20 Best Detective Anime Series & Movies Ever MadeThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
So let’s say you fancy Sherlock Holmes and his crime-solving abilities.
Do you like solving crimes only to end up confused or surprised by the mystery? Or do you just love detective-themed animes for the thrill of the plot?
Well whatever your answer, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m ranking my favorite detective anime of all time (including TV and movies) that I think everyone should check out. Let’s dive in!
20. Yakushiji Ryouko no Kaiki Jikenbo
An elite polyglot investigator, Ryouko Yakushiji must deal with supernatural forces while fending off her rival investigator.
Because competition is a must, there’s a deep level of attachment in this series for mostly every character. It sucks you in fast!
Aside from the pettiness of the rivalries, and the added paranormal theme.
This makes any relatively simple crime absurd and crazy, which is bound to keep you watching.
It’s a relatively “good” anime, but there are various loopholes and plot issues that you might want to ignore. Since it caters to people who love letting the “good” guys win, regardless of motivation.
This is a slice of life anime, but might as well include it in here since the key elements of the narrative basically revolve around solving a mystery.
The animation is impressive. It’s KyoAni after all.
But the story is locked up in small-time mysteries that Houtarou Oreki must solve, together with his sister, who forced him to join the club to do menial jobs such as uncovering the history of their club and other forgettable mysteries related to it.
18. Kamisama no Memochou
So basically, a NEET guy Narumi Fujishima was forced to join the gardening club by his classmate.
But during one of his visits to the shop of his classmates that she works for, he comes across a genius hacker named Alice.
So in just a single episode he was persuaded to join Alice’s NEET detective agency and he got entangled into a series of crimes that Alice will solve and he does the heavy labor.
Whew! A lot to take in but even more fun to watch.
Basically our MC is a side character. Nevertheless the story itself is entertaining but nothing impressive. Its predictable plot makes it a go-to anime for casuals or for anyone who wants an easy watch.
17. Mythical Detective Loki
A norse god named Loki was banished from his homeworld by Odin.
Now, Loki must collect evil auras that take over the hearts of humans, so he works in a detective agency that hunts paranormal things.
It’s a fun anime to be honest.
It’s nothing crazy and it has some goofy moments, but overall it is like playing Dragon Quest and your only quest is to defeat evil auras so you can go home.
All good animes have three people in it. One must be a girl, and another should be the straight man with glasses; this series has all of them.
16. Ghost Hunt
The story starts with the protagonist Mai Taniyama telling a few ghost stories to her classmates.
And now she’s about to encounter real ghosts, with the help of Kazuya Shibuya, the owner of Shibuya Psychic Research.
Although generally branded to be mystery/horror genre, with some eccentric problem solving elements akin to the detective genre, it is generally regarded as a take on Japanese cultural and religious psychic phenomenon.
A good watch if you’re into horror and detective genre but still want and easy-to-consume series.
15. Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning
Spiral is a story about, that’s right, another detective.
But this time Kiyotaka, a famous guy, disappears without a trace.
So his sister Ayumu Narumi will become involved in crimes and series of murders, solving them one by one that will hopefully lead to his brother.
Nothing much can be said against this anime as this is fairly old already.
But the plot revolving around the characters is something you don’t often see in this genre.
14. Himitsu — Top Secret
Japan finally perfected crime solving problems with the introduction of brain scanners capable of retrieving five years’ worth of memories.
Definitely a pick for the detective enthusiasts as it follows the moral and ethical choices the investigators, police, and forensic scientists will weigh in order to retrieve data samples that will help accelerate the investigation of crimes… even if they must invade privacy of alive and deceased subjects.
It’s always the old anime series that have real substance, huh?
13. Paranoia Agent
A golden baseball-wielding kid starts attacking random people but in a shocking way.
The plot that is running within the series is subtle and strikes the viewers with the same manner as the baseball kid hits his victims.
To give you better insight on it, it is extremely subtle, visually-pleasing, and atmospheric.
And overall a very well-made psychological series that will leave you clueless if you aren’t paying attention closely.
12. Magic Kaito: Kid the Phantom
It’s a Detective Conan by a different name.
And here the main character is a thief, written and illustrated by the same author, Gosho Aoyama.
So an evil organization killed Kaito Kuroba’s (the mc) dad, who happens to be Kaito the Kid.
He’s a famous international criminal that seeks the Pandora Gem, an item said to grant immortality if you drink the tears shed by it during the Volley comet’s passing.
Kaito wants to stop them. That’s it.
It’s basically Detective Conan with a consistency on plot. Still fun to watch for sure though.
Japan keeps sending peacekeepers to other nations which irritated the terrorists so they attacked the cities of Japan.
So the story starts as a generic murder-mystery and then our mc UN-GO enters.
Our main character will show up to a scene, and then his mysterious partner Inga will “interrogate” someone. And they need to answer in the full truth, or else…
Anyway, Inga does the interrogation, Yuuki deduces who the culprit is.
Simple, right? Well yes, but actually no.
The reason is there’s always a bigger truth inside the truth they unfold.
Something like a truth tesseract.
It’s nothing like anything I’ve mentioned, but so far as the list goes, this technically is a part of a detective anime series and it’s a heck of a watch.
When you’re not a big fan of crimes but you want to watch some easy “detective-like” anime, you’ll find that Gosick comes up a lot.
Gosick’s plot might be formulaic, as it generally follows a ghost hunting and mysteries revolving around it.
But then the tone will shift as the plot camera will pan to the main character, which is a pseudovictorian fashionista whose only hobby is to go out of the library to fetch some sleep.
The story is consistent and nothing ridiculous happens. It’s a good watch but nothing “detective” can be picked from it in detail.
9. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Set in near-future Japan, everyone when Deux Ex and prosthetic technology advanced the lives of everyone in the world.
But it’s not just the development in technology is rising, also criminal activities as well.
In response to the growing threat, the Japanese government introduced Section 9.
This is a group of elite detectives and soldiers to handle the growing menace.
The group is led by Maj. Motoko Kusanagi and Chief Daisuke Aramaki, they will eliminate everyone that threatens the security of the people, as well as cracking on the corruption of the government, inside and out.
Again, one of the kino or classics in terms of detective-esque genre.
Definitely a part of the classic anime series you absolutely have to watch at some point. And likely a pick for every elitist anime fan that might want this ranking even higher on the list.
8. Bungou Stray Dogs
The story starts when an unknown creature starts terrorizing neighboring livestock.
Atsushi, who is a battered child from an orphanage, rescues a suicidal detective from a river, believing that he is drowning.
And we discover that Atsushi holds a supernatural power which is a major plot point in the first season.
It’s not always grimy and dark, as the series knows exactly when to deliver the fun, action, and serious parts.
Probably one of the best detective-esque anime where the plot isn’t too attached to the elements in the first place, but rather to the action and general storytelling.
7. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo
The story follows the adventures of young Hajime Kindaichi, a highschool student who is the supposed grandson of the renowned private detective Kosuke Kindaichi.
Kindaichi is an enthusiastic detective and he will solve various crimes which no one ever did.
Basically it’s like Detective Conan, but with the multitudes of complex logical puzzles, more brutish murders, and the general gripping atmosphere of it makes DC looks like a joke.
Which makes up for its lack of crime variety that its counterpart offers.
You can pretty much figure out “who did what” if you pay attention to the scenes close enough. Still very fun and an easy watch after a tiring day.
6. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi/Erased
Satoru, a 29-year old pizza delivery guy, discovers he has this kind of ability similar to Subaru (from the forgettable series, Re:Zero) which he refers to as “Revival”.
Basically he goes back in time when he experienced a life threatening situation.
It isn’t as complex as time travel in Steins;Gate, or the explanation of time travel in Avengers, but you’ll get there eventually.
When he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he must rely on his ability to make everything right and set the chains of events that lead him there (in the timeline) in the first place.
Easily one of the best anime detective series where the main character is neither a detective nor a police character.
And with Asian Kungfu Generation singing the anime’s OP, you know it’s gotta be good.
5. Detective School Q
Unsolvable crimes are, again, plaguing Japan.
With these crimes running rampant and seems like they are fool-proof, even amongst the best detectives, five teens will try their best at what even the best detectives cannot do: solve crimes.
The story revolves around a group of classmates in the Class Q of Dan Detective School, which is being run by Japan’s greatest detective Morihiko Dan.
They’ll fight over petty things, solve crimes, befriend each other again, and the process repeats until all the felonies are defeated with the power of friendship and logical reasoning.
Oh yeah, they’re gonna fight an evil syndicate called “Meoisei”… or was it meiosis?
Just watch it and give it a try. You’ll enjoy it.
4. Death Note
Emo joker and bored shinigami, Ryuk, dropped a powerful notebook to the world to see how humans will wield the power to decide the fate of an individual.
Light Yagami, another bored being, was the one able to pick up the notebook.
He tested it multiple times to see if it’s legit.
When he verified that it was, Ryuk showed himself they had a meeting about his plans to be the God of the New World or something.
The police hired L, the world’s best emo detective to solve who is the culprit behind the rising death toll.
According to Light, criminals = bad.
It’s a cat-and-mouse detective series and has more twists and turns than the roads in Initial D.
A neurosurgeon Dr. Kazou Tenma was performing a surgery on an immigrant worker but he got a call that he should switch patients.
The switch, which gave him a favorable opinion amongst his colleagues, made him feel a lot of guilt and tapped into his moral choices and conscience when the previous patient he was operating on died.
When a similar situation arises, he chose to save the life of a young boy instead of a town mayor. However, when all seems like he made the right choice, his past will haunt him.
In this anime he will face the monster of a person he once saved and must do everything to set every wrongs of what he once thought was right, tackling moral and philosophical grounds of humanity… but also the psychological aspect of it.
It is written with passion and explores the boundaries of a person’s moral code and morality within himself.
Certainly not an easy watch so if you start this up you better buckle up for it.
2. Psycho Pass
Set in the 22nd century, Japan is the safest country in the world.
Making crime basically non-existent with the introduction of the “Sibyl System”, an all-seeing “cymatic” system capable of predicting an individual’s capability to commit crimes.
She is accompanied by a brilliant but rash enforcer, Shogo Makishima, a criminal-level individual who serves to hunt people who exceed the safety levels of the Crime Coefficient structured by Japan’s Ministry of Welfare.
Enforcers are basically hunting dogs to hunt bad dogs.
Together they will fight their way to uncover the truth surrounding the Sibyl system and the philosophical and moral aspect of justice in the society as a whole.
If you love police crime fiction and questioning human morals then Psycho Pass is definitely a pick. The opening is so damn good, too.
1. Detective Conan/Case Closed
A cult classic for the detective anime genre, no doubt this has to be here.
This is basically the Sherlock Holmes of every detective anime.
Shinichi Kudo is a talented problem solver and a prodigy detective.
He adopts the name Conan Edogawa and is living with his childhood friend Ran Mouri and his father, the infamous Detective Kogoro Mouri.
Watch Conan as he seeks the truth about the drug and the mafia that made him look like a boy scout while travelling around Japan encountering every type of crime he can solve.