Top 5 Anime That Made (Just) Me Think

I’m an odd sort of fellow. My brain latches onto very incongruous things and then just expands on them in ways that don’t always have a logical basis. I will find myself thinking back time and again on series and discovering new little elements to puzzle out. There are movies and shows which are obvious food for thought and countless essays have been written on them already. These aren’t the ones I’m going to list today.

These are the shows I either rarely see analyzed or that I tend to single out an element no one else cares about. Here are the top 5 sows that made me think, and just me…

Shin Sekai wallpaper

5) Shin Sekai Yori

OK, the symbolism is strong with this one and there are so many elements to delve into both in the narrative and on the technical front, that I’m probably not in fact the only one to be picking on this particular point… This is why it sits on the bottom of the list.

Like I said, this is a series that is lush with meaning. You can easily find something to spark your imagination. Be it moral responsibilities of higher consciousness or perils of evolution or the terrors of growing up. I do think about those elements a lot. However, those clothes were BEAUTIFUL! The fashion design element of Shin Sekai Yori was on point! Traditional and recognizable clothing with just tiny alterations to throw an uncanny element to those silhouettes. They were both deeply interesting and completely practical.

Yeah yeah, bring on the blonde jokes. You have a show like Shin Sekai Yori and I focus on the pretty dresses… Trust me, it’s rare to find such an eye for design in anime! Fashion is a reflection of the culture from which it stems and the pale colours and just slightly altered classical lines of the Shin Sekai clothing betrays a lot about the society it comes from, way before any of the big reveals take place! Awesome, right?

Psycho-pass

4) Psycho Pass

Yeah, yeah… no one ever analyses Psycho Pass or anything. It’s not like I’ve linked a Ph.D. thesis on the show before, or anything…

Basically, copy-paste the first paragraph from above. And it’s still clothing that triggered me. Although not exactly in the same way. In one episode, Akane uses what appears to be a portable holographic projector to change the appearance of her clothes. Of course, the first thing I thought was Is she actually naked? Wait, is everybody? I’m a simple soul…

We also find out at some point that the same type of technology was used to make a rundown little apartment *look* luxurious. Basically, it seemed like a readily available way to enhance the aesthetic appearance of just about anything and affordable even to those that had subpar living conditions.

So, what does this do to the economy? Honestly, luxury, a lot of which is aesthetic, is one of the biggest markets available right now. Considering that international relations with Japan must already be precarious due to the Psycho Pass system, having a cheap gadget that eliminates the need/drive to “get yourself something pretty is bound to have some serious market implications. I can hardly properly wrap my mind around it as is…

steinsgate

3) Steins;Gate

I just think about Steins Gate a lot you guys… That’s all.

All right, this is a point people rarely talk about, in the visual novel, the “bad ends” or rather alternate character routes each reveal a lot about Okabe, the people around him and just how much strain time travel puts on the human psyche. It’s an element that builds over time and cannot be properly translated into 24 episodes, in my opinion.

Anywho, Faris is the best…. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. SuXX route really shows us how far gone Okabe can get in a way that adds a lot of depth to his character and Ruka’s route has some beautiful themes of acceptance and personal growth but Faris’ route constructs a carefully balanced and powerful female character that remains on of my favourite in media in general. And all of it depends on the survival of her father.

It’s an indirect thesis on the importance of parenthood and the impact we have on our children, whether they be organic or not. How a simple presence, even imperfect and occasionally disengaged, can make a huge difference in a person’s development. Sure, Faris’ nature is impressive and still somewhat present no matter what, but it’s nurture that really made her bloom. Considering this is a mind-bending time travel story, I guess I understand why people may want to concentrate on something other than the Nature vs Nurture question.

gurren lagann simon

2) Gurren Lagann

OK, I should rewrite my first paragraph, these are all series that have made everyone think, it’s just that I fixate on little random things. Man, I loved Gurren Lagann. I Loved the feminist messaging, I loved the bittersweet resolutions, I loved that it was carried on the back of a memory and almost destroyed by a dream. And I keep wondering about the number 7…

I might be an idiot, and everybody already knows the answer to this, but what is the significance of the number 7 in Gurren Lagann??? I am vaguely aware that it plays a role in Christian dogma. Episode 7 is possibly the most important turning point in the series, Tepplin falls on the 7th day of battle when Lordgenome (that name is so on the nose) is defeated, civilization then flourishes freely for 7 years until the Anti-Spiral war breaks out and finally, Nia and Simon say their vows 7 days after their return to earth and then… For some reason, this pattern really stuck with me, as you can see.

Honourable Mentions

Humanity has Declined

I think this is a heck of a witty show. I was particularly touched by the plight of the personified satellites for instance but there is a lot of precious moments throughout the series. But I think the humour may be a bit too bizarre and a lot of people got stuck on the weird side of it instead of the brilliant.

To Be A Hero/Heroine

It seems like both of these shows were written to be purposefully divisive. They tend towards bad taste, childish jokes and extreme iterations of already questionable tropes to wrap around deeply human and touching experience. I think about both shows on a regular basis.

1)      The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric Family is generally well regarded. Few people will argue that it is not a good series at least on some level. I suppose some could find it boring or just too aimless for their tastes, but I’ve rarely seen anyone just flat out rejected as a failure.

To me, it’s one of the most poignant pieces of the estrangement and malaise of modern society. I think this series is one of the smartest pieces of writing I have come across and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’m skilled enough to explain it.

I’m not the only one that has noticed the deep exploration of the human condition through the eyes of magical creatures slowly outliving their time. But I still think this show doesn’t get the points it deserves for the intelligent and measured social-psychological treatise that it is.

Also, Benten.

There you go, 5 random things that made me think and I rarely see discussed.

Do you have any anime or elements in anime that make your synapse fire? Do you want to tell me about it? It’s probably going to fascinate me and completely take over my mind, and I love that!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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19 Responses

  1. Can’t agree more with this list (aside from #1, as I’ve yet to watch it). I think it’s a given that those first three sci-fi titles would be on here, but I’m glad to see something as wonky and wonderful as Lagann have a place in your mind, too!

  2. Dawnstorm says:

    Heh, The Eccentric Family is a show I don’t even need to think about. It’s been purposely written with my world-view in mind, and so I just live through it. And, yes, Benten.

    Clothing in Shin Sekai Yori is an interesting topic. The world building is excellent, and the clothes reflect that. I gave the topic far too little consideration, though I did notice the style changes as they grew older.

    I’m not a very cerebral anime watcher. All my elaborate posts are just me trying to formulate an intuition.

  3. raistlin0903 says:

    Nice list indeed (and yay there are shows that I have actually seen for a change as well lol (mind you not all of them of course😂). Psycho Pass certainly had enough elements in it, that kept spinning through my head long after I finished it and well you already know the story of Steins;) Gate😊
    It was nice to see ospreyshire mention Bokurano, because really that show certainly made one heck of an impact on my mind as well. I love it when a series is able to that.
    Another one that I personally kept thinking about weeks after I saw it was Orange. Simply because there were so many elements in it that made me think about my own life.
    And you know something? This post alone made me think about some elements of those shows again as well 😊 I already said so on Twitter: but again: have a great weekend! 😊

  4. 7mononoke says:

    Oooh another great list from Irina! Most of these are shows I know well and quite fanatically love. Of these, the most thought-provoking and mentally stimulating for me are Psycho-Pass and Shin Sekai Yori. Both are in my top 6 favorite anime of all time. Other series that really make me think include Monster, Death Note, Madoka Magica, Kiseijuu/Parasyte, Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei, revolutionary Girl Utena, oh the list goes on and on. xD But anyway, you already got two of my very favorites in there, which makes me happy. Thanks for the post!

  5. Karandi says:

    The Eccentric Family does seem to get overlooked and it has so many well developed characters and interesting points that it explores. Also, it is just a lot of fun with some solid emotions at its core.

  6. wingking78 says:

    Gunslinger Girl
    Kurau: Phantom Memory
    Perfect Blue
    Angel’s Egg
    La Maison en Petits Cubes
    Cat Soup
    Ergo Proxy

    All older and in some cases more obscure titles that don’t quite enjoy the same reputation as contemporaries that do still get discussed all the time like Ghost in the Shell, Lain, or Utena. They all sure made me think, though.

  7. Lumi says:

    Hard to pin down. Anime is full of symbolism, and I would say any anime with a strong emotional core makes me think moreso than others. I mean, cliche and all, but Kyon’s choice in the Haruhi movie is one that I still debate people on to this day. The implications of having a universe that isn’t yours but safe, or a universe at the whims of a teenage god, but comfortable to you.

    • Irina says:

      Sophie’s choice animes are always good for a bit of debating.
      I find Shiki and the Human vs Vampires debate another interesting one.

  8. ospreyshire says:

    That was a creative list. I think the anime I can name that rarely get listed for intelligent discussion on the interwebs would be as follows…

    Texhnolyze
    Angel’s Egg
    The Place Promised In Our Early Days
    Shamanic Princess
    Bokurano

  9. A Library Archivist says:

    I liked Log Horizon for its making you think about how Aliens would talk to us long after our species is dead. I liked Heaven’s Lost Property for talking about the madness which will emerge in Generation Ships spending centuries to cross the cosmos.
    I like Neighbors Club for raising the issue of loneliness in Japan, and for SNAFU pointing out that cynics exist in the world of Genki Girls.
    I like the classic patterns on kimono in Demon Slayer no Yaiba. That’s a pretty show, even if the plot is dumb.
    I liked Sakura Quest for creating a show about the moe of adult women, and showing they can be lonely too, and for it depicting the aging and empty rural areas, a topic which recurs sometimes in anime. Non Non Biyori and a few other shows also show how empty Japan’s rural areas are becoming. I’m sick of watching shows about Tokyo. The rural areas are more interesting.
    I like that anime are being made which show how cute kids are to raise interest in parenting, and presumably convince single men in Japan to marry and have kids. Sweetness and Lightning and now the current show about the adventurer’s adopted daughter are good about this topic, and I happen to know that there’s orphans in foster care in elementary school just as cute in the real world. I don’t know that Japan will find this topic likely to change behavior or fix their economy, but obviously there’s an audience.
    Some shows make you think or pay attention to stuff you barely noticed before. Some make you think about thinking.

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