The Trippiest Anime Ever Made (Series & Movies)

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One reason Japanese animation has become so popular throughout the years is the creativity that animators can cram into visuals, sound, and storytelling.

Animation lends itself to surreal stories.

It can be bent out of shape and put back together in new ways. Lines and colors can be just as good as musicalization or outright narration in transmitting the tone of a scene and revealing a character’s thoughts and emotions.

Some shows take this to the next level, capturing the viewer and taking them on a genuinely psychedelic trip that’ll make you question whether the mushrooms on your vegetarian pizza were really portobellos.

Let’s take a dive into the world of mind-twisting anime that’ll take you on a crazy trip.

 

15. Tatami Galaxy

Tatami Galaxy Anime Screenshot

Genre: Psychological, Comedy, Mystery
Length: 11 Eps.
Studio: Madhouse

We all want to have a fulfilling campus life when enrolling in college.

But as it turns out, that’s not always what we get.

Tatami Galaxy is a show that pursues the “what if” moments.

What if I joined this club instead of that one?

What if I’d asked that cute girl out?

What’s so unusual about Tatami Galaxy is how the show tackles this question.

In every episode, the protagonist’s college life is restarted from scratch, with no explanations given. Yeah.

The art style is also quite unusual, and it just adds to the show’s trippy flow.

 

14. REDLINE

Redline Anime Screenshot

Genre: Racing, Action, Sci-Fi
Length: 102 min.
Studio: Madhouse

Set in a distant future, REDLINE follows genius driver Sweet JP as he goes pedal to the metal in the galaxy’s most dangerous death race.

This intense film will delight fans of speed and badass characters.

It’ll take your mind for a spin with vehicles and drivers that are just as cool as they are bizarre.

The animation is fluid, colorful, and stylish.

As the speed gets more and more intense, so does the animation.

Characters get deformed, and perspective becomes relative as they approach the speed of light.

It makes for some remarkably trippy scenes.

 

13. Paprika

Paprika Anime

Genre: Psychological, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Length: 90 min.
Studio: Madhouse

Director Satoshi Kon is known for his mind-bending films, and we’ll see a lot of him throughout this ranking.

But in this case, the film Paprika follows a couple of researchers-turned-investigators as they jump from dream to dream in pursuit of a criminal who’s taken control of their dream-exploring technology.

Paprika is not only a movie about dreams.

It’s also written like one.

You may not really understand what just happened when you first finish watching it, but the underlying narratives start to emerge as time goes by.

 

12. Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent Screenshot

Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller
Length: 13 Eps.
Studio: Madhouse

One of Satoshi Kon’s most famous works is Paranoia Agent, which follows the exploits of a mysterious and seemingly un-catchable bat-wielding assailant and the effects he has on the town he terrorizes.

Each episode is like a classic theatrical tragedy.

You know it ends with a bat to the head. But what happens in-between will keep you glued to the screen.

The plot has so many twists, it’s almost pointless to try and understand it the first time around – but don’t worry, it all starts coming together toward the end.

Like in Paprika and other Kon works, reality and fantasy – or, in this case, paranoia – slowly blend until they become one and the same.

 

11. FLCL

Flcl Anime Screenshot

Genre: Surreal Comedy, Sci-Fi
Length: 6 Eps.
Studio: Gainax

One of the most famously psychedelic anime in existence is FLCL – also known as Furi Kuri.

This show brings together a somewhat disjointed storytelling style with profoundly relevant and relatable themes such as the pains of growing up and finding your own path in life.

FLCL is a classic coming-of-age story hiding deep under a veneer of total chaos.

It’s also a mind-blowing trip.

 

10. Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo

Rebuild Of Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo Anime

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Mecha
Length: 96 min.
Studio: Khara

Set 14 years after the previous movie, this film throws everything we thought we knew about Evangelion out of the window.

The viewer is as dumbfounded as Shinji at the wreckage left by the Third Impact, and the new world of conflict that rose from its ashes.

There are new EVA units, a giant flying EVA-powered mothership commanded by Misato, and nothing makes a lick of sense.

The gorgeous, mind-bending landscapes and fluid animation blend with the genius musicalization by series veteran Shiro Sagisu to create a thoroughly enjoyable, if a bit nonsensical, experience.

 

9. Spirited Away

Spirited Away Screenshot

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Coming-of-Age
Length: 125 min.
Studio: Ghibli

Anyone who’s ever tried hallucinogenic stuff can tell you just how similar Spirited Away is to a psychedelic experience.

Throughout the film, Chihiro experiences a wide array of seemingly nonsensical events that are to be taken at face value.

Her parents turn into pigs, she explores the impossible geometry of Yubaba’s Bathhouse and even meets personified incarnations of stuff like a polluted river and balls of soot.

The absolute insanity and infinite creativity of some of these creatures and landscapes make one wonder whether Miyazaki ever mistook edible mushrooms in the forests of Japan for something a little bit more psychoactive.

 

8. Excel Saga

Excel Saga Anime Screenshot

Genre: Comedy, Parody
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: J.C. Staff

Excel Saga is a classic trippy (and profoundly offensive) anime famous for its nonsensical narrative and dark humor.

Excel and her blood-vomiting partner Hyatt are so spectacularly bad at their world-conquering job, it’s hard to believe – but the surreal happenings around them are even more unbelievable.

There are Excel & Hyatt impersonators, adorable alien invaders, politically incorrect mechas – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Among the craziest parts of this show are the misadventures of Pedro Domingo, an illegal immigrant from Colombia suffering through a modern Odyssey.

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for this unlucky straggler, but you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of his situation.

 

7. Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain Anime

Genre: Surreal, Psychological, Mystery
Length: 13 Eps.
Studio: Triangle Staff

Serial Experiments Lain was the first genuinely psychedelic anime I ever watched.

And needless to say, I was baffled.

Fair warning: it’s not a show for newcomers to the anime genre.

Hell, I’m not sure it’s a show for long-time fans either.

It’s as hard to understand as it is to enjoy the first time around. But once you get roped into the mind-bending flow of the series, it’s impossible to stop watching.

The show explores how humans are elevated to near-godhood by the Internet’s immense power. What does this mean for our existence? Our identity?

If you’re in the mood for complex questions and a dark storyline, don’t skip this fantastic show.

 

6. Tekkon Kinkreet

Tekkon Kinkreet Anime Screenshot

Genre: Adventure, Psychological, Supernatural
Length: 111 min.
Studio: 4°C

Tekkon Kinkreet is one of those shows that draw you in with colorful characters and beautiful backgrounds, then swipes the floor out from under your feet with a dark & tragic storyline.

On the one hand, the intricate backgrounds and fluid animation offer an almost psychedelic journey of flowing colors.

On the other, it creates a very stark contrast against the violence and cruelty of Treasure Town.

This cocktail of visual inputs and emotions is sure to make your brain short-circuit.

It makes for a remarkably memorable experience you’ll be recommending to everyone after watching it.

 

5. Kuuchuu Buranko

Kuuchuu Buranko Anime

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Psychological
Length: 11 Eps.
Studio: Toei Animation

After so many trippy anime, you might want to visit a mental health professional to make sure everything is alright up there.

Just make sure you don’t end up at Irabu General Hospital.

Kuuchuu Buranko follows Dr. Ichiro Irabu and his dangerously charming nurse Mayumi as they “help” several unusual characters deal with their psychological issues. These range from narcissism to OCD and even include a guy who can’t stop getting erections at uncomfortable times.

The downright psychedelic animation goes hand in hand with the invariably crazy characters and their hilarious antics, starting with the doctor’s three personalities.

It’s as wild as it is entertaining.

 

4. Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue Perfect Blue

Genre: Psychological, Thriller
Length: 81 Min.
Studio: Madhouse

Most people picture dancing pink elephants and unimaginably colorful landscapes when they hear the word “trippy”.

But sometimes, a mind-bending trip can get pretty dark.

Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue follows former idol Mima Kirigoe as she struggles to make a name for herself in acting.

As it often happens, some of her fans don’t like the direction her career is headed – and one of them chooses to take matters into their own hands.

Harassment will take a toll on everybody. But this stalker takes it to the next level.

Their extreme antics defy all logical explanations, slowly pushing Mima into psychosis and despair.

It’s a wild ride, but one you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

 

3. Cat Soup

Cat Soup Anime

Genre: Surreal, Psychological
Length: 31 min.
Studio: J.C. Staff

Have you ever had a fever so bad, it made you delirious?

That’s what Cat Soup feels like the first time you watch it.

It’s a tale of life and death starring two adorable – if cruel – cats.

There are references to the bible, unreliable narration, gruesome but deeply meaningful violence, and overall, it feels like you just did a heroic dose of magic mushrooms.

In a way, you could say the show tries to provide a childish perspective on the tragedy of life through Nyatta and his sister Nyako.

There’s a lot to unearth from this cryptic show. But it’s a fantastic experience.

 

2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Screenshot

Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Adventure
Length: 152 Eps.
Studio: David Production

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure continues to crank up the insanity through unusual characters and completely unexpected abilities.

You thought the Pillar Men were bizarre in Part 2?

Wait until stands are introduced in Part 3.

Part 3’s trip to Egypt to fight a time-stopping vampire is too tame?

You’ll love Part 5’s stand-based mafia wars.

With crazy poses, bizarre humor, and some of the most unorthodox battles in anime history, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure reminds us that life can always get more trippy.

 

1. Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves Anime Screenshot

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Length: 52 min.
Studio: Production I.G

If you like colorful animation, unorthodox character design, and stratospheric body counts, Dead Leaves is for you.

This show feels like an acid trip, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the creator was on something when coming up with this surreal journey into space Guantanamo.

Retro and Pandy are fantastic main characters whose chemistry keeps this wild show together, and every supporting character has their own brand of insanity you can’t take your eyes off of.

Nonstop action, dark humor, and raunchiness galore await in this hyperviolent show.

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