Anime Underground Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids  

Hannah Collins
3.7k votes 1k voters 20.4k views 17 items

List Rules Vote 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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Death Note is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids
Photo:  Madhouse

On the surface, Death Note is the story of a boy, a detective, a demon, and a magical book. But, scratch a little deeper and you'll find a complex crime thriller that is also a supernatural horror fable rolled into one. The majority of the series is comprised of highly intelligent characters playing mental chess with one another. Though the anime does its best to dramatize these scenes (sometimes with hilarious results), densely written stories like this don't usually go down well with kids.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherho... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids
Photo:  Aniplex

Fullmetal Alchemist may have occasional whacky moments, but the gags are sandwiched between large amounts of highly conceptual stuff, like alchemic transmutation, the philosophical idea of "Equivalent Exchange," and the existence of parallel worlds. In addition to fantastical ideas, the show also explores some weighty, more down-to-earth themes such as discrimination, ethics in science, and the brutal aftermath of war. 

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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alon... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids
Photo:  Production I.G

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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Elfen Lied is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Anime Series That Are Way Too Smart For Kids
Photo:  Madman Entertainment

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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