The Best 5 Classic Anime for Intellectuals

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Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion, or Monster – some anime are trendsetters. They’re liked by almost 100% of the total people who watch them. However, there’s a bay between the mainstream otakus and offbeat people when it comes to having a set of unique, masterpiece anime. Today I’m making a list of 6 classic anime tailored for the intellectuals. Only Studio Ghibli movies beat them.

This is a list of 5 classic anime for intellectuals, not the 6 best and most classic anime for intellectuals. Obviously, these are my personal opinions and I haven’t watched all anime in the world. If there are anime that you consider really deserving to be here but aren’t, recommend them in the comments. Sharing is caring!

5. Steins;GateSteins;Gate

What makes it non-mainstream: the science-based chase and romance with a flavor of geek-ishness. Steins;Gate might not be the best sci-fi anime ever, but it’s one of the greatest because it beautifully explores upon romance and friendship within its realistic boundaries. Steins;Gate follows a group of science-savvy teenagers accidentally inventing a microwave procedure to send messages to the past. This earns them the attention of SERN (parody of the European CERN). This leads up to the unending tale of cat and mouse chase.

Breakthrough features: depiction of sacrifice, friendship, and heartbreak with all that science drama. Rintaro Okabe believes himself to be a mad scientist and the story is about him and his sweet and salty relationship with Kurisu Makise. This romance is taken to dizzying heights in the recent Steins;Gate movie, Burdened Domain of Deja Vu.

Verdict: Steins;Gate might not be a good option at number 6 as it’s toughly contested by other great anime like Cowboy Bepop or Code Geass but it’s a perfect anime for the ones who would rather see science instead of space pirates or mecha-based world wars. It’s a must watch for science and romance lovers alike.

4. HetaliaHetalia

What makes it non-mainstream: exploiting the amazing idea of countries as people who have all sorts of relationships with each other. Hetalia is a splendid comedy that has the countries of the world as its many characters. We all know of nation stereotypes: British like tea, Americans love to chomp on burgers, while Italy takes great pride in his pizzas. All that creates a personality out of countries and their historic cultural heritage.

Almost all significant countries are thrown inside varying time periods (based on the particular season of Hetalia) including China, Japan, Korea, Canada, USA, France, Germany, Russia and on and on. All the countries have the properties we would already know: Germany is strong-willed, punctual, but shy. Japan is extremely peaceful and shy. China believes in adding “aru” at the end of each sentence while Russia, the big man who’s always cold, believes that “all should become one with mother Russia”, showing Russia’s popular stance of expansion and invasion-based politics.

Breakthrough features: being a subtle yaoi and a hardcore comedy, Hetalia ensures boatloads of fun and awkward moments for you to laugh upon. It presents the story of the classic European past and extends the story showing historic milestones of humanity like the World War.

Greece has been ruined and is trying hard to recreate his glorious past while Germany is busy being formally invasive. France is always a lovebird and Canada America’s little brother who loves to cuddle.

Verdict: The funny taste of world powers and their long-standing relationships makes Hetalia a worthy opponent to the classy anime for intellectuals.

3. Death NoteDeath Note

What makes it non-mainstream: the eternal chase of the good and the bad that tests the limits of wit, deception, and human judgment. Death Note is your ultimate supernatural detective anime mashed with plenty of suspense, thrill, evil, and heartwarming. The story follows Kira – a lawful evil, being trailed by Light – one of the finest detectives in fiction story writing.

For its high watch and re-watch values, Death Note is loved by a good proportion of anime lovers. In the direct sense, it easily beats most of the world famous Agatha Christie novels while giving a good competition to Sir Arthur Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series of mind-bending detective fiction.

Breakthrough features: the sophisticated drama is more than enough to glue viewers. Coupled with creatures from hell, and the power to kill with a notebook, Death Note puts your senses and ethics through a jolting test as you struggle to determine the evil apart from the good. Death Note will make you understand the fragile yet remarkable distinction between a villain and an antihero.

Don’t resist falling in love with both sides. Although Death Note has virtually nonexistent fanservice, strong humor, or anything in between – it has a couple of mysteriously attractive girls.

Verdict: Seamless mingling of a thick dark drama with an awesome background music, fantastic characters, and adventure of detective thrill makes Death Note one of the best and most popular anime out there.

2. MonsterMonster

What makes it non-mainstream: the high-voltage, stunningly complicated storyline that works like brain fodder as well as an enjoyable socio-political drama. The story is further fine-tuned by the blast of pure thrill that touches upon the line distinguishing thrill and suspense from dark horror.

Breakthrough features: Monster is about psychology, politics, neo-Nazism, European social paradigms, and within it the struggle of a Japanese doctor to somehow put an end to the monstrosity he believes to have created: the legendary Johan Liebert, one of the finest human characters to ever exist in an anime. Besides the beauty and mystery of this Germany-based thriller, Monster is applauded for its accurate touch of truism sandwiched between the sophisticated layers of mind-blowing drama.

From a dedicated police detective to a nature-loving, cheerful secondary hero, everything in Monster is gently real.

Verdict: Monster wins the heart of people because of its complexity and stunning way of storytelling. Thanks to director *, Monster has some great methods of storytelling including running multiple engaging arcs together. Splash that with an extraordinary character set and you know we’re talking history here. Although Monster has some traces of being overrated, it’s a masterpiece anime nevertheless.

1. Ghost in the ShellGhost in the Shell

What makes it non-mainstream: the idea of the story and the direction of the show. Ghost in the Shell talks of high-tech society and centrally struggles about the impacts of tech reliance. It’s a mind-blasting drama and the whole series feels like a classy debate about things close to us. Ghost in the Shell additionally argues in support of preserving the consciousness within a machine environment and the prejudice of ethics in an advanced, cyber-human society.

Given all that, Ghost in the Shell never fails short of delivering the usual thrill and adventure of a regular shonen show with its quality characters and high-pitch action scenes.

Breakthrough features: Striking animation, a well-suited ambiance throughout the story, and an undercurrent of typical dark mystery drama. Major Motoko and other characters are lovable and memorable to the very core. Depiction of forward life in anime style earns Ghost in the Shell a lot of affection.

Verdict: Ghost in the Shell is the absolute best anime for intellectuals. It has inspired the Keanu Reeves-starrer Matrix trilogy and the core subject of the story is highly advanced. More so, given that the story was written by Masamune Shirow as back as an upcoming live action film geared for release next year.

I derive most of my inspirations and practical traits from Hikigaya Hachiman.

  • The_Lazarus

    Honourable mentions
    Astro boy, cowboy bebop, Akira, neon genesis, memories, kimba