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8 psychological anime you should check out if you loved Death Note

Light Yagami and Ryuk in Death Note (Image via Studio Madhouse)
Light Yagami and Ryuk in Death Note (Image via Studio Madhouse)
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Arundhoti Palit

Death Note is often considered an anime masterpiece and a cult classic among anime watchers. The series manages to blend together the elements of mystery and crime TV genres seamlessly.

But what makes Death Note brilliant is the intense battle of wits and the slow but riveting exploration of human psychology.

Here is a list of anime with similar psychological elements that Death Note lovers should check out.


8 psychological anime Death Note lovers should check out

1) Monster (1 season, 74 episodes)

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This 2004 series follows the life of a Japanese brain surgeon in Germany who refuses to prioritize a mayor who suffered a stroke, in order to save a child with a gunshot wound. The mayor dies, and this affects Dr. Tenma’s social standing in the hospital, but the director and other corrupt doctors die mysteriously, causing the police to suspect him.

The story picks up after a nine-year timeskip following which Dr. Tenma’s past comes back to haunt him.

Similar to Death Note, the anime presents an investigative thriller narrative following the doctor uncovering the identity of a serial killer. The anime masterfully delves into the human psyche and the terrifying forms it can take.


2) Psycho Pass (1 season, 22 episodes)

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Psycho Pass is another psychological thriller anime that is almost as famous as Death Note. Set in a cyberpunk, futuristic Japan, the world of Psycho Pass measures people’s criminality potential. The results determine whether they will be arrested or killed.

The series follows rookie inspector Akane Tsunemori as she tracks down the villain of the story, criminal mastermind Shogo Makashima, with her subordinate enforcer Shinya Kogam. The investigation also reveals the flaws of the SIBYL system and the truth behind its workings.

The series also received a number of films, as well as two sequel series spanning 11 and 8 episodes respectively.


3) Erased (1 season, 12 episodes)

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Erased mixes a psychological thriller series with time travel. The anime follows 29-year old Satoru Fujinuma, who becomes a criminal fugitive after returning home to find his mother murdered.

Through an ability called “Revival,” Satoru is sent eighteen years into the past to try to fix things and prevent the deaths of three friends who were all victims of a serial kidnapper.

While still belonging to mystery and thriller genres, the series feels even more chilling when seen through the eyes of the 11-year old Satoru.

cried so many times while watching this anime 🥺 it's stressful and very suspenseful, romantic and beautifully drawn and written. #erased #erasedanime https://t.co/RNbK2bamLA


4) Perfect Blue (movie)

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Perfect Blue is Satoshi Kon’s cinematic masterpiece and a classic in the psychological thriller genre. Unlike Death Note, this movie deals less with crime and more with the psychological crisis faced by Mima Kirigoe, a J-pop idol who ventures into mature films for the first time.

Things get progressively worse when she starts being stalked by an obsessive fan, and slowly starts suffering from psychosis where the lines between reality and hallucinations blur.


5) Terror in Resonance (1 season, 12 episodes)

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Terror in Resonance is a series that centers around two boys, collectively known as “Sphinx” who threaten to destroy Tokyo with a prototype atomic bomb stolen from a nuclear facility in Japan.

Similar to Death Note, psychological warfare against the authorities becomes the trump card wielded by these boys, as they try to expose the dubious secrets of a shady organization.


6) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2 seasons, 50 episodes)

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At first glance, not much seems to be similar between Code Geass and Death Note, but several striking similarities between Lelouch and Light soon arise. While Light Yagami becomes a fascinating but psychopathic villain by the end of the series, Lelouch remains an anti-hero.

Both prodigies with immense intellect and foresight, Code Geass shows Lelouch playing a gigantic chess match against the Britannia Empire to both avenge his mother’s death and create a better world for his sister.


7) Paprika (movie)

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Another movie by Satoshi Kon, Paprika is set in a futuristic world where a device called “DC Mini” can provide access to people’s dreams. While Dr. Atsuko Chiba initially uses the device to counsel psychiatric patients, the machine's lack of security makes it possible for one to enter other people’s dreams and steal private information.

As more and more people start getting involved, the lines between dreams and reality blur. Interestingly, Paprika was also the inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s movie Inception.

Remembering one of anime's best-loved creators, the late Japanese Satoshi Kon, born on this day in 1963. Director of 'Perfect Blue', 'Millennium Actress', and 'Paprika', Satoshi's films moved brilliantly between reality and dreams, creating visually breathtaking fantasy worlds. https://t.co/ML8BUX80sP


8) Aoi Bungaku (1 season, 12 episodes)

Key Animation: Asako Nishida (西田 亜沙子)Anime: Aoi Bungaku Series (青い文学シリーズ) (2009)sakugabooru.com/post/show/85077 https://t.co/xeke77YwKD

Aoi Bungaku is possibly the most unconventional anime on this list. The series is split in six parts, depicting six separate stories by Japanese writers such as Ryuunosuke Akutagawa, Dazai Osamu and Natsume Soseki.

What connects all these stories are their themes, which is, the exploration of the human psyche and its maladies. One of the stories, In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom is also one of the tales that inspire Akira Kurosawa's movie Rashomon.


Psychological anime is a vast and diverse genre, with several sub-categories. This list mainly focuses on shows which can loosely be categorized within “psychological thrillers.”

While addressed to Death Note lovers, any anime watcher with a penchant for the dark and the intellectual are sure to enjoy the anime on this list.


Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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