A lot of people love a good mystery. Okay, some people get frustrated and skip to the end when it is a book, but given the consistent production and sales of mysteries there’s clearly an audience. I’ll admit, I get frustrated when a mystery takes too long to get going, doesn’t give enough indication of where it is going, or the payoff ultimately wasn’t worth the wait, but when a mystery gets things right I tend to fall in love with the story.
Anime and mystery is a bit of a mixed bag and I will admit my choices of favourite mysteries are based entirely on my own enjoyment of the story as a whole. Which is why Hyouka isn’t on the list. I loved the first arc and first mystery but found everything after that a little less satisfying. The Promised Neverland I really enjoyed but not for the mystery elements, same for something like Erased.
However, as always, I’d love to know what some of your favourite mystery anime are and why so be sure to leave me a comment below.
Number 5: Sagrada Reset
Also known as Sakurada Reset a lot of people dropped this anime fairly early on and I’ll accept the reasons they gave. The character dialogue is really clinical and detached and doesn’t resemble anything you would actually encounter between normal humans. The pace early on is incredibly slow and while there are bits and pieces indicating a bigger picture and mystery it takes a long time to get going.
Despite that, the conclusion of this two cour series is perhaps one of the best conclusions I’ve come across in anime. Every single arc and story comes together and every hint or idea actually serves a purpose. While it isn’t a realistic ending by any means from a narrative point of view it provides perfect closure to the story and just made me want to watch it through again to see all those clues I missed. For me that’s the mark of a good mystery and this one ended up paying off.
Number 4: ACCA
If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you will know I really got into ACCA. The conspiracy focusing around Jean, the gifts of cigarettes, the plot to overthrow the ruler, all of it just really got me hooked and interested as I wanted to find out who was actually behind what was going on and how they would resolve it. This one ended up being a lot of fun and while it isn’t exactly driving toward a conclusion as we follow Jean about in his work and visit each district in turn, there’s enough going on and the characters are interesting enough to keep you engaged until the later episodes where the conspiracy takes a more central role.
Number 3: No. 6
Dystopian story where the government controls the news and people’s lives and those who question anything are arrested (or forced to flee) – that in itself is enough reason to be interested in No. 6. Throw in the mysterious plague with the insects that are killing people and you’ve got a whole lot of story to cover. I’ll admit, the conclusion to No. 6 isn’t as satisfying as I’d like. Everything comes together but that ending really just goes a bit off the rails as they try to wrap things up and go for the dramatic conclusion. Still, the journey to that ending is one that is well worth following with two characters that are just awesome to watch and a lot of social commentary packed into the mix.
Number 2: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
It seems odd that there aren’t more horror mystery anime in this list but the bottom line is so many of them are either more psychological than mystery or the mystery they present isn’t overly satisfying. Something like Another does a great job setting up its mystery but ultimately we’re never given any answers for what has happened. Higurashi spends a lot of time setting up its various mysteries and through the various time loops we ultimately get answers for most of them. Whether it is the strange illness that sends people crazy, the murder of Rika, or even the motives of the characters, ultimately Higurashi explores and explains everything in a deeply satisfying manner.
Number 1: Shinsekai Yori
This one is another slow burn in the beginning as it sets up its world and characters but it is one that is incredibly worth the effort. In addition to just being beautiful to watch, finding out the secrets and lies that underpin this future society and seeing how the central characters react and respond to each reveal is truly a delightful viewing experience. While it isn’t the kind of mystery you can solve as a member of the audience it is one that presents puzzling inconsistencies and contradictions as well as strange rules and ideas that allow you to contemplate why they exist before the characters are forced to examine them closer and ultimately find out a series of truths that shake their understanding of their world. Truly delightful viewing even if a little horrifying at times.
And there they are, my favourite 5 mystery anime but as I said before, I’d love to know yours so leave a comment below.
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