There’s an incredible amount of nuance to anime that makes it a medium where audiences can discover something new every time they watch a series. Anime can hide surprises in its detailed backgrounds or weave intricate narratives that can only be fully appreciated after multiple viewings.
Plenty of anime can deliver big results on the initial journey, only to generate diminishing returns on subsequent viewings. It’s not easy to craft a narrative that can hold up to multiple rewatches, let alone grow stronger each time. There are certain anime titles that fit this formula, and they are series that everybody deserves to watch at least once in their lifetimes.
10 A Taut Tale Of Time Travel Grows Stronger Through Repeated Viewings
Although time travel has become a popular subgenre of science fiction, it’s rare that a series properly contemplates the implications and consequences of this procedure. Time travel is easy to explore in a broader sense or when it’s played for laughs, but Steins;Gate is one of the more intelligent breakdowns of time travel that’s triggered in the most innocuous of ways.
Steins;Gate carefully considers the butterfly effect of every decision made and absolutely sticks its landing. It’s one of the most satisfying sci-fi anime, and also a series where the audience will discover more on each viewing and the true meticulous nature of this puzzle.
9 Foreshadowing & Betrayal Deliver Greater Bite On Rewatches
Attack On Titan
Attack on Titan is set to conclude its anime after a decade, and it’s proven itself to be a mature and evolving story about mankind’s corruption. Attack on Titan is full of ferocious fight sequences and terrifying monsters with unique abilities, but it’s the betrayal and sacrifice experienced between human characters that leave the greatest impression.
Attack on Titan features some deeply delayed gratification and story elements that literally take seasons to finally come together. Attack on Titan‘s final season, which casts protagonist Eren Yeager in a very different light, plays even better when the audience has a slightly better understanding of what’s going on in his conflicted head.
8 A Haunting Supernatural Mystery Works Better When The Audience Knows The Clues
Higurashi: When They Cry
Higurashi: When They Cry is a masterpiece of style and deception that’s likely led to many audiences not checking out this nihilistic psychological horror anime because they’ve assumed it’s cute slice-of-life content. Higurashi turns to adorable character designs for its cast, all of which make the string of murders that occur in Hinamizawa hit even harder.
Not only does Higurashi introduce a chilling serial killer and a mysterious virus, but it also veers into a haunting time loop narrative that emphasizes the futility of good in the face of evil. Higurashi is infinitely deeper than it lets on, and any rewatch turns into a more enriching experience.
7 The Full Scope Of This Sci-Fi Silliness Is Only Evident By The Ending
Space Dandy quietly arrived in 2014, and it’s 26 episodes of pure, undiluted passion. Shinichiro Watanabe is no stranger to anime about strange bounty hunter teams that hop from planet to planet, but Space Dandy is a chameleon of a series that transforms itself in every installment.
There’s a unique look to each planet and its alien species, but the real magic trick of Space Dandy is how it appears to be an episodic series only to reveal a much bolder connective tissue in its final entry. Any Space Dandy rewatches grow more compelling once the full scope of its bigger picture is evident.
6 An Avalanche Of Gags Become More Digestible On Multiple Viewings
Excel Saga is a gag parody anime that feels as relevant as ever even though it’s nearly 25 years old. Excel Saga features some plucky anarchists who set their sights on city-wide domination, yet the series loves to revel in the humor of their unsuccessful efforts.
Excel Saga very intentionally morphs itself into a different genre in each episode, whether that makes it a sports series, mecha parody, or even a heightened Pokémon clone. The jokes come at a relentless pace in Excel Saga, especially from its protagonist Excel Excel, who speaks a mile-a-second. It’s only natural that some comedy will get missed on the initial viewing.
5 A Generational Journey With Many Moving Pieces Is Stronger The Second Time Around
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure remains a fearlessly inventive shonen series that ambitiously breaks convention when other series are so scared to stray from convention. The JoJo’s anime has covered up to the manga’s Stone Ocean material, which covers multiple generations of the Joestar bloodline and tells stories all across the globe.
Araki can occasionally drop ideas in this grandiose narrative, but he’s quite competent when it comes to callbacks and foreshadowing. All of this becomes clear on rewatches of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The show isn’t difficult to follow on the initial viewing, but it’s an anime that’s more fun when the audience is ahead of the characters.
4 A Surreal Story Of Perspective Obscures Itself On The Initial Viewing
Satoshi Kon was one of anime’s great auteurs who was responsible for psychologically-provoking films like Perfect Blue and Paprika, as well as heartbreaking character studies like Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers. Paranoia Agent is Kon’s one television series, and it becomes a 13-episode deconstruction of identity, perspective, and the power of rumors and mob mentality.
A mysterious assailant with a bat, Lil’ Slugger, gains life through the horror stories that a community shares. The twists of Paranoia Agent are much easier to understand on a second viewing, and it’s thrilling to watch this story play out with the knowledge of what’s actually going on.
3 A Magical Girl Mystery Is More Magnificent When The Hidden Villains Are Clear
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
There’s a growing trend in anime where self-aware deconstructions both provoke and indulge in the stereotypes that are under examination. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a 12-episode anime that looks like any standard magical girl series from an outside glance.
However, Madoka Magica basically equates a magical girl contract to a death sentence, and it argues that these perennial defenders of justice are prisoners to fate. Most magical girl series kick off with their protagonist ascending to magical girl status, but in Madoka Magica,this decision for Madoka is treated like a ticking time bomb right up until its finale.
2 A Mecha Maelstrom That Needs To Be Seen Several Times To Be Properly Understood
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion has become a foundational anime touchstone, albeit a complex and unconventional narrative that’s not necessarily for everyone. Evangelion begins as a somewhat standard mecha series where giant robots are used to prevent the apocalypse, but the anime dips into a much more morose and existential story.
There’s a lot to unpack in Evangelion and it’s the type of series that makes the audience immediately want to start over once they’ve finished the last episode. Neon Genesis Evangelion is dense enough that there’s always something new to discover.
1 Superior Silliness Evolves Across Seasons Of Subversive Storytelling
Gintama is one of the silliest and most consistent shonen series of its generation that’s finally ended its long run after more than 350 episodes and three feature films. Gintama follows Gintoki Sakata and his ragtag team of Odd Job teammates who effortlessly move between absurdist gag scenarios and intense action sequences where the fate of the planet is at stake.
Gintama‘s layered comedy benefits the most from a rewatch and its intricate jokes hit much harder when the audience is well aware of what to look out for. Gintama also juggles dozens of characters, who are much easier to keep track of during an informed rewatch.
NEXT: 10 Forgotten Anime Of The 2000s That Deserve A Rewatch