Psychological Anime is a Japanese animation genre that has been around since the late 1940s. It’s often used as a medium to tell stories about characters and their interactions with one another, but it can also be used to explore themes in other genres like science fiction or horror.
Psychological anime are those which deal with mental health and mental illnesses. This category of anime is highly popular in Japan as well as outside of it, but it can be difficult to find a good show if you’re not sure what kind of story you want to watch! Here are some recommendations for the best psychological anime out there!
- Higurashi When They Cry
- The Tatami Galaxy
- Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)
- Tokyo Ghoul
- Parasyte (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
- The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
- Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest)
- Death Note
- Elfen Lied
- Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu)
- Death Parade
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor)
- Hell Girl
- Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)
- *Wrap It Up
Higurashi When They Cry
Higurashi When They Cry is a series of anime which began in 2006. The first story arc follows Keiichi Maebara, who moves to the rural village of Hinamizawa and befriends four girls–Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika, and their mysterious friend Satoshi.
When Keiichi learns about the tragic past of his new friends, he believes that Rena’s life may be in danger. As the series progresses, other characters are introduced. Every arc has a different set of characters which means there are plenty of opportunities to find your favorite!
The Tatami Galaxy
The Tatami Galaxy is the story of a college student who wakes up in his second year after an unsuccessful first year. He meets Ozu and Akashi at a tea house and they help him create a new life plan to get what he wants most: a second chance.
The Tatami Galaxy is known for its uniquely surreal and dark style, which meshes well with the show’s themes about time and identity. Besides, who can resist all of those beautiful shots of Kyoto?
Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)
Erased is a 2016 anime series where protagonist Satoru Fujinuma’s mother is murdered by an unknown assailant. One day, he has a future vision where he goes back in time to stop the murders from happening. He soon realizes that these powers only work when it’s too late to prevent the crimes.
As a result, he devotes his life towards helping others in need and making up for all of the people whose lives he couldn’t save. The show is about more than just murder though, it explores the mental health of its protagonist, Satoru. He has dealt with his own trauma from childhood and must now come to terms with his depression and PTSD in order to help others.
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark anime that follows protagonist Ken Kaneki after a violent encounter with Rize Kamishiro, a ghoul. He is rushed to the hospital where his life is saved, but he’s now half-ghoul. As a result, Ken must learn how to live as a half-monster and hide his identity from everyone he loves in order to protect them.
A major theme of Tokyo Ghoul is mental illness, both for human and ghouls. Humans deal with their own mental health while ghouls must grapple with the trauma of their past and discrimination from other humans. In addition to this, several characters struggle with survivor’s guilt because they feel obligated to avenge those who were lost in modern-day Japan.
Parasyte (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
Parasyte was a 2014 anime series about an alien invasion of parasitic creatures. They begin to take over humans by entering in their brains and manipulating them with their own thoughts. As the plot progresses, these monsters deal with many different psychological concepts, the most prevalent being empathy.
One of the main struggles throughout the anime is protagonist Shinichi Izumi’s sense of humanity and his ability to empathize with others. He initially has no problem mutilating other people in order to survive, but he soon realizes that he doesn’t want to harm other humans in order to keep living.
Another is about a cursed school where students often die u see them for a brief moment one more time. The story follows Kouichi Sakakibara, who moves back to town after living with his grandmother for a while.
He soon becomes friends with Mei Misaki, but he struggles to understand her motivation in killing other students, even if it’s just to see them one more time. Despite the number of gruesome deaths in Another, the show’s main focus is on Kouichi and Mei’s relationship, and how they deal with death as well as their own sense of responsibility.
The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
The 2011 anime series Mirai Nikki (also known as Future Diary) is about a young boy by the name of Yukiteru Amano. He has visions of the future but struggles to understand them, until he meets other teenagers who share his ability and fight each other for their own survival.
Although this show is pretty popular among anime fans, its main theme is mental health, especially the relationships between its characters. It delves deeper into the human psyche than other psychological anime by exploring Yuki and Yuno’s relationship in depth. Even though they’re supposed to kill one another, they become close friends and rely on each another for survival.
Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest)
Zetsuen no Tempest follows two teenagers, Mahiro Fuwa and Yoshino Takigawa, as well as magic. Both boys are working together to find out what happened to their friends who died in an explosion that ruined their school.
Slowly, they discover that this incident was set up by people who are using magic to fight against the world. Although Zetsuen no Tempest is about supernatural elements like magic, it’s mostly an anime about human psychology, especially human emotions and how they affect our relationships with other people.
Death Note is a Japanese anime series about a teenager named Light Yagami, who finds an object called a “Death Note.” Anyone whose name is written in the Death Note dies, and this starts to interest him.
However, he soon faces an opponent who uses the same power for his own gain: detective L. Light has to deal with all of the psychological problems that come with killing others, and L has to figure out how his opponent’s mind works.
Elfen Lied is a 2004 anime series that tells the story of two young girls: Lucy and Yuka. The girls meet as children after being experimented on by a scientist who’s attempting to discover the secret behind their supernatural abilities.
However, he soon finds out that the experiment is a huge mistake and opens up a can of worms so to speak. The show’s main focus–as well as its most popular theme, is mental health because it delves into topics like child abuse, PTSD, and depression. It has an extremely dark premise, but it still manages to treat these issues in a sensitive way.
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu)
Re:Zero is an anime about Subaru Natsuki, who one day finds himself in a new world after dying, and the only way he can survive is through his own death.
As time goes on, he realizes that he has a special ability to return from the dead, meaning that all his experiences in this new world will happen over and over again. Re:Zero is an extremely popular anime right now, but its main focus is Subaru’s mental health as well as how it affects everyone around him.
Death Parade is a 2015 anime series about a world beyond the grave, where people go after they die, and where two bartenders named Decim and Ginti work at a bar called Quindecim.
The show’s premise revolves around games that determine who lives and who dies, and it deals with everything from human relationships to human emotions. It’s like a psychological anime version of The Devil’s Advocate because the show goes deeper than most other anime in this genre.
Psycho-Pass is a Japanese anime series with detective fiction elements, and it’s set in futuristic Japan, meaning it has sci-fi themes as well. It follows the story of Akane Tsunemori, Shinya Kogami, Shogo Makishima, and other characters as they solve crimes together.
Unlike most detective fiction shows, though, Psycho-Pass has an interesting twist: it deals with a lot of human psychology as well as the punishments people deserve for committing certain crimes, which is why it’s considered a psychological anime.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a popular anime series from the mid-1990s, and it tells the story of Shinji Ikari who has to pilot a giant cyborg–EVA–in order to save Earth from an invading race called Angels. When you think of the term “psychological anime,” this show is undoubtedly one of the first that comes to mind.
It deals with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues as well as how they affect its characters’ lives. However, there’s more than just mental illness in Neon Genesis Evangelion, it also has apocalyptic themes and references to biblical elements as well as religious and philosophical themes.
Monster is a 2004 anime series that tells the story of Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a talented young neurosurgeon who finds himself in the middle of a serial killer’s murder spree. As time goes on, he discovers that the killer is actually an apprentice of his, and that the reason why he’s getting away with it is because someone very powerful in the city seems to be helping him.
Monster deals with a lot of dark themes, but its main focus is psychological, mainly how people act when they don’t know any other choice.
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor)
Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is an anime based on a Japanese manga series, and its main focus is gambling and humanity’s need to win, even if it means losing everything else. The show follows Kaiji who find himself in a world of gambling, and it’s up to them to survive everything they go through.
The main character starts out as a bum, but after an eventful story arc, he becomes the Ultimate Survivor, which is what this psychological anime focuses on throughout its several seasons.
Hell Girl is an anime series that has a lot of different references to Japanese folklore, which makes it an interesting show for those who are interested in Japanese culture as well as psychological anime shows.
The main character is Ai Enma, a girl who lives in a small hut and can allow people to send their enemies straight to Hell. However, she has her own demons that she must face time and time again.
Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)
Zankyou no Terror is an anime series that deals with terrorism and similar themes, but it’s set in a very interesting world. The show focuses on two characters: Nine and Twelve, two young teenagers who don’t have names or memories of their pasts.
They must team up in order to stop a terrorist organization from destroying Japan, even though they may have their own reasons for doing so. If you like psychological anime shows that deal with terrorism and other such themes, then Zankyou no Terror is definitely worth watching.
*Wrap It Up
So if you’re looking for a new anime to watch, make sure to check out some of these psychological anime series! They are all very interesting in their own ways, and they all have unique stories that will keep you captivated throughout.
If you’re interested, be sure to give them a shot! And as always, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful in some way.
Read more: Best Sci-Fi Anime.