Watching an anime for the first time can be an exhilarating experience, especially if it’s a wild ride of twists and turns that keeps you guessing the whole way through. But some anime are actually better the second time around—knowing the characters better could make them more sympathetic or understandable, a slow-paced beginning could be more enjoyable since you know what comes later, or maybe you just need a second pass to get the story straight. If you have an abundance of time right now (for no particular reason at all), give these 10 anime a rewatch!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2019 – June 2019
Hyakkimaru is an extremely difficult character to empathize with early on since he’s deaf, blind, mute, missing most of his real limbs, and wholly devoted to killing the demons who made him that way. But as he regains his appendages and senses little by little, Hyakkimaru reveals himself to be a deeply troubled, but kind and positively adorkable young man.
If you rewatch the series with Hyakkimaru’s later personality in mind, watching him find his humanity through his relationships with his traveling companion Dororo and the other people he meets on his journey feels like witnessing your own child grow up. We just want the best for our little sword-handed samurai!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2019 – December 2019
The world of Beastars centers entirely on the tense interplay between carnivores and herbivores, with every other social interaction serving as mere theater since everyone knows that one specific party could easily eat the other with little consequence. That’s why Haru and Louis, a promiscuous rabbit and a self-aggrandizing deer respectively, act the way they do. Their actions are difficult for us (and main protagonist Legoshi) to parse at first, but once their troubled backstories come to light, their coping mechanisms and ambitions make much more sense. They’re both fascinating characters who deserve their time in the spotlight, but it may take more than one initial watch to truly understand them.
8. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
This murder mystery drama follows struggling manga artist Satoru as he unwittingly travels back in time 18 years to prevent the unexplained abduction and killing of one of his old classmates. Even if you know the details of the mystery, Erased is worth watching twice because you’ll be able to pay closer attention to the nuances of each character and their relationships with each other. The rapid-fire ending is also much more comprehensible once you know where it’s going, which improves the whole experience quite a bit. Give it a shot!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2007 – November 2007
What do alchemists in the 1700s, a mafia turf war in 1930s New York, and a serial killer on a train have in common? Quite a lot, actually, but you’ll have to watch Baccano all the way through to find out how each story connects to the others. The first time through is an exciting exploration of a mystery that slowly gets revealed little by little, but rewatching it is just as rewarding because you can make a game out of spotting the foreshadowing in earlier parts of the series. The very first episode actually spoils the ending of each character’s story, but since the scenes are out of context, only an experienced viewer would be able to understand. The writers really thought of everything!
6. Kanata no Astra (Astra Lost in Space)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2019 – September 2019
There’s a big twist about 2/3 of the way through Kanata no Astra that completely reframes this mostly lighthearted space road trip anime into a dramatic exploration of identity and revisionist history. If you rewatch this series and know about the twist from the beginning, it’s much easier to connect each crew member’s personality quirks to their buried insecurities and deepest desires. Kanata’s reckless heroism, Ulgar’s initial distrust of everyone, Quitterie’s disdain for her younger sister, Aries’ cheerful confidence, and tons of other tiny details in both the character interactions and details of the world all tie into the truth of who these kids really are...
5. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 4: Diamond wa Kudakenai (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable)
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: April 2016 – December 2016
Just about every other JoJo series is a breakneck adventure over multiple locales with a grandiose goal and a larger than life villain, but Diamond is Unbreakable breaks form by starting out as more or less a slice of life anime with doofy teenage protagonists and low-stakes Stand battles.
Josuke and the gang are still some of the most loveable characters in the whole franchise, but viewers coming straight off of the roller coaster ride that was Stardust Crusaders could get distracted by the tonal whiplash. However, once you know that the high-intensity Kira arc is coming later on and that everyone steps up to the plate to combat him head-on, you can appreciate the earlier episodes for what they are—a new look, but the same great JoJo flavor!
4. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
Kanata no Astra’s twist turned the plot of the previous eight or so episodes on its head, but Attack on Titan takes it even further by introducing a twist at the end of the third season that changes everything about the whole franchise. After you learn about Marley, go back to the very beginning and filter the events of the series through that lens. Suddenly, the titan shifters have an understandable motive, Ymir’s out-of-context backstory becomes clear, and even the incomprehensible third ED actually makes sense. The author has been playing the long game with foreshadowing since the very beginning, to the point that certain anime material hints at events that only occur much later in the manga. Could there be more hidden messages that we still don’t fully understand?
3. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
This famous dark deconstruction of the magical girl genre pretends to be relatively light and fluffy in its first two episodes, before dropping a bomb in the third episode that shows it means business. You can search for and find hints of horror before that point, particularly in the unsettling background art, but the real rewatch bonus comes from starting over the series after watching episode ten (which reveals who Homura actually is and why she’s so obsessed with Madoka). Homura’s powers explain Madoka’s dream in the first episode, her callous attitude and occasional emotional outbursts are a result of the trials she’s had to overcome, and her anger towards Kyubey comes from an understanding of what the little guy really is that none of the other characters know yet. Plus, by rewatching the series, you’ll step right into her shoes and experience exactly what she’s had to go through.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2011 – September 2011
Steins;Gate is considered to be one of the best sci-fi anime ever made, but some viewers are unable to finish it because the first six episodes or so are a jumble of mysterious science-speak, slow-paced character development, and decidedly no time travel. The story really hits its stride after that, but the first little arc actually has a lot going for it if you’re already invested in the characters. Okabe, Kurisu, Mayuri, and the others seem so innocent at the beginning, unaware of the time loop madness they’ll soon be thrust into. And once you actually understand the science mumbo jumbo, moments like the time travel lecture from the first episode take on whole new meanings...
1. Boogiepop wa Warawanai (Boogiepop and Others)
- Episodes: 18
- Aired: January 2019 – March 2019
It’s difficult to realize at first, but Boogiepop’s story of a shadowy guardian/Shinigami/alien/something who has been rumored to spirit away young girls in their prime is told out of chronological order. The first episode actually shows the very first and very last parts of the narrative, and later episodes fill in the gaps sporadically until the whole picture is complete. Rewatching Boogiepop, especially in chronological order, after you know what’s going on is an entirely different experience that could change your outlook on the show completely. So, what are you waiting for? Boogiepop wants to see you again...
You could also try rewatching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (which also tells its story out of order), Neon Genesis Evangelion (which is famous for its deep/obtuse symbolism and complex characters), or Durarara (an ensemble piece by the same author as Baccano).
What did you think of our list? Which anime are you rewatching right now? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!