Who knew an anime would end up predicting our current lives and the way most of it is lived on the virtual platform? Serial Experiments Lain left the audience scrambling for more and that is why we have for you here a list of psychological and thriller anime like Serial Experiments Lain. Released in 1998, Serial Experiments Lain earned huge acclaim from critics and fans alike for its avant-garde premise.
What started off as a seemingly strange plot, perhaps even a haunted one slowly spirals into one of the most intriguing and convoluted stories in anime. This cyberpunk psychological thriller by director Ryutaro Nakamura revolves around Lain, a young teen who upon encountering multiple cryptic mysteries that lead her to uncover important truths about herself.
List Of Anime Like Serial Experiments Lain
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Ergo Proxy
- Boogiepop Phantom
- Haibane Renmei
- Mousou Dairinin
- Ghost Hound
- Steins; Gate
- Dennou Coil
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)
Neon Evangelion Genesis is a mecha psychological drama set 15 years after a worldwide catastrophe in a futuristic Tokyo. Anno takes a multilayered approach to this story that follows a teenage Shinji Ikari who gets recruited into an organisation, Nerv who along with the Evangelion pilots try to prevent Angels from causing even bigger destruction.
This anime was considered a pop culture force in the Japanese anime industry and features amazing battle sequences. What it does even better is the portrayal of the psychology of the human mind which is a key theme in Serial Experiments Lain as well as the self, the body and the truth behind existence. If you love psychological anime like Serial Experiments Lain, you are sure to love Neon Evangelion Genesis.
2. Texhnolyze (2003)
Texhnolyze is a fantastic, yet underrated anime that blends surrealism, psychological thriller as well as cyberpunk in an effortless story. It centres around Ichise, an orphan who finds himself used as a test subject after an altercation costs him two of his limbs. Soon enough, he along with Onishi and Ran realise they might be the only ones who can save the collapse of their city, Lux.
Chiaki Konaka and Yoshitoshi Abe have worked on both anime so the art style is pretty similar. Both are experimental as well as experimental in their style and run along some dark themes and symbolic scenes. If you love storylines that make you question, as in anime like Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze will definitely have you intrigued.
3. Ergo Proxy (2006)
Are you one of those who are curious about the future when robots finally take over us? Well, this cyberpunk psychological thriller can give you a glimpse. Ergo Proxy is set in a timeline where humans and androids coexist peacefully until our worst fears come true and a virus gives them self-awareness, allowing them to commit a series of murders. As Inspector Re-L Mayer investigates, the plot reveals a much more complex play at hand.
Both anime deal with cybernetic relations in exceedingly intelligent ways and pose several important questions involving humanity’s evolution and social metaphors. With striking visuals and interesting characters, there’s much to keep you hooked if you want to watch psychological anime similar to Serial Experiments Lain.
Also Read: Anime Movies like Howl’s Moving Castle
4. Boogiepop Phantom (2000)
A Madhouse production, it is based on a light novel series by Kouhei Kadono. This thriller is one for a binge if you enjoy dark urban fantasy-based anime. The story centres around a series of murders that follow a strange incident that happened five years prior. The consequences then lead to a hunt for the serial killer as darkness takes many forms.
Both Boogiepop Phantom and Serial Experiments Lain deliver intricate plots in hauntingly beautiful ways. These anime really drive that philosophical gear in your head and make you question humanity itself. Boogiepop Phantom is your best choice when looking for anime like Serial Experiments Lain.
5. Psycho-Pass (2012)
In the year 2113, Japan implemented the Sibyl System, which requires citizens to undergo a test called “Psycho-Pass” to determine their likelihood of turning into a criminal. Young and green, inspector Akane Tsunemori quickly discovers that the exam is not nearly as reliable as it first appears to be. What do you do when the justice people are supposed to turn to begins to crack under corruption?
One of the things that make Serial Experiments Lain so interesting is the way it slowly and mysteriously unravels the story. The same aspect is what drives Psycho-Pass as well. The cryptic and unorthodox direction of both these anime makes for an extremely exciting watch when it comes to shows like Serial Experiments Lain.
6. Haibane Renmei (2002)
This Japanese fantasy series follows Rakka, a new Haibane, a being resembling an angel in the fictional city of Glie. As mysterious disappearances become rampant, Rakka is unsettled as she along with those around her do their best to break free from their pain in the past and attain salvation.
This anime really intrigued me because the tone is very different from Serial Experiments Lain and also not. There is a similar air of mystery surrounding the plots, and both share similar unsettling atmospheres. However, Haibane Renmei is lighter and has a simpler plot design while being symbolic as well. So, it’s a relaxing pick for someone who desires the same level of intrigue as anime like Serial Experiments Lain.
Also Read: Anime like Noragami
7. Mousou Dairinin (2004)
Also known as Paranoia Agent, in this story, we find the city of Musashino, Japan under terror as a juvenile serial assailant known as Lil’ Slugger goes around on his rollerblades bludgeoning citizens with his golden baseball bat. Detectives Ikari and Maniwa find themselves under increasing pressure with the list of victims getting longer as they unravel mysteries deeper than they expected.
What is true and what is simply perceived? That is what the two anime very curiously tackle. With stunning visuals and thought-provoking storylines, both anime leaves a lot for the viewers to feast on. If you love anime like Serial Experiments Lain, there is no way you can go wrong with Mousou Dairinin.
8. Ghost Hound (2007)
The Serial Experiments Lain team collaborates once more on this supernatural suspense thriller. Three high school boys, Taro, Makoto and Masayuki have all gone through traumatic events that allow them to have out-of-body experiences. They soon come together and realise there are stranger things taking place and eventually investigate the key to their trauma which lies in the Unseen World.
Here’s a fan-made trailer:
Ghost Hound is a brilliant anime that ties together horror, mystery and drama. You really have to watch out for the details, but this one is a treat for horror fanatics. If you love anime like Serial Experiments Lain for the eerie and the mysterious, Ghost Hound is the one for you.
9. Steins; Gate (2011)
This sci-fi psychological thriller revolves around Rintaro Okabe, a self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’ who, along with his friends works on a time travel machine that transports messages to the past thereby holding the power to change the present. Tension peaks as they try to get it working before the evil organisation, SERN can lay their hands on it.
Steins; Gate is an unforgettable story as the world tilts and the lines blur between reality and the virtual dimension, which is a major theme in Serial Experiments Lain. With every episode, the mystery gets darker and deeper, and if you enjoy such mind-boggling anime like Serial Experiments Lain, Steins; Gate has to be your next pick on the watchlist.
10. Dennou Coil (2007)
In this sci-fi anime, it is now 2026 and reality is heavily superimposed with augmented reality technology. An unofficial detective agency called “Coil” investigates and handles corruptions of the virtual world when they cross paths with a mysterious virus that erupts from a seemingly inaccessible place.
This one is a personal favourite and definitely one of the most enjoyable ones on this list. There is urban fantasy, there are old-school Japanese scenes as well as Japanese folklore – all blended into this amazing piece of animation. While there are similar themes of cyber invasion into humanity like Serial Experiments Lain, Dennou Coil is a much lighter watch. If you want to experience similar concepts, but a lighter atmosphere Dennou Coil is it!
Here are a few anime like Serial Experiments Lain that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- Mahou Shoujo Madoka ★ Magica
- Perfect Blue
- Sonny Boy
- Ghost in the Shell