What Is a Psychological Anime?

What Is a Psychological Anime?

Hello everyone and welcome to our place!

So… Today I had a completely different post in mind to write – 5 Psychological Animes I Recommend. However, after some time researching my list to pick the ones, I noticed that I probably don’t know what a psychological Anime is in the first place lol

anime girl confused

For example, Blood+, an anime where a teenage girl discovers one day that she is, in fact, a very old vampire with amnesia and has the mission to somewhat save the world. I looked in MAL and Anime-planet… In both websites, the psychological tag is not there… Even though she passes a lot of psychological distress during the show which made me rethink what I think as a psychological Anime. This way, I decided to go and do some research to understand fully this concept.

– Definition from OxfordDictionaries –

Anime guy thankful

  1. “Of, affecting, or arising in the mind; related to the mental and emotional state of a person.”
    1. “Relating to psychology.”
    2. “(of an ailment or problem) having a mental rather than a physical cause.”

From here, what I can take is that an Anime to be psychological has to:

  1. Has to be about psychological distress
  2. Has to relate with psychology – meaning, there has to be some relation with a psychological theme itself
  3. The events cause some kind of psychological distress regarding the character.

But, that seems way too broad for me. Especially when we are talking about the last one. There are many Anime shows who use some kind of emotional distress to make the character to overcome them and become stronger.

sword art online kirito cry
Although it always messes with my hear!

For example, Assassins’ classroom, shouldn’t it be under the psychological factor? I mean, those kids are trained from day one to kill a professor that they ended up loving. If that does not make psychological distress I don’t know what does.

No, that is not sufficient, we need to go and go deeper.

Honey’s Anime Definition

psychological anime class
A new class here, at our place, but this time I’m also a student

I found this website while trying to gather more information. Basically is a post talking about the same issue as myself lol

In short, the author states that for an Anime to be psychological has to follow one of the following 3 rules:

  1. “Psychological anime want you to think, and they really want you to think hard.” – Basically, Anime shows that make you think and try to deduce what is going to happen. One example could be Steins;Gate where you will have to try and understand what is going to happen as also what is in fact happening!
  2. “A Race Against the Clock – This usually involves dark, grim games or realities that the protagonist will face should they not be able to complete whatever the task is at hand.” – Again, Steins;Gate is a good Anime to exemplify this. The coming back in time, again and again, trying to save Mayuri which puts him in a lot of emotional distress.
  3. “Let’s Play a Dangerous Game of Ethics” – here he talks about Dead Parade where you are faced with different points of view and difficult ethical questions to answer.

Now, to be honest, I disagree a little bit about this…

anime sorry
Sorry, still not there yet 🙁

For number 1, it’s more of a mystery than a psychological show. For example, you can have a detective show where you try to solve a murder at the same time as the main character and not have any kind of psychological factor at all.

The number 2 is more understandable. Nevertheless, here we are talking about a setting that is perfect for a psychological anime. However, it doesn’t mean that it really needs to be a psychological one. For example, Orage has a kind of setting like this. Everyone gets a letter from the future and have the task to prevent a friend from committing suicide. However, if we go to MAL or Anime-Planet is not under the label of psychological. In my personal opinion, I think it is more of a drama than in fact psychological.

Number 3 is again a setting perfect for psychological. However, as before it can be used in other ways. For example, you can play with the game of ethics and make a comedy out of it. I don’t know if there is one, but well, it could be made!

anime i have no idea what I'm doing

So… Still no clear definition… This is when I decided to create my OWN definition.

– My Definition for Psychological Anime –

anime get work done
Time to get to work!

Ok, now, this is my personal opinion and of course, at the end of this post, I will be asking for yours! 🙂 It’s not in the dictionary and might be a different point of view from yours. Nevertheless, here’s what I think that defines a psychological Anime.

  1. Anime that puts the characters in HIGH amounts of Psychological distress – No, I’m not talking about feeling sad for a week so the character builds up and is able to overcome an obstacle. I’m talking about repeatedly getting into psychological distress. Steins;Gate could be a good example. But also Elfen Lied, Erased, and so on.
  2. Anime which portrays mind games – Meaning, the way for the character to win is not by fighting but by lying, manipulating, making others feel bad about themselves and so on. Death Note is a great example for this one.
  3. Anime which is, in fact, surrounding psychological illness – March Comes In Like a Lion is a good example.
  4. Anime which messes with your psyche – Animes which are intended to make you not understand most of what is happening. Normally going for worlds completely different from ours with strong visuals while things are done in a way that you need to really think hard to understand it. Paprika is a great example.
paprika psychological anime
I mean… It’s weird alright!

And… I think that basically grasps what I see as a psychological show!

What about you? Do you agree? If not, what makes an Anime psychological? Tell me all in the comments! Let’s make a general definition for psychological Anime! Discussion… START!

See You Soon! 😀

11 thoughts on “What Is a Psychological Anime?

  1. This is an interesting topic. I’d defintiely say that ERASED and Death Note have touches of being psychological to them. I’d also say that Psycho Pass may qualify due to the ethical nature of the plot.

    1. Completely agree with you! I also think Psycho Pass also has a lot dealing with psychological.

      However, Classroom of the Elite and ReLife for example… Anime-Planet puts into the category of psychological and I don’t feel that’s true at all…

      1. Hmm … I’ve not seen either, so couldn’t say for sure on them. There are always some odd anomalies in how things are classified though. Like, the supernatural elements led to Death Note being listed as horror in a local shop. I kinda agree with the classification in part, but can see why people argue against it too.

  2. This is one of those nebulous terms that has kind of lost its meaning in the anime world. People (mis)use it a lot so the exact meaning is pretty muddy. I’m more inclined to agree with what you stated here though.

    1. Yaiii! If you agree then I know I did a good job eheh I was a little scared that I had gone completely wrong ahah

      And yes… I didn’t know there was such a misuse until I decided to write a post about good psychological Anime lolol

  3. Most anime just because they are “darker” get placed in this category which I can understand. They tend to be the anime that I watch the most of and I agree that the characters need to be in some sort of psychological crisis.

      1. Okay i am in 2019 right now and I’d like to recommend you an Profanity 17+ and psychological anime :Shisekai Yori
        This Anime left me in a lot of suffering even after i finished it and when i think about it my heart aches and i now I Can’t see clearly i can’t see light all i see is dark …I am not blind but this anime left me suffering from 2012 till now so Goodluck if you haven’t watched it yet cuz the story itself is deep and Dark

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