I was watching a very popular summer of 2022 anime when I suddenly started thinking about psychics in anime. And more precisely, I started thinking that for some weird reason, all the anime I have watched that heavily feature psychic characters, I have really enjoyed.
I am discovering new niche anime preferences every day!
Let’s see if you also happen to like anime psychics. Here are the five I thought of first. I should say that the top 3 are in random order because they came to me all at once!
5. Tetsuo Shima – Akira
I have mentioned Akira a few times on this blog. I won’t lie, both the movie and the manga hold a lot of nostalgia for me and I may be overvaluing its greatness. However, it is still considered something of a classic in anime so I must not be the only person who liked it.
And psychic powers are central to the narrative. There is an entire theme about how power corrupts with an underlying idea that certain powers were never meant to be wielded by humans. All of this is personified in the character of Tetsuo Shima.
Giving an otherwise normal person psychic abilities gives a story the chance to explore a lot of different ideas and although Akira may at times seem like it bit off more than it could chew, there was still a lot of food for thought there.
4. Wang Ling– The Daily Life of the Immortal King
I’m not quite sure what the limits of Wang Ling’s power are, but I’m sure psychic is somewhere in there!
Psychics in anime tend to go one of two ways. Either they go mad with power and you know that it’s just going to spell trouble down the line OR they end up living relatively normal lives – or desperately trying to at least.
I find that there are some great stories to be told about the former but I tend to enjoy the latter just a little more. At the end of the day, despite everything, Wang Ling is a pretty normal guy with fairly reasonable desires. It’s just that he can create entire alternate universes to get his way. Big deal. I bet I could do that too if I tried hard enough. I just don’t have the time right now.
3. Anya – Spy x Family
Yeah, this is the character that made me put this list together in the first place and really, she could be number one. I suspect she will be for a lot of my readers.
Unlike a lot of my picks today, Anya has a relatively limited power, essentially she can read minds and that’s all. I just wrote that like it was a super plain and unimpressive skill to have. I am so hard to please…
I think this limitation actually gives the chance for her character to be a lot more. Because she can read people’s minds but doesn’t want anyone to find that out and is way too young to know what to do with most of the information she gets, the power is as much a burden as a gift. It’s also sweet to see the world through the eyes of such a young psychic, it changes the dynamic a lot.
2. Saiki – The Disastrous Life of Saiki. K.
I mentioned in my review that The Daily Life of the Immortal King owes a heck of a lot to Saiki K. The two shows are very similar in many regards, and I like them both a lot!
You can’t really think of anime psychics without mentioning Saiki. His name is Saiki K. It’s not subtle.
Saiki K. basically takes all the conflict and turmoil that comes with being a super-powered being in an ordinary world and laughs at it. Don’t get me wrong, there is some earnest exploration of the themes but whereas classic science fiction tales and golden-age comic books focused on the anguish and alienation of this idea, Saiki brings it down to a much more mundane and ultimately human level.
Yeah, it can be hard, even disastrous some days but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it as well.
1. Mob – Mob Psycho 100
I really like Mob Psycho. I just started reading the manga and boy is it fun. There’s this very dry with just under the surface that I don’t see much in Japanese media. I’m looking forward to the next season.
Like I said, my top three entries are pretty interchangeable. I wouldn’t say one character is better or more representative of psychics than another. I did just realize that Anya is the only girl on the list which is a bit odd.
Sorry, I got sidetracked there. Mob Psycho uses psychic powers in much the same way that Spy x Family does. It’s a coming-of-age allegory. All this new information and all these powers that you suddenly have and don’t quite know how to use or what to do with yet. At once exciting and frightening. And Mob Psycho 100 has a lot of heart. It treats its psychic tenderly and graciously.
Maybe I should have picked Reigen… he is no 1 most powerful psychic after all…
See what I mean? All great shows! Is it a coincidence that they all happen to feature kids with psychic powers? Maybe but do you want to take that chance? Just to be safe, we should watch all anime that features kids with psychic powers…