19 Experimental Anime That Will Trip Up Your Mind




Anime can be more than action-fueled shounen series, sexy harems, and endless isekai fantasies. Sometimes, studios and creators are allowed to get experimental with their work, which can lead to really trippy works!

Angel's Egg

Below are some of the more experimental and trippy anime around – you’ll find unique art styles, mindbending writing, and bizarre thematic material.

 

1Paprika


Studio: Madhouse

Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller

Episodes: 1 Movie

Quick Pitch: Atsuko Chiba and Kosaku Tokita have been working tirelessly on developing the DC Mini, which is a device that grants powers to dive into the dreams of others. The duo hopes to use the tech to help patients with psychological disorders, but there is a risk of it causing a mental breakdown in the targets. When the device is stolen, they enlist the help of Officer Konakawa to search the real and dream worlds for the mental terrorist.

 


Studio: Madhouse

Genre: Horror / Mystery / Psychological

Episodes: 13

Quick Pitch: Tsukiko is a well-known character designer who created Maromi. Under pressure to repeat her success, Tsukiko is attacked by a boy with a golden bat. When Tsukiko reports this to police, they believe that she is making up the event due to the stress of her job.

 

3Dead Leaves


Studio: Production I.G.

Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Psychological / Science Fiction

Episodes: 1 OVA

Quick Pitch: Pandy and Retro awaken on Earth with no clothes or memory of their past, so they decide to go on a crime spree in search of food and clothing. After being captured by the authorities, the duo is sent to the Dead Leaves lunar penitentiary. To their dismay, the facility is a secret cloning facility filled with deranged guards and deformed genetic experiments.

 


Studio: Gainax

Genre: Action / Comedy / Science Fiction

Episodes: 6 OVAs

Quick Pitch: Naota Nandaba is a 12-year-old boy confused about life who meets an eccentric woman named Haruhara Haruko. After running down Naota with her Vespa scooter and beating him with a bass guitar, Haruka discovers that Naota’s head is a portal that can cause giant robots to appear. The discovery pulls Naota into the middle of a three-way battle for the portal in his head.

 


Studio: Toei Animation

Genre: Action / Fantasy / Supernatural

Episodes: 10 + 3 Specials

Quick Pitch: Hidden within Kyoto is a mirror district that is home to yokai and humans living together in peace and enjoying immortality. One day, a young girl named Koto and two little brothers wander into the city from a different dimension in search of their mother. However, her arrival upsets the city’s peace because she shares a similar name to the city’s protectors’ mother – plus it’s unclear if Koto is a human or a yokai.

 


Studio: J.C. Staff

Genre: Adventure / Dark Comedy / Psychological

Episodes: 1 Movie

Quick Pitch: Nyatta accidentally drowns to death in their bathtub, which prompts his terminally ill sister to save him at the cost of her soul. However, Nyatta is determined to reclaim Nyako’s soul by following a clue sent from Jizou.

 


Studio: Madhouse

Genre: Romance / Science Fiction

Episodes: 12

Quick Pitch: Death is no longer a worry thanks to the ability to transfer memories into a new body. This technology has given rise to a gray market of memory theft and alteration, which has led to society’s fall. Kaiba is a boy with no memories but is in possession of a locket with the picture of a girl. After surviving an attack, Kaiba escapes into space with the goal of finding the girl.

 


Studio: Gainax

Genre: Drama / Mecha / Post-Apocalyptic / Psychological Thriller

Episodes: 26 + 2 movies

Quick Pitch: In the year 2015, humanity faces destruction at the hands of Angels. Humanity’s hopes lie within the Nerv organization and their Evangelion mecha units. Nerv director Gendou Ikari seeks young pilots that can synch with the Eva units and combat the Angels. Shinji Ikari, Gendou’s son, is whisked away to pilot Eva Unit-01. The weight of humanity’s fate on Shinji’s shoulders starts to unearth dangerous feelings within him.

 


Studio: Madhouse

Genre: Comedy / Drama / Mystery / Psychological / Romance

Episodes: 11

Quick Pitch: The Tatami Galaxy centers around a third-year college student who feels his life has been a waste. After meeting a “god of matrimony,” the student is given a chance to relive his college life and attempts to enter a relationship with Akashi.

 

10Angel’s Egg


Studio: Studio DEEN / Tokuma Shoten

Genre: Fantasy

Episodes: 1 Movie

Quick Pitch: In a desolated world, living among the ruins is a little girl who does nothing but collect water while carrying a large egg. One day, she meets a mysterious man carrying a cross-shaped rifle.

 


Studio: Bones

Episodes: 26

Quick Pitch: There is a demand for exotic aliens, and Dandy is an alien hunter who will take on any job. His companions QT and Meow accompany him on the ship Aloha Oe. Together, they hunt and register previously unknown alien species and try to evade the Gogol Empire’s forces.

 

12Welcome to Irabu’s Office


Studio: Toei Animation

Genre: Comedy / Drama / Psychological

Episodes: 11

Quick Pitch: Dr. Irabu has a fetish for administering injections to patients, and his advice never makes much sense. However, he somehow manages to help his patients with whatever problems they are facing.

 

13Adolescence of Utena


Studio: J.C. Staff

Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Romance / Shoujo AI

Episodes: 1 Movie

Quick Pitch: After arriving at Ohtori Academy, Utena Tenjou is swept into a series of duels for the hand of Anthy Himemiya and the power she possesses. The duels reunite Utena with her childhood friend Touga Kiryuu, but it is revealed that Utena must learn Ohtori Academy’s secrets on her own.

 

14Mind Game


Studio: Studio 4ºC

Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Romance

Episodes: 1 Movie

Quick Pitch: Nishi is a young man with plans of becoming a manga artist after marrying his childhood sweetheart, Myon. However, Myon is already engaged to someone else because she got tired of waiting for Nishi. After meeting Myon’s fiancé, Nishi decides to accept reality until an encounter with the yakuza. This kicks off an acid trip adventure that involves God, disarming guns with butts and a giant whale.

 


Studio: Studio 3Hz

Genre: Adventure / Magical Girl / Science Fiction

Episodes: 13

Quick Pitch: Cocona is an average middle school girl with no goal to strive for until she meets Papika of the Flip Flap organization. Dragging along by her newfound friend, Cocona finds herself in the world of Pure Illusion searching for crystal shards with Papika. As they find success, the duo runs across other magical girls from rival organizations.

 

16Serial Experiments Lain


Studio: Triangle Staff / Pioneer LDC

Genre: Drama / Mystery / Psychological / Science Fiction

Episodes: 13

Quick Pitch: Lain is an awkward fourteen-year-old girl who wants nothing to do with technology. Her curiosity wins out after she receives a disturbing email from a classmate that committed suicide. The email leads Lain to the Wired, a virtual communication service, but leads to Lain questing if her life is even real.

 

17Mawaru Penguindrum


Studio: Brain’s Base

Genre: Comedy / Drama / Mystery / Psychological

Episodes: 24

Quick Pitch: Himari is a terminally ill girl, but she is miraculously saved by a strange spirit that lives in a penguin-shaped hat. In exchange for extending Himari’s live, her two brothers must find the elusive “penguindrum” with help of three penguins.

 

18Osomatsu-san


Studio: Studio Pierrot

Genre: Comedy / Parody

Episodes: 25 + 4 Specials (season 2 is ongoing)

Quick Pitch: The six Matsuno brothers are little more than 20-year-old NEETs. When they try to find jobs or hook up with girlfriends, their wild personalities get in the way.

 

19Pop Team Epic


Studio: Kamikaze Douga

Genre: Comedy / Parody

Episodes: 12 (season 1 is ongoing)

Quick Pitch: Popuko and Pipimi are two high school girls that do insane things that don’t always make sense.

 

What are your favorite trippy and experimental anime?




Aaron Magulick has been a fan of anime ever since being exposed to it in the late ’90s. A fan of nearly all genres, he is not afraid to explore the creepier side of the industry.

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