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15 Mature Anime That Take Themselves Seriously

Updated July 5, 2020 3.6k votes 879 voters 20.4k views15 items

If you have even a passing familiarity with anime, you've seen the common anime tropes that pop up in the medium. These include exaggerated facial expressions, chibis, fan service, OP superpowers, and more. These tropes aren't inherently bad - sometimes they're important parts of a wonderful story - but sometimes you want something different. You want a story that takes itself seriously and doesn't default to cliches. 

What are some great anime without common tropes? If you're looking for something serious and intense, try Monster. Want something calming and beautiful? Mushi-shi might be your next great watch. Want something so beautiful and bizarre that it's practically in a category of its own? You have to watch The Tatami Galaxy. 

Which of these trope-free series are your favorites? Vote them up to let the world know where you stand. 

  • Photo: Madhouse

    Plenty of anime offer a take on the afterlife, but none of them are quite like Death Parade. In this series, Arbiters challenge recently departed souls to violent and painful games that are supposed to help them evaluate whether that person should be reincarnated or destroyed. But while those games are intense and exciting, they aren't the heart of the show. The show's purpose is more philosophical than that: as Arbiter Decim gets to know his human associate, he starts to question his methods - are they really enough to evaluate the human soul? 

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  • Psycho-Pass takes place in a dystopian future where people are labeled as potential criminals based on a complex entity called the Sybil System. Those that are categorized this way are either arrested, taken into a reeducation program, or forced to work in a limited number of dangerous jobs. While this drastically reduces crime by keeping the population terrified, it also means that personal freedom is nonexistent, and countless people suffer through no fault of their own. 

    The series offers an in-depth look at the consequences of such a society, while always remaining thrilling.

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  • Ghost In The Shell is frequently regarded as one of the best anime out there, and for good reason: in its storytelling, characters and art, it has little use for conventional anime tropes. The series takes place in a futuristic society where much of society exists in cyberspace, and as a result cybernetic crimes run rampant. Public Security Section 9, an organization spearheaded by Major Motoko Kusanagi, takes on cases where people manipulate the technology for the own nefarious ends. 

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  • Photo: Artland

    Mushi-shi is a gorgeously done anime that follows a man named Ginko as he travels the world solving problems caused by mushi. Mushi are lifeforms that don't quite fit into any known genus. Some are harmless, while others create chaos by giving people psychic powers, trapping them in eternal forests, or giving them the ability to make their drawings come to life. But while some anime would turn the premise into an excuse for battle, Mushi-shi's focus is on harmony between humanity and nature.

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