10 Best Mind-Bending Anime Movies

Movies manage to thoroughly entertain the audience in just a few hours, and this is especially true for psychological mind-bending anime movies. They can make us think, question, and even learn more about ourselves in just one sitting.

So, if you are in the mood for some anime movies that can flip your brain over and turn it to mush, fear not, we got you! Here are the top 10 mind-bending anime movies that would take you on a psychedelic acid trip, flip your world upside down (literally) or simply shock you into oblivion. From deathly farts to colorful dreamscapes, these movies have got it all!

10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Also known as Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, this movie revolves around Makoto, a 17-year-old tomboy who gains the power of time travel and uses it to make things right in her own little world. She uses her newfound power to improve her grades and to solve romantic situations.

However, it's not all rainbows and sunshine as every situation that Makoto "rectifies" creates a butterfly effect of changes, resulting in consequences that she had never expected. Moreover, there is a limit to the number of times she can travel through time, but it is entirely too late by the time Makoto finds out about it.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a mind-bending anime movie involving time travel, not one at the grand scale of changing major world events, but one that seamlessly integrates sci-fi elements into a coming-of-age story. It is primarily a wholesome story with a focus on the relationships between its characters, but it also creates a sense of suspense and mystery that will keep you hooked till the very end.

9. Mind Game

Mind Game

This movie is one of the most well-known anime to deliver precisely what it promises - a mind game. However, it is slightly different from the mind game you might expect, as this one does not involve the movie's characters - instead, it involves you, the viewer. 

Based on a manga of the same title written by Robin Nishi, it follows Nishi himself as the protagonist. It starts off innocently enough: Nishi is a 20-year-old who dreams of becoming a comic book artist. He runs into his childhood crush, Myon - who is being chased by the Yakuza -  on the subway, and together, they go to her father's restaurant. 

The Yakuza reach the restaurant after them, and Nishi dies in the encounter (shot through the anus). This is where the movie loses all semblance of sanity and delves straight into a journey that is as psychedelic as psychedelic can get. You don't need to make sense of anything else once you reach this point (mainly because you won't be able to). Just sit back, relax and take it all in as it is.

While the title of this movie might seem somewhat straightforward, but it does not lie. This exceptionally mind-bending anime movie will completely upend your view of the world, take you places you never expected to go and leave you reeling from the sheer wildness of it.

8. Genius Party

Genius Party

Genius Party is an anthology movie comprising seven individual stories, all of which may range from heartwarming to downright bizarre. These shorts don’t have much of an overarching theme except for one commonality - the directors obviously didn’t feel any need to reign in their creativity. 

The anthology's title comes from the highly acclaimed first short, Genius Party - one of the shorts that fall under the 'downright bizarre' category. It features smiling rocks which start eating their own hearts and sprouting wings. Must we say more?

Genius Party is followed by Shanghai Dragon, which follows a young boy who finds a device that brings everything he draws to life, and Deathtic 4, about a zombie boy who wants to return a living frog to the world of the living. The other shorts are Doorbell (about a young man vying for dominance over different versions of his own self), Limit Cycle (about a man trapped in an endless cycle of work), Happy Machine (a terrifying version of the world through the eyes of a child), and Baby Blue (a touching story about two friends who skip school for a day before one of them leaves for another city). 

More than the plots of the shorts, what makes this movie mind-bending and worthwhile is its animation: every piece has its own unique animation style that compels you and keeps you interested.

7. Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is a cyberpunk thriller movie set in the year 2029. The story revolves around cyborg public security agent Motoko Kusanagi as she and her partner search for the Puppet Master, a hacker specializing in hacking into the minds of cyborg-human hybrids. This movie shows a vision of a society dominated by cyberspace and involves philosophical questions about humanity and personal identity.

This movie is probably one of the most well-known movies in this list of mind-bending anime movies, and rightly so. It is full of mind-boggling concepts, sometimes hard to decipher, but that doesn't mean it gets boring. In fact, this movie is pretty much timeless in how it never gets old. The more you watch it, the more new things you come across.

Every time you watch this movie, you go on a treasure hunt, reliving all the easter eggs you've found till now and looking out for (and finding) new ones you never noticed before.

6. Memories

Memories
  • Run time: 1 hr 54 min
  • Year: 1995
  • Watch it here: Prime Video

Reminiscent of Genius Party, this one is another anthology movie consisting of three sci-fi absolutely mind-bending anime movies.

The first one, Magnetic Rose, is a chilling story about two engineers on a spacecraft who find an abandoned space station and encounter numerous paranormal forces. The second, Stink Bomb, is a story with a hilarious premise, where a young lab worker accidentally ingests an experimental drug and gains lethal flatulence. In the third story, Cannon Fodder, a young boy living in a fortress city, dreams of being able to shoot one of the many cannons the whole city functions on.

This movie takes you on quite a ride. All of the three shorts are immensely deep and thought-provoking. After the terrifying tale of Magnetic Rose, there is a bit of respite in the lightheartedness of Stink Bomb, but then you plunge back down into an Orwell-like vision in the setting of Cannon Fodder. The shorts are placed so well; they come together to create a masterpiece mind-bending anime movie.

5. Metropolis

Metropolis
  • Run time: 1 hr 49 min
  • Year: 2001
  • Watch it here: Prime Video

While on the trail of a scientist accused of trafficking human organs, Kenichi and his uncle Shunsaku arrive at Metropolis and discover a girl without any memories of her past life. This movie follows Kenichi and the amnesiac girl, Tima, as Kenichi tries to protect Tima from the forces that hunt her. 

This mind-bending anime movie is not just visually powerful - the themes, characters, even the use of music are masterfully depicted in this piece of art. The setting is the city of Metropolis, situated in a world where humans and robots coexist, but the latter are on the lowest rungs of society.

Metropolis presents an incredible scope of the vast urban space, and the characters are also injected with considerable depth so that it is easy for one to get swept up in their story.

4. Patema Inverted 

Patema Inverted
  • Run time: 1 hr 39 min
  • Year: 2013
  • Buy it here: Amazon

One of the more recent movies on this list, Patema Inverted, is comparatively not as strange as the others on this list due to its extremely strong plot despite having a premise that is just as mind-bending.

This movie follows Patema, a young girl living in an underground civilization with an awe-inspiring network of tunnels. While exploring these tunnels, Patema accidentally falls into a giant bottomless pit and suddenly finds herself in an inverted world where people like her are called “Inverts” and are considered sinners. Age, a student of this inverted world, sees her and saves her. Having strongly resisted the “Inverts are sinners” propaganda dispersed by his nation’s totalitarian leader, he decides to help and protect her. 

Patema Inverted is one of the very best mind-bending anime movies you could ever watch. It flips reality upside down (literally) and flips it back up again, all this while maintaining a good plotline. You'll find your brain in shambles trying to make sense of this one, but it's worth it because nothing beats the satisfaction you'll feel when you can finally wrap your head around this anime. 

3. Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

Calling this movie a masterpiece would not be an exaggeration. Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller-horror film featuring a member of a Japanese idol group, Mima, who gives up on her singing career and sheds her "good girl" image to become an actress. Soon, however, she becomes a victim of stalking, and murders start occurring around her. 

The movie starts spiraling into insanity as Mima starts losing her grip on reality. The audience gets a firsthand view of exactly how confusing it is in Mina's world right now. You never know whether what you're watching is real or not. In fact, you might even start questioning reality itself because of the confusing perspectives the movie depicts. 

This incredibly mind-bending anime movie doesn't shy away from uncomfortable themes like the problems that come with stardom and fame. The characters are also beautifully fleshed out, including those who don't seem very important at first. The twist at the ending, especially, is one that would undoubtedly blow anyone away, thus becoming the cherry on top of this masterful movie.

2. Paprika

Paprika

Next on the best mind-bending anime movies list is Paprika, another psychological thriller. The movie revolves around Dr. Atsuko Chiba, a scientist by day who treats patients by night through their dreams under the code name 'Paprika.' This she does through a device she's working on along with her colleagues, the DC Mini, which lets her enter people's dreams. However, the DC Mini, in the wrong hands, could be disastrous. Thus, when a prototype of this device is stolen, and the people around Atsuko start behaving strangely, she knows she has to get it back before the perpetrator completely destroys someone's mind.

This movie is a feast for your eyes as well as your brain. It's pretty fast-paced and a lot is happening, but it never gets cluttered. The soundtrack will reel you in, and the crazed sequences will keep you riveted. 

The best part? The movie seems precisely like a dream. With its bright colors and unexplained dream sequences, you'd be left wondering whether you really watched a movie or if it was all a fever dream.

1. Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion 

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
  • Run time: 1 hr 27 min
  • Year: 1997
  • Watch it here: Netflix

The End of Evangelion is part of the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise and serves as an alternate ending to the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series aired from 1995 to 1996. 

The story is set in 2015, in a world that stands at the brink of destruction due to a race of monstrous beings called Angels. Humanity's only hope for survival is Nerv, a United Nations agency, and the Evangelions, giant machines capable of fighting the Angels. A young boy named Shinji Ikari, the protagonist is called in by his long-estranged father to pilot one of the Evangelion units.

The original series featured multiple psychological thrills already, with Freud and Jung's psychoanalytic concepts appearing heavily throughout the episodes. Writer and director Hideaki Anno's struggle with depression had led to the dark themes present in the series, but the movie outdoes the series in its use of psychological allegory.

The ending of the series was scrapped due to parental complaints and budgetary problems and was replaced by an extremely abrupt one. Anno puts it right in this movie, basing it partly on the original series ending, which never saw the light of day, and partly on his own frustration with the fanbase. Given this background, it is, of course, no wonder that the movie was every bit of a psychological masterpiece.

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