What it’s about: A series of self-contained arcs, translations of six famous pieces of classic Japanese literature into anime form. The common theme across all of them is mental anguish, whether in the form of depression (No Longer Human), obsession and phobias (In the Forest…), or outright insanity.
Why you should watch it: Every story in this series, regardless of the director, leaves you slightly on edge. Psychological anime tend to use mental illness as a plot device to serve a larger story; Aoi Bungaku puts it front and centre – the protagonists’ sicknesses *are* the story. The most successful of the batch, No Longer Human, (which follows a life slowly falling apart under the inability to cope with depression) was later adapted into a stand-alone film.
Caveats: The first story is about depression and so is naturally going to be a little slow and, you guessed it, depressing. If you don’t like a particular story, skip ahead to the next one – each is by a different director and they all have different approaches to the subject matter.
Themes: Mental instability, in all its flavours.
Similar works: For similarly introspective anime, try the works of Shinkai Makoto such as Garden of Words or 5cm per second.