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At times, length can be a restriction. Pacing, the story’s script, the adequate absorption of scenes, and the nuances of delivery are affected by time. Directors and actors will both have to contemplate how to use this limited resource.
The length of a piece can be an obstacle, but it can also be a challenge, a test that calls to the creative and raw talents of its staff. Within this list, we’ll be ranking series that are below 12 episodes or have less than standard length per episode.
Within this list, you will see how shows precisely use their time to tell a concise-well told story, or how time influences the direction of the show and becomes its strength, not an obstacle. Through this list, we hope your awareness of time and its imposed challenges will grow, and your next viewing will be gratifying.
10. Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora (Looking Up At the Half-Moon)
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: January 13, 2006 – February 24, 2006
Yuuichi has been diagnosed with hepatitis A and must stay at the local hospital. To escape his boredom, he often escapes at night--until he’s caught, reprimanded, and finally given a deal: spend time with another patient. To his surprise, the patient he learns about has a chronic illness, one that’s left bedridden since childhood. From this relationship, Yuuichi becomes painfully close to a person he’ll never forget.
Looking Up At the Half-Moon is a niche, short anime that conveys the power of time. It it concise and purposeful with its episode use--apt given that time is tragically short for its heroine, Rika. Similarly, its story structure is best told through its brevity.
This show is a fleeting moment. It is a brief, special memory that won’t last. Rika’s tragically short life will end, and with it, there’s an implication, “Will a brief happiness be worth a lifetime of painful absence?” Loneliness guides Yuuichi and Rika together; their shared empathy becomes the start of the story. By the end, will the brevity of its story make you forget or help you remember?
9. Tonari no Seki-Kun (Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time)
- Episodes: 21
- Aired: January 6, 2014 – May 26, 2014
Tonari no Seki-kun is an adaptation of a manga and the other side of short anime. Using its brevity to strengthen its variety, the show focuses less on plot, enabling its numerous comedic skits. Seki, an otherwise normal student, is masterful at wasting time. He lives dangerously; his whimsical antics surely can’t go unnoticed! Luckily, we have his fellow neighbor and narrator of the show, Rumi.
The balance of the show is the classic comedic duo: the Straight Man and Wise Guy. However, the situations become so wild that even our serious Rumi becomes entwined in the passionate zeal of wasting time--she, too, does not pay attention in class. Seki-kun captures both his neighbor and the viewers with his strange passion. If you want a quick laugh or are just interested in a well-executed comedy, Tonari no Seki-kun is a great show to kill time.
8. Hacka Doll the Animation
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2, 2015 – December 25, 2015
Hacka Doll was originally a phone app that allowed users to customize their news feed. In particular, it was an application that allowed users to cater to their hobbies. Expanding upon that idea is the anime where the application is a real world phenomenon. In order to maintain the “advancing”of society, Hacka Dolls #1, #2, and #3 must live up to their former glory and proceed to fulfill client requests.
Hacka Doll is a show for viewers who want a bite-sized episode (about 8 minutes) while still preserving plot. The comedic flavor of Hacka Doll is varied between slapstick, parody, and narrative-driven jokes. Nearly every episode makes fun of an aspect of anime/game culture, and future episodes even retain previous episodic characters.
As a short form parody series, some of its strength relies on your knowledge of what it parodies. Even without that, however, Hacka Doll boasts a colorful (and color-coded) cast of eccentric characters. Their synergy builds off one another, creating for an impressive time well spent.
7. Teekyuu (Teekyu)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 7, 2012 – December 23, 2012
Teekyu is about a tennis club and the ridiculous antics of 4 of its members: Kanae Shinjou, a physics defying airhead, Marimo Bandou, a wildly perverse high schooler, Nasuno Takamiya, a rich, unabashedly arrogant girl who abuses her money, and the only serious tennis club member who suffers them, Yuri Oshimoto.
Teekyu is the the result of taking brevity to its extreme. Characterized by absurdly quick dialogue, zany situations, and ridiculous characters, Teekyu is something that’s meant to be binged--one could blink and somehow miss a scene. There’s something appealing (or off-putting) about a show that is unrestrained in its 2-minute format. It’s definitely an experience, one that explosively leaves an impression. As something so past the threshold of normalcy, Teekyu is easily a hit or miss show, but for those interested in an absurd comedy, Teekyu hits and flies far beyond.
6. Poputepipikku (Pop Team Epic)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 7, 2018 – March 25, 2018
Pop Team Epic is an adaptation of a surreal 4-panel webcomic of the same name. The show features two high school girls, a short and short tempered girl named Popuko and a tall, calm Pipimi. Together, they parody modern day pop culture.
Pop Team Epic, a show that’s grown infamous for its unique style of comedy. A simple definition doesn’t do it justice, so let’s make make use of your imagination. Think of a visual amalgamation. There are 3 cups: 1 cup of boba, 1 cup of milk, and 1 cup of tea. Put it in a blender, and hit the switch. What do you get:
- Boba Milk Tea
- A mess
- Pop Team Epic
If you picked 3, you’d already be in the know. Pop Team Epic makes use of an unconventional structure, frequently using non-sequiturs as a hallmark of its comedy. For those familiar with absurdist comedy, Pop Team Epic would fit the label. Jokes can range from culturally sensitive, bizarrely foreign, or literally out of this world. Pop Team Epic goes so far past standard convention that it’s easily a hit or miss show, but one that portrays an aspect of the modern day internet-savvy humor. If unconventionality intrigues you or you’re curious about all the buzz, Pop Team Epic is for you.
5. Castlevania (TV Series)
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: July 7, 2017
Castlevania is the anime adaptation of an esteemed video game franchise. In this short, 4 episode series, the Church has burned Lisa Tepes, the wife of Dracula. In revenge, he summons a legion of devils from hell and unleashes them on the entire country of Wallachia. Trevor Belmont, son of a historic family of vampire hunters, now heeds his call.
Castlevania has an impressive and original English dub, carrying into the show a very faithful tone and atmosphere. The show does brilliant interpretations of the franchise’s core characters. Dracula, in particular, has an interesting (although expected) development.
With brilliant fight scenes and a charmingly sarcastic protagonist, this show makes for an eventful viewing that’s beautifully executed, although tragically short. Castlevania season 2, luckily, is around the corner.
4. Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou (Cromartie High School)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 3, 2003 – March 26, 2004
Cromartie High School is a notorious school for delinquents. Our protagonist, Takashi Kamiyama, finds himself strangely admitted into the school, and focuses his efforts to improving the school’s reputation. Unfortunately for him, his classmates are truly the wildest of the wild--but not exactly at standard delinquency.
Cromartie High School is a gem of a comedy, something that stands out so well for its nonsensical cast and story that it’s hard to describe it faithfully. The cast is as colorful as it is ridiculous, and just to name a few are: a gorilla, Freddie Mercury (no really), and our straight-laced hero, Takashi.
A lot of the humor in the show is how characters suspend their disbelief past unreasonable boundaries. Completely abnormal situations present themselves, and characters react in disbelief or try to remain calm. The overly serious reactions characters can make, somehow doesn’t overstay its welcome, the formula succeeding well into 26 episodes.
3. Aggressive Retsuko (Aggretsuko)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: April 20, 2018
Aggressive Retsuko is produced by Sanrio, the company that are famous for Hello Kitty and their subsequent products. The series follows the life of Retsuko, a red panda office worker who vents her frustration in a striking fashion: death metal karaoke.
Aggressive Retsuko is an anime that’s relatable for an adult audience. Work life frustrations, horrible bosses, or just annoying co-workers, Aggressive Retsuko covers a range of relatable topics. What seems at first as your average slice of life comedy quickly becomes a rare example in anime, an earnest attempt to reflect adult work life.
Sanrio has a sizeable customer base with office workers, and it shows in how accurately they depict office life. As a rare story outside the golden years of highschool, Aggressive Retsuko might be the story you’ve always wanted.
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: April 26, 2000 – March 16, 2001
Naoto Nadaba is sixth grader in an ordinary town. After his brother, an esteemed baseball star, leaves town, Naoto is forced to fill his shoes. Feeling left behind, his brother’s ex, Mamimi, dwindles around, spending time with Naoto aimlessly . Then an erratic individual enters into town. Sporting an electric guitar and recklessly riding her Vespa, Haruko enters into their ordinary lives and town.
FLCL (Furi Kuri) is as strange a title as it is apt. The nature of the word isn’t explicitly defined in the show, lending further to its wistful nature. FLCL is one part a story of adolescence and one part a story of implications. Its directing style lends to its free-spirited atmosphere, breathing into its mundane setting the insanity of youth with playful animation, lack of explication, and heavy focus on character relationships.
FLCL embodies in its characters the feelings of inadequacy and lost purpose, a mirror of the path we take growing up. Enter Haruko, an “adult” that throws Naoto’s beliefs of growing up for a spin, and the show sets off on a journey that many still remember today. FLCL represents one of the best in short anime, one to not be missed by any fan of the medium.
1. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 5, 2018
Devils manifests themselves through a living being, in modern day times, often devouring humans and their control over their own body. However, if an individual is powerful enough, they can overcome the devil, retaining the heart of a man and body of a devil.
Devilman: Crybaby is an outstanding masterpiece of modern anime. Directed by the surreal craftsman, Masaaki Yuasa, Devilman: Crybaby is the product of Yuasa’s profound knowledge of cinematography. Devilman: Crybaby is essentially a story about excess. It is with excess that sins are found. It is with excess that humans become devils. In cinematography, an excess of something can position audiences in a strange way--you can get them desensitized by exposing them too long. Excess has its dangers in film just as in real life.
The beauty of Devilman: Crybaby is that it balances excess with excess: divine empathy with inhuman violence. Just as in the nature of its main character, the themes of the show synergize, creating a consistent thematic carryover. The show contains a very purposeful use energy (kinetic, sexual, sound). It focuses that energy in a direction, and delivers the story at terrifying speeds. Humanity falls with its descent into hell.
Color coordination, light/dark contrasts, amazing use of leitmotifs, and consistent thematic shots/transitions make Devilman: Crybaby one of the best anime this year. If you’re old enough, you definitely cannot miss this viceral, heart-wrenching experience.
At times length can be a constraint to a well told story, but at its best, the challenge can invoke the most unconventional and memorable experiences. The lack of time requires an impressive precision, pushing the staff to creatively work around a limited resource.
If you’ve enjoyed this article or want to suggest other short anime you’ve enjoyed, feel free to comment below. Otherwise, I hope you will find a series here that captivates your next viewing experience.
Do you have a few minutes to spare? There are many reasons to love short anime series. They don’t require a big chunk of your schedule, they’re easy to recommend to your friends as an intro to anime, and while most of them tend to be comedies and pretty random, they come in various genres!
Because we are introduced to dozens of new anime each season, today we’re bringing to you an update to our previous instalment of Top 10 Short Anime Series! So get ready for some new additions to our recommendations for best anime series with short episodes!
Because there are many genres in short anime series and we all have different tastes, I have organized this list by length, starting with the anime with the longest episodes.
Let’s do this!
10. Eve no Jikan [Time of Eve]
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: Aug. 2008 – Sep 2009
- Duration: 18 mins
In a future where androids are commonplace and part of everyday life, they are treated no better than a household appliance. Rikuo is no different and has no interest in humanizing his android Sammy. That is until he finds GPS data in her archive that leads him to a café she has been frequenting where androids are treated equally as humans. This discovery piques his curiosity and leads him on a path to discovery.
Eve no Jikan is a Sci-Fi, Slice of Life ONA that makes us think about the possibility of such a future, while at the same time paralleling the existing discrimination problems in our society. Eve has a great plot, wonderful character development and the animation is beautiful. While it’s a bit longer per episode than the other short anime on the list, it’s well worth the extra minutes!
9. Detroit Metal City (Detroit Metal City: The Animated Series)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Aug. 2008 – Oct. 2008
- Duration: 13 mins
Souichi Negishi is shy and reserved guy who dreams of becoming a pop star and sing about love and happiness and all those things pop stars sing about. However, as most aspiring artists, he’s broke, so he ends up as a lead singer for a black metal band to pay the bills. His stage name is Krauser and when he’s on stage, he’s one demented, murderous, violent metalhead. Krauser and Souichi are like night and day.
DMC is a hilarious, crazy ride as we follow Souichi while he struggles to try and leave this demonic persona and become the sweet, ballad-singing pop star he truly is inside and date the sweet innocent girl he wants to date. His inner turmoil, the outrageous stage performances, and the awesome music will have you marathoning this short anime series in its entirety.
8. Rainbow Days [Nijiiro Days]
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jan. 2016 – Currently airing
- Duration: 13 mins
In this short anime series we follow the everyday lives of Natsuki, Tomoya, Keiichi and Tsuyoshi; four high school boys who like to have fun, and have school life to deal with. When Natsuki falls in love with Anna, a girl at their school, cuteness and hilarity ensues as the rest of his friends butt in and Anna’s best friend, Mari, tries to keep her all to herself.
Rainbow Days is a School Slice of Life Shoujo sprinkled with tropes as well as some bits of randomness here and there. You have the tsundere girl, the tough guy, a cutesy otaku couple, a budding romance between the main characters and possibly one of the best parts of the show, a nonchalant, whip-carrying dom. Though labeled as a Shoujo, Nijiiro Days can be enjoyed by all, there’s something for everybody here!
7. Cromartie High School [Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou]
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct. 2003 – Mar. 2004
- Duration: 12 mins.
Cromartie is known to be a rough school full of punks, delinquents and other problematic youths. Takashi Kamiyama has above average grades and is actually a regular non-violent high school boy but chooses to enroll into Cromartie. Why? He wants to change it! Luckily, the rest of the student body thinks he’s the baddest of badasses in the school. Will he achieve his goals? What else does Cromartie have in store for him?
Here’s another one of those really random, short anime that we love. It’s a School Comedy, but far from your average one. There are giant robots, a gorilla, and even Freddie Mercury makes an appearance! Cromartie High School may be the oldest series on the list, but it’s still just as entertaining as it was when it first came out.
6. Oshiete! Galko-chan [Please tell me! GALKO-chan]
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2016 – Mar. 2016
- Duration: 7 mins.
What do high school girls talk about? Boys? Make up? The aftermath of a spicy dinner!?? Well, ask Galko and her friends! Galko is tall, blonde, super stylish and popular. Her friend Otako is the opposite; she’s short, wears glasses, baggy clothes and is more of an intellectual. And then there’s Ojou a rich airhead who just wants to be friends. The three cover all the topics high school girls really talk about and answer each other’s burning questions in this School Comedy.
I’m going to be honest; Galko-chan is my current top favorite short anime series. I love the character design, especially for Galko and Otako, and the opening is as funny as the show itself. The topics they cover go from typical teen questions, to hilarious theories and concerns. And even though I wish it was longer, it does a great job of giving you just the right amount of funny in the 7 minutes it lasts. Boy, girl, teen or adult, I highly recommend Oshiete! Galko-chan!
5. Space Patrol Luluco [Uchuu Patrol Luluco]
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2016 – Currently airing
- Duration: 7 mins.
Luluco is a normal middle school girl. She’s average in every way. Or at least she’d like it to be that way… She lives in Ogikubo, a section of the galaxy where earthlings and extraterrestrials live together. One day, her father, a member of the space patrol, is involved in an incident and a new boy, Alpha Omega Nova, transfers into Luluco’s school. Luluco is then pulled into all sorts of craziness and normalcy becomes impossible.
Coming from Trigger Studios, the people who brought us Kill la Kill, it is no surprise that the character design and pastel-y visuals are eye-catching to say the least. Space Patrol Luluco has everything in it; Comedy, School Life, Action, middle school Romance and twists and turns – figuratively and literally! This is another show you’ll be wishing for more of at the end of each episode.
4. Hetalia Axis Powers
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Jan. 2009 – Mar. 2010
- Duration: 5 mins.
Hetalia re-imagines nations as people and uses this to teach us about history in this cute and hilarious little anime. It focuses on the events of World War I and World War II and follows the Axis Powers; clumsy North Italy, serious Germany and aloof Japan, as well as, gives us a look into the Allied Forces’ relationships.
Hetalia is a Historical Comedy that takes you through a quick, joke-filled history lesson that showcases a fun perspective of every country’s good and bad points. This short anime is also considered a Parody since it, well… parodies history! It makes fun of everyone and even Japan isn’t safe. There’s also a sequel, Hetalia World Series, and a movie, so there’s plenty Hetalia to watch and much to learn about history!
3. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying [Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken]
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct. 2014 – Jun. 2015
- Duration: 3 mins
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying follows the story of office lady Kaoru and her super-otaku husband, Hajime. This unlikely couple is not only making things work despite their differences, but they’re in love and happy! Even they don’t seem to understand how it’s all possible!
This Seinen Slice of Life is a great look into modern relationships and modern society. We get to watch the adventures of a work-from-home husband and a working wife, along with a cross-dressing doujinshi artist younger brother. Their struggles, failures and victories in life that will make you smile, feel for them and warm your heart. All in just 3 minutes!
2. Ojisan to Marshmallow (Ojisan and Marshmallow)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2016 – Mar. 2016
- Aired: 3 mins.
Iori Wakabayashi is a beautiful 24 year old office lady and she is madly in love with one of her co-workers, Hige Habahiro. The catch? Hige is much older than she is, overweight and very awkward. Luckily, Wakabayashi knows his weakness: Hige loves marshmallows! She uses her wit and never gives up in an adorable pursuit of her marshmallow crush.
This office Slice of Life Rom-Com is sure to make you go “dawww!” every episode. Wakabayashi’s efforts to get Hige’s attention are super cute, and hilarious. She uses marshmallows as bait (literally), and she spazzes out thinking about her crush when she’s in her bedroom. Hige is a really sweet, oblivious guy and the contrast with Wakabayashi’s serious face and bold approach will have you smiling the whole way through.
1. Aggressive Retsuko
- Episodes: unknown
- Aired: Apr. 2016 – Currently airing
- Aired: 1 min.
Retsuko is a red panda who works as an office lady in a big company. Her bosses and co-workers continue shoving work and impossible tasks on her desk regardless of her plans for the night or her sweet demeanor. Her bosses are jerks and her co-workers are idiots but she is decided to stay positive and peppy. That is until after work when she goes to karaoke and lets it all out while singing death metal!
Aggressive Retsuko is a funny, identifiable and refreshing surprise from Sanrio. Not only are the characters cute (well, Retsuko is at least) but the situations are all-too-real for those with insufferable people at their jobs. The only downside to this short anime series is that the episodes are only 1 minute long! Come on Sanrio! We need more, give us our fix!!
With everything from Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi and Slice of Life to Romance in the office or at school, short anime series seem to be getting better and better every season. You’ll definitely have something to watch on your commute, marathon in between full-length episodes of your favorite anime or something to recommend to your anime newbie friends!
Do you usually marathon short anime series? Or do you wait for each episode to come out? Let us know in the comments below!
See you next time!
We all love to get wrapped up in an immersive, well-crafted anime series that goes on for days. But when you’re burnt out on long-running series, or just don’t have time in your busy schedule to sit down for an entire episode, where do you turn when you need your daily anime fix?
The answer is as simple as it is obvious: short anime. There is a bevy of anime out there perfect for students looking for a quick break between cram sessions, or the salaryman looking for something to do on their morning commute.
The following anime prove that a show doesn’t have to take up your day to hook you in and leave you hungry for more.
10. I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying / Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2014 – June 2015
I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying is about a star-crossed couple. Kaoru, a run-of-the-mill, hard-working office lady, and her awkward, blogger husband obsessed with otaku culture, Hajime. It is a slice-of-life anime about adjusting to living with the foibles of the one you love.
I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying is a classic example of how short form anime can be home to an incredibly endearing cast of characters. Its sense of humor is perfect for anime lovers, as the jokes and conflicts at the heart of the series usually revolve around the clash between everyday Japanese culture and otaku culture. Definitely a great way to get into shorter anime, and a great place for couples to get into anime in general.
- Episodes: 3000+
- Aired: October 1969 - Ongoing
Sazae-san is a behemoth in terms of its continued relevance in both everyday Japanese culture, and in the medium of anime. The show is a slice-of-life adaptation about the titular Sazae and her family, focusing on topical issues and family dynamic. Each episode consists of three vignettes approximately ten minutes in length.
While not the most action-packed anime out there, Sazae-san deserves attention for several reasons. First, the earnest style of the show, combined with its large, distinct cast, makes it impossible to dislike, which is demonstrated by the place it holds in the hearts of Japanese kids and adults alike. Sazae-san is also the longest running anime in the history of the medium, with over 40 years (!!!!) of episodes aired, and more on the way. It’s impossible to ignore such a mammoth piece of anime history.
8. Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoi Yo!! Masaru San
- Episodes: 48
- Aired: January 1998 – April 1998
Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugio Yo!! Masaru San is a story about Wakame High School’s Sexy Commando Club, which practices a martial art with roots in historical Japan, and focuses less on the act of violence, but on the art of distracting your opponent to the point where there’s no possible way for them to defend themselves.
As one would expect, Sexy Commando Gaiden fires on all of its extremely weird cylinders. The show feels a bit like manzai, a style of comedy with a by the books straight man to balance out the funny man. Club creator Masaru is larger than life, and his over the top antics are hilarious, while the narrator Fuumin gives the audience a window into the erotic martial art at the heart of the show. Sexy Commando’s inscrutable silliness might not be for everyone, but it had me hooked from the first episode.
7. Detroit Metal City
- Episodes: 12-episode OVA
- Aired: August 2008
Detroit Metal City is an incredibly unique anime series, despite the fact that its title was obviously inspired by rock legend KISS’s Detroit Rock City. It’s the story of an aspiring pop artist named Soichi, who finds himself in a financial bind and ends up the lead singer of a black metal band, the titular Detroit Metal City. When on stage, he adopts the metal persona of Krauser, an axe-grinding metalhead straight out of Hell.
This series is great because its blatant parody of an already hilarious genre never comes off as mean-spirited. While the show is funny, the central conflict is about financial obligation and creative expression, and Soichi finds himself torn between his unattainable-seeming dreams and the artistic freedom he feels adopting his raunchy, immoral on-stage persona. Great for fans of metal and anime alike.
6. Dōjin Work
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2007 – September 2007
Dōjin Work tells the story of down-on-her-luck college student, Najimi, who decides to try her hand at dōjin, or self-published manga, after losing her job. While success seems unattainable for her at first, she meets a group of colorful, more experienced dōjin artists to help her persevere in pursuit of her dream.
This series is great because it clocks in at about 4 minutes an episode (not counting the live-action segments at the end of each episode), making it one of the shorter short-form anime I’ve come across, but still packing in plenty of humor and charm from its characters, while addressing adult subject matter. It is very accessible to fans of anime and manga alike, and speaks to creative and financial struggles that come with pursuing your creative passions.
5. My Neighbor Seki / Tonari no Seki-kun
- Episodes: 21
- Aired: January 2014 – May 2015
Like others on the list, My Neighbor Seki is a short anime that takes place in the classroom. It revolves around the characters Yokoi, and the kid that sits next to her in class, the titular Seki. Despite her best attempts to concentrate in class, Seki constantly distracts her with seemingly-impossible games and projects that he keeps hidden in his desk. No matter how complex and disruptive the project, Seki always escapes the attention of the teachers.
My Neighbor Seki is a bit formulaic in terms of structure, but the chemistry between its two main characters, and the light-hearted nature of the storytelling are perfect for the shorter form. It’s also a blast to see what Seki attempts to accomplish in such a short amount of time, as his projects range from plausible to downright surreal.
- Episodes: 9
- Aired: February 2006 – March 2006
Like other anime on this list, Rec is about an aspiring professional, in this case would-be voice actress Aka, and her relationship with a salaryman, Fumihiko, an often over-looked part of his company’s marketing department. Their fates collide when a sudden fire results in cohabiting Fumihiko’s apartment. Their lives become even more entwined when Fumihiko’s mascot for a new product line is chosen, and Aka is hired to voice it.
Because the central premise of Rec is the complications of the burgeoning relationship between its two main characters, and the misunderstandings involved with the supporting cast, the subject matter is a bit more adult-oriented than some of the previous selections. Even so, there is plenty of fun to be had in Fumihiko and Aka’s romantic game of cat and mouse, and the challenges of juggling their feelings with their professions.
3. Cromartie High School / Sakigake!! Kuromati Kōkō
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2003 – March 2004
Cromartie High School is another anime about school life, but unlike previous mentions on the list, it focuses on the notoriously delinquent titular high school, and the rough spun students that inhabit it. Main character Takashi is assumed to be an even crazier badass than even the craziest badasses at Cromartie, and he has no intention of correcting their perception of him, although he would like to change the student body for the better.
This show is great because of its over the top satire of yankii (literally, Yankee) culture, Japan’s answer to rude, juvenile delinquents. The show never takes itself too seriously, and the surreal nature of the events that move the plot forward means you can easily hop in and out whenever you have time for it.
2. Time of Eve / Eve no Jikan
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: August 2008 – September 2009
Time of Eve is a short anime that challenges its viewer’s perception of what it means to be human. The story is set in the near-future, in a world where androids are as common and ubiquitous as smart phones are today. The main character, Rikuo, is in possession of a piano-savant android named Sammy. After noticing strange activity, coupled by a strange phrase, in her GPS log, Rikuo learns Sammy has been frequenting a café that treats androids and humans as equal.
This show is a slow burn with a lot going on in very few episodes. It is a meditation on what constitutes human “life,” and often references smart sci-fi like Asimov, and his Laws of Robotics. There are many interesting conversations about subjects that are pertinent even today, with androids taking the place in issues such as equality for different genders, ethnicities, and value systems. More proof that you don’t need an overly long run time to ask big questions.
1. Hetalia: Axis Powers
- Episodes: 120+
- Aired: January 2009 – June 2013
An absolute must-watch for fans of short anime and history buffs alike, Hetalia: Axis Powers is a show where countries that participated in WWII are reimaged as specific characters, and important battles and historical events are reimagined with a charming, more satirical tone.
This series is great because it features many deep cuts from historical events that occurred throughout WWII, and takes the inherently jingoistic and racist nature of war-time propaganda to create characters that, while somewhat stereotypical, are easy-to-like and feature positive and negative cultural aspects of their respective countries. With a lot going on in five minutes, and over 120 episodes to go through, Hetalia: Axis Powers will guarantee to spice up your down time when you need a quick anime fix.
There we have it: our top ten short anime. I hope that this sample proves that, much the same way a short story can be as entertaining, impactful, or thoughtful as a full-length novel, short anime can have characters that are just as memorable as longer shows or full-length movies, and contain themes that run the gamut from over-the-top hilarious to questioning the fundamental aspects of everyday life and human nature.
What do you think of these selections? Are there any short anime that we’ve neglected that deserve a spot on your personal top 10 lists? Sound off in the comments and let everyone know what they’re missing.