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Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids

Updated June 14, 2019 6.3k votes 1.8k voters 43.6k views17 items

List RulesVote up the most intelligent anime that sails over the heads of children.

When you're a kid, it's usually a safe bet to assume that most animated media is for you. Sure, adult cartoons like South Park, Rick & Morty, and Family Guy exist as well, but the line between children's and grown-up's content is usually pretty clear. But, when it comes to anime, the line can be much harder to see - particularly for new, young fans. There are a ton of reasons why anime is not for kids and there are just some shows that kids should not watch. It's not just because of graphic content, but because the intellectual themes will simply sail over their heads.

Just because an anime has epic mecha battles or neon-haired protagonists in the promo art doesn't mean it's necessarily a kid's show. If you've dismissed anime before because it looked too childish, then maybe you missed out on something profound. Compiled here is a list of intelligent anime series that are way too deep for kids to understand. Check out the titles to see if you may have missed the bigger picture when you were younger, and vote up the anime that's way too smart for kids to fully understand. 

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  • Kids love cyborgs and robots, right? Well, despite that, in the same way you wouldn't let your child watch RoboCopGhost in the Shell: SAC is similarly not going to be suitable for a young audience. The tagline from Adult Swim's promos for the show in the early '00s should give you enough of a clue as to why.

    "What happens when technology subdues humanity? When humanity is no longer defined by being human."

    The complexities of post-humanism and cyborg anthropology at the heart of the Ghost in the Shell franchise is lost even on adults. Thus, children aren't going to have an easier time with it. 

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  • Photo: Funimation

    Why is Terror In Resonance too complex for kids to handle? For starters, it's a show about terrorism with the terrorists as the main characters. The cover poster alone - two towers smoking in the background - is a whopping clue, even before you sit down to watch it. As with any "villainous" protagonists, it also confronts the viewer with a lot of moral grayness to unpack, which would be all the more tougher if you were a kid.

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  • Aside from its very, very graphic violence and psycho-sexual themes, Elfen Lied deals with incredibly heavy topics that most children will only have a very basic understanding of. Themes like extreme discrimination, alienation, abuse of power, and whether the law of vengeful retaliation is ever justifiable are explored through the show. Its blatant use of transgressive ideas and imagery would perplex - as well scare - most kids.  

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  • Photo: Funimation

    These days, Serial Experiments Lain's depiction of technology and the Internet would look foreign to most really young viewers. However, its exploration of how your relationship to technology changes your sense of reality is very relatable to older audiences. Unfortunately, loneliness, dissociative identity disorder, and existentialism aren't easy things for any child to swallow. The non-linear plot doesn't help, either. 

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