, a man with much debt on his shoulders due to a co-worker’s lackadaisical habits.
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 proceed with caution if he hopes to clear his debt.
If you’re on the hunt for a wonderful gambling anime with depth, check out Kaiji.
The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland is a spooky anime full of captivating twists and turns. This anime examines the lives of three orphans who devise an escape plan involving themselves and their fellow children. They’ll have to combat their conniving caretaker Isabella if they hope to escape a fate that’s worse than death.
Each child boasts an incredible personality and intelligent mind. While some characters don’t receive much screen time as others, you’ll adore seeing these children band together to defeat a formidable threat. The anime’s first season contained numerous thrills and chills to keep fans excited. Unfortunately, the second season derails from the manga and didn’t hit a home run with diehard fans.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a series that’ll keep you guessing, check out The Promised Neverland.
Terror In Resonance
Imagine living in a world ruled by two terrorists. This is what you can expect from Terror In Resonance. This is an underrated work from Studio Mappa. it contains well-written characters, story elements, and wonderful animation. It boasts a great atmospheric soundtrack that meshes with its somber aesthetic well.
With themes of warfare, tragedy, and cunning battles, you’re sure to walk away from this one satisfied. This story follows Nine and Twelve. They’re male terrorists accused of bombing a nuclear facility in Japan and challenging the police force. It’s up to them and their detective Kenjiroui to bring these boys to justice. This is an emotional roller coaster that gets more intense as you proceed.
Our protagonists are horrible criminal masterminds with alluring backstories. The anime gradually reveals more intel about their dark pasts over time. With a unique art style and great atmosphere, this anime’s worth checking out if you love crime thrillers.
Steins; Gate is a slow-burn sci-fi anime with a great cast. This shows features multiple secrets that unravel over time. Its pacing isn’t the best and some may find it unbearable to watch because of it. However, if you can stick with it to the end, you’re certain to find something special about this show afterward.
This anime follows a scientist named Rintarou. He enjoys making gadgets and visits a convention based around time travel. He encounters a mysterious phenomenon involving one of his trinkets. It starts sending text messages from the past. This catches the attention of a secretive organization.
Suddenly, Rintarou finds himself in a never-ending struggle between himself and this organization. If you adore science-themed shows with time-travel and mystery elements, check out Steins; Gate.
Death Note is a phenomenal detective series. It blends its supernatural and mystery elements well to create something worth watching. While it doesn’t feature ground-breaking action scenes, it makes up for it with cleverly written characters, mind games, and tense moments. Our story follows Light, a boy who comes across a book called Death Note.
It allows its wielder to murder anyone they want as long as they write their name and cause of death in it. Light goes on a killing spree as his alias Kira because he wants to rid the world of criminals. With the book’s creator, Ryuk, at his side, Light feels unstoppable. Nonetheless, a young detective named L Lawliet challenges Light, resulting in a never-ending mind game between them.
This anime boasts a dark atmosphere, a chilling setting, and an intelligent cast. You’ll be bewildered by the countless tricks Light and L have up their sleeves. Although Light’s the show’s protagonist, you’ll be finding yourself rooting against him numerous times. If you’re looking for a wonderful supernatural series with thought-provoking mayhem, check out Death Note.
You can read our thoughts on Death Note in our full-season review here!
So, there we have it, our picks for the best thriller anime through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!