5 Mystery Anime That’ll Bring Out Your Inner Detective
Nothing shows off the flexibility of anime as a medium quite like sitting down and hashing out the brightest stars of every genre. There truly is something for everyone with more coming all the time, whether you are a sub or dub watcher. The biggest hope is this list will guide you to mystery anime series you maybe haven’t heard of or watched before. With that in mind, here we go!
High-Rise Invasion does the usual combo of mystery-horror, but in a spectacular way that makes the viewer constantly aware that safety doesn’t exist.
The show starts with Yuri Honjo on the roof of a high-rise building with surroundings that certainly look like the skyline of her city. Every roof seems to have no real way down, instead rope bridges seem to connect the buildings. The skyline stretches a very long distance, only broken by a massive spire that did not exist in the world Yuri is from.
While she can’t contact her parents, a call does connect to her brother Rika, who is trapped in this same world and calm enough to share some information on her surroundings. He warns her to “treat this world as pure reality, not a dream or an illusion.” He tells her that there isn’t any way to get down to the street nor are there accessible elevators.
While on the call, Yuri sees a woman fleeing from what seems like an ordinary man, but he is wearing a white smiley face mask and carrying a bloody baseball bat. Rika tells Yuri about the people wearing the masks, and that their goal isn’t necessarily murder, but to drive people “to the edge of despair” enough to jump from the rooftops.
High-Rise Invasion gives you answers to questions, but the answers only further the mystery and spawn more questions. It doesn’t fall prey to the usual “slow burn” label that some shows get that try the whole mysterious/unknown world plot either, choosing instead to pace things mile a minute, giving viewers the same little time to breathe feeling as the show’s characters.
The first season of 12 episodes is currently streaming on Netflix.
It’s possible you have seen some Twinfinite coverage of Danganronpa recently, as the Switch version of the first three games is coming in December. That said, There is much more to Danganronpa than simply being a video game. If you want a great murder mystery anime, there is nothing better.
For those who don’t know, Danganronpa starts with Makoto Naegi receiving acceptance to the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy through a lottery, pure chance. The school is home to students with unique (dubbed “Ultimate”) talents. By winning the lottery, Makoto is named the Ultimate Lucky Student.
Upon stepping up to the academy, Makoto is suddenly taken over by a dizzy spell out of nowhere and loses consciousness. He wakes up an unknown amount of time later and the school is drastically changed. There are security cameras in every classroom along with metal plates crudely bolted over every window.
As Makoto gathers in the gym with his 15 other equally trapped classmates, a black and white bear named Monokuma appears, informing the students they will be forced to play a killing game. This game starts for real once one student murders another. The murderer must take place in a trial with/against their peers. If they are found out, they are executed, but if they can deceive the others, they are free to “graduate” and leave the academy. This is where Danganronpa becomes an excellent murder-mystery story.
The first season does cover the first game entirely, but the Future and Despair arcs (meant to be watched by alternating the episodes) of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School (yes, the second season is called Danganronpa 3) help with covering the second game, but is otherwise its own story and not the third game in any way.
While the first season of the show does do all the legwork in figuring out the clues you would normally be doing yourself in the game. For those who haven’t played it, there is still plenty of mystery to each death and getting to watch the trials unfold without choices and minigames breaking the flow is a sight to behold.
Danganrona: The Animation is currently available to stream on Hulu. Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
If you love the Butterfly Effect and murder-mystery anime then boy are you in for a treat with Erased.
This mystery anime follows Satoru Fujinuma, a boy with a unique ability called “Revival,” which lets him go back in time minutes before a deadly accident will occur. To keep whatever potential victims from getting hurt, he must figure out for himself what will happen and how to fix it.
At this point in his life, he’s 29 and not achieving what he hopes and thinks back to when he was a young kid. When he was younger, a classmate died and the shock of that has always stuck with him. After a crime occurs that paints Satoru as the perpetrator, he finds himself pushed back in time 18 years by Revival, back to childhood, and not long before the classmate is to die.
The main mystery of Erased is how Satoru must use his modern-day knowledge to solve the event that changed his life and hopefully change the future he left behind. Plus, as the original story of the classmate’s death was somewhat hidden from the rest of the children, the viewer gets to go into the story not knowing much more than Satoru himself.
The entire series is 12 episodes long and can be streamed on Netflix and Hulu.
Simply the title Darwin’s Game (and its inclusion in a list of mystery anime) should give you an idea of the core idea behind the series: survival.
Sudou Kaname is invited by a friend of his to try out a new mobile app called, you guessed it, Darwin’s Game. Sudou has no idea what it is, but he trusts the friend. Upon accepting the invite he is bitten by a snake that comes out of his phone, however, no one else sees it.
His first use of the app puts him into a fight to survive with a fellow player wearing a panda mascot costume. The only problem is, Darwin’s Game gives its players “Sigils” that foster in their special abilities. He quickly finds out the panda has the ability to turn invisible.
Sudou Kaname must now survive this battle and any future ones if he wants to have any hope of ever getting to the bottom of the mystery that is Darwin’s Game.
While many popular anime and manga currently deal with either getting sucked into or lost in a virtual world, Darwin’s Game is still the real world. Surely we have all gotten sucked into a mobile game at one point or another, but what if that mobile game was a series of deathmatches against strangers and you have no choice but to fight? What if the learning process for a mysterious new app was also a game of survival? Sudou must figure out Darwin’s Game or he’ll die trying and the audience gets to watch as he figures it out (or doesn’t).
The first season of Darwin’s Game is 11 episodes long and is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Even if you maybe hadn’t heard of the previous entries on this list, it’s safe to assume you have at least a passing familiarity with Death Note and its place as the pinnacle of mystery anime.
Light Yagami is your usual moody youth, thinking he is better than everything and everyone. It isn’t until he comes upon a mysterious notebook that he has the chance to do something about it, though.
This notebook, the Death Note, has the power to kill anyone whose name is written down. It can even dictate the manner and time of death, as well. It allowed Light Yagami the power of the grim reaper. To test it, Light uses the Death Note to kill high-profile criminals.
Not long after finding it, Light is visited by the terrifying-looking Ryuk, a shinigami who is responsible for the Death Note. Ryuk has been enjoying how the Death Note has been used by Light and revealed himself to insert himself a little closer to the action. Ryuk also reveals that Light finding the Note was no accident, Ryuk dropped it out of sheer boredom to see what would happen.
It doesn’t take long for Light’s exploits to gain the attention of the young and bizarre detective, L. With this, Death Note quickly becomes a cat and mouse game between killer and cop, and the true mystery begins.
Death Note is a show that will have you cheering for the guy using his powers for his own sense of justice, while also trying to figure out how a detective, no matter how clever, is ever going to catch a practically anonymous killer who can kill from anywhere.
Death Note is only 37 episodes long and can be streamed right now on Netflix.
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