10 anime with the best social commentary

There are many fictional worlds with surreal narratives that serve a bigger purpose. Although some of these worlds are grand and totally unrealistic, the social commentary found in these stories applies to real life. Anime is particularly an interesting medium for expressing such comments due to its versatility.

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Anime always pushes the envelope when it comes to portraying societies plagued by the corruption of those in power. Also, some very popular anime with social commentary are popular among all ages. Anime’s power in articulating social criticism lies in its versatility and ability to connect with multiple demographics.

ten Neon Genesis Evangelion presents a dark vision of future society


Shinji and his fellow pilots in Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in a dystopian mecha society that observes the fate of society as it defends itself against robotic entities attacking from space. This anime is known for its psychological elements and disturbing surreal imagery. Some believe that certain aspects of Neon Genesis Evangelion reflect the author’s depression.

Either way, nihilism in anime stems from the idea that society is nothing but collateral damage. Children are pawns of war, even used as weapons in some cases. In the anime, the rulers formulated plans to repel the robotic entities, but they were inhumane as they abandoned the needs of their people. The government claims to protect and serve the voters but sends them to war without remorse.

9 Ghost In The Shell challenges the definition of humanity


A cyborg is born in Ghost In The Shell

ghost in the shell is one of the most iconic animated films of the 90s. It is set in a future society, a society where humans modify their bodies to become one with technology. Once technology is mixed with human bodies, they can be hacked. People hack technologically modified humans to manipulate their memories.

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In the film, the “ghost” is a person’s soul and the “shell” is the body – which can be technologically enhanced. Some people have become cyborgs, completely abandoning their human “shell”. Kusanagi, the protagonist, is a cyborg with very few human brain cells. ghost in the shell follows Kusanagi as she has a bit of an identity crisis about who she is. Ultimately, the film’s central theme forces viewers to question the definition of humanity.


8 Code Geass reveals the weakness of human will


Emperor Lelouch threatens peace in Code Geass

Possessing a strong will is something many people take pride in. Many think they could never be manipulated into supporting corrupt governments or joining a cult, not realizing how weak the human spirit really is. Code Geass realizes the weakness of the human will. The anime follows Lelouch Lamperouge in his spell to destroy the tyrannical Britannia who currently rules Japan with an iron fist.

Upon discovering the true strength of mecha abilities, Lelouch quickly forgets what he intended to do in the first place. He’s become the very thing he’s sworn to destroy, going hysterical with power and an even bigger security threat than Britannia ever was.


7 Welcome to NHK’s commentary on mental illness through dark comedy


Satou and his friends in Welcome To The NHK

Welcome to NHK follows Tatsuhiro Satou, a hikikomori, who lives in paranoia about NHK, a broadcasting company. He thinks the broadcasting company controls the whole world. Although the anime is full of dark comedy, it contains deeper commentary.

On the one hand, it provides commentary on the reality of living with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. Additionally, Welcome to NHK also criticizes the prevalence of isolation in Japanese society, the reasons for which are hotly debated.


6 Death Note Morality Experiments


Death Note OP 1 The WORLD

Death threat is one of the most iconic anime of all time, and for good reason. Aside from the roller coaster plot, Death threat carries a very profound social commentary on morality and its frail subjectivity.

Death threat depicts psychological warfare of subjective morality. On the surface, the police and Light should have agreed as they both sought to abolish crime – yet they didn’t. This is because Light’s pursuit of his warped “justice” was built on the crux of a god complex, which ultimately meant genocide for criminals and anyone who got in Light’s way.


5 A silent voice tackles the reality of bullying


Shoyo covering ears surrounded by people A Silent Voice

A silent voice exposes the complexities of bullying by telling his story through the lens of the bully. The film tells the story of Ishida Shoya, a teenager haunted by his past – during which he terrorized a deaf girl named Nishimiya Shoko.

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After his bullying causes Nishimiya to transfer schools, Ishida is isolated by his classmates as no one wants to be associated with him anymore. The film uses various visual elements to portray how Ishida feels due to her past. For example, he imagines Xs on people’s faces because he doesn’t consider himself worthy of human connection. A silent voice is so intriguing because it shows the mental struggles of both victim and bully.


4 The mayhem of Terror In Resonance isn’t too different from the real world


nine and twelve of terror in resonance looking at the dark sky during the apocalypse

Terror in resonance presents a very dark dystopian reality. However, this reality is not too different from the current state of the real world. The anime is set in a work of constant terrorist attacks and bombings. The audience is paralyzed in absolute fear.

The anime shines a light on corrupt bureaucracies, political incompetence, and the media that capitalizes on keeping the masses in a constant state of anxiety. It even incorporates social media to show that the citizens of Tokyo react immediately to the continuous and endless flow of information. Terrorists keep society in an endless game of cat and mouse that, most terrifyingly, feels authentic to how the real world would react to such a situation.




3 Tokyo Ghoul tackles societal ostracization


Ken Kaneki without mask showing both eyes Tokyo Ghoul

tokyo ghoul is a popular psychological thriller anime. Ken Kaneki is forced to face ostracism. He’s not 100% human, nor 100% ghoul. It is an equal ratio of each species. The ghouls, who are already ostracized from human society, want nothing to do with Kaneki for the most part. He’s not monstrous enough for ghouls, but he certainly has no chance of fitting in with humans.

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This ostracization is part of what drives Kaneki crazy. His human side still depends on others for connection, but his ghoul side is desperate for revenge. The behavior on both sides enraged Kaneki because humans and ghouls were stubborn and refused to co-exist. They refused to accept each other’s differences and learn to live in peace.


2 Attack on Titan tackles fascism and government deception


Eren leads the Investigation Corps in Attack on Titan

Although the citizens are tasked with fighting the Titans beyond the walls, The attack of the Titans argues that humans could become even worse than monsters. It exposes the complacency of the very structures that citizens are asked to trust and respect. The military is corrupt and blatantly ignorant of the truth of the world.

Politicians note that many innocent civilians died, but agree that most of the population is unimportant. Politicians blatantly lie about the true origins of the Titans, who were once ordinary humans who were experimented on against their will. The government pits humans against each other to justify the militarization of society.


1 My Hero Academia understands that all men are not created equal


my hero academia season 5

The very first line of my hero academia It’s when Izuku states, “Here’s the sad truth: Not all men are created equal.” Various bizarre inequalities are featured throughout MHA. According to his quirk, society will treat someone differently. Those without quirks are simply the dregs of society. Bizarre discrimination is a central theme of my hero academia. It comes in many forms, such as forming stereotypes about particular quirks and discriminating against those with mutant quirks, like Eri.

In hero society, the content of his character is not what matters. Instead, it’s the marketability and strength of its quirkiness. Bakugo, for example, has a very flashy quirk and was praised as soon as he showed up. On the other hand, someone like Twice is a victim of his own quirk, and there was no institution or resource that could have helped him.

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