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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18 thoughts on “Top 5 Mystery Anime”
** Note: I had to take a look at anilist to make sure the title I’m about to write were considered “Mystery” **
Looking the the “Mystery” anime that I enjoyed I realize they were often coupled with the supernatural/superpower genre or the horror one.
On my list I would probably have Hamatora and Psychic Detective Yakumo.
If I add manga exclusive, Moriarty the Patriot would certainly be on that list along the Count Cain saga.
Psychic Detective Yakumo is really interesting and one I don’t see discussed very often. Thanks for sharing your choices.
You should already know how happy my heart is to see No.6 and From the New World on here! And man, every single time you bring Sagrada Reset up, I am only reminded of how badly I need to get around to watching it. As for the mystery genre itself, I always lean on the Danganronpa franchise (even the first anime!) for my detective kicks.
Sagrada Reset is definitely not for everyone. But, if it manages to get you even a little interested early on, stick with it, because the payoff is definitely worth it. If it is boring you to tears though, then there’s probably better ways to spend your time and I know some viewers just couldn’t get into it because of how the characters are presented.
I dropped Shinsekai Yori early on because that slow burn as you say just really wasn’t very compelling to me, though I’ve heard great things and I might give it
Two that I really enjoyed were Hyouka and Bakemonogatari. Although Hyouka is much more light-hearted, both had pretty interesting mysteries and characters. I’m also curious about Shiki (but I keep putting off because it just seems too dark for me…)
I really like Shiki for its atmosphere but the end is pretty gruesome and if you aren’t really into that sort of thing it probably won’t work out for you.
I am, actually – as long as the story’s interesting/well-done. (I think that might’ve been my problem with Higurashi. I know that I dropped early on but it was such a long time ago that I’m not sure).
I’m glad to hear you say that. So, maybe I’ll finally check out Shiki.
I like your picks out of the ones I’ve seen. Is it me or does it feel like anime tends to do a lot more shows that are “x with mystery elements” rather than than pure mysteries? Then again, most of the “pure mystery” anime I’ve watched have been terrible (The Perfect Insider, Heaven’s Memo Pad, The Lost Village, etc.), so maybe it’s better that they stick to hybrids after all.
With that in mind, I’ll give you a few “x with mystery elements” anime that I like in various genres.
Thriller w/mystery: Perfect Blue. Messes with your head, in a really good way.
Sci-fi w/mystery: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I really enjoyed the overarching mystery of the Laughing Man story in season one.
Action w/mystery: Noir. Two assassins, one with amnesia, cryptic jobs given to them by unknown persons, and an ancient conspiracy. Takes a while to get going, but once it starts rolling it gets really good.
Romance w/mystery: The Quintessential Quintuplets. A harem series structured as a mystery, only instead of “who killed him” the mystery is “who married him?” The author said he wanted to write a series people would discuss, and boy did he ever. Its subreddit is a very lively place to be right now.
Supernatural w/mystery: Garden of Sinners. I’m not as into this series as some people – some parts got way too bogged down in magibabble and loredumping for my tastes – but at its best it could be really good, and the mystery elements of it were some of my favorite parts.
I’m with you on The Lost Village being terrible but I quite liked Heaven’s Memo Pad – not as a mystery, but as a character study. It was really interesting. And I think you are right. Anime does it better when it is something else with mystery elements rather than just trying to be a mystery because they really do manage to either make a mess or it just doesn’t feel satisfying for some reason or another.
Oh you made my day by mentioning my second favorite anime Shin Sekai Yori!! Thanks for that! I’d say my top five are Shin sekai yori, Higurashi, Shingeki no Kyojin, Mirai Nikki, and maybe Blast of the Tempest, but it depends on what you consider mystery. If Naoki Urusawa’s Monster is mystery, then actually that takes first place.
Blast of Tempest was pretty fun. I found the disconnect between the influence of that one and the story a little jarring at times but the story itself was interesting.
I still need to see Monster.
Monogatari Series and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai would be my top 2 mystery anime. Higurashi was great as well!
I tried watching Shinsekai Yori and was too bored to continue past the first episode. I’m sure it’s good but I hate having to force myself to keep watching something just for the possibility of it turning out OK.
Shinsekai Yori is definitely one that you kind of just have to commit to because it does take awhile to see where it is going and for things to come together. I didn’t mind it even early on because I enjoyed the atmosphere of the story but I can definitely see why people would drop it early on. And you definitely shouldn’t force yourself to watch something that you aren’t enjoying. Both Shinsekai Yori and Sagrada Reset are very much playing the long game though and in both cases they build to fairly solid and well worth it conclusions, but in the meantime they lose a lot of their audience early on because they aren’t really catering to the audience early on.
I really enjoyed Island from last year. That was certainly a mystery. For the most part I had no idea what was going on, but it was compelling watching all the same. Great ending too.
I did not get very far into that. I found it mostly it felt a lot like lost which meant it felt like it didn’t really know where it was going. Glad you enjoyed it and I remember a few bloggers had fun with it.