Not all thrillers and horror stories need disposable tricks like jump scares to be successful. Some anime achieves that sinister, disturbing feeling by influencing your mind instead of your heart rate. Other anime choose drama over the thrill, telling an affecting tale that you just can’t forget. These are the best psychological anime out there.
Psychological anime play with the human soul. It meddles with your perception and faith and leaves you thinking about it even after it’s over.
The anime mentioned in this post are some of the best psychological anime. These are perfect anime for people who are craving for a more cerebral viewing experience.
20 Best Psychological Anime
In the small village of Hinamizawa, Rika Furude and her companions live together in comparative harmony. Under this veil of quietness, however, lies a concealed darkness, one that Rika knows all too well. In this endless summer, she has been an onlooker to unspeakable horrors. Every time the clock resets, Rika must try to find the antagonist behind these mindless deaths before disaster strikes again. However, trying to solve an enigma when only half the clues are available proves time and again to be catastrophic. Also, each time she thinks that things will change, she ultimately fails. As the yearly festival nears, Rika starts her descent from hope to hopelessness in her fight to destroy the chains of fate tangling them all.
This anime is all about hope. All of us have lost hope at some point in our lives. Also, it must’ve had some psychological effect on us. And this is a powerful anime about how to tackle a problem even if things don’t seem to change for good. And thus it earns a place in our best psychological anime list.
In the year 2029, achievements in Cybernetics allow humans to replace almost all of their body parts and organs with robotics. Through these robotic prosthetics, the feeble are made powerful, and the perishing are given new life. Public Security Section 9 of Niihama City, a diverse team of AI, cyborgs and unchanged humans, must look into cases of misconduct and terrorism. Major Motoko Kusanagi has entire-body robotic prosthetics, due to a childhood accident. She, her second in command Batou and information specialist Ishikawa have been given a crucial mission; to look into a hacker called only as “The Puppetmaster.” But as Motoko and her team find out, these matters are never so simple.
Ghost in the Shell is a revolutionary thriller with fierce action scenes combined with slower artistic scenes. Also, it has many philosophical inquiries about a person’s soul, gender and human identity in such an advanced era of technology. And it definitely deserves a place in our best psychological anime list for its effect on the current generation.
20. Perfect Blue
J-pop idol group CHAM! has spent the last 2 years entertaining its fans. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. CHAM! must see one in each of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group to pursue her acting career. While Mima’s alternate choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans can still support her.
However, Mima’s life begins to change drastically after her departure from the group. Wanting to get rid of her pop-idol image, she takes on a role in a crime drama series. But her career as an actress gradually becomes more demanding and taxing for both Mima and her manager, Rumi Hidaka. To add to Mima’s growing unease, one obsessed fan who is incapable of agreeing that Mima has quit being one innocent idol begins stalking her; a brand new anonymous web site begins to impersonate her life with intricate detail. Also, CHAM! also appears to be doing better without her. One by one, each disturbing development drives Mima to become increasingly unhinged. Sadly, she is unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.
This is a very sad anime. It deals with pain, sorrow, failure and many other human emotions. This makes it very relatable. Also, it also shows us how fast one can lose stardom. This strong story earns this anime a spot in our best psychological anime list.
19. NHK ni Youkoso!
Twenty-two-year-old school dropout Tatsuhiro Satou has been a hikikomori for pretty much four years currently. In his isolation, he has started to believe several obscure conspiracy theories. But there’s one above all that he holds unshakable faith in; the speculation that the evil machinator behind his shut-in NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) standing is the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai (NHK). It’s an evil and secret organization dedicated to fostering the spread of hikikomori culture.
NHK ni Youkoso! is a psychological dramedy. It follows Tatsuhiro as he strives to escape from the NHK’s wicked machinations. Also, he tries to escape the disease of self-wrought isolation. Also, He has to do this while struggling to even just leave his apartment and find a job. His unexpected encounter with the mysterious Misaki Nakahara might signal a reversal of fortune for Tatsuhiro, but with this meeting comes the inevitable cost of having to face his greatest fear—society. All of these interesting plotlines combined together make it one of the best psychological anime of all time.
18. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
When Subaru Natsuki leaves the shop, the very last thing he expects is to be wrenched from his daily life and born into a phantasy. Things are not prosperous for the baffled teenager; but, shortly after his arrival, he’s attacked by some thugs. Armed with solely a bag of groceries and a currently useless cellular phone, he’s quickly crushed to a pulp. Fortunately, a mysterious beauty named Satella, in hot pursuit after the one who stole her badge happens upon Subaru and saves him. In order to appreciate the honest and kind lady, Subaru offers to assist in her search. And later that night, he even finds the whereabouts of that which she seeks. But unbeknownst to them, a way darker force stalks the duo from the shadows. Also, just minutes after locating the insignia, Subaru and Satella are brutally murdered.
However, Subaru instantly reawakens to a well-known scene; he’s confronted by a similar cluster of thugs, meeting Satella all over again. Thus, the enigma deepens as history inexplicably repeats itself.
The concept of rebirth if very fascinating and intriguing. That combined with the thriller genre makes this more special. And that’s why it grabs a place in our best psychological anime list.
17. One Outs
Toua Tokuchi, a master of betting and mental games, holds an exceptional record of 499 wins and zero losses in “One Outs”. It is a simpler form of baseball that consists of only a batsman and a pitcher. Paying a visit to Okinawa, Tokuchi’s hometown, is Hiromichi Kojima, the hero batsman of the Saikyou Saitama Lycaons. But it is the feeble team in the Japanese baseball championship. Fantasizing of leading the Lycaons to win the league, and in terrible need of a substitution for their wounded pitcher during a training camp, Kojima includes himself in a game of One Outs, only to lose to a standard fastball from the apparently invincible Tokuchi.
Enthralled by his skill, Kojima hires Tokuchi to the team after barely avoiding defeat in a rematch, thinking he might just be their answer to victory. Nevertheless, the insatiable owner of the Lycaons declines to give him a decent salary, leading Tokuchi to suggest an unusual contract. Every out he pitches will get him fifty lakh yen, but every run he gives up will lose him fifty million yen. With his fate now tied to that of the team, Tokuchi’s fight to bring the Lycaons to victory becomes yet another gamble—the very thing that he does best.
This one is a very interesting watch because for many people this story can be relatable. All of us give our best sometimes and still end up on the losing side. This anime analyses the psyche of one such person. Thus, it takes a spot in our best psychological anime list.
16. Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
“The world isn’t beautiful, so it is.” A story regarding Kino, who travels around the world with nothing but her guns for defense and talking bike Hermes.
Kino travels to several mystical worlds, each with its distinctive customs and folks, and learns regarding the globe through their stories. Also, occasionally she invokes humor and inspiration or other times piercing cynicism.
However, Kino has her own custom, to remain not than 3 days in each city without exception. This is because it is enough time to find out virtually everything vital about the place. Also, it still leaves some time to explore new lands.
Justice and the enforcement of it have changed. In the twenty-second century, Japan enforces the Sibyl System, an objective method of deciding the threat level of every person. It is done by examining their mental state for signs of criminal intent; Psycho-Pass is the name given to their mental state.
Inspectors endorse the law by crushing, usually with deadly force, anyone harboring the slightest ill-will; alongside them are Enforcers, jaded Inspectors that have become latent criminals. They are granted relative freedom in exchange for carrying out the Inspectors’ dirty work.
Into this world steps Akane Tsunemori, a woman with an honest need to uphold justice. However, as she works along with veteran enforcer Shinya Kougami, she soon understands that the Sibyl System’s judgments are not as ideal as her fellow Inspectors think.
With everything she has best-known turned on its head, Akane wrestles with the question of what justice really is.
Also, she fights to find whether it can be upheld through the use of a system that may already be corrupt.
This story has an intriguing concept like all the anime on this list. It takes a person who thinks that she knows everything about a place. But now she feels alienated because everything is a lie. This makes this anime one of the exciting and best psychological anime of all time.
13. Shinsekai yori
Following an unexpected occurrence of telekinesis in 0.1% of the population, a fast transformation swept the globe. The godlike ability to govern matter remotely turned several power wielders to violence. This incited a long period of upheaval. Finally, following a disorderly era formed by the increase and fall of oppressive regimes, the psychic humans were able to achieve a fragile peace by isolating their society. This resulted in creating a new world bound by complex rules.
In the city of Kamisu sixty-six, 12-year-old Saki Watanabe has just awakened to her powers. Also, she rejoins with her friends; the mischievous Satoru Asahina, the shy Mamoru Itou, the cheerful Maria Akizuki, and Shun Aonuma, a mysterious boy whom Saki admires. They rejoin at Sage Academy, a special school for psychics. However, anxiety looms as Saki starts to question the fate of those not able to awaken to their powers. Also, the children begin to get involved with secretive matters such as the rumored Tainted Cats said to abduct children.
Shinsekai yori tells the distinctive coming-of-age story of Saki and her friends. They journey to grow into their roles within the supposed utopia. Accepting these roles, however, might not come easy. This is a very courageous tale about Saki and co as they fight to survive. This story earns a place in our best psychological anime list for this reason.
The “Medicine Seller” is a fatal and puzzling master of the occult. Also, he travels across feudal Japan in search of spiteful spirits called “Mononoke” to kill. When he finds one of these spirits, he cannot just slay it; he should first learn its Form, its Truth, and its Reason. Also, He has to know all this in order to hold the remarkable Exorcism Sword and fight against it. He must start his weird exorcisms with acute psychological analysis and careful investigative work. This is an exceptionally dangerous step, as he should first oppose and learn about the Mononoke before he even has the means to defeat it.
The Medicine Seller’s expedition leads him to an old-fashioned inn. Also, this is where Shino, a pregnant woman, has finally found a place to rest. The owner has unwillingly placed her in the final vacant room; however, as she settles in, it immediately becomes clear that the room is infested by a dangerous band of Mononoke, the Zashiki Warashi. With his hunter’s instincts, the Medicine Seller starts his investigation. He begins to discover the Form, the Truth, and the Reason before the Zashiki Warashi can murder again.
This is a very brutal anime. Also, throwing a pregnant woman in this world makes it even more dreadful. The director does a good job of making us care about the characters even if they are inhuman at times. This is easily one of the best psychological anime you will ever witness. This is because it plays with our emotion so well and thus, earns a place on our list.
11. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are normal school girls with normal lives. But all of that changes when they confront Kyuubey, a cat-like mystical familiar. Also, they meet Homura Akemi, the newly transferred student.
Kyuubey provides them a plan; he will permit any one of their wishes. But in exchange, they will each become a mystical girl, obtaining enough power to accomplish their dreams. However, Homura Akemi, a mystical girl herself, begs them not to accept the offer, telling that everything is not what it seems.
A story of hope, despair, and friendship, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica deals with the struggles of being a mystical girl and the price one has to pay to make a dream come true. Thus, it takes a seat in our best psychological anime list.
09. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
All of a sudden, they appeared: parasitic extraterrestrials that landed upon Earth. Also, they quickly infiltrated mankind by drilling into the brains of unsafe targets. These unquenchable beings take full control of their hosts. Also, they are able to transform into a variety of forms in order to feed on oblivious humans.
Sixteen-year-old high school student Shinichi Izumi becomes a victim to one of these aliens. But it is not able to take over his brain, ending up in his right-hand alternatively. Not able to relocate, the parasite, now called Migi, has no option but to bank on Shinichi in order to stay alive. Therefore, the pair is forced into an anxious coexistence and must protect themselves from dangerous parasites. These are parasites that aspire to eliminate this new threat to their kind.
There are many things to love about this anime. There are many comical parts in this story even if it deals with dreadful creatures. It easily earns a place in our best psychological anime list and is must watch.
08. Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
With the last Angel defeated, Nerv has one final foe left to face; the humans under Seele’s order.
Left in a deep melancholy closing the end of the original series, a hesitant Shinji Ikari struggles with the options presented to him; to totally welcome mankind’s existence or reject humanity’s uniqueness. Meantime, at the center of a compromised Nerv, Gendou Ikari and Rei Ayanami proceed towards Lilith. Also, they do this in an effort to realize their own plans regarding the future of the world.
The End of Evangelion acts as an alternate ending to the divisive final episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. With the destiny of the universe hanging in the balance, the ultimate final battle draws near.
This is one of those anime that needs no introduction. Neon Genesis is one of the most influential anime of our time. People should watch it just for the impact it has on the current generation anime. It definitely deserves a spot in our best psychological anime list. It’s a classic guys, come on!
07. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
At the famous Shuchiin Academy, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are the student body’s top spokespersons. Classified the top student in the country and admired by peers and mentors alike, Miyuki serves as the student council president. Beside him, the vice president Kaguya—eldest daughter of the rich Shinomiya family—shines in every field possible.
However, in spite of both having already grown feelings for the other, neither are ready to admit them. The first to propose loses and will be looked down upon. With their prestige and dignity at stake, Miyuki and Kaguya are both equally fixed on to be the one to emerge victorious on the battleground of love!
This is a very romantic anime. Yes, it is a psychological battle between two people and it does get intense. But at the core, it is love that keeps the anime going. This is why it deserves a place in our best psychological anime list.
06. Boku dake ga Inai Machi
When disaster is on the point of strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back a few minutes before the accident happens. The disconnected, 29-year-old manga artist has taken advantage of this strong yet puzzling phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many people.
However, when he is unfairly blamed for killing someone close to him, Satoru is sent back to the past once again. Also, this time he is sent to 1988, 18 years in the past. Soon, he finds out that the killing may be connected to the kidnapping and murder of one of his classmates; the lonely and puzzled Kayo Hinazuki, that took place when he was a child. This is his opportunity to make things right.
Boku dake ga Inai Machi follows Satoru in his endeavor to unravel what truly happened 18 years ago. Also, he must stop the death of his classmate while safeguarding those he cares about in the present. This is a very emotional anime. Also, it has one of the most satisfying anime endings of all time. This is enough to make it one of the best psychological anime of all time.
05. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
One autumn afternoon at a peculiar ramen stand backside the Shimogamo Shrine, an isolated third-year college student jolts into a man. He is a man with an eggplant-shaped head who calls himself a god of matrimony. Meeting this man causes the student to mirror upon his past two years at college; two years agonizingly spent trying to split couples on campus with his only friend Ozu. Ozu is a macabre-looking man apparently set on making his life as unhappy as possible.
Determined to make the most out of the remaining of his college life, the student attempts to ask out a girl; the antisocial but kind-hearted sophomore Akashi. But he fails to follow through, persuading him to regret not living out his college life differently. As soon as this notion passes through his head, however, he is rushed through time and space to the starting of his years at college. Also, he is given another chance to live his life.
Unreal, creative, and mind-bending, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei records the misadventures of a young man on a journey. This is a journey to make friends, discover love, and experience the rose-colored campus life he always dreamed of. You can watch this anime just for the fact that it deals with so many genres. It is easily one of the most peculiar and best psychological anime ever made.
04. Ping Pong the Animation
“The hero comes. Chant these words in your mind, and I’ll surely come to you…” This sacred utterance is what Makoto Tsukimoto tells himself as a source of motivation. He does this when he battles through the tension of not only tiring ping pong matches but also in circumstances of his life. Makoto doesn’t battle it alone; he and his best friend, Yukata Hoshino, aka Smile and Peco respectively, are two boys who have grown up playing ping pong together. Peco, filled with confidence, wants to be the best table tennis player in the world; Smile, on the other hand, shows little aspiration. Nonetheless, the two have always been together, with a connection built upon their mutual love for this sport.
Every year, students from all over Japan come together for the inter-high table tennis competition. They do this in order to achieve national and international stardom. Through great training and competition, only the very best continue.
From the innovative director of Tatami Galaxy, Masaaki Yuasa, Ping Pong The Animation serves a tale of ambition. Also, it deals with its fair share of bumps along the way. Whatever the odds, Peco and Smile will meet them together. The friendship shared by Peco and Smile is the heartbeat of the entire anime. Thus, it earns a spot in our best psychological anime list.
03. Death Note
A shinigami, as a god of death, can murder anyone; given that they see their sufferer’s face and write their victim’s name in a notebook. The notebook is called a Death Note. One day, Ryuk, bored by the shinigami way of life and intrigued in seeing how a human would use a Death Note, drops one into the human world.
High school student and genius Light Yagami comes across the Death Note. Since he abhors the condition of the world. he tests the dreadful notebook by writing a sinner’s name in it. When the criminal dies instantly after his experiment with the Death Note, Light is amazed. Also, he quickly realizes how destructive the power that has fallen into his hands could be.
With this godlike capability, Light decides to remove all criminals in order to construct a new world; a world where crime does not exist and people glorify him as a god. Police, however, immediately find out that a serial killer is targeting criminals and, accordingly, try to arrest the murderer. To do this, the Japanese investigators rely on the help of the best detective in the world; a young and weird man known only by the name of L.
Death Note is a worldwide phenomenon and it needs no introduction. It definitely deserves a spot in our best psychological anime list.
Dr. Kenzou Tenma is a celebrated brain surgeon of Japanese ancestry working in Europe. He is highly lauded by his peers as one of the great young minds that will revolutionize the field. He is also on the cusp of a big promotion in the hospital he works at.
But all of that is about to change with a grave dilemma that Kenzou faces one night—whether to save the life of a small boy or that of the town’s mayor. In spite of being coerced by his superiors to perform surgery on the mayor, his morals force him to perform the surgery on the other critical patient. He ends up saving his life and forfeiting the mayor’s.
A doctor is educated to believe that all life is the same; however, when a sequence of killings occurs in the surgeon’s vicinity, all of the evidence points to the boy he saved. Kenzou’s beliefs are shaken after these incidents. During his expedition to resolve the true identity of his patient, Kenzou finds that the destiny of the world may be interlaced with the enigmatic child.
This is one of the most iconic storylines in anime history. The manga was well received and is still considered a masterpiece. And the anime is also really really great. Thus, it grabs a spot in our list of best psychological anime.
01. Yakusoku no Neverland
Encompassed by a forest and a gated entrance, the Grace Field House is occupied by orphans. They are contentedly living together as one big family, looked after by their “Mama,” Isabella. Even though they are asked to take tests daily, the children are allowed to spend their time as they see fit. It means usually playing outdoors but as long as they do not go too far from the orphanage; this is a rule they are supposed to follow no matter what. However, all happy times must come to an end; every few months, a child is adopted and sent to live with their new family… never to be heard from again.
However, the three oldest siblings have their doubts about what is actually going on at the orphanage. Also, they are about to find out the cruel destiny that awaits the children living at Grace Field. This includes the abnormal nature of their dearest Mama.
It is a very bone chilling anime. The premise is so scary that it will make us feel insecure. The “Mama” character is one of the most intriguing characters in anime history. This deserves a spot on our list because it has so many elements in it. Also, it does a damn good job with the source material.
With this, we have reached the end of the Best Psychological Anime list. Check out our Best Horror Manga and Best Seinen Manga lists to find more anime that you can enjoy now and in the coming future. Sayonara!
There is only one thing that can measure with anime and cats. You get it when you put the two together. Anime Cats! And, there are so many of them. Basically, cats appear in almost every anime or manga. Randomly. I think that is because Japanese people really love cats. They even have Maneki-Nekos (lucky charms in a shape of a…