A classic whodunit? Who killed the maid in the lounge, was it the mass murdering narcissist or was it the mild mannered sociopath!? Mystery animes are loads of fun and unlike most mystery stories, these stories often take very unexpected and unpredictable turns. Not all mystery animes take the classic Sherlock Holmes approach to mystery-solving, and a lot of them tend to delve into the paranormal at times. However, sitting down with a good mystery anime is a good way to relax your body and exercise your cognitive abilities. Though not everybody is a fan of mystery anime. You can still find yourself something good to watch that involves mystery and some action to keep things interesting.
I have also provided recommendations for mystery mangaas well, most of which have very decent animes as well. However, for the sake of variety, I have left them off this particular list.
Shinichi Kudo is a high school student with an extreme knack for solving mysteries. Those around him call him a modern Sherlock Holmes. One night after a date with his sweet heart Ran he stumbles across an illegal drug trade. Shinichi is caught unawares and knocked on concious. The thugs fed him a drug that was supposed to kill him, however it shrinks him to the size of a little kid. Shinichi hides his identity and moves in with Ran and her father, a hopeless detective. While he is a bad detective, with Shinichi helping him behind the scenes, there is many a mystery to solve.
In English, Detective Conan is referred to Case Closed. It aired briefly on Cartoon Network, but was abruptly ended. Case Closed only aired 50 episodes, but that is a miniscule amount compared to the rest of the series. Detective Conan is still airing in Japan today with a whooping 600+ episodes. Case Closed gives a good taste of the anime and is really rather addicting, but you have to go sniffing around the internet to find the rest of the series. Detective Conan is a great mystery anime. It has it's childish moment but the mysteries to be solved are far from it. There's murder and intrigue abound. It's really the best anime you can get that is like Sherlock Holmes novels without having to search for detective shows that have most likely not been translated to english.
Light Yagami is a young genius who is weary of the state of the world. On his way home, he happens across a macabre notebook with Death Note written across the front. The only sentence in the book is that if the name of anyone is written in it will die. Light tries the notebook and it proves to be true. With the new notebook he sets out to change the world and become a God of it. However, there are other geniuses, like L, who fight against his questionable efforts.
These days you pretty much cannot have a mystery anime list without Death Note on it. More than likely, you are looking up mystery animes to watch after watching Death Note, but I just could not leave this off the list. It's dark and the story line is complex, filled with plot twists and turns. What really makes Death Note special for me is the animation. It has great animation quality, and it deals with the cramped wordiness of the Death Note manga. If you haven't seen it and you are looking for suggestions, you will hear this almost every time you ask someone for a good anime.
Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a world renowned brain surgeon. He has everything one wants from life. He is well respected by his colleagues, he has a beautiful young fiancée, and he is up for a big promotion at his hospital. however, one night he is charged with a life changing decision. He is faced with the decision to save a young child or the life of the mayor. His colleagues push him to save the mayor, but he picks the child and the mayor dies. His life becomes turned upside down when several murders occur in the vicinity of Dr. Tenma and they seem to be mysteriously linked to the child he saved.
Monster is a masterful example of mystery writing. The pace is a slow burn that smartly captivates the viewer with moments of shock, awe, and depravity, which are masterfully combined with well executed moments of anticipation and proper denouement. Monster is perfect follow up if you are a fan of the complexity and character depth of Death Note.
Darker than Black
Ten years ago in a near futuristic Tokyo, two impenetrable fields known as Hell's Gate and Heaven's Gate appeared. With this came the contractors, psychics who had come in contact with the fields and were given paranormal powers. Hei is one of the most powerful of the contractors that works with his blind associate Yin to fight rival agencies that are trying to unlock the mysteries of these two gates.
Darker Than Black is a nice mixture of action and mystery. Some anime fans can find the mystery genre a little more boring than anything else. This is not the case with Darker Than Black. The whole mystery of the gates is mixed in with lot of psychics duking it out with their unique powers.
After humanity was nearly decimated by the explosion of the methane hydrate layer, the remains of mankind have walled themselves into domed cities. In these controlled societies, humans are assisted with AutoReivs. In the city of Romdo, Inspector Re-l Mayer is charged with investigating several incidents where the AutoReivs going mad after being infected with the Cogito virus. During her investigation, she encounters a monster called Proxy. Elsewhere, Vincent Law is an immigrant who is on the run after suspected involvement with these cogito cases. Being brought together, they both travel to a domed city in Moscow to unravel the mystery of these Proxy beings.
Ergo Proxy is a complex anime. It requires a lot of thought during and after the series to fully absorb the anime. It is one of those mystery animes that will leave you wanting to discover more after the first episode. Ergo Proxy presents a darkly beautiful post apocalyptic world with characters both completely normal looking, while still being inexplicably interesting.
These are just a few of the best selected from my personal anime library. If you have been fortunate to see all of these or have a specific sort of anime in mind, leave a comment. I can give more suggestions if you want them!