The Best Anime With Really Complex PlotsThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Most of the time, I really like simple linear storytelling.
Everything gets resolved in a logical and straight-forward fashion, and there are no plot points that take me completely by surprise.
But sometimes I want a show to just grab me by the ankles, flip me upside down, and shake me until all of my nickels fall to the floor.
That was a weird analogy but the point is that we’ll be covering some anime here that are anything but straightforward. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.
Where other shows have to choose between quality and quantity, Baccano dared to choose both.
Do you want a really interesting and gripping story about the mafia? You got it.
Do you want a story about the concept of immortality? You have that too!
What about a rom com story with the most adorable outlaw couple ever? They have it all.
Baccano is comprised of multiple stories that all intertwine and intermingle, stretching over different time periods and locations.
Calling it a masterpiece wouldn’t be doing it justice.
9. The Monogatari Series
The timeline of this series alone is enough to make your head ache… that is, if you watch the seasons as they came out and don’t follow the in-universe timeline.
Characters come and go, subplots become entire seasons, issues are forgotten and then brought to the forefront, the curses become more complex and diverse, and so on.
There’s a lot to take in when watching this show.
It never feels mentally taxing though, as it does span quite a few seasons, as well as movies. But you’re in for a wild ride nevertheless.
8. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan was just a rollercoaster that never truly slowed down.
We’re introduced to a rather simple premise: people live inside of walls, Titans want to eat them.
But holy lord does everything become more complicated as the series develops.
All of a sudden you’re getting into politics, then history, betrayals, more politics, Titan lore, factions and so on.
With every season there are more chips on the table. And you’ll just be left waiting to see how it all turns out.
7. Death Note
At this point, Death Note has become infamous for its 300 IQ plot.
Even though the setup is pretty simple, being a simple cat and mouse chase, the lengths those two go to in order to outsmart each other is just too much for my little brain.
You have predictions upon predictions upon plan upon countermeasures.
Everything is a spectacle. And you really have to watch it two or three times to get every slight move that was made during this battle of wits.
I can say one thing for certain: this show is one of a kind.
It’s a very short series that keeps up a neck-breaking speed all the way, while also using some of the most distinct imagery and symbolism that you’re bound to see in anime.
I mean, it’s about a dude who can grow a robot out of his forehead.
Or at least, that’s what you see on the surface level. It’s the perfect show if you want to really sink your teeth into something and watch it multiple times in a row, decoding every little message and plot point that the writer left out for the observant viewer.
As a gimmick, time travel can either make a show amazing or absolutely trash.
Steins;Gate is definitely on the “amazing” side of that spectrum.
You’ll actually be hard pressed to find a more thrilling anime out there.
Although it takes a while for the time travel plotline to kick in, once it does, everything goes to hell.
The butterfly effect is at full force, and it feels like we’re just jumping around a world of endless possibilities and outcomes.
And don’t even get me started on the movie. That deserves a chef’s kiss by itself.
This series just did such a massive 180 that my ankles still haven’t fully recovered.
It feels like every character has some sort of intense backstory, and every sentence uttered has at least five meanings.
And once the show decides to be series, it arguably gets even more complicated, as it feels like no one is ever safe and the waves of childhood trauma really just take you by the hand and chuck you through a window.
The newer adaptation is a bit tamer, but where’s the fun in that?
I think this anime could have been extremely simple, had the characters just known how to communicate their feelings.
Everyone is so emotionally constipated that we get like 20 subplots all unraveling at the same time, while the characters never acknowledge any of them.
I absolutely love the series. But I can’t say that I didn’t wish for someone to just pull out the talk no jutsu and put everything to rest.
Also, bonus sexy villain points (among many others).
2. Blast of Tempest
This show gets overlooked quite often, even though it can cause a migraine equal to Death Note at times.
Just like in Durarara, everyone in this anime is scheming something. And there are so many lies and manipulation tactics thrown around that you would think you were just on Twitter.
That said, the plot is absolutely brilliant.
And all the headaches are definitely worth it once the show finally reaches its conclusion.
Looking at it from the outside, Monster is as simple as you can get in storytelling: just another cat and mouse chase.
But as we’ve learned with Death Note, there’s far more to this kind of story than what meets the eye.
Mostly that’s because of the main antagonist, Johan, as he’s impossible to read at any point throughout the story.
Couple that with some S-class worldbuilding and a very fleshed out cast, and you have a winner on your hands.
The show is a bit longer than what most modern anime fans are used to. But trust me, it would have been impossible to create such a masterpiece with anything less.