The Big Short: Pros and Cons of Anime Shorts/Short-Form Anime

Today we’re here to discuss a matter of great importance to anime enthusiasts everywhere. It’s a subject that’s fairly polarising in nature, but it affects us all in a deep, irrevocable way (our seasonal watch lists, of course!). Yes, we’re talking about Short-Form Anime.

In the gaps between our regularly-scheduled programming, anime shorts have slowly been sneaking into the scene and sometimes stealing the season’s spotlight. With the growing number of manga-to-anime adaptations, a lot of the episodic manga out there is getting adapted into short-form anime. Ranging from two minutes and all the way up to fifteen, there’s a host of shows exclusively under regular run times that have steadily been coming our way. While some of them are fantastic, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. comes to mind, there are others who miss the mark. So we’re here to break down short-form anime as a medium, so you can decide for yourself whether anything under 22 minutes is worth your time.

The Argument For

Good things come in small packages, and the same can be said for short-form anime. You don’t always need a 22 minute run time to tell a great story and get your audience giggling. There are plenty of short-form anime out there that take full advantage of their quick runs and still leave us with unforgettable moments. Who can forget Retsuko and Shouichi from Aggretusko and Detroit Metal City: The Animated Series respectively? These gems use their brief durations to establish character-driven humour by repeatedly highlighting hilarious moments in Retsuko and Souichi’s daily lives where their inner selves take over in direct contrast to their public personas.

Similarly, shows like The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. and Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories also use their brief run times to their advantage. Due to their shorter duration, both shows leave a much stronger impact when delivering a punchline or a cliff-hanger respectively. Just ask Kusuo or literally any of the terrorised masses from Yamishibai. Plus, with shorter run times, there’s no room for fillers (thank god)!

When a 5-minute or 10-minute anime scores the same budget as a 22-minute anime, the studio is able to allocate more resources to creating quality content in terms of animation and art style. Furthermore, due to the short run-time and the resulting smaller commitment in terms of programming, studios have more freedom to experiment with fresh, new takes on art which they probably couldn’t take a chance on with regularly timed shows. And for all the big-budget anime out there, shorts are a great way to give fans more content with their fav characters in situations/genres that they may not be suited to in the original programming (Hello, Isekai Quartet!).

Not to mention, these shows are waaaay easier to binge.

The Argument Against

But, as always, sometimes things can be too good to be true, and short-form anime is no exception. With a run time spanning less than a quarter-hour, there are some pretty severe limitations on what a story can accomplish. With a 2 or 5 minute short, if the narrative of the anime isn’t straightforward, it becomes either too convoluted to be meaningful or it falls flat because the story can’t be justified in the limited time. Furthermore, in the quest to accomplish their narratives, some short-form anime fall victim to pacing issues which completely ruin any impact the story could have, just look at Deji Meets Girl.

And since we brought it up in the first place, let's look at pacing. If the episode has too much going on, not enough time is spent on establishing what’s happening, and we viewers are left dazed and confused. If the episode has too little, then we feel like we’re wasting our time with these shows. Or, it can be a double whammy where we’re both confused and disappointed and then even more confused as to why we’re both.

What’s more, with a short run time, not to mention being bound to limited episodes, there’s less content for us viewers to enjoy with these anime, as compared to regular-duration programming! Thus, with the sheer volume of content coming out each season, it’s even easier for short-form anime to get lost in the noise, what with its inherent disadvantage of lower content volume.

The Hot Take

It looks like the pros definitely outnumber the cons when it comes to short-form anime, but those cons are fairly formidable (especially that last one, oof).

Honestly, short-form anime can be great or terrible just like any regular duration show. But, it does look like these shows have a far more difficult path to success given the limitations of the medium. So we’d suggest perusing the short-form section when you want something to fill up the gaps between your regularly scheduled programming. While there is a lot to sift through, it’s worth the effort because there are some real gems out there. And while some may keep you considering coming back, and many more may have you turn away, just keep in mind that they all can’t be like Hetalia Axis Powers (talk about quality content, huh?).

Final Thoughts

Pros and Cons aside, we think it’s safe to say that we’ll keep checking out all the new anime, short-form included. As they come our way, we’ll be right here waiting to check them all out so we hit you with all the programming that’s worth watching and all the ones you can skip.

So what do you think? Are you ready to hop on the short-form anime bandwagon or do you prefer your programming at full length? Do you have any hot takes on the subject? Let us know in the comments below, we love to hear from you!

Isekai-Quartet-Wallpaper-700x394 The Big Short: Pros and Cons of Anime Shorts/Short-Form Anime


Author: G

An aspiring animated filmmaker, graphic designer, writer, I’m pretty much a jack-of-all-trades hoping to master some! I’m an artist with a knack for software, so epic fight scenes, campy aesthetics and artsy animation are right up my alley. Webcomics, late-night cartoons, obscure movies, rare books and of course, anime take up the bulk of my free time (and my not so free time too! ). So I spend my days cycling between my anime obsessions and existential dread over my never-ending watchlist.

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