Celeriac's avatar

Celeriac

  • Finland
  • Joined Jul 12, 2015
  • 32
sort

Philosophical anime

Anime where I found noteworthy philosophical substance either by inferred message or as a point of meditation. Personal reasoning/findings included (though I'm not any sort of final authority on them). In very loosely descending order of profoundness.
1 Mind Game

Mind Game

What if you got a second chance at living? What is life all about anyway? This movie offers some really profound vistas.

2 Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion

NGE seems to be tailor-made for dealing with angst, depression and anxiety that many otaku have undoubtedly experienced. It portrays the symptoms of having a small and insecure perspective on life, and shows what could alleviate such a thing.

The message that I can infer is that people want to feel safe, accepted and loved, and to have something to live for. When they don't feel that way, they tend to develop psychological issues. There's no need to justify or feel sorry for your existence and participation in this world: you're in the same boat as anyone else. Life can be a hassle sometimes, but there's not much else to do, unless you want to ponder whether to exist at all.

3 Neo Tokyo

Neo Tokyo

To a child, the adult world can sometimes seem frightening, cruel and insane, but once you've gained some perspective, it's also where fun, joy and freedom in life can be found, and it's not so bad after all. Realizing that is an important step in growing up.

4 Kaiba

Kaiba

This is the anime to watch regarding identity, memories, and nature (or non-nature) of individual existence. Who are we, what makes us us, and is it important in the end?

5 Robot Carnival

Robot Carnival

A thematic meditation on the many possible situations, outcomes and ethical and philosophical implications of robotization (and AI) that's becoming more and more important in our time. Very metaphorical.

6 The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy

Seemingly important life decisions can have surprisingly little effect on your happiness and fate if you don't improve your own perspective and attitudes.

7 Night is Short, Walk On Girl

Night is Short, Walk On Girl

Things (and people) are way more connected than they might seem on the surface. You can find, build and partake in such connections by seizing the moment and going out there.

8 Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

A more concrete and immediate perspective to the end part of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Showcases humanity's conflicting yearnings to be both united and apart. What is life/existence without boundaries?

9 Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

A condensed retelling of the beginning part of Neon Genesis Evangelion. In this rebuilt form, I think I saw more emphasis on matters like being scared of life, and that the universe, humankind, family and even the individual human body ultimately take care of their own: your job is to live; questioning it just complicates things and simply boils down to whether you should keep or not keep on living.

10 Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo

Live and let live; absorb the scene and its aesthetics without judgment. Samurai Champloo presents us with a world with morally questionable elements and characters that ultimately don't make said world a bad or ugly place. It gives us a zen-like perspective where everything is one big beautiful flow of reality that would only be diminished and disrupted by value judgments.

11 Death Note

Death Note

Who deserves to die and why, and to what end? Do fear of being caught doing the wrong thing and elimination of the immoral bring about true morality?

12 Welcome to the NHK!

Welcome to the NHK!

This show presents us with a hikikomori (social recluse) who tries to mend his ways. The show deals with depression and loneliness, and tries to give a few pointers on how to combat them, albeit with moderate influence from Japanese right-wing sensibilities: at times I wasn't sure whether the show had a sympathetic or despising attitude toward hikikomori and their plight. Some of the solutions presented were along the lines of 'just get a grip of yourself and go to work', with a tendency to absolve the Japanese system where the state does little to support those who can't take care of themselves. The show's outro implies that hikikomori are self-pitying, selfish and childish parasites to their families and society.

NHK does however bring up the importance of connections and initiative in fixing your life.

I must commend this anime for being so intense and forward with its subject matter. It's not something that you can just lightly touch on and expect to make any impact.

13 your name.

your name.

Someone else might find your life thoroughly fascinating and make the most of it in your shoes, and vice versa. This film makes a heartfelt argument to feel more grateful for the life and connections you have.

14 The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Spend your everyday life well, in a way that's meaningful to you. One day it's over.

15 Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

What sets humanity apart from sufficiently advanced AI or artificial lifeforms?

16 The Boy and the Beast

The Boy and the Beast

This one demonstrates the importance of personal growth and discipline, and how much it means to have someone supporting you.

17 Kanamewo

Kanamewo

A woman finds an allegorical embodiment of her own presence and awareness.

18 Hyouge Mono

Hyouge Mono

Makes a case for tea, art and ceremony being focal things, i.e. something of ultimate concern and significance in human life that don't need to be a means to another end. (See device paradigm as a philosophical concept)

The show contrasts the purity of tea, art and ceremony with the greed and cruelty of power games and the egotism of the aesthetically-oriented protagonist.

19 Lupin III

Lupin III

The main characters in this series are fully actualized versions of themselves, i.e. they're 'maxed out' in their relevant skills, and their personalities are free of insecurities, and they know their world thoroughly. That makes them very 'godlike' entities that treat the world as their playground and extreme adventures as a fun pastime, almost as if they were highly experienced players with level-capped characters in an open-world online game. Everyone clearly enjoys the life they have and don't take danger or setbacks very seriously.

As such, Lupin III is an excellent demonstration of how 'perfect' entities might act while having a carefree and playful attitude toward their lives and the world.

20 Devilman: Crybaby

Devilman: Crybaby

This show gives a special feeling of how raw, crazy, lovely and fleeting life ultimately is, and how love and kindness can make it better.

21 Muramasa

Muramasa

A depiction of desensitization and loss of empathy upon gaining power over others.

22 The Old Crocodile

The Old Crocodile

Immoral actions sometimes have consequences of unexpected type or magnitude.

23 The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

This dialog-free film deals with man's relation to nature, and vice versa, and also man's relation to his own kind and family. When nature provides for man, what does man do?

24 Tekkon Kinkreet

Tekkon Kinkreet

This is like a more elaborate version of Inside Out: it's about a growing person's internal elements and mechanisms taking human or architectural form during a time of confusing changes and gaining new layers to his/her life.

25 Kino's Journey

Kino's Journey

This is a science fiction (hypothetical society showcasing) roadtrip anthology in a distantly similar vein to Star Trek: The Original Series. The protagonist goes to different places, each one with some different rule or special characteristic that has molded the local society in some way.

There's some light meditation on ethical and societal concepts. The show isn't that committed to serious exploration of its themes and subjects, though, and I feel that it messed up in portraying people and places in a believable way, opting to force scripted ideas onto them rather than going the extra mile to think how they would behave within the given frameworks.

26 Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

Ghosts and demons seem terrible allright, yet living people can often be far worse in a terrifyingly mundane fashion when you get to the heart of things.

27 Anemone

Anemone

A short but sweet reminder of the power of memories and simple wisdom of childhood.

28 Paulette no Isu

Paulette no Isu

Childlike playfulness, proactivity and open-mindedness can serve you during childhood and beyond.

29 Nekojiru Gekijou

Nekojiru Gekijou

The inherent nature of children is to be selfish and inconsiderate until proven wrong by consequences. What if they had more power over others with virtually no consequences or discipline, spiced up with bad parenting? That is the dark comedic core of Nekojiru Gekijou, or Cat Soup Theater.

30 Cat Soup

Cat Soup

A fever dream version of Nekojiru Gekijou, with the same kind of core. This time with more ethical nihilism on the narrative's side.

31 Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

Meditations and examples on approaches to life and its content.

32 Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

The circumstance of mankind in this series is somewhat analogous to that of animals/nature in our world, with giants representing the ultimately base and thoughtless mankind that intrudes and destroys where it's able to, especially when they see easy pickings.

Can also be seen as a showcase of how a fascist system could be justified by creating and maintaining a narrative of constant final defense against a frightening outside threat.

33 Attack on Titan: Ilse's Notebook

Attack on Titan: Ilse's Notebook

I think this story's bit with the trapped scout is an especially poignant example of what I explained about the main series (man vs. nature), this time showcasing a conflict between preservation stemming from respect and destruction that can't be helped.

34 Attack on Titan 2nd Season

Attack on Titan 2nd Season

I think this works as a decent analogy for revolutions, namely socialist/communist ones where a dehumanized lower class, upon gaining a suitable ideology and drive, seeks to eliminate the middle/upper classes with little discrimination and hijack history to suit a favorable narrative.

35 ERASED

ERASED

The time traveling and past-fixing aspect of this story in itself doesn't provide much in the way of useful philosophy, but it does help highlight and underline how precious even simple nice moments are when you're truly present in them and know how fleeting and unique they truly are.

36 The TV Show

The TV Show

This short music video showcases beautifully the infinite web of interconnected reality that modern media creates and amplifies in our world.

37 Genius Party

Genius Party

38 Hammerhead

Hammerhead

39 Kanoun

Kanoun

40 Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

What does the internet do to people?

Comments

You must be logged in to leave comments. Login or sign up today!

WhiteIce24 Oct 25, 2019

The best list!

ScorpioVelvet Jun 24, 2018

Fantastic list - love the explaination on each anime (especially Evangelion) and that I hope fans will find all that well-understood. :)