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The 20 Best Psychological Anime to Watch

My first article of the new year!

Of course I planned on having some updates post or something first so I can look back and reflect on my year but, well, this just happened to be in the drafts pile and I want to clear some of that out before I get back to Tokyo with (hopefully) more exciting things to blog about.

Well, that’s about as snappy an intro as you’re going to get, but I think the title “20 Best Psychological Anime” is pretty self-explanatory anyway. So let’s get right into it.

Psycho-Pass

Number one, Phycho-Pass. The first season of Psycho-Pass is my favorite psychological anime. The plot takes place in the future, where authorities monitor crime by checking citizens’ “psycho-pass” – a number which indicates that person’s chances are of committing a crime based on their current state of mind. But now someone is flying under the radar, committing horrific crimes and evading the law with an undetectable psycho-pass. The anime follows a new detective and her team as they try to solve the case.

I like the futuristic setting of this anime. There are some interesting ideas about how people will interact and entertain themselves in the future. The crimes are very Hannibal-esque and gruesome. And like any good psychological anime, it gets you thinking. In this case, about society and where we’re heading.

best psychological anime

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)

Future Diary was another great one. Very binge-worthy, keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Plot: Yuuki finds himself a player in a high-stakes game he never signed up for (I know, I know, pretty great right? I swear I came up with that myself.)

best psychological anime

Death Note

I think most anime fans have seen Death Note, no matter what genre they’re really into. It’s so famous, even outside of Japan, that mainstream-as-they-come American Netflix made a live-action movie version. 

Plot: Light finds a shinigami’s notebook, and with it, the ability to kill anyone he wants just by writing their name, so long as he knows their face. Instead of using the notebook for personal gain, he sees it as his duty to rid the world of criminals, but the reclusive detective L has his own ideas about justice.

top psychological anime

Elfen Lied

An oldie but a goodie, as I often like to say in a quasi-British accent. I remember watching this anime is high school and along with Death Note it was one of the ones that got me hooked on the genre. These days, many people are comparing it to Stranger Things and there are definitely some similarities there.

Plot: Lucy is a diclonius (a humanlike species with strong telekinetic arms and two horns on the skull) who has escaped from a secure facility. She wants revenge on the humans because of events in her past, but unfortunately for her, her split personality Nyu can’t even put her own pants on, let alone wreck havoc on humanity.

Throughout the anime, Lucy grows emotionally, but the main themes are alienation and rejection, prejudice and abuse. It’s categorized as horror because of the extreme graphic violence but I believe this anime fits the psychological genre as well.

top psychological anime

Well, this article is already quite long, so I’ll just bullet-point the rest and won’t go into detail about them. (Also because I’ve never seen these ones myself and don’t want to just spout some rubbish from Wikipedia – hey, at least I’m honest).

By the way, the rest of these top anime I found by trolling around other sites for my own psychological anime future watchlist, and were recommended by many internet hecklers, fellow trolls, and other avid fans of the genre. I didn’t just pull them out of thin air!

And yes, it adds up to 20:

  • Tokyo Ghoul
  • Lain Serial Experiments
  • Kokoro Connect
  • Another
  • Jigoku Shoujo
  • Shinsekai Yori
  • Paprika
  • Paranoia Agent
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Perfect Blue
  • Monster
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Higurashi When They Cry
  • Madoka Magica
  • Tatami Galaxy
  • Parasyte


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