Your favorite(s) Psychological Anime



  • I am a big fan of psychological anime. What's your favorite? I'm trying to branch out more into the genre. Recommendations?

    Currently, my favorite is the last 2 episodes of NGE. Love the Freudian and Lacan take on the series.



  • I guess, from what I know about this genre perhaps Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a favorite of mine and one I recommend if you have not already done so.

    Another is Texnholyze which I very much enjoyed as well, I'm not sure if Stein's :Gate counts, I suppose to a certain extent it does, but both of these are also a favorites of mine.

    I hear Serial Experiments Lain is very good; with the new classic Blu-ray set coming out in May of 2014 I think I will be adding that to an upcoming order.

    For movies there's Perfect Blue and Paprika; which I suppose could be thrown in here.



  • Well, you're in luck. This happens to be my area of expertise.

    Puella Magi Madoka Magica does for Magical Girls what NGE does for Giant Robots. And that's all I'll say about it, else I ruin the experience.

    Paranoia Agent is the legendary Satoshi Kon's only TV work, and a brilliant exploration of public consciousness and personal reality.

    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a futuristic crime procedural exploring crime and society in a post-singularity era of technology.

    Revolutionary Girl Utena is the token shoujo entry into the psychological, using imagery and metaphor to explore adolescence, sexuality, and self-actualization.

    Serial Experiments Lain is the anime poster child for the phrase "Mind F**k". An eerily prophetic exploration of self-identity in the digital age.

    Higurashi no Naku Koro ni(When they Cry) is more mystery than than psychological, but its brutal and mind-bending first half will more than satisfy you I think.

    Shin Sekai Yori(From the New World) is a bleak post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller rich in thematic depth and complex worldbuilding.

    Psycho-Pass is a futuristic dystopia based heavily on classic genre works by George Orwell and Philip K. Dick.

    Welcome to the NHK is a darkly comedic character study about social anxiety, paranoia, depression, obsession, and a legion of other topics.



  • Renzokuken has some great suggestions. Personally Of those I'd order them:

    1. (1st place by far in both psychological aspects as well as a strong story, good characters, and thought provoking concepts) Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex.
    2. Serial Experiments Lain.
    3. Psycho Pass, this just edged out Paranoia Agent for me. Although it might not be quite as psychological, I enjoyed it more.
    4. Paranoia Agent.
    5. Shin Sekai Yori. Not only does it have a great deal of character development and worldbuilding, it brings about the question of what it means to be human.

    I would also add Boogiepop Phantom into the list as well. It takes a few viewings to really catch it all but it's worth it.



  • I would consider Paranoia Agent to be the definitive one

    I've never really considered Madoka to be a psychological show.



  • I'm not sure what we mean by "psychological" here. I'm thinking that it must be a show that leads the viewer to ponder something (though I then wonder about the crossover between "existential" and "psychological") but does it have to be a show where one can "point" to a certain facet and say "Yeah, [insert dude from psych textbook here] said that"? Serious question: must a show be pretty pretentious to count as "psychological"?

    Since anime classic Texhnolyze, aka "the most tragic anime ever", is on here, as is GitS, I'm thinking that the answer to my first question here is "no". With that thought, and with those 2 shows already listed, I'll put Ergo Proxy on the table.

    Though I'm thinking that there are zillions of psychological shows within those bounds, once we get away from the slice-of-life, most harem comedy and "every shounen except Death Note" virtually every show I can think of could qualify. Haibane Renmei, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040… ?



  • @sidereal_presence:

    Though I'm thinking that there are zillions of psychological shows within those bounds, once we get away from the slice-of-life, most harem comedy and "every shounen except Death Note" virtually every show I can think of could qualify. Haibane Renmei, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040… ?

    I don't agree with that at all. There are some anime that make you think, like Haibane Renmei. Then there are anime that completely tear down and reshape your beliefs of reality - pretty much everything Renzokuken mentioned.



  • "Psychological" is a pretty well-defined genre, if you ask me. A story which deals with human thought or perception as a narrative thread. In the same way that the romance genre is a story in which romantic feelings are explored as a narrative device, the psychological genre is a story in which the characters' psyche is explored as narrative device. That's it.

    As an aside, using the word "pretentious" to mean "things that are not immediately understandable" or "things that reference that which is not common knowledge" is dumb, and borderline anti-intellectual.



  • A psychological anime would be a story that focuses on the psychology of its characters and their potentially unstable emotional states; this can be outlined with characters having an ambiguous sense of reality and moral obscurity. It can also outline complex and tortured relationships between obsessive and pathological characters. Other elements or subgenres that tend to overlap would include mystery, drama and horror. Add to that this quote here:

    @Renzokuken:

    "Psychological" is a pretty well-defined genre, if you ask me. A story which deals with human thought or perception as a narrative thread. In the same way that the romance genre is a story in which romantic feelings are explored as a narrative device, the psychological genre is a story in which the characters' psyche is explored as narrative device. That's it.

    And that’s how we get a psychological anime. I think what needs to be addressed however, is that just because an anime is catalogued into the psychological subgenre it does not automatically make it intelligent or that it has a monopoly on literary devices such as metaphors, foreshadowing and imagery; there are plenty of great anime that possess all that and do not qualify as psychological anime.

    Then there are actual psychological and other anime that try and want to be intelligent and demand to be taken seriously with the use of superficial elements, or “smoke and mirrors” used to distract the viewer from the fact that the program they’re engaged in is actually partaking in the age old activity of “spoon feeding.”

    This ladies and gentlemen is what pretentious actually means; attempting to make an anime, or any other entertainment/media/art come off more intellectual with the frivolous use of various elements; imagery thrown that has little to nothing to do with the characters or story, rabid animation and flashy editing and excessive violent gore/nudity; all for the sake of coming off smarter as an anime. It’s similar to a person who throws around expanded diction to come off more intelligent when diminutive words work just as well.

    So, an example of what I would consider pretentious would be Elfen Lied; it is technically categorised as a psychological horror and proof that psychological anime aren’t always intelligent. Those who understand what I mean and are critical of this series understand that it disguises the way it spoon feeds the viewer at every turn with over the top, and I must say, cruel violence and sadism along with a loathing and depressing tone making for a sub-par execution. There are a few other shows I would consider pretentious for similar reasons, but I think I get the point across with Elfen Lied.


    "You should like, watch my show, it’s like, smart; n’ stuff."

    Understand that pretentious shouldn’t be confused with self-indulgent, although, many times they go hand in hand, but not always. For example, I would consider Neon Genesis; as good as it was to be somewhat self-indulgent; it’s that dwelling on resolved issues and drawing out scenes longer than necessary. As a matter of fact, I consider Wanna be the Strongest in the World to be pretty self-indulgent with the way it elongates many of the scenes; it’s just that they have a different motive from Evangelion for doing so; either way, the result is the same; pacing getting bogged down.

    So getting back to my recommendations, I think after reading the posts and checking out some anime lists that I can stick to my guns on them.

    So, I had as follows; Puella Magi Madoka Magica; yes, it has those elements that qualify it as a psychological anime. The psychological dynamic of the characters for example, is part of where I get the chess motif from aside from picking out superficial elements and just running with them as I explained in the Madoka thread.


    “We must move your majesty; the enemy is much closer than you think.”

    I mentioned Texhnolyze and Stein’s; Gate, to say there was no emphasis put on the mental states of the characters in these two shows is like saying there was no fan service on Queen’s Blade; it’s there and very obvious.

    I went on to mention Paprika and Perfect Blue; oh yes, they’re right in there and it’s probably common knowledge for everyone that the man responsible for writing and directing Paprika and Tokyo Godfathers and directing Perfect Blue also gave everyone Paranoia Agent.



  • To me pretentiousness boils down to a story where its thematic reach has exceeded its narrative grasp, so-to-speak. In other words, a story that tries to explore it's messages and themes before establishing what's going on or why we should care. To put it another way, consider that there are four layers of depth in media:

    1 - Delivery: The surface elements, presentation, aesthetics, target audience, etc. How the story influences your direct perceptions.

    2 - Narrative: The basics of writing. Story and characters. The frame of reference from which the story is told to the audience. Rising action, falling action, climax, etc.

    3 - Themes: The messages of the story, the Aesop, the moral of the story. The underlying purpose of the story. How the story indirectly affects your perceptions.

    4 - Complex depth: Symbolism and abstraction, metaphor and allegory. Metaphysics and philosophy. "Life, the universe, and everything"

    Pretentiousness is when a story neglects, or outright ignores the second, or even third layers.

    Elfen Lied is actually a good example. The show is clearly meant to convey a sense of horror and disgust for the events going on, except we're given insufficient context for those feelings, so it's just a conditioned response to stimuli, not actual empathy. The show is literally telling us how we're supposed to feel before we even know what's going on. And it keeps doing it over and over again. It ignores the rules of it's own universe and relies on plot convenience to tout the messages it thinks are important. It's a series of parts trying to function without the whole.

    That was kind of a tangent, but the word "pretentious" really gets my blood boiling. It has ironically been hijacked by a lot of critics and fans who don't actually understand what it means, as an excuse to rationalize their unwillingness to actually try thinking about what they're watching.



  • @Renzokuken:

    To me pretentiousness boils down to a story where its thematic reach has exceeded its narrative grasp, so-to-speak. In other words, a story that tries to explore it's messages and themes before establishing what's going on or why we should care.

    I’m not going to quote everything, but I get the idea of what you’re conveying in a more technical sense and I agree with it; thank you for sharing it. When I read what you had written there it more than confirms why there are certain anime, regardless of their genre that stand out to me as an individual and qualify as well made anime; they follow these rules you have outlined.

    Basically, you’re saying that an anime is pretentious when it has not done its homework or solidified its foundation; its similar to when people build a house with a flimsy foundation; what happens? It collapses. However, I think what you’re saying is more of a “big picture” approach, which goes way beyond merely pointing out pretentious elements in an anime; it outlines the difference between something that is entertaining and fun to watch verses something that is, well, a drag.

    All I’m getting at is when an anime or any piece of media simply demands to be taken seriously with superficial nonsense, or becomes “gimmicky” the word “pretentious” more or less applies to material that tries too hard to come off as intellectual. Using elements just for the simple sake of using them in a feeble attempt just to manufacture faux pas intellectualism when, as you have pointed out, the art has not materialised a solid foundation to, in blunt terms; make the viewer give a shit.

    The only other time I look at something as pretentious is when it already succeeds in creating developed characters, a solid narrative a viable premise, great dialogue; I mean, when everything has already fallen into place to make that series thoroughly intelligent, but then it’s convoluted with overdone avant garde elements.

    I’m not trying to take a personal shot at anyone, or step on anyone’s toes, but it is my primary issue with that Bakemonogatari series. I think a lot of the outlandish editing and art style could’ve been skimmed down; not completely removed mind you, but it seemed as though there were times where it really didn’t complement the actions and behaviors of the characters often enough to warrant the volume of it. However, that’s only my opinion on it, I understand what I dislike and consider pretentious is exactly what other people like about it; and they’re not posturing either. However, being empathetic would require me to apply the same philosophy about the content of fan service on Queen’s Blade and how it turns many people away. So, I mean no disrespect to Bakemonogatari or fans of it.

    Now, a couple things while I sit on this tangent; firstly, I take no issues with avant garde elements, or unique animation styles; when it’s not heavily overdone to where I feel it detracts from what I’m watching and when it not only complements, but enhances the anime by resolving given scenes. One example is a more simplistic anime; Queen’s Blade; it uses avant garde elements very sparsely; only in three scenes, however, it was the context of those scenes that allowed for this direction; the results were outstanding to say the least.

    Next, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the perfect example; it has some of the most abstract and obtuse animation I’ve seen in an anime, yet it works out so well. I believe the series warrants it; you have supernatural being battling each other in what could be considered parallel dimensions; so all boundaries are pretty much off; in other words, limitless artistic freedom. A lot of it also suits the style of storytelling and the context of the material; when you get moe looking characters over darker gritty backgrounds (which are of great importance) it creates quite the contrast. But, we could talk about that anime all day. I apologize for the rambling, there I go again.

    @Renzokuken:

    That was kind of a tangent, but the word "pretentious" really gets my blood boiling. It has ironically been hijacked by a lot of critics and fans who don't actually understand what it means, as an excuse to rationalize their unwillingness to actually try thinking about what they're watching.

    Well, I have to agree with you here; when words are overused to the point that they lose their meaning. I have been accused of being pretentious one or two times on other forums for simply “thinking about what I’m watching,” being open-minded and having an unintentional, analytical approach integrated into all my entertainment consumption. So I cringe when it’s applied in such a way to other fans that tend to get a little more from their shows whether said fans intend to or not.

    I have also come across some fans I consider pretentious based on their behaviors and the way they talk about anime. Before anyone gets defensive, this is not directed at anyone on this forum; what I’m getting at is that I’ve encountered my fair share of people who tend to resolve to arrogant posturing that are definitive examples of the pretentious. Trust me, when you have people saying Madoka and GunGrave are pieces of schlock while contending that Elfen Lied is a masterpiece, makes you want to, I don’t know, maybe:



  • Mine is definietly Ghost in the Shell SAC seasons 1 and 2 & Paranoia Agent. Does anyone know if there will be a Ghost in the Shell SAC season 3? Seasons 1 and 2 were such great awesome shows. I had many favorite episodes from SAC 1 and 2 and the musiq in the opening credits for both was phemonal/superb. God Bless

    MOD Edit: there will be a Christmas Thread made in the members lounge on December 1st. You can share your holiday joy there. OK. Again, political/social/religious propaganda. Not appropriate for a public cooperate forum.



  • Boogiepop Phantom
    Chaos; Head
    Garden of Sinners
    Ghost Hound
    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    Haibane Renmei
    Interlude
    Legend of the Galactic Heroes
    Monster
    Paprika
    Paranoia Agent
    Perfect Blue
    Portrait of Petite Cossette
    Psycho-Pass
    RahXephon
    Serial Experiments Lain
    Shiki
    Steins; Gate



  • Ergo Proxy. I mean some of the characters are named after philosophers and theorists so that has to count for psychological right? All kidding aside, the series has many psychological themes with a few episodes being completely in certain characters' minds and thought processes. I suggest that you guys and gals check it out whenever you get the chance.



  • Another, Chaos;HEAd, Elfen Lied, Evangelion, Ghost Hound, Mirai Nikki, Paprika, Perfect Blue, Akira, Shiki. Some personal favorites. Pefect Blue is the best psychological wise.



  • Ghost Hound seems like it will be a great anime. Only saw the first 3 episodes have yet to see the rest cuz my PS 3 that got stolen and I have Ghost Hound on Blu-ray. God Bless

    Jesus is 100% real



  • I have to go with Ergo Proxy, Ghost Hound, and Perfect Blue on that note …and lain to a certain extent (even though lain's story is quite a bit convoluted). Those titles definitely made you question what the hell was going on.



  • Isn't Eureka Seven considered a psychological series?



  • Ghost Hound was great at setting up a brooding and foreboding atmosphere. Unfortunately, the "endgame" was pretty lack luster. That said, if you can deal with the protagonists looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost, only with human butt cheeks (seriously, I don't know what message the creators of this series were trying to send) then you might find the show rewarding.

    While it has a great dub, I'd advise staying away from Chaos;HEAd for any reason except to sample an exceptional Funimation dub. The show itself tries to run with two ideas that, despite having overlap, are quite different and it implodes spectacularly because of it (and also because the show really rushes to its conclusion).

    I definitely "+1" the Ergo Proxy recommendation. For a show that addresses similar themes, but is more "direct", Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is also an option (and also an Anime Classic lol).



  • @sidereal_presence:

    While it has a great dub, I'd advise staying away from Chaos;HEAd for any reason except to sample an exceptional Funimation dub. The show itself tries to run with two ideas that, despite having overlap, are quite different and it implodes spectacularly because of it (and also because the show really rushes to its conclusion).

    I agree; I really wasn't impressed with Chaos; Head in the least, as a matter of fact, I feel that anime was pretty subpar; and I'm putting it nicely.



  • The Chaos;Head anime was just a terrible adaptation. The Visual Novel is a lot less… how do I put this? Clusterf*cky.


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