Melhor Anime Filosófico.

Highlights

  • Anime explores deep themes like love, friendship, and ethics through unique storytelling techniques and complex characters.
  • Shows like “Vampire in the Garden” and “Paranoia Agent” delve into philosophical questions about identity and reality.
  • “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Psycho-Pass” challenge viewers with ethical dilemmas and explore the consequences of power and justice.



There is something about anime that has a way of making viewers think deeply about life, death, love, and everything in between. Since the first anime from the early twentieth century, for about a hundred years now, many series and films have provided their take on pertinent philosophical issues.

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With the introduction of new technologies during the 80s and 90s, these issues have expanded to exploring human beings’ relationship with the cyber-realm. Still, other anime look deeper into spiritual questions of human existence, ethics and morals, and psychology. There are, out of these, shows and films that are deeply philosophical and are worth a watch.

Updated on March 31st 2024, by David Heath: One could argue that all storytelling media is philosophical to a point, yet there are some movies and TV shows that muse on their themes more than others. Dragon Ball can showcase the virtues of working hard to achieve self-improvement, the value of friendship, and when to own up to one’s mistakes. It also has jokes about boobs, butts, and farts, which aren’t too common in, say, essays by Camus or Nietzsche.


But not every philosophical piece has to be so highbrow either, as this updated list shows. High-minded series and movies sit alongside simpler tales with surreal, dark, and even childish angles, because they all express big ideas or key outlooks on life that’ll get viewers thinking. Alongside new additions, the old entries have been expanded to relate their messages, and they’ve been rearranged by MAL score for ease of reading and recommendation.


20 Vampire In The Garden

MyAnimeList Score: 7.13

Vampire in the Garden Human and Vampire Together

  • Directed by: Ryōtarō Makihara
  • Release: May 16th, 2022
  • Studio: Wit Studio
  • Streaming: Netflix


Vampire in the Garden is a Netflix release that, while only five episodes long, deals with complex themes such as love, friendship, and loss, in a very moving way. It’s set in a world where vampires and humans are at war, and the humans are the underdogs. They’ve walled themselves off in their last safe haven, and avoid the arts like music in favor of survival. During one particularly brutal attack, a human girl called Momo forms an unlikely alliance with Fiine, the reluctant queen of the vampires.

In Fiine, Momo gets to enjoy new experiences like listening to music for the first time. While in Momo, Fiine finds someone who resembles her lost love, Aria. But their people are more willing to accept their own conflict than love between their different sides. On the face of it, it’s a Romeo & Juliet-style story of forbidden romance, where two sides could find peace if they could overcome their bad blood, so to speak. Yet it also speaks of how far people will go to be compassionate, right down to offering themselves to others as feed.


19 Cat Soup

MyAnimeList Score: 7.32

Mindbending Anime- Cat Soup

Cat Soup

Release Date
February 21, 2021

Studio
J.C.Staff

Director
Tatsuo Sato

Cat Soup, or Nekojiru, caught on in the 90s for its dark comedy and art style. Chiyomi ‘Nekojiru’ Hashiguchi’s work was described by her husband, Hajime Yamano, as “cute, repulsive, and cruel-looking at the same time,” and her stories weren’t any different. They follow two cat siblings, Nyako and Nyatta, who go on different adventures to the apathy of their parents. They’re be cruel, selfish, and brutal to whoever they come across, but in a way it’s zany and funny.


The manga’s OVA adaptation captured this energy with a story about the siblings going to recover the rest of Nyako’s soul after Death tried to take it. The idea behind it is that kids are, by default, selfish and inconsiderate until they’re taught otherwise. Without such instruction, Nyako and Nyatta take advantage of others’ generosity, beat others to death, or even chop them up into soup (albeit in self-defense). Children can be sweet and innocent, but darkness is just as inherent to them, if not more so, than good behavior.

18 Paranoia Agent

MyAnimeList Score: 7.67

Paranoia Agent anime Lil Slugger

  • Directed by: Satoshi Kon
  • Release: February 3rd, 2004
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Streaming: Crunchyroll


A lot of Satoshi Kon’s work goes beyond their surface readings, and this is just the first of many on this list. That said, Paranoia Agent is arguably one of the most interesting examples. It sees the inhabitants of Musashino City, Tokyo, fall victim to Li’l Slugger, a cap-wearing kid who rollerblades around town attacking people indiscriminately with a baseball bat. Many people claim to have been attacked by him, and their fates are altered by his strikes, but no one can find hide nor hair of him. That’s because Li’l Slugger isn’t real.

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He was an excuse dreamed up by his first ‘victim,’ Tsukiko, during her childhood, and came back when she got struck. Like Perfect Blue and Paprika, the line between reality and fiction gets blurred as the hysteria over Li’l Slugger takes over the whole town. It shows how people can succumb to threats that aren’t really there, as it resembles real mass-panic cases like Spring-Heeled Jack, the Mad Gasser of Matoon, and the Monkey Man of Delhi. Tsukiko ultimately has to own up to her mistake, which is a cleaner conclusion than its non-fictional counterparts.


17 Ergo Proxy

MyAnimeList Score: 7.90

Ergo Proxy Re-I With A Gun

Ergo Proxy

Release Date
February 25, 2006

Seasons
1

Studio
Manglobe

Number of Episodes
23

Streaming Service(s)
Crunchyroll , Funimation , Hulu , Tubi

Ergo Proxy heads into psychological sci-fi territory where, like many existential anime series, explores humans’ co-habitation with artificial life. Only instead of cyborgs and AIs, they’re straight-up robots called ‘AutoReivs’. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where what’s left of humanity lives in domed cities designed to protect them from the ecological disaster that made the rest of the planet inhospitable. In these cities, humans and AutoReivs live peacefully together, with the latter doing their day-to-day work.


Then some of the AutoReivs caught a virus that made them self-aware, with many committing murders or otherwise causing harm. Why? Because now they have to struggle with what it means to live, what purpose is there to their lives, and why it involves suffering and struggle. It’s a more existentialist take on the genre, as its characters figure out their answers to these questions, with a little Gnostic twist, as Proxy‘s material world clashes with something more spiritual at its heart.

16 Hyouge Mono

MyAnimeList Score: 8.00

Hyouge Mono screnshot main character drawing his sword

Hyouge Mono

Release Date
April 7, 2011

Seasons
1

Studio
Bee Train

Number of Episodes
39

Creator
Yoshihiro Yamada

Two of the key concepts in Confucianism are ‘jen’ (humaneness/benevolence) and ‘li’ (correct ceremony), where the former is a virtue innate in people, and the latter is essentially good manners. But what can a person do with manners if they lack benevolence? People can find an example of that in Hyouge Mono, where one man’s love for art and ceremony clashes with his desire to rise up in the world of Japan’s Sengoku era.


Furuta Sasuke is a vassal of the notorious Oda Nobunaga who, alongside the tea master Sen no Soueki, taught Furuta how to appreciate the tea ceremony. Through this, he gains a love for tea, pottery, and architecture, appreciating their beauty and artistic merit. But it also makes him greedy, as he becomes more invested in tracking down and building up his collection of crockery over serving his lord. It’s played for laughs, but Furuta’s dedication to all things aesthetic could be as much a sign of his humanity as it is a show of his love of ceremony.

15 Paprika

MyAnimeList Score: 8.04

Paprika Flying

  • Directed by: Satoshi Kon, based on the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui
  • Release: November 25th, 2006
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Streaming: Netflix


Many have noted that the 2010 film Inception, a movie about diving into dreams, was heavily inspired by the 2006 Satoshi Kon movie Paprika. In it, a dream terrorist gets control of the DC Mini, a device that allows people to explore each other’s dreams, and uses it to generate nightmares to affect their targets. It is up to the device’s co-creator, research psychologist Dr Atsuko Chiba, to find the culprit by diving into their dreams, becoming an alternate persona called Paprika in the process.

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On one hand, Paprika deals with the subconscious and questions reality, as the dream world and reality eventually start to merge, and not just within the movie. Textually, Chiba is torn between the stern, mature identity she feels she should be in the ‘real’ world, and the more bubbly Paprika, based on who she’d like to be. She isn’t the only one torn like this, as other characters are split on issues like gender identity, childhood and adulthood, and whether dreams are sacred ground or an open realm of possibilities.


14 Serial Experiments Lain

MyAnimeList Score: 8.09

Serial Experiments Lain Main Character

Serial Experiments Lain

Release Date
July 6, 1998

Seasons
1

Studio
Triangle Staff

Number of Episodes
13

Streaming Service(s)
Funimation

The cyberpunk psychological horror Serial Experiments Lain asks questions about transcendence and the Internet where, like Perfect Blue, the (at-the-time) new medium offered people a way to express themselves under different identities. The difference is, while it caused Blue‘s Mima to dissociate, it makes the titular Lain go beyond her physical form. It all starts when she, an introverted junior high-school student, and her classmates receive emails from a student who recently committed suicide.


The deceased student claims not to be dead, but to simply have “abandoned her physical self” and to have found God through ‘the Wired’ (aka the Internet). So, Lain decides to investigate using her family’s new computer. The results see Lain herself disappear between the shy girl viewers were introduced to, her more attitude-filled self from the Wired, and another form that affects the world outside cyberspace. As surreal as it gets, it holds up as a look into what the internet can do to loners and how they communicate.

13 Kaiba

MyAnimeList Score: 8.14

Kaiba the main character waking up and looking at his locket

  • Directed by: Masaaki Yuasa
  • Release: April 11th, 2008
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Streaming: Crunchyroll


Memory can be as integral to a person’s identity as their physical form, if not more so. Such is the case in Kaiba, where humans can store backups of their memory on chips and install them in other bodies. As such, they could potentially live on past death, if they can afford the cost. Usually, this means the rich get to live on in new bodies sold to them by the poor, who get left as memory chips in the hope that maybe they’ll get a new body too.

Though like SD cards, USB sticks, and other physical media, other people can use them to watch their memories, or even change them one way or the other. Such is the case with Kaiba, a man who wakes up in a dingy room with no memories, a hole in his chest, and the locket of a woman he supposedly knew once. Looking for answers, he goes off in search for this mystery woman, and to find out who he really is, whether from his missing memories, or the ones he’ll make on his journey across the universe.


12 Revolutionary Girl Utena

MyAnimeList Score: 8.21

Utena and Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena

Release Date
April 2, 1997

Seasons
1

Studio
J.C.Staff

Number of Episodes
39

Another masterpiece from the 1990s, Revolutionary Girl Utena explores LGBTQ themes, among other topics, like the roles of women in society. As a child, a young girl named Utena was given a ring with a rose signet by a traveling prince. Inspired, she vows to become a prince herself one day when she grows up. Her dream comes true in high school, when she meets a girl with a similar ring. She’s called Anthy, a woman with revolutionary power who, as the Rose Bride, acts as the prize for whoever wins the school’s dueling competition.


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After all, what greater prize is there for a prince than a princess? Except that’s not the kind of prince Utena wants to be. She doesn’t want to objectify and abuse Anthy, so she duels for her freedom instead. As pretty as the show looks, Anthy’s identity crisis as a person and as a ‘Rose Bride’ takes more than Utena’s fencing skills to fix. Utena doesn’t shy away from abuse, sexuality, or the pitfalls of idealism and the loss of innocence, as its leads try to get a happy ending that no fairy tale could provide.

11 My Neighbor Totoro

MyAnimeList Score: 8.25

Totoro and Other Forest Spirits Playing With the Kids

My Neighbor Totoro

Release Date
April 16, 1988

Studio
Studio Ghibli

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Director
Hayao Miyazaki

One of the first Studio Ghibli classics, My Neighbor Totoro takes place in postwar Japan and is a contemplative story about two young girls, named Satsuki and Mei, who move to the countryside to be closer to their hospitalized mother. While there, they encounter friendly woodland spirits that only they can see, with the biggest being a raccoon-like creature they call ‘Totoro’.


After a bundle of serious anime series and movies that explore dark topics, and often come to heavy, depressing conclusions, My Neighbor Totoro is a lighter, happier tale about the power of nature and healing. Kosuke Fujiki certainly thought so in their JSTOR article on the subject. Like Spirited Away, Satsuki and Mei overcome their anxieties by looking out for each other, but aren’t forced to grow up in the process. If anything, their childhood innocence helps them bond better with nature, relax, and realize things are never as bad as they fear.

10 Ghost In The Shell

MyAnimeList Score: 8.27

Ghost in the Shell Motoko Musanagi Reflection


Ghost in the Shell

Release Date
December 8, 1995

Director
Mamoru Oshii

Studio
Production I.G

Streaming Service(s)
Amazon Prime Video , Tubi , Amazon Freevee

Many would agree that Ghost in the Shell stands above many in its exploration of philosophical ideas, and inspired many introspective sci-fi stories like Ergo Proxy and Avatar. The film follows the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, whose mind was transferred to an entirely synthetic body. She needs to hunt down a super-hacker called The Puppet Master, who turns out to be an AI program that has become sentient and is seeking asylum as an embodied being after stealing another synthetic body.

One of the reasons it caught on as the archetypical philosophical anime was its approach to the nature of identity. The Major is treated as a person, but she doesn’t feel human. She’s a brain in a mass-produced artificial body that’s used by countless others as a prosthetic, or even to model clothes in fashion stores. Is she still human? Or a walking, talking mannequin? If the Puppet Master can be considered to have a soul despite being fully artificial, does it work for nominally organic people with mostly artificial bodies? This is just one of its different conundrums.


9 Kino’s Journey

MyAnimeList Score: 8.28

Kino and Hermes in Kino's Journey

Kino’s Journey

Release Date
April 8, 2003

Seasons
1

Studio
A.C.G.T

Number of Episodes
13

Streaming Service(s)
HIDIVE

Creator
Keiichi Sigsawa

Kino’s Journey was originally a light Japanese novel series that was adapted for the screen in 2003. Both were about a young girl named Kino and her talking motorcycle named Hermes, who travel to various places to experience each location’s culture and society. They don’t know what they’ll find as they travel, and the two will only remain in one place for a maximum of two nights and three days. The idea is that life is all about venturing into the unknown. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, so Kino and Hermes travel wherever without a plan or a set destination.


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They’re not interested in judging the people in the different places they visit either. Whether their people can all read minds, or make kids skip puberty by medically turning them into adults, that’s for their different places to handle. Because, to Kino and Hermes, despite being imperfect, the world is still a beautiful place and is worth exploring. It’s not a view that goes unchallenged, as the two are occasionally impelled to intervene, but their journey has drawn in viewers of all sorts of backgrounds, be it Christian, Buddhist, Stoic or otherwise.

8 Psycho-Pass

MyAnimeList Score: 8.33

Psycho-Pass Team


Psycho-Pass

Release Date
October 12, 2012

Seasons
3

Studio
Production I.G, Tatsunoko Production

Number of Episodes
41

Made as a Production I.G original alternative to Ghost in the Shell, Psycho-Pass is also a cyberpunk psychological thriller set in futuristic Japan. Only it’s one where the Sibyl System governs society. This super-computer measures the biometrics of the citizens’ brains and determines their potential for becoming criminals. If their criminality exceeds the 100-point limit, the system will alert authorities, so they can be arrested.

As such, the police force is split into duos of Inspectors, who uphold the law, and Enforcers who carry out their dirty work (e.g. using lethal force) to keep their records clean. This arrangement should stop obvious criminals, since they can’t change their brain. But as new Inspector Akane discovers, Sibyl has obvious flaws, as criminals high and low have learned to game the system. So, what does it take to deliver justice when society has dedicated itself to a flawed system? Even without this system, it’s a question people have struggled to answer for centuries.


7 Neon Genesis Evangelion

MyAnimeList Score: 8.35

Neon Genesis Evangelion Artistic Image

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Release Date
October 4, 1995

Seasons
1

Studio
Gainax, Tatsunoko Production

Number of Episodes
26

Although originally running for only one year, 1995-1996, the Neon Genesis Evangelion series has had a profound impact on other mecha anime to follow. It saw a teenager named Shinji summoned to control his own giant robot, or EVA, to fight off Angels, otherworldly creatures that torment human beings. It all leads up to the activation of the Human Instrumentality Project, the plot of Shinji’s father Gendo, which suggests that the final stage of human evolution is for the souls of all humankind to merge for a higher purpose.


There’s no shortage of articles on what Evangelion means, from its religious references (Angels, Adam, Eve, Lilith, etc), to its meta topics. For example, many saw Shinji as a proxy for creator-director Hideaki Anno and his depression, right down to the finale where Shinji learns to like himself and be willing to live on. On the other hand, the End of Evangelion movie provided a more bitter ending, where he and Asuka are the only people left alive after the H.I.M., to express existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people.”

6 Mononoke

MyAnimeList Score: 8.42

Mononoke The Medecine Man


Mononoke

Release Date
July 13, 2007

Seasons
1

Studio
Toei Animation

Number of Episodes
12

Not to be confused with the anime film, Princess Mononoke, the television series Mononoke is an avant-garde anime that also explores the spiritual world. It follows a traveling medicine seller, simply known as “The Medicine Man,” who encounters and battles mononoke, spirits who attach themselves to humans that experience depression and negative emotions. But to slay them, he has to figure out their Three Truths: Form. Truth, and Reasoning. Only once he learns why they’re doing what they do can he slay them with his exorcising sword.

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With its striking visuals, the anime uses its spiritual themes to explore morality, with each mononoke providing a different dilemma. The Zashiki-Warashi, spirits of deceased children who never got to be born, were done wrong, but learn their selfishness is hurting the one person who cared for them, and thus give themselves up to the Seller to free their caretaker. Instead of merely slaying literal demons, the Seller must also slay the figurative ones lurking in people’s hearts to free them.


5 Perfect Blue

MyAnimeList Score: 8.54

Perfect Blue Mima Lying Down

Perfect Blue

Release Date
February 28, 1998

Studio
Madhouse

Director
Satoshi Kon

Perfect Blue is another classic anime film by Satoshi Kon. It’s a psychological thriller that follows the life of pop idol, Mima Kirigoe, a member of a J-Pop trio called CHAM! Mima reluctantly decides to leave singing to pursue being an actress, which draws the ire of a stalker, and leads to a series of gruesome murders. In the original novel it was based on, Mima was a more steely figure dealing with the stalker’s breathy phonecalls. For the movie, director Satoshi Kon replaced this with cyberstalking.


The stalker, ‘Me-Mania’, sets up a website similar to Mima’s own blog, that releases nearly all the personal details about her life, casting aspersions on her film career over her musical one. The stress causes Mima to lose her grip on reality, losing her sense of self to an imaginary Mima she hallucinates. One that resembles the popstar life she preferred but was made to leave behind. She can’t be the real Mima, but who IS the real Mima? Is she living in reality at all? If Ghost in the Shell is about establishing identity, Perfect Blue is about how it can be broken.

4 The Tatami Galaxy

MyAnimeList Score: 8.56

The Tatami Galaxy and The Tatami Time Machine Blues

The Tatami Galaxy

Release Date
April 23, 2010

Seasons
1

Studio
Madhouse

Number of Episodes
10

Creator
Tomihiko Morimi

Adapted from Tomihiko Morimi’s original novel, The Tatami Galaxy starts off simply enough, as its unnamed college student protagonist is sent back to the start of his time at Kyoto University in a bid to alter his fate. Maybe he would’ve had his ‘rose-colored campus life’ if he joined one college club or another, or had the nerve to ask out Akashi, an engineering student he had a crush on. But as things go on, no matter which circle he becomes a part of, his fate remains the same: he ends up alone, and his campus life is anything but rosy.


The choices people make in life can affect their future, but not as much as they think. There’s no ultimate path people can follow in life to get everything they want, like in a visual novel or video game. Some choices will fail, and opportunities will be lost, but that’s part of life. But if they can improve themselves as a person, and learn from their experiences, they can accept their losses, come to terms with their mistakes, and do better next time. As surreal as The Tatami Galaxy gets, its conclusion promotes self-improvement over a rigid ‘What If’ approach to life.

3 Death Note

MyAnimeList Score: 8.62

Death Note Light, L and the Shinigami


Death Note

Release Date
October 4, 2006

Seasons
1

Studio
Madhouse

Number of Episodes
37

Creator
Tsugumi Ohba

Even though Death Note has been adapted into various live-action movies and series, the 37-episode anime poses pertinent questions about ethics and moral principles. High school student Light Yagami picks up a notebook belonging to Ryuk, a shinigami (death spirit). If the writer writes the name of whoever they know by face in the book, they die either by a heart attack within a minute, or by any method the writer details.

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With no conditions (beyond “Don’t expect to get to Heaven”), Light starts to murder the worst criminals, which seems noble at first, given their evil deeds. However, one starts to ask: should just anyone have the power to kill indiscriminately? And who makes that person the judge of who deserves to live and who does not? Then what happens when others try to stop or usurp them? Light wasn’t exactly an angel before he got the book, but Death Note shows how power can corrupt and make the most ordinary person fall into megalomania.


2 Mushishi

MyAnimeList Score: 8.66

Mushisi Ginko Smoking

  • Based on the manga by Yuki Urushibara
  • Release: 2005-2006
  • 1 Season, 26 Episodes
  • Studio: Artland
  • Streaming: Crunchyroll, Tubi

Similar to Mononoke, but less confrontational, Mushishi follows Ginko, a man who can see and interact with ‘Mushi’, the most basic form of spiritual life. Although they are not visible to most human beings, the Mushi can take many forms and can be dangerous. Ginko travels throughout Japan to wherever these creatures have interacted with human beings, in order to study them and mend any harm that they might have caused.


This anime explores issues of mental health, as Mushi tends to influence or inhibit individuals with traumatic pasts. It also suggests that human beings should not interfere with the natural order of things. After all, part of Ginko’s reason for being a ‘Mushishi’, a researcher into Mushi, is to figure out what Mushi are and what their place in life is. Seeking answers to questions is part of philosophy, but sometimes the answer might lie in letting things be.

1 Spirited Away

MyAnimeList Score: 8.77

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Release Date
July 20, 2001

Studio
Studio Ghibli

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Director
Hayao Miyazaki

A masterpiece by Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away follows the story of ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino who accidentally enters the world of Kami, the spirits in Japanese folklore. Upon exploring an abandoned theme park, her parents are turned into pigs. She eventually gets a job at the bathhouse in the spiritual world while trying to find a way to free her parents. On her journey, Chihiro encounters many interesting characters, each of whom provides exploration into themes like greed, loneliness, innocence, and friendship.


For example, it’s through her friendship with Haku, and her compassion for him and others, that helps her overcome her fear. If her anxieties got the better of her, she’d still be stuck under Yubaba’s thumb, losing her name and identity to her. But she overcomes Yubaba, No-Face, and more threats, in order to rescue Haku and her parents. Growing up isn’t just about getting older for her, but about being selfless and honest in the face of evil and fear, and helping others. She goes from being a scared child at the start of the film, to a wiser, stronger pre-teen by the end.

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