The history of animation is complex. Even more so when one looks at anime and its influence on the industry. It wasn’t originally created for a stoner audience. Yet, animated media has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment for the community. So if you find yourself reaching for your pipe but aren’t sure what you’d like to pair it with, try one of these 20 best anime to watch high.
Best Anime on Netflix to Watch High
Netflix has become the breeding ground for global entertainment. It took a while, however, for it to build up its cache of Asian content. Despite that, anime is readily available on the platform. And there’s no surprise why. The genre caters to all audiences, including and especially those who have a special affection for its trippy visuals.
The Western world describes anime as animated work originating in Japan, usually featuring an easily discernible “anime style.” Yet in Japan, the word “anime” derives from “animation” and really doesn’t mean anything specific. This difference is a point of contention that has divided the community for a long time.
What’s wonderful about this debate, though, is how little it matters when you’re stoned. After all, the stunning art, fast-paced dialogue, high-octane action, brilliant character design, and top-tier world-building tend to make it difficult to focus on anything but the magic unfolding in front of your eyes.
So set aside your differences, indulge in a strain of your choice, and pick one of several best anime to watch high.
Castlevania is an American animated dark medieval fantasy based on a video game of the same name from Konami. The story revolves around the battle between the dark forces of Dracula and the religious extremists that murdered his human wife. As the war wages on, the last member of the disgraced Belmont clan must begrudgingly take on the role of savior and bring the battle to an end.
The show has plenty to offer, ranging from violence and gore to romance and family. The blend of American and Japanese styles of animation is evident all through its four seasons. But what truly makes it a treat is its stunning visuals, vibrant and fluid, and the excellent story it weaves that leaves you yearning for more.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)
Based on the manga that has run for nearly four decades, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure follows the Joestar family and their intergenerational battle with mysterious forces.
The action-adventure genre of anime has a long and illustrious history and a fanbase that spans the globe. But Jojo’s uniquely bizarre approach has made it a fan favorite. The show’s choice to follow different family members across generations allows it to tell various narratives and tackle different themes. Add to that the anime’s splendid recreation of Hirohiko Araki’s art style, its fluid tonal shifts, and a stunning soundtrack, and you’ve got yourself one of the best anime to watch high.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K (2012)
One of Jojo’s greatest triumphs is that it breathed life into the shounen genre. While seamlessly blending comedy, action, and supernatural fantasy, though, it still remains a shounen at its heart. One of the best to ever do it. There are other anime, however, that breach the boundaries of everything before them and in essence, resist being neatly categorized. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is one such anime.
Saiki is a high school student with psychic abilities. He spends his days trying to hide his secret, usually to disastrous ends. Like Jojo and many other shounen anime, Saiki K features action, comedy, supernatural elements, and some heartwarming lessons sprinkled in. But it also centers on a teen exploring the trials and tribulations of youth, friendship, romance, and school. This makes it something of a comedy-shounen-slice of life hybrid, one that’s perfect for a lazy Sunday smoke sesh.
Shounen anime was originally crafted to cater to a teen male audience. It owes its focus on lighthearted action and comedy to these early roots. The adult male counterpart, seinen, features much darker themes and visuals. Of seinen anime, Berserk ranks pretty high both in terms of quality as well as popularity.
Berserk follows a lone mercenary named Guts and the mercenary group he travels with, the Band of the Hawk. Unlike many action anime, this one delves into the darkness within the minds of the soldiers it portrays. And it never shies away from showing its viewers the depths of despair they tend to make their bed in. The artistic details of Kentaro Miura’s seminal manga were recreated in the 1997 anime adaptation. The newer 2016 version, however, opted for a more modern approach, a choice that didn’t sit right with many fans.
It is still, nonetheless, worth watching Guts attempt to quench his thirst for vengeance as he evades a demonic curse.
Beastars features anthropomorphic animals, a murderer, carnivores versus herbivores, and a romantic subplot between a gray wolf and a dwarf rabbit. And that’s just the beginning of how wild this anime tends to get. No really, that’s literally just the first episode.
Despite its seemingly innocent-looking characters, Beastars is not for the faint of heart. In addition to mature sexual and violent content, the show tackles some pretty intense themes. This includes flipping narratives of evolutionary traits on their head and raising some deep philosophical questions around the nature versus nurture debate. It’s a lot like Zootopia (2016). Except instead of being a commentary on real-world prejudice, it’s an unabashed look at genetic predispositions and unnatural repression.
All set in a society filled with talking animal heads on human bodies. Talk about a trippy anime to watch high!
Death Note (2006)
Action and adventure tend to dominate the conversation around the best anime adaptations. Mystery and thriller ones, though, tend to be some of the best anime to watch high. And this owes a lot to the brilliantly constructed plots that stay on your mind for years to come.
When Light Yagami stumbles upon a supernatural notebook that has the power to murder without a trace, he decides to use it to rid the world of evil. But can a boy play god without consequences?
What made Death Note such a cultural phenomenon when the manga originally began was it gave readers one of the most exhilarating cat-and-mouse chases between Light and L, a detective who has to prove Light is the murderer at large with absolutely no evidence at his disposal. Not to mention, the looming threat of being killed at any minute. Seeing their mind games in the animated format just makes their dance all the more exciting.
Kengan Ashura (2019)
There’s something uniquely intriguing about tripping to a gladiator fight. That experience is elevated with Kengan Ashura, a show centered on gladiator arenas that have existed since Japan’s Edo period. It also features street fighters, shady business moguls, and a whole lot of blood.
What makes this anime different, apart from its unique art style, is its choice to accurately depict martial arts in its fight choreography. These scenes are interspersed with an underlying mystery and overall subtle commentaries, offering a pretty immersive experience.
Black Lagoon (2006)
If we’re talking brutal action, stunning art, brilliant character design and world-building, and violently unfolding mysteries, Black Lagoon is a classic you can’t miss out on.
The show centers on Rokuro “Rock” Okajima, a businessman who is abducted by a merry band of outlaws from The Lagoon Company. After he is abandoned by those he trusts to save him, Rock joins the Company. And he soon learns there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Like many other seinen, Black Lagoon has earned praise for being dark and gritty. But what really sets it apart is that it’s a lot like a classic Hong Kong action flick. Just way more violent. Mangaka Rei Hiroe additionally created a wonderfully diverse setting that included characters from all over the world, allowing Black Lagoon to have a rather distinctive look and feel.
And to top it all off is the fact that there are no heroes in this world. Just a bunch of antiheroes who switch from being allies to enemies so often you forget who you’re rooting for half the time. This is particularly amusing, given that you really shouldn’t be rooting for any of them. Not the gun-totting Chinese-American badass or the nun running a smuggling operation, nor the hilarious Taiwanese assassin and her high-as-a-kite paranoid getaway driver.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (2018)
Mikami Satoru finds himself reincarnated as a powerful slime in a new world after he is murdered. And he decides to use his new form to end racism.
It’s the kind of plot that automatically lands you on the list of best anime to watch high. And once you get through the show’s two seasons, there’s a movie releasing this fall.
LaKeith Stanfield has delivered plenty of noteworthy performances in his career. In Yasuke, he lends his voice as the titular character, a Japanese samurai of African descent that stumbles into the role of protecting a young girl from dark forces.
The anime draws its name from the first black samurai, Yasuke. It bases a lot of its story on real events told through historical accounts. But it also liberally blends fact with fiction. Add to that supernatural and sci-fi elements, and it’s a highly fictionalized version of the samurai’s story. Veracity aside, this show does offer some gorgeous visuals and is definitely worth indulging in after you’ve hit the bong a few times.
Dorohedoro, or “mud-sludge,” centers on Caiman, a reptilian-headed man with no memories. He does, however, harbor a burning desire to locate the sorcerer who cursed him into his current form. Along with his friend Nikaido, Caiman wanders through a violent world, finding sorcerers and shoving them into his mouth to communicate with the voice that lives in there.
This is an anime that feels like a trip even without the help of a little weed. But riding that wave definitely makes it even better.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)
Ghost in the Shell is an iconic manga from Masamune Shirow. It follows a group of covert operatives at Public Sector Section 9, led by Major Motoko Kusanagi. On the surface, Ghost in the Shell is a fantastic action anime. One that follows a team as they handle the dirty work of law enforcement from the shadows. On a deeper level, the franchise tackles philosophical questions around technological advancements and how it blurs the lines between man and machine.
The manga’s legacy is its influence on the sci-fi genre, including films like The Matrix, as well as on the larger cyberpunk and futuristic genres. Despite being two decades old, the animation of Ghost in the Shell holds up beautifully. And beyond its visuals, it remains one of the best anime to watch high owing to its thought-provoking story and dialogue.
Stand Alone Complex is considered one of the best seinen anime of all time. It follows Section 9 as they investigate cybercrime, terrorism, and government conspiracies, particularly focusing on The Laughing Man. The second season continued several of these themes but focused more intensely on global wars and refugee crises. Yet at the core of it all, the franchise continues to ask the same question: what makes us human?
Ajin Demi-Human (2016)
If you enjoyed Old Guard, you’ll definitely find Ajin to be right up your alley. Yet, despite knowing that, nothing could prepare you for the ride you’re about to embark on.
Ajin follows a teen who discovers he is an immortal, or “Ajin,” after he regenerates from a fatal accident. He soon learns that the government’s Ajin protection program is a front for inhuman experiments. These are especially cruel since they focus on the Ajin as an inexhaustible source of organs owing to their regenerative abilities. The discovery puts our protagonist in the middle of a war between the immortals and the authorities.
Brilliantly animated and written, Ajin makes full use of its premise to craft some of the most clever and stunning action sequences in anime history.
Psycho-Pass is easily one of the best shows to come out of the last decade, and one of the best anime to watch high. Its seamless blend of psychological thriller mystery, action, sci-fi futurism, and philosophy has put it up there as one of the modern greats.
In a not-so-distant dystopia, rookie inspector Akane Tsunemori teams up with latent criminals to enforce the law of the land. Said law being one where crime is pre-empted and controlled using biometric scans. Anyone whose Crime Coefficient exceeds accepted amounts becomes a target for arrest or execution. Regardless, of course, of the actual presence of a crime.
The premise isn’t unfamiliar, as movies like Equilibrium (2002) have tackled similar plots in the past. But what sets Psycho-Pass apart is its focus on psychology, philosophy, sociology, and power dynamics in an authoritarian regime. Despite the existence of an entity that controls every aspect of their lives, the city in Psycho-Pass appears to be an advanced and peaceful utopia. Yet, cracks slowly appear as Tsunemori uncovers the truth behind this “Pleasantville,” and her place in it.
Attack on Titan (2013)
Attack on Titan opens with Eren Yeager, a young boy living within the safety of massive walls that keep out giant human-eating Titans. One fateful day, a colossal Titan smashes through the walls like a wrecking ball, flooding the safe haven with Titans, and causing Eren to watch his mother be devoured alive.
Needless to say, Attack on Titan is brutal, violent, gory, and absolutely captivating. And if the early episodes have you hooked, the later seasons will take everything you think you know about this show and spin it on its head.
The show has earned significant praise for its visuals, which feature some of the best use of modern animation in conjunction with the show’s unique art style and character drawings. The fluid animation also makes for excellent viewing when you’re blitzed.
Bonus Round: Best Anime to Watch High Not on Netflix – Yet!
Despite hosting some of the best anime to watch high on its platform, Netflix still hasn’t caught them all. Here are a few more anime that offer gorgeously trippy animation that perfectly complements their equally trippy storylines.
Supernatural: The Animation (2011)
Yes, that Supernatural.
The Winchester brothers returned in animated format for a short-lived albeit stunning run. As action-packed and fun as the original, the Supernatural retells the story of Sam and Dean with some stunning artistic renditions of the plot to go with it. The plot, for those not well-versed with the show, centers on two brothers who embark on a demon-hunting career after their mother is murdered by one and their father goes missing on a hunt of his own.
Jared Padalecki returned to voice Sam in the English version of the adaptation, which certainly lent a familiar touch to the show.
Redline follows a daredevil in his quest to win a race that only happens once in five years. His participation, however, isn’t without hurdles. He must overcome the government, the mafia, and his own love, all to achieve his dreams. The show offers a simple premise and does not try to reach for the stars. Where it does make a leap, however, is in its visuals.
Every frame of Redline is an absolute masterclass in animation. Featuring gorgeously vibrant colors, stylishly mesmerizing artwork, and a futuristic world, this show will get you tripping in a whole new way.
It’s unfortunate that Redline underperformed massively when it was released. This is even more heartbreaking when one recognizes that it was a labor of love for the teams behind it. But the anime is seeing its day in the sun over a decade later, as more people are recognizing just how seminal it truly was.
Claymore follows Clare, a hybrid warrior created by a mysterious entity known simply as The Organization. Along with 46 others, she helps fend off the human-eating shapeshifting demon menace plaguing the towns. For a fee, of course.
Claymore began as a seemingly standard shounen. Noble warriors undertake perilous journeys and become superpowered while battling the forces of evil. Yet it become immediately clear there was much more to this story than that.
To start with, it was one of the few comics that featured an army of superhuman female soldiers. And this choice was hardly gratuitous, with the manga explaining in great detail how this army came to be. Claymore also tackled the shounen power scaling trope perfectly. As such, there isn’t much room for a Mary Sue comparison or a deus-ex-machina.
Add to that some quality storytelling and stunning visuals, despite being nearly twenty years old, and it’s easy to see why Claymore remains a fan favorite.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (2003)
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, a rebel with a magical and deadly blonde afro, stands strong against the hair-stealing tyrant Tsuru Tsurulina and his Hair Hunt troop. We would say you can’t make this stuff up, but evidently, someone did. In the best, most hilarious way possible.
Like most of the anime on this list, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is a trippy genre-bending experience that is sure to have you wondering what on earth you’re watching. And still somehow enjoy every minute of it.
Cromartie High School (2003)
Saving the best for last, we close this list out with Cromartie High School.
When Kamiyama, a student that most certainly does not belong at Cromartie High School, finds himself at this school quite by accident, he decides to make the best of his situation. The situation being that Cromartie is a school for delinquents. And it counts a robot, a gorilla, and a horse-riding Freddie Mercury among its students.
This is the kind of anime that leaves you feeling like you had the best trip of your life before the pipe ever made it to your lips.
Anime is Best Experienced Shaken, Not Stirred
The world of animation is one where human limits don’t apply. From death-defying stunts to supernaturally-charged action sequences to wildly imaginative character design to impossible camera angles, this is a medium that breaches the limits of live-action filmmaking to offer an experience unlike any other.
But when the animated work in question also manages to rattle your soul, like ice in a shaker, you know you’ve found yourself the best anime to watch high. After all, nothing pairs with being stoned quite like an epiphany.