The mind is extremely delicate, but it’s something we tend to take for granted. Most people don’t think about their perception of reality, but enough stress or disease can cause true horrors.
While not common, anime is home to a few great stories about madness. These works feature the gradual mental breakdown of the protagonist through a variety of ways, including supernatural elements and failed coping mechanisms.
Episodes: 1 Movie
Quick Pitch: Mima Kirigoe has been a member of CHAM! for the past two years, but she leaves to pursue an acting career. Wanting to shed her pure idol image, Mima takes on a role in a sexual crime drama. The demanding role quickly becomes taxing. Adding to Mima’s stress is a stalker, a seemingly anonymous website that shares details about her life, and the growing success of CHAM! since her departure.
Quick Pitch: Tsukiko Sagi is the shy character designer who created the popular pink dog Maromi. Now, she is under great pressure to repeat her success. While walking home one night, Tsukiko is attacked by a boy with a gold bat. Two detectives are assigned to the case, but they believe Tsukiko is lying due to her vague details.
Soon, similar attacks are being reported across Musashino City and they a similar thread – a boy with a golden bat. The detectives begin to search for “Shounen Bat” in earnest, but an air of paranoia sets upon the city.
3School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi)
Quick Pitch: Yuki Takeya loves her school and the activities of the School Life Club. The club also includes president Yuuri Wakasa, the athletic Kurumi Ebisuzawa, the mature Miki Naoki, supervising teacher Megumi Sakura, and the club dog Taroumaru. Together, the club participates in various activities and mini-adventures…or that’s how Yuki sees things.
In reality, the girls are survivors of a zombie outbreak and they are trying to adapt to a post-apocalyptic life.
4Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Studio: Studio Deen
Episodes: 50 + 11 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Keiichi Maebara moves to the quiet village of Hinamizawa during the summer of 1983. He quickly becomes friends with schoolmates since all of the grades share a single classroom. While Keiichi’s life seems idyllic and laid back, there is a darkness lurking.
Keiichi discovers that the village has a history of murders and disappearances that occur in connection with an annual festival. When he tries to ask his friends about the events, he is met with silence. Bizarre and threatening events start to happen, which casts mistrust within Keiichi’s heart.
5Serial Experiments Lain
Studio: Triangle Staff / Pioneer LDC
Quick Pitch: Lain Iwakura is a reclusive 14-year-old girl who receives an email from a supposedly dead classmate. The email introduces Lain to The Wired, which is a virtual world that supports the sum of all human connection and allows unconscious communication between humans and machines.
Lain’s sense of reality is quickly thrown off-balance as she stumbles across mysteries, “Men in Black,” and surreal events.
6Welcome to the NHK
Quick Pitch: College dropout Tatsuhiro Satou has been a hikikomori for nearly four years and he has come to believe many conspiracy theories. There is one theory that Tatsuhiro strongly believes in – an organization called the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai is responsible for spreading hikikomori culture and ruining his life.
7Neon Genesis Evangelion
Episodes: 26 + 2 movies
Quick Pitch: In the year 2015, humanity faces destruction at the hands of Angels. Humanity’s hopes lie within Nerv and their Evangelion mecha units.
Nerv director Gendou Ikari seeks young pilots that can synch with the Eva units and combat the Angels. Shinji Ikari, Gendou’s son, is whisked away to pilot Eva Unit-01. The weight of humanity’s fate on Shinji’s shoulders starts to unearth uneasy feelings within him.
Quick Pitch: Five years ago, a string of grisly murders haunted a Japanese city. The killer was never found, which gave rise to the rumor about Boogiepop. According to the stories, anyone who meets Boogiepop at night will disappear.
One month, a pillar of light appeared in the sky, which renewed stories about Boogiepop. The light causes memories of the murders to appear as holograms, which causes an existence where past and present can co-exist.
What are your favorite anime about madness?