The best anime are heralded for featuring captivating, unique visuals and complex characters who grow and mature over time. Despite all this, anime stories aren't always super complex. Particularly in shonen series, narrative arcs often boil down to an endless series of battles, a loner hero who eventually achieves social acceptance, or a one-sided crush that will probably never pan out.
However, anime is a sprawling style, and there's room for thought-provoking, intelligent anime, in addition to the slew of high school dramas and tournament arcs. Some smart anime series tackle mature themes, such as Ghost in the Shell, which dares to question the nature of humanity. Other shows offer a critique of traditional anime conventions; after you finish Neon Genesis Evangelion, you'll probably think about your favorite shows in a whole new way. These brilliant anime aren't for everyone, but for viewers looking to expand their minds, they can take you to places you'd never previously considered.