Psychological anime TV shows are truly some of the best out there. They have this amazing ability to captivate both young and mature viewers with their mind-blowing twists and intriguing plots. These series can even mess with your emotions, making you feel things more deeply than you expect.
What’s interesting is that many psychological anime series can fit into the “horror” genre, even though they don’t always have scary monsters or ghosts. They still manage to create a sense of suspense and thrill that keeps you hooked.
So, without any more delay, here are 21 of the best psychological anime recommendations that will challenge your mind!!
21. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Let’s start our psychological anime list with this dark isekai anime series named Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. The show is produced by studio White Fox, and story depicts the life of Subaru Natsuki, which turns upside down when he found himself in another world. At first, It didn’t seem too bad until he is attacked by a group of thugs in an alley. His only weapons being a single bag of groceries and a cell phone, he did not last long against the group.
Satella happened to come across the fight as she was chasing down a thief, and helps Subaru (heals him). So, Subaru is thankful and decides to help Satella search for her stolen insignia. Later on in the day, he manages to find the location of the insignia, but things did not go as planned. Therefore, Out from the shadows came a darker force, and Subaru and Satella were murdered right on the spot. However, Subaru wakes up in the alley where he was attacked by thugs, where they are currently standing trying to get his valuables.
20. Ergo Proxy
Ergo Proxy, made by studio Manglobe, stands out as an amazing sci-fi and psychological anime. It has a dark and deep storyline, but unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves, as it still somehow underrated!
The mysterious plot begins after an explosion, and now people are living in isolated domed cities. They live in a controlled society and are assisted in daily life by autonomous robots called AutoReivs. In one of these cities, Romdo, Inspector Re-l Mayer, leads an investigation concerning AutoReivs that have gone mad after being infected by the Cogito virus.
Therefore, she comes in contact with a monster called Proxy. Meanwhile, in the city, the immigrant Vincent Law is on the run after being framed for involvement in several Cogito cases. Together, they set out on a journey to the dome city of Moscow in order to unravel the mystery of the Proxies.
19. Death Parade
Death Parade is one of the best psychological anime shows I love! This Japanese series dives deep into human thoughts and shows you the real deal about people. It’s all about what happens after you die. When people pass away, they end up at Quindecim, a bar run by the mysterious white-haired bartender, Decim.
At Quindecim, Decim, the bartender, makes people play random games that determine their fate. In these games, you see the real side of people, whether good or bad. Welcome to Quindecim, where Decim decides what happens after you die!
This anime can give you chills as it involves a survival game in the death parade. People face judgments, and things get intense with gore, blood, and harsh truths. As the story goes on, Decim, who initially seems cold, starts to question his own decisions because of a strange black-haired girl.
18. Future Diary
“Mirai Nikki is a popular psycholigical anime that features one of the craziest and most psychotic female main characters you’ll ever come across. Made by studio Asread, this show mixes romance, drama, and intense scenes, introducing you to the ultimate yandere anime girl, Yuno Gasai!
The story revolves around Yukitero Amano, a regular guy who spends his time writing in a diary on his phone and chatting with his imaginary friend Deus Ex Machina and Mur Mur. Little does he know, Deus is the master of time and space, and Mur Mur is his servant. Deus gives Yukitero a Random Diary that predicts his day in detail.
Yukitero, along with eleven others, is pitted against each other with different diaries. The last one standing becomes the new god of time and space. To survive, Yukitero teams up with Yuno Gasai, a daring stalker who’ll do anything to ensure their survival.
17. Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue is an excellent Japanese anime movie meant for grown-up viewers. It’s a psychological thriller with a female main character, and it’s so good that Hollywood even made a movie based on it.
The story follows Mima Kirigoe, who used to be part of a J-pop group. She decides to leave the group to become an actress, hoping her fans would support her. But switching careers turns out to be tougher than she expected. To start, she takes a role in a crime drama series.
As Mima faces challenges, a fan who can’t believe she’s not an idol anymore starts interacting with her and even creates a detailed site pretending to be her. On top of that, her old group CHAM! seems to be thriving without her, instead of falling apart.
16. Zankyou no Terror
Zankyou no Terror is a short and great psychological anime created by studio MAPPA. It has a sad ending and a surprising twist that’ll leave you eager for more!
The story is set in a different version of today, where a shocking terrorist attack hits Tokyo. The only clue to who did it is a strange video posted online. The police are puzzled by this mysterious hint, and the fear starts spreading among the people.
While everyone is looking for a mastermind to blame, two strange kids—Nine and Twelve—expertly carry out their evil plan. Stuck with the names Nine and Twelve, they team up as ‘Sphinx,’ a secret force set on waking people up and shaking up the world.
15. Shinsekai Yori
Produced by A- Pictures, Shinsekai Yori is a famous psychological horror anime that explores a world where people with special abilities can manipulate things from afar, leading to chaos and violence. After a turbulent period of oppressive rule, psychic humans create a new society with complex rules to maintain peace.
Saki Watanabe, now discovering her powers, rejoins her friends at Sage Academy, a school for psychics. However, as she questions the fate of those without abilities, unsettling things start happening, like rumors of Tainted Cats abducting children.
Shinsekai Yori is an amazing psychological anime with a unique art style and great soundtracks. Follow Saki and her friends as they navigate the supposed utopia, discovering dark truths about society and the impending chaos in this new world.”
14. Parasyte -the maxim-
One of the top horror and psychological anime I’ve ever watched is Parasyte! You really should check out this Madhouse’ series because it’s super awesome, and you’ll be glad you took my advice.
The story is about Shinichi, who manages to stop Migi, the Parasyte that bit him, from going all the way into his brain. So, they both keep their own thoughts and personalities. As they come across other Parasytes, they make the most of their unique situation and build a strong connection, working together to stay alive.
This teamwork helps them fight off other Parasytes who attack them, realizing that Shinichi’s human brain is still intact. Shinichi feels the need to stand up against these Parasytes who harm humans.
13. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
Madoka Magica, produced by Studio Shaft, stands out as one of the best psychological magic anime shows ever! It follows the lives of Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, regular middle school girls with typical routines.
Everything takes a turn when they encounter Kyuubey, a cat-like magical familiar, and Homura Akemi, the new transfer student. Kyuubey presents them with an offer: he will grant any one of their wishes, and in return, they’ll become magical girls, gaining the power to fulfill their dreams. However, Homura Akemi, a magical girl herself, advises them not to accept, revealing that things are not as they seem.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica tells a story of hope, despair, and friendship, delving into the challenges of being a magical girl and the price one must pay to make a dream come true.
12. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Horror fans! I’ve got the perfect psychological anime recommendation for you—Higurashi. The story follows Keiichi Maebara, who just moved to the quiet village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. He makes friends with Rena Ryuuguu, Mion Sonozaki, Satoko Houjou, and Rika Furude. But hold on, there’s something dark beneath the seemingly peaceful life they lead.
Keiichi discovers a history of murders and disappearances over the past few years, all connected to the village festival. When he asks his friends about it, they remain silent. As a result, madness and paranoia start creeping into Keiichi’s heart, and he’ll confront numerous dark mysteries along the way. Get ready for the chills!
Danganronpa started as a popular video game series and later became a good mental anime that you might enjoy. The story follows Makoto Naegi, who gets into Hope’s Peak Academy, a school for super talented students. Once admitted, each student gets a title based on their main skill, like Makoto being the Ultimate Luck.
Excitement fills the air as they believe this school ensures a great job after graduation. But the happiness doesn’t last. Monokuma, the principal, shows up and drops a bombshell. They must spend the rest of their lives in the school, except for one way out. If a student murders a classmate and gets away with it, they can graduate.
10. Welcome to the N.H.K.
NHK is just a super good psychological anime series from studio Gonzo, which features an Otaku main character, his name is Tatsuhiro Satou, a college dropout who isolated himself for close to four years. Therefore, Many things could be going on during isolation, such as theories. If he rarely/never leaves his house, his knowledge is limited.
During his isolation, he believes there is a group causing him to be a NEET. This group is named Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai (NHK), who he believes is trying to spread the otaku culture. So, will Tatsuhiro finally be able to leave his apartment to get a job?
9. Ayashi no Ceres
Ayashi No Ceres is a classic psychological series by Studio Pierrot might be underrated, but trust me, it’s an anime that you will never forget. The story revolves around Ceres, a celestial maiden, who came to Earth for a bath. However, her celestial robe was stolen by a man, forcing her into marriage. This event led to children with both human and celestial blood.
Aya Mikage, a descendant of Ceres, is about to celebrate her sixteenth birthday. She and her twin brother, Aki, go to their grandfather’s house for the celebration. Here, they discover the tennyo blood in Aya and face threats from those who want to harm her. Aya realizes she can transform into Ceres and must learn to control this ability to bring her life back to normal.
8. Gakkou Gurashi
If you’re into a psychological horror TV show set in a school, Gakkou Gurashi is a great choice. It offers horror, mystery, and school life genres in a great way. The story revolves around Yuki Takeya, a high school student who loves her school so much that she, along with her friends, forms the School Living Club. However, this club is a cover. In reality, the girls have barricaded themselves in school to protect against a zombie apocalypse.
Gakkou Gurashi! is a psychological and scary story that follows these girls as they navigate post-apocalyptic life. Cut off from the outside world, surrounded by zombies, the girls not only face the challenge of survival but also strive to maintain a facade of normalcy, especially for Yuki’s sake.
Made by Productio I.G, xHolic is a supernatural anime that tells the story of Kimihiro Watanuki. He has an ability he dislikes—he can see spirits and creatures, which becomes annoying when no one else can see them. One day, he feels compelled to enter a house where he meets Yuuko.
She offers to rid him of his ability, but it comes with a cost. Yuuko asks him to work at her “store,” a place that grants wishes. And so, with his unique ability and a wish-granting store, Kimihiro embarks on a strange adventure.
6. Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the best anime with deep psychological themes you should check out. It’s a masterpiece for both young and mature fans! The story follows Lain Iwakura, who receives an email from Chisa Yomoda, who recently took her own life.
Although Lain wasn’t initially interested in technology, she decides to follow the email into the Wired. As she delves into the digital realm, she encounters cryptic messages and mysterious men in black who seem to know more about her than she does. The line between what’s real and what’s in cyberspace becomes blurry, and the strange events all trace back to a simple email.
Serial Experiments Lain unfolds a psychological mystery as Lain makes crucial choices that impact both the real world and the Wired. As she navigates between two worlds, only Lain understands the true significance of their presence.
Imagine having the ability to go back in time and fix things. That’s the theme of this time-travel anime series, focusing on Satoru Fujinuma. He’s sent back 18 years to prevent events that led to his mother’s death, starting with a series of kidnappings in his 5th-grade year.
When a tragedy is about to happen, 29-year-old Satoru experiences a powerful and mysterious ability he calls “Revival,” transporting him back in time to try and save lives. However, things take a dark turn when he’s wrongly accused of his mother’s murder and sent back 18 years.
Discovering a connection between his mother’s death and the abduction of his childhood friend Kayo Hinazuki, Satoru is determined to make things right. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi follows Satoru’s journey as he aims to correct past mistakes and save the people he cares about in the present.
Spoiler alert: This anime’s final episode features the best hand-to-hand fight I’ve seen!
If you enjoy badass anime characters and the most evil anime villains, give Psycho-Pass a watch. It’s a police mystery anime that revolves around the Sibyl System, which examines the human psyche to identify signs of criminal intent through their Psycho-Pass.
Inspectors enforce the law, sometimes using lethal force, along with Enforcers—inspectors turned latent criminals who hunt down other criminals. Enter Akane Tsunemori, an Inspector with a strong sense of justice. However, as she partners with Shinya Kougami, she discovers that the seemingly perfect Sibyl System has its flaws. With newfound information, Akane questions the true meaning of justice and whether the current system upholds it.
This is an old classic masterpiece from Madhouse studio and one of the greatest psychological thriller-drama anime of all time that you will ever see! Dr. Kenzou Tenma’s life takes a drastic turn during surgery preparation when the hospital director instructs him to switch patients.
Instead of operating on a famous performer, he must save a poor immigrant worker. While the hospital applauds his success, Dr. Tenma grapples with a crisis of conscience over the life he unintentionally took. In a similar situation later on, Dr. Tenma chooses to save the life of a young boy named Johan Liebert over the town’s mayor.
Nine years pass, and Dr. Tenma saves the life of a criminal. However, his past catches up with him as he encounters the monster he once operated on. Now, he embarks on a quest to make amends for the havoc caused by the one he saved.
2. Yakusoku no Neverland
The Promised Neverland is a chilling and suspenseful anime with a dark and twisted story that might become your next favorite! The story takes place in a forest with a large gate, where orphans live happily as a family under the care of “Mama.”
While daily tests are mandatory, the children enjoy their freedom to play. They’re allowed to explore outside, but the rule is to stay close. Everything takes a dark turn when, every few months, a child gets adopted and never returns. The three oldest siblings suspect something sinister at the orphanage, leading them to uncover the cruel fate awaiting the children at Grace Field and the twisted nature of their Mama.
1. Death Note
When it first came out, Death Note took the world by storm. It’s not just a popular psychological anime; it’s a unique masterpiece that you absolutely must watch at least once in your lifetime. You won’t come across another Japanese show like this twice.
The story revolves around a shinigami, a being that can end anyone’s life by writing their name in a Death Note. Ryuk, a bored shinigami, drops a Death Note into the human world, where high school prodigy Light Yagami discovers it. Disgusted by the state of the world, Light tests the Death Note by writing a criminal’s name in it, and when the criminal dies, Light realizes the incredible power he now holds.
With the ability to eliminate criminals, Light aims to create a new world without crime, where people worship him as a god. However, the police catch on to the mysterious deaths and enlist the help of the world’s best detective, known only as L.