We’re drawn to anime because it allows us, as viewers, to be transported to a world unlike our own. Whether it be a small, hilariously awkward glimpse into school life in a culture other than your own or a tale of adventure in a completely magical world, often times the reasons we approach them are positive.
However, when it comes to “mad anime,” that’s not the case. Not to be confused with “insane anime,” or “psycho anime,” the concept of mad has more to do with an overall sense of anger motivating main or supporting characters, rather than an altered mental state (although those elements can be involved). Whether it be a personal vendetta or a righteous anger at a suppressive system keeping society down, the following ten anime will get viewers worked up as much as the characters involved! Here are our Top 10 Mad Anime.
10. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2012 – April 2013
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a long-running mainstay in both the anime and manga scene in Japan. The plot revolves around the Joestar family, a wealthy family of nobles who learn, often the hard way, that their destiny is to battle supernatural foes and save the world. The first season tells the story of Jonathan Joestar and his adoptive brother, Dio Brando.
Dio is a devious character motivated solely by jealousy and anger. Despite the kindness showed to him by the patriarch of the Joestar family, George, and his adoptive brother Jonathan, Dio plans to take George out of the picture and usurp Jonathan’s place as heir to their family estate and fortune. Dio’s calculated efforts to tear Jonathan’s life apart piece by piece are mostly successful, and also sow the seeds of his downfall. The righteous rage caused by Dio’s actions fuel him in his fight maintain the safety of his legacy, and after an encounter with an ancient, vampire-creating relic, the entire world.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2012 – March 2013
Psycho-Pass is set in a dystopian version of our world, in the year 2113. In the society depicted, the Sibyl System actively measures the population’s mental state, indexing their personality and calculating the probability that they will commit a crime. The corresponding coefficient is the titular “psycho-pass,” and once individuals pass a certain threshold, they are pursued by the Public Safety Bureau for apprehension or even death.
The righteous anger felt by a society who faces punitive action at the mere possibility of crime is understandable, not only to the audience but by the antagonist of the first season, criminally asymptomatic mastermind Shogo Makishima. In his efforts to tear the Sibyl System from its roots, he harnesses the anger of the masses to incite riots and cause chaos, leaving the building the system is housed in, vulnerable. When a fellow officer goes down in the line of duty trying to stop Shogo, rage forces the protagonists to interpret how real the line is between justice and vengeance.
8. Serial Experiments Lain
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 1998 – September 1998
Serial Experiments Lain is a psychedelic, sci-fi rollercoaster that focuses on protagonist Lain Iwakura, an introverted adolescent girl in a suburban, middle-class family. Her life becomes increasingly complicated when she is introduced to “the Wired,” a global communications network that is essentially the Internet on steroids. When she discovers that classmates have been receiving online communications from a former classmate who committed suicide, a series of increasingly surreal events send Lain on a collision course with Masami Eiri.
Masami seeks to utilize Lain in order to break down the wall between the Wired and reality, giving him complete dominion over the world, and all digital information. Masami uses any means necessary to try to convince Lain to give in to his plan, even threats of anger-fueled violence. Without giving away the conclusion of the series, the distance and pain Lain feels from her treatment by her peers, her family, and Masami lead her to explore what is really important to her.
7. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: February 2006 – August 2006
The philosophical cyberpunk tale of Ergo Proxy takes place in a dystopian, futuristic domed city called Romdeau, which was created by humans to save them from an unnamed ecological disaster thousands of years before the show’s main events. Society is comprised of humans, as well as robots and androids called AutoReivs.
All is not what it seems, as the AutoReivs gain self-awareness through the acquisition of a virus, and begin to feel indignant rage at their place in society as lower than humans, and begin committing indiscriminate murder. Re-l is a human sent to investigate these murders with her AutoReiv partner, Iggy, which leads her down a rabbit hole that threatens the very future of humanity. Anger isn’t the only emotion pulled to the surface by the mind-bending events of the plot, which provides a thoughtful tableau for what it means to be human.
6. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2008 – September 2008
Code Geass is set in a bleak alternate timeline of Earth, where the world has been carved up by three warring empires; the Holy Britannia Empire (comprised of Britain and the Americas), the Chinese Federation that controls Asia, as well as the European Union (of which Africa is also a part). After Britannia gains the advantage in war with their new weapon, giant mecha known as Knightmare Frames, they conquer Japan and strip its citizens of their civil liberties and freedom.
The main protagonist of the story, Britannian prince Lelouch Lamperouge, is sent to live in occupied Japan with his sister as a political prisoner after the assassination of his mother. Lelouch is an affable, if an arrogant young man, with a strong moral compass; his anger at the events that led to his exile have cemented his resolve to make the world a better place, although he is willing to do so regardless of the cost or collateral damage. His ruthless dedication to his cause often puts him at odds with those closest to him, especially once he is granted a mysterious power to control those around him.
5. ERASED (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi, also known as ERASED, is a time-traveling, mind-bending, story focused on a series of mysterious murders. Protagonist Satoru Fujinuma has a unique ability called “revival,” which allows him to relive and change events in the past. At the outset of the story, he can only relive past events from a few moments before, but when his mother is murdered, he is suddenly sent back to his time in elementary school, which gives him the chance to prevent the mysterious disappearances of his classmates, and get to the bottom of his mother’s murder.
While there is no question that the mysterious antagonist of the ERASED is mad in every sense of the word, his angry, sociopathic outlook on humanity set the entire series of events in order. Likewise, Satoru’s sadness and anger drive him to never give up when it comes to saving the lives of those around him and discovering the truth. Without revealing too much about the intensely harrowing story, Satoru learns that even positive changes can have costly outcomes.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 1997 – March 1998
The dark fantasy drama Berserk centers around the exploits of the mercenary Guts, who joins the mercenary troupe The Band of the Hawk, whose powerful, charismatic leader Griffith makes him his right-hand man. The combined prowess of the two helps create a legendary reputation for the Band, who play a pivotal role in ending a long-standing war that has ravaged the world of Midland. When Guts leaves the Band to pursue his own ambitions, Griffith’s anger, and disappointment drive him to attack the princess, and result in a long internment in a royal jail cell.
Upon witnessing the ravages of his internment, Griffith activates a magical behelit and begins a savage journey down a path of madness. He betrays his former comrades for the sake of his ambition. Guts is a man driven to great extremes by Griffith’s madness, and his anger at the betrayal of his former comrade isn’t enough to prevent Griffith’s schemes from coming to fruition.
3. Afro Samurai
- Episodes: 5
- Aired: January 2007 – February 2007
The anachronistic blend of futurism and feudalism informs the bleak, ruthless world of Afro Samurai. Warriors wear headbands to represent their martial prowess; Number 1 is the best fighter in the land, and can only be challenged by Number 2. However, Number 2 can be challenged by the bearer of any headband, and must either bravely challenge Number 1, or face constant danger from those seeking the Number 2 spot. The titular afro samurai witnesses his father’s murder by aspiring Number 1, Justice, and swears revenge. Justice tells him he’ll be waiting.
Afro Samurai is a classic revenge tale, a la Tarantino revenge flick, Kill Bill. Afro’s quest to become a swordsman worthy of challenging Justice also creates an intense, anger-fueled rivalry between his childhood friend, Jinno, who blames tragedy that befalls him on Afro. The show is a short and sweet meditation on what revenge is actually worth.
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: April 2004 – September 2005
For a show that combines elements of psychological anime and mad anime, look no further than Monster. It tells the story of Dr. Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon working in Germany who seems to have it all; his unparalleled professional talent has led him to the top of his field and garnered the favor of the powers that be at the hospital he works at, as well as the love of his boss’s daughter.
All that changes after a horrifying accident result in Tenma having to make a choice between saving the lives of innocent twins, Johan, and Anna, or the mayor of Dusseldorf. Following his compassionate instincts costs Tenma more than he could ever reckon, and sets into motion a series of events that drag him through the underbellies of society, and into a very real heart of darkness. His anger at the domino effects of his actions makes him question his humanity, and force him to ask whether it is worth becoming a monster to stop a monster
- Episodes: Feature-Length Film
- Aired: July 1998
Based off of the hit manga of the same name, Akira is a dystopian masterpiece widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi films of all time. After a catastrophic explosion resembling a nuclear warhead destroys Tokyo in 1998, Neo Tokyo rises from the ashes. In 2019, the city is a sprawling shadow of its former self; although it is set to host the Olympic games, the city is rife with violence, as gangs have run of the city with near impunity, and anti-government activity results in martial law.
Almost every aspect of Akira embodies anger. The city itself is an expression of Japan’s fatigue and anger at their government in the post-war period, and the characters have plenty to spare. Whether it's the complex, insecurity-fueled relationship between adversaries Kaneda and Tetsuo, or that towards the government as represented by the group Kei is a part of, everyone in the film has a stake in the city, and shares in the anger of the events that continue to tear it apart.
With that, our list of Top 10 Mad Anime comes to a close. As we can see from the list, anger is a powerful emotion that fuels a lot of conflicts, regardless of whether it is justified or merely in one’s head. Are there any anime tell explore the complex facets of our relationship with anger that deserve to be on the list? Sign off in the comments below and let us know!