Monogatari Series

Top 10 Man Versus Self Anime Series, Ranked

Top 10 Man Versus Self Anime Series, Ranked
Written by publishing team

For as long as people created narratives, the stories they told each other revolved around conflicts. From ancient ethnic myths to the modern-day media, plotlines rely on the presents of conflicting interests or goals to move a story forward, progressing the character and story development. In most folklore tales, these conflicts are straightforward, either clashing people against each other or portraying the dispute between humanity and more powerful, immortal forces, such as gods or nature.

RELATED: The 10 Deadliest Disasters In Anime, Ranked

But, as the narrative arts grew in complexity, the idea of ​​conflict became more nuanced. In the modern theory of conflicts in fiction, the Man versus Self conflict type portrays the individual himself as the main obstacle he has to overcome. Be it an internal disagreement, their traumatic past, or a personality flaw, the types of situations explored in the Man versus Self narratives are some of the most unique and thought-provoking in storytelling media.

10 Mob Psycho 100’s Hero Has To Make Peace With His Emotions To Control His Powers

Mob from Mob Psycho 100

Mob Psycho 100 is beloved by its fans for the show’s explosive, unique action, hilarious character interactions, and inventive, multifaceted cast. Nevertheless, the series’ themes are much deeper than those of a typical shonen action spectacle. Mob Psycho 100 explores the phycological struggles of his teenage protagonist with incredible nuance, making Mob’s explosive, uncontrollable supernatural powers a metaphor for his emotional instability.

As a typical middle schooler, Mob struggles to understand his emotions, fit into society, and find a place for himself in the world. Unfortunately, the boy’s feelings are closely linked with his incredible psychic abilities, making Mob lose control when he gets overstimulated.

9 Cowboy Bebop Depicts A Man Versus Self Conflict With A Heartbreaking Conclusion

cowboy bebop spike and jet

Some Man versus Self narratives explore not only the conflict a character might be facing with their current identity, but also the haunting mistakes they might’ve made in the past. cowboy bebop doesn’t give its audience a lot of context for its characters’ backgrounds. Nevertheless, the series’ main themes explore the inability of people to run away from their past selves.

Spike got stuck between trying to distance himself from his former life and his inability to stop looking back at the horrors of the past. In the end, this conflict resulted in his downfall, which is regarded as one of the most heart-wrenching anime conclusions to this day.

8 March Comes In Like A Lion Is A Heartfelt Study Of Depression

Rei Sad in March Comes in Like A Lion

Dealing with mental health issues can become a difficult and exhausting battle for people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other disorders. In the case of the March Comes in Like a Lion protagonist, Kiriyama Rei, depression and internal turmoil contributed to his isolation from the world, his peers, and his family.

As a genius professional shogi player, Rei has a successful career ahead. Nevertheless, the game doesn’t brighten his sorrowful, lonely days. Rei has to overcome his fears and traumas throughout the series, learning to trust and rely on other people.

7 Perfect Blue Analyzes The Internal Dissonance Between The Authentic And Performative Self

Rumi Perfect Blue

The themes of duality and the conflicting nature of the human self-perception are incredibly prominent in the work of Satoshi Kon, anime’s most iconic director of the 20th century.

RELATED: 10 Directors Whose Anime You Can Identify Just By Their Visual Style

His stunning physiological horror Perfect Blue focuses on the identity conflict of Mima Kirigoe, a former pop idol who decided to pursue a full-time acting career. Through complex metaphors, Satoshi Kon explores the dissonance Mima is experiencing between her performer identity and the more mature, grounded roles she’s trying to take while criticizing the toxicity of obsessive and dehumanizing elements of idol culture.

6 Monogatari Is Nothing Like A Typical Harem Anime Series

The Monogatari series redefined the universally disregarded harem genre by adding inventive, unorthodox thematic, visual, and narrative elements to the plot and the characters. The issues of hidden identities and internal struggles are very prevalent in the show, as most Monogatari characters struggle with some parts of who they are as people.

While every arc in the series tackles myriads of unique themes, the Man versus Self conflict is prevalent in central in all of them. Every character in the show faces conflicts between their ideal and real selves, which usually manifest in the form of oddities.

5 Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Protagonist Struggles With Self-Acceptance Due To Childhood Trauma

Shinji Pilots The Eva In Neon Genesis Evangelion

The legendary deconstruction of the mecha genre, Neon Genesis Evangelion, was one of the most influential anime series of the ’90s. Unlike most of its predecessors, Hideaki Anno’s magnum opus was less focused on the action spectacle components and political aspects of the genre. Instead, it favors complex characterization and in-depth analysis of its cast’s internal conflicts.

RELATED: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The 5 Darkest Episodes (& 5 Lightest)

Most of the show’s psychological and philosophical themes are explored through the struggles of Shinji Ikari, his devastating search for a fitting place in society, struggles to please his demanding, distant father, and cope with the opposing desires of his developing psyche.

4 Tatami Galaxy Goes On An Inventive And Unconventional Journey Through Its Hero’s Mind

It’s impossible for a person to lead a life devoid of any mistakes or regrets. In the end, no one can always make the right choice that results in the best possible outcome. Overcoming the unavoidable fear of regretting your actions and still following through is the message behind Galaxy Tatamione of Masaaki Yuasa’s most well-regarded series.

While circling through the infinite possibilities of his “rose-colored campus life,” the show’s nameless realize protagonists that an ideal life simply doesn’t exist, and the only enemy stopping him from enjoying college is his own attitude and unreasonable expectations.

3 FLCL Makes Its Protagonist Go Through Severe Psychological Transformations

Haruko Smashing With Guitar In FLCL

FLCL is a difficult series to grasp on the first watch. Its hectic pacing, non-linear narrative structure, and convoluted story development make it a fun yet confusing piece of media. Nevertheless, the iconic show has a deeper message hidden below its surface-level surreal antics.

RELATED: Anime’s 5 Most Hilarious & Memorable Moments

FLCL is, ultimately, a heartfelt and nuanced deconstruction of coming-of-age stories that questions the sole concept of adulthood. The compelling themes of the series are depicted through the eyes of his teenage protagonist, Naota, as he struggles to control his urges, loses trust in his mentors, and, eventually, changes his attitude towards adolescence.

2 Kara No Kyoukai Portrays A Literal Conflict Between Shiki’s Split Personalities

While being a less well-known TYPE-MOON property than the Fate franchisethe urban fantasy series Kara no Kyoukai has plenty of dedicated fans and a prominent cult following. The show’s protagonist, Shiki, possesses a unique supernatural ability to see the mortality of every living and non-living object in the form of lines.

One of the core conflicts of the series focuses on the dual nature of Shiki Ryougi, whose body hosts two personalities, Shiki and SHIKI. The two identities represent the character’s male and female sides, malicious and kindhearted natures residing inside the main character.

1 Ping Pong: The Animation Isn’t Really About Ping Pong

Ping Pong The Animation Features Intense Table Tennis Anime Action

Ping Pong: The Animation is one of the most unconventional sports anime in the medium, focusing less on the sport itself and more on its characters’ motives and internal struggles. In the narrative, a ping pong club acts as a setting that shapes its members, helping them to face their own demons and make peace with who they are.

As a result, the story of Ping Pong: The Animation shapes one of the most authentic and grounded coming-of-age narratives where the sport is simply a perspective point for the characters to realize their true potentials and desires.

NEXT: The 10 Best Sports Anime, According To IMDB

10 Anime That Are Actually Banned in China

15 Anime That Are Actually Banned In China (& Why)

About The Author

About the author

publishing team