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Anime with philosophical concepts?
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Posted 3/23/12


Agreed. I dont think I have ever seen such a unique show such as those two

Posted 3/24/12 , edited 3/24/12


theYchromosome wrote:





Damn, totally forgot about the monogatari series. They aren't really Philosophical by nature, but there are some very philosophically interesting topics talked about.



Both Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari were incredible.


Haha, I actually tried watching those, there are some interesting concepts there, but it seems like a harem with too much fan service. I'm not a guy so it's not really my cup of tea
Posted 3/24/12

superluccix wrote:

The problem with labeling something as Philosophical is that if you really wanted to, you could label anything as philosophical.

Is something philosophical if it gives you a life lesson? Couldn't any show do that depending on the person watching the show and that person's experiences in life?


I see your point there, but for the sake of posting convenience we can narrow the list down to shows you find most 'philosophical'.
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Posted 3/24/12 , edited 3/24/12
It is obvious that the OP intended to talk about shows that attempt to explore questions of ethics, morality, universal truth, and so on (as well as spark similar questioning in the mind of the viewer), without necessarily taking one side or another of the issue. Another way to approach it is anime that turn the usual presumptions about life, the universe, and everything on their head in a believable (and therefore mentally stimulating) fashion. The arguments against his question itself are purely semantic in character--important, as it is important to use words properly... but one should ensure that a semantic argument is labeled as such (to avoid misleading readers into believing you question the validity of the question, itself). Perhaps the OP should have said "intellectually stimulating" rather than "philosophical"... but I challenge any of you to argue that his meaning was unclear.

Death Note is an excellent example, in that it pits a utilitarian lust for the power to change the world for the better against a moralist/legalist more concerned with means than ends, explores the characters of these individuals, and attempts to make you root for both of them, while questioning which one is the "good guy" and which one is the "bad guy". I distinctly remember the moment when I suddenly realized just how viscerally I was rooting for the one I thought of as "the bad guy" (Light), and was genuinely amazed. A villainous protagonist.

But the OP also asked for "general mindfucks." Paranoia Agent, baby, Paranoia Agent. Like a boss.

Zero no Tsukaima can also be, believe it or not, when considering the question, "which main character is less likeable... and why is it that I like them both?" :p

inb4 tl;dr
Posted 3/24/12

DASawyer wrote:

It is obvious that the OP intended to talk about shows that attempt to explore questions of ethics, morality, universal truth, and so on (as well as spark similar questioning in the mind of the viewer), without necessarily taking one side or another of the issue. Another way to approach it is anime that turn the usual presumptions about life, the universe, and everything on their head in a believable (and therefore mentally stimulating) fashion. The arguments against his question itself are purely semantic in character--important, as it is important to use words properly... but one should ensure that a semantic argument is labeled as such (to avoid misleading readers into believing you question the validity of the question, itself). Perhaps the OP should have said "intellectually stimulating" rather than "philosophical"... but I challenge any of you to argue that his meaning was unclear.

Death Note is an excellent example, in that it pits a utilitarian lust for the power to change the world for the better against a moralist/legalist more concerned with means than ends, explores the characters of these individuals, and attempts to make you root for both of them, while questioning which one is the "good guy" and which one is the "bad guy". I distinctly remember the moment when I suddenly realized just how viscerally I was rooting for the one I thought of as "the bad guy" (Light), and was genuinely amazed. A villainous protagonist.

But the OP also asked for "general mindfucks." Paranoia Agent, baby, Paranoia Agent. Like a boss.

Zero no Tsukaima can also be, believe it or not, when considering the question, "which main character is less likeable... and why is it that I like them both?" :p

inb4 tl;dr


I see where you're coming from, perhaps I should have been clearer. Intellectually stimulating and philosophical might both work for this post. Even if people don't post comments that are overly rational, detailed with theories and ideas, I don't really mind. This is just the interwebs and not a philosophy tutorial after all. But it it wants to be one I'm fine with that too.

Death Note is heavy on the 'what is justice?" theme. It also made me think of ethics and what is really 'good' or 'bad'. Personally I don't take Light or L's side (I may have agreed with L's methods back in the day when I was a bit of a fangirl), but now, I don't subscribe to either of their methods. I don't think there is an objective standard for justice and the good, it's all quite relative really. So I guess I take on the post-modernist approach when it comes to ethics and justice. However the utilitarian view where you try to reduce pain in the majority rather than increase happiness seems legit. After all, one person's happiness can be someone else's pain.

Zero no Tsukaima is not my cup of tea though, mostly due to the amount of fan service and the fact that the main characters are, for the lack of better terms, bratty little kids with ignorant ideals. But Paranoia Agent seems interesting, I shall give that a try, thanks Anon.
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Posted 3/25/12
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Kino no Tabi. The show deconstructed a certain aspect of humanity and presented it in the form of the city's culture per episode. I think it has the most different way of explaining philosophical things. It's the harder to it to sink in, but once it does you'll appreciate the meaning.
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Posted 3/25/12
What about...Mawaru Penguindrum? isn't that considered philosophical?
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Posted 3/25/12

blackcl0v3r wrote:
Intellectually stimulating and philosophical might both work for this post. Even if people don't post comments that are overly rational, detailed with theories and ideas, I don't really mind. This is just the interwebs and not a philosophy tutorial after all. But it it wants to be one I'm fine with that too.


As mentioned of course before, Code Geass is a good one if you like Death Note, and with a huge cast of ambiguous characters. They are both among my favorites, particularly CG.

Obviously I don't know what you've seen or haven't seen, maybe all of them, but here are just some thoughts. YMMV:
Macross Plus -- I got a kick out of re-watching this last month, because of how much as happened with technology since 1994, what with Vocaloid and all. Really, the themes were common ones in the 90s; it's just fun to think of Miku when Sharon Apple gets onstage.

Gurren Lagann is philosophical later in the series -- though it does have a clear take on it that I found a little heavy handed; I still enjoyed watching it. Earlier parts of the series had more of a satirical edge than a philosophical one (which personally I preferred).

Trigun -- the most seriously I've ever seen any character take of "though shalt not kill." Starts out comedic but gets more serious. The recently released movie is also good.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series/movie -- I wanted to comment on this one because in a way it's the opposite of philosophical, since verbose and vague sci-fi explanations of aliens, espers, and time-travelers are instantly cut down by the main character saying, "I didn't understand a word of that. Whatever." But it's an interesting case, because even though there are all these adventures involving aliens etc, the show is really about how the characters evolve and how their relationships change. The bizarre happenings just serve to underline the importance of the everyday stuff while keeping the whole thing interesting.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei -- Definitely not for folks who want a relaxing anime with dumb characters who want to save the world. A lot going on. In fact there are some elements that go by so fast you have to pause it to catch it all. Interesting art style. Nice and dark, I love it.

Madoka Magi Puella something-or-other, you know the one I'm talking about -- I just recently watched it, and will agree it's good, it's different, and from episode 1 make you question whether it's really a good idea to be a magical girl, and yet, even that question isn't that simple. Cool mix of art styles, too.

Princess Tutu -- dumb title, I know, but one of my favorite animes. While moral ambiguity is a feature early on in the series, it does get resolved, so I wouldn't really say it's "philosophical." It's not there with the purpose of making you think. It's there to tell a story. But it's a well-written story with a lot of interesting turns without feeling either cliche or contrived.

Rahxephon, maybe? It's been a long time since I've seen it, though I remember enjoying it and finding it to be like Eva in some ways but less overbearing and with a more ending-like ending.


blackcl0v3r wrote:
The reason I made this post is because anime nowadays (from my observations) have become more and more dull and idealistic. I can't seem to enjoy watching things as much as I used to.


Well, not enjoying them as much anymore might also have to do with your perception. I know for me over the years, a lot of "philosophical" stuff that would be interesting to me in the past is boring now because I've seen it done before multiple times. I don't believe anime has changed that much since I started watching it in the 90s, other than there being more of it.

BUT, that's me, so that might not be the case with you.

I like using Anime Planet to find new recommendations, though it always seems toughest after watching a series I REALLY like because at that point I just wish I could re-experience the series again. ;)


blackcl0v3r wrote:
Some may retort: "Meh, it's just anime, it's not meant to be realistic. it's a form of escape! You're missing the point if you're going to be that rational about them!"
You don't say? Am I really missing the point, or was there really no point to them at all?


I agree with you; if something bores you there's no point to watching it. Some people want escape, and others want something more engaging.

Posted 3/25/12

arachni42 wrote:


blackcl0v3r wrote:
Intellectually stimulating and philosophical might both work for this post. Even if people don't post comments that are overly rational, detailed with theories and ideas, I don't really mind. This is just the interwebs and not a philosophy tutorial after all. But it it wants to be one I'm fine with that too.


As mentioned of course before, Code Geass is a good one if you like Death Note, and with a huge cast of ambiguous characters. They are both among my favorites, particularly CG.

Obviously I don't know what you've seen or haven't seen, maybe all of them, but here are just some thoughts. YMMV:
Macross Plus -- I got a kick out of re-watching this last month, because of how much as happened with technology since 1994, what with Vocaloid and all. Really, the themes were common ones in the 90s; it's just fun to think of Miku when Sharon Apple gets onstage.

Gurren Lagann is philosophical later in the series -- though it does have a clear take on it that I found a little heavy handed; I still enjoyed watching it. Earlier parts of the series had more of a satirical edge than a philosophical one (which personally I preferred).

Trigun -- the most seriously I've ever seen any character take of "though shalt not kill." Starts out comedic but gets more serious. The recently released movie is also good.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series/movie -- I wanted to comment on this one because in a way it's the opposite of philosophical, since verbose and vague sci-fi explanations of aliens, espers, and time-travelers are instantly cut down by the main character saying, "I didn't understand a word of that. Whatever." But it's an interesting case, because even though there are all these adventures involving aliens etc, the show is really about how the characters evolve and how their relationships change. The bizarre happenings just serve to underline the importance of the everyday stuff while keeping the whole thing interesting.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei -- Definitely not for folks who want a relaxing anime with dumb characters who want to save the world. A lot going on. In fact there are some elements that go by so fast you have to pause it to catch it all. Interesting art style. Nice and dark, I love it.

Madoka Magi Puella something-or-other, you know the one I'm talking about -- I just recently watched it, and will agree it's good, it's different, and from episode 1 make you question whether it's really a good idea to be a magical girl, and yet, even that question isn't that simple. Cool mix of art styles, too.

Princess Tutu -- dumb title, I know, but one of my favorite animes. While moral ambiguity is a feature early on in the series, it does get resolved, so I wouldn't really say it's "philosophical." It's not there with the purpose of making you think. It's there to tell a story. But it's a well-written story with a lot of interesting turns without feeling either cliche or contrived.

Rahxephon, maybe? It's been a long time since I've seen it, though I remember enjoying it and finding it to be like Eva in some ways but less overbearing and with a more ending-like ending.


blackcl0v3r wrote:
The reason I made this post is because anime nowadays (from my observations) have become more and more dull and idealistic. I can't seem to enjoy watching things as much as I used to.


Well, not enjoying them as much anymore might also have to do with your perception. I know for me over the years, a lot of "philosophical" stuff that would be interesting to me in the past is boring now because I've seen it done before multiple times. I don't believe anime has changed that much since I started watching it in the 90s, other than there being more of it.

BUT, that's me, so that might not be the case with you.

I like using Anime Planet to find new recommendations, though it always seems toughest after watching a series I REALLY like because at that point I just wish I could re-experience the series again. ;)


blackcl0v3r wrote:
Some may retort: "Meh, it's just anime, it's not meant to be realistic. it's a form of escape! You're missing the point if you're going to be that rational about them!"
You don't say? Am I really missing the point, or was there really no point to them at all?


I agree with you; if something bores you there's no point to watching it. Some people want escape, and others want something more engaging.



Thank you for the suggestions and taking the time to explain each ^ ^ I will look up the ones I haven't watched.

Yes, a lot of philosophical ideas have been used and I'm starting to lose interest in seeing the same concepts be repeated. This is why nowadays I actually prefer live action TV shows. Doctor Who is very original in the ways it plays around with thought experiments and philosophical ideas.
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Posted 3/28/12 , edited 3/28/12

DASawyer wrote:

It is obvious that the OP intended to talk about shows that attempt to explore questions of ethics, morality, universal truth, and so on (as well as spark similar questioning in the mind of the viewer), without necessarily taking one side or another of the issue. Another way to approach it is anime that turn the usual presumptions about life, the universe, and everything on their head in a believable (and therefore mentally stimulating) fashion. The arguments against his question itself are purely semantic in character--important, as it is important to use words properly... but one should ensure that a semantic argument is labeled as such (to avoid misleading readers into believing you question the validity of the question, itself). Perhaps the OP should have said "intellectually stimulating" rather than "philosophical"... but I challenge any of you to argue that his meaning was unclear.

Death Note is an excellent example, in that it pits a utilitarian lust for the power to change the world for the better against a moralist/legalist more concerned with means than ends, explores the characters of these individuals, and attempts to make you root for both of them, while questioning which one is the "good guy" and which one is the "bad guy". I distinctly remember the moment when I suddenly realized just how viscerally I was rooting for the one I thought of as "the bad guy" (Light), and was genuinely amazed. A villainous protagonist.

But the OP also asked for "general mindfucks." Paranoia Agent, baby, Paranoia Agent. Like a boss.

Zero no Tsukaima can also be, believe it or not, when considering the question, "which main character is less likeable... and why is it that I like them both?" :p

inb4 tl;dr


Well, since it's a challenge...

Lucky Star explores the meaning of identity, morality, and knowledge all in a way that is accessible to many.
Naruto, also, looks at the ideas of justice, morality, and truth.

Was the OP looking for those? Is that what she wanted when she asked for philosophical anime? The attribute that determines if something is intellectually stimulating is the amount to which the viewer thinks about it. If I want to, I can ponder anything I want. Likewise, I am sure there are some people that watch something like Code Geass or Death Note, and don't even think about the Philosophical implications. Indeed, someone can watch Ergo Proxy, and bore themselves because they don't want to think about it. My primary point is that if you enjoy thinking about things, then simply do so. Fortunately, humans are almost always equipped to think at any time, about any thing -- I might argue about the nature of toast with my roommate just for kicks. It's like people that take a math course and ask "when will I ever use this?" If your use of the material concerns you, then FIND A WAY TO USE IT. Very little knowledge in the world is useful of itself. You need to find out how it applies. Likewise, If you want to think about an anime and its implications, then do it. I don't see how this argument is "purely" semantic. I feel like it has a very useful point, and I think it's important that a post with some meaning be labeled as such (to avoid misleading readers into believing I'm not questioning the validity of the question, itself.)

What follows is almost purely semantic in character: Every post, conversation, and argument that involves words is, by definition, semantic. Words are meant to express ideas, and the validity of the words rests in the ability of those words to match the ideas that the words express. This means that every post, conversation, and argument that involves words has meaning, even if the meaning is to express a lack of meaning. "Non-semantically" though, I do agree that the above posts were picking words quite a bit. But to say that the arguments were "purely" semantic, I think, misses the meaning. It's there if you look for it. Although, I can also see what a pain in the ass it is to figure out what the hell I was trying to say. I didn't really state it very clearly.
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Posted 3/29/12
Are you being facetious, or did your really not understand the intent of the OP? :p

But yeah, I appreciate responding to the question with an answer that may not meet precisely the intent... then explaining how it can. I did kind of the same thing when I included Zero No Tsukaima in my list. Unfortunately, having seen neither Lucky Star nor Naruto, I cannot comment on your suggestions.
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Posted 3/29/12
spiral is an anime largely based around philosophical concepts. You must watch it! Also yugioh season 0 is
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Posted 3/29/12 , edited 3/29/12
Seikai no Senki

If you've watch the first season, you can tell how much of a racist the United Mankind are to the point that they'll persecute anyone who look like an Abh and detest the concept of genetic manipulation (Abhs are the product of that technology).

Although the Abh themselves practiced absolute monarchy, all planets under their protection are allowed to retain all of their customs and government and will not interfere with internal affairs unless the government of that planet asked for support. The only thing is that Abhs will confiscate and disallowed the use of space vessels unless those individuals granted special license to operate a ship by the Empress(Lafiel mentioned that all space vessels in the Abh domain are owned by the Empress). Most citizen under the Abh domain doesn't seem to bother such restriction.

United Mankind on the other hand, well, operated like some sort of Fascist government.

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Posted 4/3/12
Come to think of it, I think Gurren Lagann can qualify. It's like they took the "rule of awesome", turned it into a science-fiction concept that underlies the very physics of the universe, and then ran with it in a fashion worthy of the name "science fiction"... but you can easily lose sight of that in the sea of awesome that results.
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Posted 4/3/12
Most serious anime or ones that aren't entirely ecchi usually have some philosophical concepts to them.
The plot of a story usually has an underlining meaning, even if it is Good vs. Evil or simply to always persevere under adversity.
Philosophy is pretty much the physics of human thoughts and ethics so you will find it every humans are doing something of importance.

Most Ghibli movies revolve around a deep underlying theme of the relationship of humanity alongside nature, or a test of faith, strength, will.And usually those movies do a great job of presenting those concepts.

Now Origins: Spirits of the Past( IMO) tried doing something like that but crammed the last hour of the movie into a superpower-up action-filled ending that feel empty and shallow compared to the typical movie of that sort. All i remember is everyone talking about nature then the kid getting superpowers and saving the world.

Anyway, the term philosophical is way too broad. Its like asking for a book with a plot.
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