3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take 2

No. It’s not Anime Season (our resident anime geek). Uncle Geekly’s back with another anime 3 Lists of 3. If you didn’t catch Take 1, this series hopes to provide a starting place for people new to anime. It differs from our typical For Starters series because I won’t go into too much detail with each series—for the most part—and it’ll act more like if you like this genre or subgenre, you may like this title.

Truth time. I’m breaking that mold with the group of lists this week. Uncle Geekly will focus on some of the more popular anime subgenres that aren’t as prevalent in the West. With that said it’s time for 3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take Two.

Psychological Anime

I won’t go into too much detail with how to spot a psychological anime because Arthifis of Anime Shelter does a great job of breaking down the genre with his writeup. For those of you who want to take a deeper dive into what makes an anime psychological you can check out Arthifis’s article. To save time, I’ll skip to a paraphrased bullet point definition that Arthifis unearths:

1) The anime puts its characters in high amounts of psychological distress. We’re talking multiple levels of psychological tension.

2) The anime includes mind games, meaning that the characters win by lying or manipulating others.

3) It focuses on psychological illness.

4) It messes with your psyche by showing the viewer a perspective that greatly differs from the norm.

Few of the following anime use all these four points, but they’ll use at least a couple. Here we go.


Death Note

The characters of Death Note play mind games. Lots and lots of mind games. A death note, a notebook that allows its owner to kill someone they think of by writing their name in the book while thinking of their face, drops in the lap of precocious high school student Light Yagami. Like most people who receive a gift like this, Light brands himself the god Kira and starts killing criminals worldwide. An enigmatic and equally intelligent detective known as L hunts Kira and so begins the chess match.

There’s a lot to unpack with Death Note. It’s one part murder mystery (in the vein of Columbo because the viewer knows who the killer is, it’s just a matter of how and if they’ll be caught), cosmic fantasy, and philosophical—as well as psychological—thriller. Kira or Light wants to be a bastion of justice and decency, but he has flawed judgement. At one point, L questions Kira’s logic: if all the world’s criminals disappear, then the only murderer left in the world is Kira.

So many moral questions are posed with Death Note, no wonder it’s one of the most popular psychological anime.


Paranoia Agent

I went back and forth between two Satoshi Kon titles with this second pick: Paprika and Paranoia Agent. Kon was the grand master of psychological anime and it’s shame we lost him so young. One could pick any number of Kon’s work, but I went with Paranoia Agent because it’s not as familiar to the western world—and it happens to be excellent.

Paranoia Agent centers on a serial killer—or serial baseball bat basher—little slugger and how he terrorizes the town. Well. That’s Paranoia Agent’s hook. The story goes on and off the rails from there, forcing citizens to face their inner demons. I don’t want to say too much, but there’s plenty of trauma and psychological stress/tension in Paranoia Agent and it deserves a little more love.


March Comes in Like a Lion

Some don’t like March Comes in Like a Lion because it may not have as much of a story as they would like, but that’s due—in part—to the fact that it’s character-driven. The series follows the everyday life of a 17-year-old Shogi player Rei who lives by himself after his parents and sister die in an accident.

Rei shuts himself off from his foster family and doesn’t have many friends. His only interactions—at first—are out of obligation. March Comes in Like a Lion deals with psychological trauma, loss, and mental illness in a way few other anime attempt.


Isekai loosely translates to stranger in a strange land and like the Robert Heinlein novel of that name (Stranger in a Strange Land), main characters in Isekai are foreigners in a strange land. Sometimes the characters are humans exploring new worlds, but it can be flipped with a fantasy character thrust in the mundane modern world. This may seem like a niche genre but for anime, it’s more prevalent.


Spirited Away

I had to include this one. To date, Spirited Away is the only anime to receive an Academy Award and it happens to be an Isekai. Ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino (later renamed Sen) is trapped in the spirit world, and the spirit world is nothing like our own—to put it mildly. Sen faces discrimination because she’s still alive and not a spirit. She gets lost in this world, but ultimately finds her place in it.

Spirited Away is anime that must be experienced. I could break down each moment, of which there are several classic one, but the journey makes this bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) work.


The Devil is a Part-Timer

The title The Devil is a Part-Timer is odd, but it works. The Devil is forced into a human suit and he must work a part-time job to sustain himself. Yeah. This is the oddest show on this list—maybe—and the most over-the-top. If the Devil flipping burgers is your brand of comedy, The Devil is a Part-Timer has you covered. You’re bound to find a few chuckles.


No Game No Life

No Game No Life could qualify for the next list of anime too (Game), but I included here because sending famous online gamers to a world in which all they do is play gambling games is more of an Isekai concept. Sora and Shiro are two of the best gamers in the world and when a god from another reality Tet challenges them to a game of Chess and they win, they’re sent to a reality known as Disboard.

No Game No Life is another strange entry, but it wouldn’t be a stranger in a strange land without a little strange.


Yep. I had to include the game anime genre because I’m the tabletop game geek of the group, but game anime are really common as well. Game anime involve a game being played. We’re talking board game, video game, or the most dangerous game. Not joking about that last one. Anything that sends the main characters into a game or follows characters who happen to be a part of a game fits this genre. Let’s get our game on.


Sword Art Online

I’m not the biggest Sword Art Online fan. The premise is okay, virtual reality video game players are stuck in their favorite online game and must win back their freedom, but the story is uneven (the story should’ve started later in the series—around episode nine or ten). Still, Sword Art Online ushered in a wave of game anime.

Sword Art Online instituted a lot of the tropes viewers will see in other game anime, so it’s a great place to start for the genre.



If you like Sword Art Online, you may like Btooom!. This time players of a violent video game (one in which players bomb other players) are put on a deserted island where they play the game in real life.

Btooom! explores the difference between video game violence and real-world violence. It asks if video games beget real-world violence. Either that or it’s a blast. Main character Ryota Sakamoto doesn’t want to hurt anyone and wonders why someone would want to make a live-action Btooom! game. Btooom! traverses Truman Show waters to show that all is not what it seems.


Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

This list has gotten too serious. Let’s go with a series that features a tabletop RPG (like Dungeons and Dragons). Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Features self-aware RPG characters. Not only do these characters know they’re in an RPG, they know what they’re stats are; their stats are tattooed on their backs. So, it’s not uncommon to see someone read another person’s back to see if they can pull off a feat before asking them to do it.

Can you leap that gorge? No, your dexterity isn’t high enough. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? may be the least reverent of titles in any of these lists and that’s saying something. I included The Devil is a Part-Timer. Yikes!

I hope there are plenty of anime in these lists for you try out. I’m sure Uncle Geekly got something wrong. Please direct all complaints to Anime Season; she reads the comments—I think.

3 Lists of 3 Anime

Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since this anime geek has gone on a tangent about anime and she’s raring to dive in with a three lists of three. This week’s three lists of three will look at various anime. All three lists of three will have similar themes, but look at different aspects of that theme.

Spoiler alert: some endings may be revealed. Ready to geek out over anime?

Overlooked anime


Paranoia Agent (2005)

Paranoia Agent may be a bit of a mixed bag since most of the reviews online are fan-made. That being said, Satoshi Kon is better known for his movie, Paprika. Paranoia Agent may seem nonsensical and weird for the sake of being weird at first, but as the series progresses, the audience learns that everything happens for a reason. Each occurrence in Paranoia Agent bears significance to future events, and eventually, the end of the series. The continuity in this series is detailed. If this one doesn’t sound appealing, the “happy” opening theme is certainly memorable.


Ranma ½ (1989)

Rumiko Takahashi is best known for her series Inuyasha. While Inuyasha isn’t a bad series, it contains a lot of tropes, and, wrap me in a straitjacket, but I don’t remember much of the story. Ranma ½ uses some of these tropes while taking a comedic spin on them (such as Akane being a tsundere (kind-hearted but beats up the object of her affection) and Ryoga constantly getting lost). Since Ranma switches between male and female, the series puts traditional gender roles to the forefront. The characters find themselves in hilarious situations and I think the series deserves more credit.


Mushi-Shi (2005)

Mushi-Shi is one of the stranger series out there. The main character, Ginko, travels from town to town, dispelling supernatural/fantastical occurrences that are causing problems. Mushi-Shi is easy to get lost in with its unique stories and visuals, and calming sound effects. This series is a good escape from reality and doesn’t receive a lot of attention.

Overrated anime


Sword Art Online (2012)

This one seems like it should be obvious, right? Depending on who you ask, Sword Art Online is either their favorite anime or their least favorite. I’ve heard someone say they like the light novels (books that have manga images but read like chapter books) as opposed to the anime, which I’m willing to give a go, since I’ve heard the original source material has better writing. Regardless, Sword Art Online has an inconsistent storyline that had an unnecessary number of episodes in the beginning. They should have condensed most of Season 1 into a couple of episodes as opposed to nine or ten. There are some things Sword Art Online does well, such as having the characters grow attached to an AI, which questions values. On the other hand, it doesn’t show the psychological effects of being trapped in an artificial world, not knowing who your true allies are. An anime that does a better job of this is Btooom!, which one of the characters has a mental breakdown.


Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) (2015)

I’m going to be honest. I love Assassination Classroom. I even have a Nagisa hat and tee shirt of the gang. The reason Assassination Classroom made this list is primarily because of Koro-Sensei. He says he wants to educate the kids and asks them to kill him while simultaneously saying they’ll never be able to kill them and dampening their self-esteem, which is contradictory. Why would he build their confidence and smother it at the same time? On top of that he’s threatening to blow up the world. It isn’t clear throughout most of the series whether he cares about these kids and wants them to aspire to something, or if he’s busying himself with being a teacher so he won’t get bored. Granted, they explain his motivation toward the end of the series, but it isn’t timed well. This is right before—spoilers—Koro-Sensei dies. Despite this, they do an excellent job of giving each of the characters an adequate amount of screen time, which is difficult to do with twenty plus characters.


Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Chances are if you’re into Shojo anime, there’s a good chance that this series has either been trafficked to you from streaming services or is one of the top results from an online search. It certainly was one of my favorite Shojo anime for several years. I watched the series five or six times, listened to the soundtrack, and looked up fanart. Yeah, I went a little crazy. The point of it was to break down Shojo tropes and make fun of them. This didn’t get across well in the anime and it ended up fortifying those tropes. The manga did a better job of deconstructing the Shojo genre, but not by much. It had a lot of editor’s notes to explain what was going on. Anyway, back to the anime, which did have some good episodes, one example being episode fifteen: “The Refreshing Battle of Karuizawa!” This episode gives the audience some much needed character development, but the series is already more than halfway over by this point. Most of the other episodes stuck to character stereotypes and overused themes. We don’t need another Alice in Wonderland parody.

Anime that were popular when they came out but haven’t withstood the test of time


Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009)

Remember that time when Hetalia: Axis Powers had a slew of fanart and doujins being published on a daily basis? What happened between the early to mid-2010s that sent this series downhill? So, what happened? Maybe the gimmick got old. Maybe people started to realize what they thought was cute was actually offensive to a lot of people. Whatever the reason, Hetalia: Axis Powers isn’t nearly as popular as it once was.


Free! (2013)

When Free! came out it was hyped by gals and made fun of by guys due to the main characters being sexy high school boys in Speedos. I’m not joking. Its popularity lasted for a few years, even spawning another season, titled Free! Eternal Summer. The series itself was okay and didn’t have as much fanservice as I’d anticipated. They took the time to develop the characters to some degree. However, Free! dropped off the map a couple of years ago.


Bleach (2004)

I know. Bleach is still a popular series, but it isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be. Neither is Naruto for that matter. In fact, Naruto was originally going to make this list due to its poorly placed filler, but after looking at several polls, Naruto was the clear winner in the vast majority of them. Bleach had a lot of filler too, but the timing of the filler was better than Naruto, so it was easier to watch. The writing got progressively worse after the Arrancar arc and ended up being an endless cycle of Ichigo losing and regaining his powers. If they decided to end the series after the Arrancar arc, I think Bleach would have left a better legacy.

There are a lot of anime out there that could make these lists. Do you agree with the ones chosen? Which anime do you think should be included in these lists? Let us know in the comments.