10 Great Anime That Will Keep You GuessingThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
The thrill of the plot winding tighter as the twists occur, the furious finger-pointing and accusing at a character who later turns out to be a red herring. It’s all great.
Then, of course, everything comes to a neat ending and all the threads tie themselves off… or at least some of them.
Yep, for this ranking we’re looking into some anime with plots that’ll keep you guessing until the very end.
I’ve tried to avoid major and minor spoilers as best as I possibly can – but at the end of the day, I’m only a good-looking and charming human, so this is a spoiler warning for anything I might have missed.
1. Death Note
The cat and mouse adventures of Light Yagami and L Lawliet are stuff of anime legend at this point.
I doubt there’s much more I need to say on it.
But I will, because I’m here to entertain!
There are twists and turns aplenty in this show, with apparent and very literal betrayals, murders, and supernatural forces.
And we all know who the bad guy is – which tells you exactly how good the ride is!
If that doesn’t spell a recipe for a mystery that’ll keep you wondering why and how, then I don’t know what will please you.
Death Note is a classic for a good reason.
This might be an older title, but that leaves zero excuse to miss out on one of the best mystery/thriller anime adaptations ever made.
Granted I will admit, it’s not for the faint of heart – blood and bodies galore!
But for the risk chasers reading this, you’ll be treated to a show that I thought was so good, I watched it three times even knowing how it all ends!
Bold, brutal, and emotional with a twist that’ll knock your socks off. That’s how I’d describe this anime.
Monster will not only keep you guessing, but will keep you wondering how you didn’t see it coming all the same.
3. Perfect Blue
Very big warning on this anime, as there’s gratuitous… well, everything.
And Perfect Blue might be crammed into the runtime of a film rather than a series, but it doesn’t hold back.
Delving into the behind-the-scenes areas of the acting and music industries, Perfect Blue will keep you equal parts guessing and cringing as it unfolds in its horrific dream-like telling.
This is a film that’s quoted often as the inspiration for Hollywood movies.
Satoshi Kon’s debut is nothing short of a master stroke.
It’s a tough watch at times (I’d recommend looking up the differences of the unrated version to get an idea of what’s involved).
Still, it’s not one to be missed.
4. Higurashi (When They Cry)
Here’s another anime that builds and twists until the final shocking acts.
Higurashi plays with our minds and keeps us wondering until the final scenes.
It’s high-tension stuff that keeps consistently surprising and sucking you in deeper.
Though I guess the one thing that is a mark against Higurashi is the animation. It’s a bit… I guess the scientific term is “shonky”.
Thankfully Season Two onwards is a little more palatable for the eyes!
This one has a little bit of everything, but it’s the repeated subtle paranoia and flashback that, while tough to watch, all add up to an incredibly satisfying conclusion once the pieces fall into place.
5. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (Humanity has Declined)
So this is definitely on the list for its absolutely bonkers twist at the end.
This is a show that lives off of a shiny happy surface, but one that gets deeper and darker the more you watch.
If you hadn’t guessed from the title, the world has indeed ended – and we are treated to a very funny take on the events beyond it.
There’s a thick vein of social commentary which works too, and often goes hand in hand with the laughs.
But it’s the ending that brings the whole thing home. And while the questions that lead up to it have been building over time, the show takes a few minutes just to blow it all wide open.
Highly recommended viewing!
Here’s a slightly different take on a mystery series, as this slice of life anime might be a slow burner – but it’s a pleasant watch.
Hyouka follows the adventures of a high school investigation club, embroiled in a mystery concerning ancient evil and mysterious old books.
The show doesn’t sprint – in fact, sometimes it feels like the pace sort of stumbles over the answers.
But there’s enough here to support the wait in the romantic and story-telling sideplots.
If you like your mystery a little less bloody, Hyouka might be the perfect show for you.
7. Denpa teki na Kanojo (Electromagnetic Girlfriend)
You’d be forgiven for thinking this isn’t actually a show about a murder mystery, judging by the posters and the title.
But while there are romance elements, the guessing games take center stage here!
Visitors from a past life, a character who only wants to be left alone, and the aforementioned murder, all wrap around each other to create a situation where everything definitely doesn’t wind up being as we expect.
Oh, and there’s a twist too!
But with all that said (and no spoilers), Electromagnetic Girlfriend cements itself as a show that’s much more than meets the eye – and well worth the watch.
8. Terror in Resonance
A mystery thriller series from the creator of Cowboy Bebop?
Count me in immediately!
While there are no space cowboys in sight, we are treated to a sci-fi-esque romp through a modern day (at the time!) Tokyo, where terrorists have left clues to their motive and identity.
At the same time, a second mysterious organization is busy doing even more mysterious (and possibly world-ending) stuff.
It’s mysteries on top of mysteries.
And this feels like some real race against time stuff, with twists and turns aplenty, that keeps thrilling and throwing curveballs right up until the end.
There’s only one season, which is a shame. But what we get is more than worth it.
Satoshi Kon is back, and he’s inspiring even more Hollywood movies!
Yes, the stone-cold mega-blockbuster “Inception” drew from Paprika. And when you’re watching it, you’ll see why that was an easy choice.
Simply put, Paprika is amazing.
Utterly mind-boggling? Yes.
Unexplainable in parts? Also yes.
But that’s the point of the article, right?
I watched this film about ten years ago and I’m still guessing!
It’s wall to wall insanity, hopping through dream states and strange reality-bending escapades that I guarantee will at some point make you go “huh?”
Seek this out if you haven’t seen it yet.
10. Monogatari Series: Second Season
While the first season of Monogatari (Bakemonogatari) has its fair share of mystery, it’s the second season that really ramps it into the mystery genre – and plays around with it fully.
There are supernatural mysteries afoot all over the place in Monogatari, with each episode offering small exercises for the brain that all lead into the main missing person puzzle.
There’s a lot of good underlying commentary in the storytelling too, about how mysteries and problems can’t always be solved with sheer physical strength alone.
While it’s a little fan-servicey in sections, this is without a doubt the strongest season of the entire series.
Maybe watch the first to get acclimated, but whether you enjoy that first season or not, I strongly urge you to give this one a try too.