Psychological thrillers are action-packed dramas that often focus on the unstable mental state of their characters. There's significant crossover with the mystery, slasher, and horror anime genres. Because the content is often pretty disturbing, this anime is often geared towards adults. While most people think of live-action films like Fight Club or Silence of the Lambs when they think about psychological thrillers, there's also some pretty good thriller anime out there too.
There's a lot of psychological thriller anime that's not bad. Not great, but not bad. Some shows deal in harmful stereotypes, others lack good character development, and some have art that's just kind of weird and hard to look at. But, despite the imperfect nature of the genre, you'll definitely be able to find some decent psychological thriller anime series that you won't regret watching.
Satoru Fujinuma is 28 and living a mundane life. One day, he finds himself in his ten-year-old body, transported back to the past. He doesn't understand why he's stuck as an elementary student again until he meets Kayo Hinazuki, the girl who was kidnapped and killed by a serial killer. Now, he's in a race against time to save young Kayo, desperately using all his wits and resources to outsmart a serial killer that was never caught.
Another follows a group of middle school students as they discover the brutal secrets of a curse that's been plaguing their classroom for years. The art and animation are top notch, and the plot twists are engaging. Unfortunately, some of them come too early to be fully satisfying.
Also, some of the characters are a bit flat, which can make it hard to get fully invested in their bloody deaths. If you like blood and guts, and prioritize memorable plots over memorable characters, Another is worth a look.
Mirai Nikki, also known as Future Diary, focuses on a high school student named Yukiteru Amano, who is thrown headfirst into a fight for his life and the honor of being the God of Time and Space. In order to survive, he must use a diary that tells the future to help him kill the eleven other contestants for godhood. Already, we're looking at a unique premise with some serious potential.
However, some of the characters, particularly the owners of the other future diaries, aren't exactly fun to watch. One of the other main characters, Yuno Gasai, starts off as Yukiteru's stalker. In fact, her future diary tracks every move he's going to make. This is incredibly creepy, and while creepy can be good, Mirai Nikki lays it on pretty thick.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a dark anime take on the usually happy and bubbly magical girl genre. In exchange for dedicating their lives to hunting witches, young girls are granted a wish. Of course, these wishes have unforeseen consequences, some of which are lethal.
If you're a fan of genre deconstruction, you'll probably enjoy this show. However, if the unrelenting suffering of little girls who are just trying their best makes you uncomfortable, you may want to sit this one out.