Anime That Makes You THINK?

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Currently re-watching 'Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex' and I realized how few 'cerebral' anime I seem to have found...

So...ya'll have any you can think of?

Neon Genesis Evangelion.

I discovered it when I was 14 and funnily enough it struck a unique note with me. It makes me ponder my own life and even though I don't have to pilot giant mecha to save the world I find myself relating with Shinji.

Tis the Cowboy Bebop. It's rather straightforward in terms of plot, but it's narrative is absolutely packed with subtle commentary. I adore the intentional vagueness of the series, with nothing spelled out, you are left to fill in the blanks, encouraging you to watch for the minor details that could give you the bigger picture.

Eva for me too.

Eva has a cool theme, but is also makes you think hard to understand what is going on.
My guess is that many of the "mysteries" are just loose ends, but it adds up to the overall effect of the anime and I think it is irreplaceable.

Cased Closed/Detective Conan if you like mystery, every case can be solved before the reveal if you think hard enough. Serial Experiments Lain is another biggie and probably closer to what you're looking for, if you're not thinking when you watch that you won't get it. Spice and Wolf is a good show about midevil economics, and Moyashimon is an entertaining SoL that teaches you about fermenting foods (including booze).

I'd also say Monster, although I haven't seen it but I hear it's one of the best seinen.

I watched one where I had to think really hard about who the bad guy was and who the good guy was. I don't think that's what you where asking for, but I don't watch a lot of Anime.

I found Welcome to the NHK to be a rather thoughtful Anime with a deeper point to make.

It's hilariously pathetic, especially the main character, but not in any bad way and it does make you think.

NGE

I know it's seen as pretentious and full of itself, but I fucking love wrapping my mind around this crazy show and its selfishly screwed up inhabitants. Which is why I found the Rebuild movies not as engaging... They were just too lean on the nitty gritty mind probing.

Also Berserk. The manga, not the anime - I never saw that one, except for the newer movies which were incredibly lame.

As much as I love thinking about both these properties, I also love talking about them.

Casual Shinji:
NGE

I know it's seen as pretentious and full of itself, but I fucking love wrapping my mind around this crazy show and its selfishly screwed up inhabitants. Which is why I found the Rebuild movies not as engaging... They were just too lean on the nitty gritty mind probing.

Also Berserk. The manga, not the anime - I never saw that one, except for the newer movies which were incredibly lame.

As much as I love thinking about both these properties, I also love talking about them.

The anime[for Berserk] was okay but the ending was just awful, but yeah Berserk is what I think about often. Which helps fill the void while waiting for new chapters.

OT:The Skullman,I'm still trying to figure out if it's good or not but it has some interesting points and a very dense plot.

Usagi Drop and Time of Eve, usually makes me reflect on life more than they should.

Penguin Drum and Utena give me a feast of food for thought as well.

UncleUlty:

Casual Shinji:
NGE

I know it's seen as pretentious and full of itself, but I fucking love wrapping my mind around this crazy show and its selfishly screwed up inhabitants. Which is why I found the Rebuild movies not as engaging... They were just too lean on the nitty gritty mind probing.

Also Berserk. The manga, not the anime - I never saw that one, except for the newer movies which were incredibly lame.

As much as I love thinking about both these properties, I also love talking about them.

The anime[for Berserk] was okay but the ending was just awful, but yeah Berserk is what I think about often. Which helps fill the void while waiting for new chapters

Well, atleast shit is getting back on track again. If I had to suffer through more of that seamonster/mermaid crap I would've gouged out my eye and chopped off my arm.

That's a really vague definition. If you mean animation with some kind of message or deeper meaning behind it, then these would be probably fitting in one way or another:

Texhnolyze
Kino's Journey
Tatami Galaxy
Haibane Renmei

You can separate it quite a bit...

There's the straight up psyke/headfuck series like: NGE, RahXephon etc.
The reference heavy series: Ergo Proxy
The philosophical: Haibane Renmei, Kino no Tabi etc.
And the ones that question society: GitS:SAC, Infinite Ryvius.

This last one is not considered that 'good' per se, but watch it and think: could I really do any better? Nah, I couldn't, and you couldn't either...

From the top of my head:

  • Texhnolyze (Mindfuck set in a dystopian future; themes include: the nature of technology and how humanity treats it)
  • Serial Experiments Lain (General mindfuck that I haven't dared to completely watch yet. Still from what I've seen...very deep)
  • Paranoia Agent (Mindfuck about the dangers of consumerism; very Lynchian, strong focus on "Paranoia" as a theme - hence the name)
  • Monster (Nightmare-Fuel rich crime drama; explores the nature of evil)
  • NGE & Rahxephon (Mindfuck mecha shows laden with symbolism and a strong commentary about growing up among other things)
  • Legend Of The Galactic Heroes (Space opera. In essence a huge discussion about political systems, the morale of the soldier and the meaning of history)
  • Kino's Journey (Quiet, episodic, road-movie-like show that is essentially just one large string of different metaphors and the questions they pose)
  • Also, Fullmetal Alchemist, Code Geass, Spice & Wolf, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Cowboy Bebop have some very deep themes going into them, too, but they usually take the back seat to action, character development or plain drama.

    Steins;Gate

    DAMN that was a good, smart anime.

    Also, to a lesser extent, Gundam 00 season 1.

    xxxHolic. Interesting morality plays wrapped in an ultra stylized package. I love that anime.

    Out of the ones mentioned so far, Serial Experiments Lain is the example I agree with the most; after I watched it, it really made me question the worldwide repercussions of the internet, and the psychological consequences that occur when becoming dependent/addicted to technology. Amazing series.

    DeathNote is another popular example that requires you to think throughout, if just to keep up with the overly complicated but smart twists and turns in the plot.

    Finally, my notable mention goes to Higurashi - When They Cry. Watch season 1 for the mindfuck and twisted violence. Then watch season 2 for the dark and engaging story that explains it all. Then if you want to pass the time, and subsequently feel ashamed and embarrassed, watch the season 3 and 4 OVAs.

    Mars of Destruction, probably the most thought-provoking anime of the century.

    Alright, I kid.

    My serious answer is Inferno Cop.

    Alright, alright...

    Steins;Gate
    Kino's Journey
    Evangelion
    Serial Experiment Lain
    Madoka Magica
    The Tatami Galaxy
    Kara no Kyoukai
    Fate/Zero
    Death Note
    Haibane Renmei
    Perfect Blue
    Millenium Actress
    Aoi Bungaku

    The Berserk manga, like Casual Shinji said. For anime, I'd recommend the first season of Darker than Black. That and Stein's Gate were pretty smart as anime.

    Persona 4 The Animation.
    That anime is quite accurate to reality in that we all got something personal that we can't face the "truth" and that we rather face away from it and be ignorant about our woes and problems.
    If we were all able to face the such truth head on (with help from others), we would be better with ourselves emotional and psychological side of things.

    Mushi-shi, by far. While not nearly as violent or technologically advanced, the strange scenarios and fascinating arcs hit much more than they miss. Go check it out. You'll like it, trust me.

    Evangelion made me think in the sense that when I was a teenager watching it Anno's storytelling style was so vague and lazy that after each episode I'd spend a good half an hour thinking, "now, wait, why is all of this happening again?" When I realized the show was just him spilling his suicidal guts out in order to work himself up for therapy, I lost interest.

    Paranoia Agent genuinely made me think. This is sort of the model in my mind of thoughtful anime because the prompt to think doesn't come from inept storytelling but rather comes from the writer clearly having something they're passionate about in the real world to get across to you. The show also made me think about my own experience in Japan, as many of the characters are archetypes for people one actually does meet there. I suspect anything by Satoshi Kon is going to have this quality- the man was a genius and was unafraid to criticize Japan.

    I watched an anime in Japan that made me think- but that was because at the time my Japanese was pretty terrible and I had no idea what was going on. I only caught parts of a couple episodes. It was a beautifully-animated show apparently set in feudal Japan, and koi paintings may have been interdimensional portals. In one episode there was a daimyo or village elder who was trying to get characters to eat food made from an alien's body (possibly some kind of pink gelatin or goo). The food may have made people slaves to the alien. My memory is a bit hazy but IIRC at the end of the episode the village folk (who appear to have eaten the same food before) burst into the room acting like zombies to attack the protagists(?). I never got the title of the show. I suspect it's not especially deep, but the language barrier made me think.

    I think most anime popular in the US isn't actually that deep. Not that most anime popular in Japan is any deeper. It's just here the popular anime is all about stupidly-dressed teens with swords shouting at each other for an episode, while in Japan the popular anime is all about stupidly-dressed teens learning lessons about the importance of depending on your friends while they gear up for the big tennis match.

    To add a few that haven't been mentioned yet:

    - Gosick
    - Dennou Coil (release it on DVD, dammit)
    - Katanagatari
    - Mnemosyne

    I second Berserk, but more because of the interplay between characters, motivations, and relationships than the actual philosophical value. 's still utterly fantastic, though.

    On a more direct note, the manga Eyeshield 21 has some wonderful thoughts about goals/dreams, the competitive nature of sports, and the relationship/rivalry between natural talent and talent acquired through effort.

    Also Fullmetal Alchemist has a bit of what you're asking for, too.

    Have they made Heads into an anime? If not, read the manga.

    Gun X Sword plays the Moonraker card by making you wonder if the human race needs a reboot. I guess it only caters to the cynical but it made me think for a bit.

    Hmmm let's see what Anime can I name.
    Code geass sort of. Death note. The "- naku no koro ni" ones. Baccano ( maybe more fun than thinking). Phantom: requiem for the phantom. Angel beats. Monster. Surprisingly, the currently airing "zetsuen no tempest". Steins gate. 5cm per second. I watched a whole ton of depressing and thought provoking anime at one point, I just can't seem to remember what their names are

    EDIT: Ahhh how could I forget rahxephon, madoka magicka, usagi drop, the Fate series, fma, oh and another one that's currently airing: psycho pass. I'll just keep updating this post as I think of more.

    I pretty much agree with every example being said here. but I raise you the manga Oyasumi PunPun.

    Trust me, if you want to get REALLY FUCKING DEPRESSED while thinking about life itself and what it means, this is your bet.

    Tanis:
    Currently re-watching 'Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex' and I realized how few 'cerebral' anime I seem to have found...

    So...ya'll have any you can think of?

    Gurren Lagann. Try thinking about this world's laws.

    Your head will explode.

    Nouw:
    Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Thread can be pretty much closed after this one. Theres been a lot of anime shows that have had me going "Eh" but more in the "Seriously?" kind of way, but Evangelion is one of those shows that even years on after watching it a few times Im still not convinced I've fully got every level of symoblism and hidden meaning within it.

    So question. Am I the only anime can in existence who doesn't like Eva? Seriously I just didn't enjoy it at all. I could barely finish it, but then similar stories like rahxephon and asura cryin I couldn't stop watching. I mean this in an interested way and in no way as a thinly veiled insult/I'm better than you kinda thing

    Nouw:
    Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    I discovered it when I was 14 and funnily enough it struck a unique note with me. It makes me ponder my own life and even though I don't have to pilot giant mecha to save the world I find myself relating with Shinji.

    Also a vote for End of Evangelion. It makes you think at every turn:

    What the hell were these people smoking? Why is there a giant naked albino woman cradling a robot? Where does the Tree of Life sit in all of this? What the hell is going on? Why is everyone suddenly a depressed psychopath? How exactly does Third Impact work? Why does Shinji jerk off to a comatose Asuka (seriously, that is the most gratuituous and pointless thing ever, made purely for shock value, like Griffith raping Caska for 20 pages in Berserk)?

    the doom cannon:
    So question. Am I the only anime can in existence who doesn't like Eva? Seriously I just didn't enjoy it at all. I could barely finish it, but then similar stories like rahxephon and asura cryin I couldn't stop watching. I mean this in an interested way and in no way as a thinly veiled insult/I'm better than you kinda thing

    No, you're not. Eva is like those magic eye pictures: some see something incredible and amazing, some don't, and I'm one of the latter. I could spend hours tearing that series a new one.

    Soviet Heavy:
    Tis the Cowboy Bebop. It's rather straightforward in terms of plot, but it's narrative is absolutely packed with subtle commentary. I adore the intentional vagueness of the series, with nothing spelled out, you are left to fill in the blanks, encouraging you to watch for the minor details that could give you the bigger picture.

    Well put Soviet. I feel the same way. And Radical Ed is one of my favorite anime characters of all time. The show wouldn't be as complete in its characteristics without her abstract input.

    I would also like to mention Death Note. The characters plowing their ways through the story offer a delightful stimulation for one to simultaneously contemplate on the possibilities and all of the mind games put into motion.

    Mindgame:

    You might not get it at first but it's a great watch nevertheless.

    [Kira Must Die]:
    Death Note

    Gyaugh! You took it! But I guess with that username, it was inevitable.

    Seems I've got a lot more to look forward to watching.

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