Top 10 Best Psychological Anime for 2017 [Best Recommendations]

One thing that makes anime an incredible medium is its versatility. With the incredible number of stories and perspectives that anime offers us, the fans, sometimes it's good to just narrow it down. So we're looking at a specific anime genre - the one that leaves you confused but hungry for more every single time. The one that could even teach you a few things. One which completely messes with the minds of its characters. Yes, that's right, we're talking the top ten Psychological Anime for last year, 2017. A year filled with interesting titles, 2017 was by no means disappointing. For those who are unfamiliar with this genre tag, Psychological Anime are the shows characterised by intricate plot lines which tug at various deeper issues, sometimes even delving into the psyche of the characters in question. Shows of this genre can be a little bit disturbing, confusing and even uncomfortable to watch depending on how dominant the genre tag is in the particular story. Without further ado, let's get into the top 10 best psychological anime for 2017!

10. Ousama Game (King's Game)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 - December 2017

After having a traumatic experience at his previous school, Kanazawa Nobuaki transfers to a new high school to start over. He doesn't get close to his new classmates because of what happened at his previous school, but he slowly begins to open up during the Sports Festival relay. Soon after that, he and all his classmates receive a mysterious email from "King". No one takes it seriously except for Nobuaki, because he knows exactly what it signifies - the beginning of the death game. The rules are simple: the King will send out an order and it will have 24 hours to be honoured. The game cannot be quit halfway and everyone in class must participate. Failure to complete an order results in punishment...

Ousama Game is one of those anime that thrives off of creating immensely uncomfortable moments using intense gore and ethical dilemma. The main character, Nobuaki, suffers immensely because of this strange supernatural phenomenon that has plagued him throughout his high school career. To be honest, one of the most interesting things about Ousama Game is finding out how certain characters will meet their end at the hands of the King. It truly isn't for the faint-hearted - tread carefully.


9. Classroom of the Elite

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2017 - September 2017

From the outside looking in, Koudo Ikusei Senior High School is the perfect high school and it is ranked highly in Japan. However, in reality, classes are ranked from A to D and receive preferential treatment based on merit. Ayanokouji Kiyotaka is a Class D student, placed amongst the worst performers in the school. It is in that class that he meets Horitaka Suzune, a girl who is convinced she was placed in Class D by mistake and is aiming to climb her way up to class A. Even though class allocation is permanent, class ranking is not and it is possible for a lower-ranked class to overtake a higher one. In a school defined by students' intense desire to get to the top, can Class D overcome the odds and achieve the top rank?

Most of us have been through school and even those who haven't can attest to at least one time in their lives where they felt an intense feeling of competition and desire to succeed. This is the anime - however, we understand the level of pressure and psychological stress one experiences in such circumstance, but this isn't what makes Classroom of the Elite psychological. It is the way in which the anime presents this competition as a series of psychological contestations between students that places this in this diverse genre.


8. Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi (Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight)

  • Episodes: 6
  • Aired: July 2017 - August 2017

If you're harbouring a grudge, you can access the Hell Correspondence website at the stroke of midnight and type in that grudges name. Emma Ai, the Hell Girl, will appear to you and grant your wish; however, the cost of condemning another soul is the loss of one's own soul to eternal damnation. Many people are willing to pay a price as heavy as this and Emma Ai has ushered many a soul into the depths of Hell; however, recently, a little girl has been following her around as she did her work. She knows nothing about herself and questions Ai's identity as Hell Girl. Just who is she?

Demons and Hell are concepts which have fascinated and scared humanity for ages and as a result, they have worked their way into anime as well. Hell Girl is a show which highlights the existence of the fires of Hell within every individual and the true price of holding on to extreme negative emotions. This also delves into humanising an individual who is a denizen of Hell, showing the necessity of the work that she does.


7. Urahara

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 - December 2017

Three high school girls work to create a limited-time shop called PARK, located in Harajuku, in Tokyo. One fateful day, aliens arrive on Earth and threaten to steal the district's pop culture. At this point in time, a mysterious girl also makes an appearance. Together, the three girls work towards defending their beloved district from the alien attack.

Urahara covers various aspects of human life, despite the immensely out of this world setting that it presents to us. The three girls, Rito, Mari and Kotoko work really hard to set up shop and then later find themselves in a fateful battle against otherworldly beings present to take away the very identity of their home district. The emotional and physical toll of this fight against the aliens contrasts the seemingly light-hearted feel the art presents.


6. Chaos;Child

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2017 - March 2017

Tokyo's Shibuya district is rocked by a series of gruesome murders which are dubbed the "New Generation Murders". The heinous crimes caused mass hysteria and during a frenzied riot, a massive earthquake levelled the entire district, somehow leaving the surrounding wards unscathed. Six years later, Shibuya has been rebuilt; however, the murders seem to have started again, catching the attention of third-year high school student, Miyashiro Takuru. Takuru realises that the dates of the deaths coincide with those of the original New Generation Murders. Curious, he and members of his high school newspaper club decide to delve deeper into the mystery, only to find themselves caught in the middle of yet another crime scene.

Chaos;Child is a standard psychological anime as it bears various concepts which are indicative of this genre. A mystery component or the shielding of the truth behind the events of the plot characterises a show that is capable of delivering many twists and bends along the way, all while enveloping the viewer in an intricate plot which promises to be very surprising.


5. Blame! Movie

  • Episodes: 1
  • Aired: May 2017

At some point in the distant future, the world has reached its complete form. However, the spread of a certain infection causes the automated systems of civilisation to replicate themselves infinitely in every direction. Now humans have lost the ability to control the city and to make things worse, they are hunted by the city's defense mechanisms, also known as the Safeguard. In the far reaches of the city exists a faction known as the Electro-Fishers, a small group facing extinction as a result of the Safeguard threat, as well as dwindling food supplies. A young girl known as Zuru embarks on a journey to find food for her village, but inadvertently alerts the Safeguard to her companions. Soon thereafter, everyone is dead and her own life is in danger, with hope lying in the hands of a certain stranger on a quest to eventually return the world to order.

From the jump, you are tossed into a harsh fututistic dystopian landscape from the perspective of a character whose noble intentions cause the deaths of her comrades. The intensity of the situation can be felt as a viewer of this epic film and it definitely makes use of one of the most exciting tools of a psychological anime: the effects of grief on the mind of the protagonist.


4. Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 - December 2017

Sometime in the distant future, the world is populated by genderless lifeforms known as Gems. These immortal beings must fight against the Lunarians who abduct them in order to use them as decorations. Each Gem is assigned a specific role; however, being only 300 years old, Phosphophyllite is the youngest Gem with no assignment. Unable to battle the moon dwellers due to brittle constitution, Kongou, the leader of the Gems assigns Phosphophyllite the task of creating an encyclopedia of natural history.

The story of war and death is given a different breath of life from the perspective of a character whose purpose isn't to fight. This presents so many different contexts within the universe itself that viewers keep abreast of as the show unfolds; however, the plot of Houseki no Kuni is one that is incredibly interesting and humanises a group of lifeforms which are foreign to us as humans, but bear so many similarities to humans with human sensibilities.


3. Kakegurui

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2017 - September 2017

Hyakkou Private Academy is different to other schools because it prepares its students for life in the real world. With a student body made up of the offspring of many of the world's elite and richest individuals, the school has its own set of quirks which set it apart from other schools. By day, the school is fairly standard, but by night, the school turns into a gambling den which teaches the students the art of gambling and manipulation and those who come out on top in games come out on top in the school. Jabami Yumeko is a new student at the school who's interested in trying the new curriculum, but not because she's interested in winning - she's only interested in the thrill of the gamble, and her risky way of gambling stands to shake the tables at the academy.

The high-stakes world of gambling is defined by mental solidarity and psychological warfare within games. In order to win, one must know themselves and their opponents incredibly well while maintaining an air of ignorance. Having an anime that serves to offer that same electric tension in the air with every episode is what is achieved through Kakegurui and it is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys the psychological.


2. Youjo Senki

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2017 - March 2017

Tanya Degurechaff is a special nine-year-old girl who, at her young age, is a high-ranking member of the military in a strange alternate universe where magic is a standard factor in war. However, she hides a massive secret - she originates from our plane of existence, where she lived an extremely selfish life as a salaryman, one who had no place for a belief in God in his life. However, when he is pushed in front of a moving train, time stops and he finds himself having a conversation with an entity claiming to be God - a being he later dubs "X" . Being X sends him to an alternate universe in order to suffer a difficult life so he'd admit to requiring divine protection; however, the salaryman salivates at a new opportunity of conquest as Tanya Degurechaff - the Devil of The Rhine.

Youjo Senki is an absolute ride for anyone looking to ask intense philosophical questions of themselves after watching. Each episode is an adrenalin-filled experience defined by the tactical and psychological warfare between the power-hungry Tanya and the seemingly cruel Being X. The intricately woven story and fresh perspective of the isekai trope make Youjo Senki one of the greatest Psychological Anime of 2017.


1. Inuyashiki

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 - December 2017

Inuyashiki Ichiro is a 63-year-old man who lives a sad life. Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, his dysfunctional family life means that the only person who cares about him in the least isn't even a person, but his pet dog, Hanako. One night, on a walk out in the park, a blinding flash of light and a gigantic explosion catch Ichiro unprepared, but he awakens unscathed... Or does he? He soon comes to the realisation that his body has been completely changed to that of a powerful robot. With his new-found abilities, Ichiro can become a new kind of hero. However, what if there was someone else like him, one who didn't share his desire for heroism...?

The latter stages of 2017 see us blessed with a title as exciting and different as this one. The overarching plot takes two episodes to materialise; however, once all the players are on the field, we are treated to an intense display of the varying spectrum of human thought and emotion, as well as the difference of human experience and existence and what it means to be alive. The characters are interesting and different, particularly the concept of Ichiro as a protagonist. Overall, 2017 ended on a high note with this title and it deserves to be considered one of the best psychological anime of the past year.


Final Thoughts

Anime is exciting particularly because it can take so many different forms. Even within genres, the versatility of the medium and the beauty of the storytelling therein create shows worth discussing and enjoying in various different ways. The psychological genre has several titles which are a staple for the otaku community at large and year by year, the pool of such anime grows immensely. As time goes by, we can hope to expect more amazing shows. Are there any psychological anime of 2017 you think we missed? Or any you're excited about in 2018? Drop a comment below and tell us all about it!

Hoshi-kun

Writer

Author: Hoshi-kun

I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.

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