Sometimes, the shorter series packs the most punch in the bustling realm of anime. Short animes serve as perfect bite-sized delicacies for those seeking tales filled with vibrant color, gripping drama, and captivating worlds without the time commitment of lengthy sagas.
Often overlooked, these gems exhibit quality storytelling and spectacular artwork, tightly wrapped in a dozen or fewer episodes. Whether you’re a seasoned anime connoisseur looking for your next quick fix or a novice hoping to dip your toes into the rich waters of this genre, short animes are your ticket to a whirlwind of emotions, action, and imaginative brilliance.
Let us guide you through the top must-see selections that promise to leave you yearning for more.
Short Animes To Watch
This section dives into a meticulously curated collection of short animes that deserve your attention. These handpicked titles, brimming with compelling characters, unique plotlines, and beautiful animation, offer a rewarding viewing experience in a compact form. Fasten your seatbelts for a high-speed trip into the anime universe!
1. FLCL (6 episodes)
Unfolding over six whirlwind episodes, FLCL is a rite-of-passage saga unlike any other. This groundbreaking anime from Gainax transports viewers into the chaotic life of Naota, a 12-year-old boy whose mundane existence is turned upside down after a bizarre encounter with Haruko Haruhara, a bass guitar-wielding alien.
With an infusion of comedic absurdity, surreal visuals, and allegorical elements, FLCL creatively addresses adolescence and identity themes. The anime’s vibrant art style, unique narrative structure, and an unforgettable soundtrack by The Pillows make it a must-watch short series. Don’t let the brief runtime fool you – FLCL’s impact resonates long after the final episode’s credits roll.
2. Erased (12 episodes)
Erased is a suspenseful, emotionally-charged roller coaster that will keep you glued to your screen. The anime follows Satoru, a 29-year-old manga artist who can travel back in time moments before a life-threatening incident. This power thrusts him into a mission to prevent a tragedy from his childhood and solve a complex murder mystery.
Laced with drama, psychological thriller, and supernatural intrigue elements, Erased is an enthralling 12-episode journey that will tug at your heartstrings while keeping your mind buzzing with theories. It’s a short anime series that beautifully illustrates the potential of its medium, both in storytelling and emotional depth.
3. Death Parade (12 episodes)
Aesthetically stunning and conceptually provocative, Death Parade is a 12-episode anime that deeply delves into the human psyche. The premise revolves around a unique afterlife where individuals must participate in games that reveal their true nature, ultimately deciding their final resting place.
This thrilling, psychological anime is packed with unexpected twists, exploring themes of life, death, and human nature in a refreshingly poignant manner. Death Parade’s enigmatic characters, mesmerizing visual style, and compelling narrative make it a standout short anime series that is certain to leave a lasting impression.
4. Devilman Crybaby (10 episodes)
Devilman Crybaby, a brutally raw and visually stunning anime, is not for the faint of heart. This 10-episode retelling of Go Nagai’s classic manga pushes boundaries, delving into the darker side of humanity through its protagonist, Akira, who merges with a demon to become a Devilman.
Known for its explicit content, the series combines stunning animation with a heart-wrenching storyline to explore themes of love, friendship, and the duality of human nature. Despite its compact run, Devilman Crybaby offers a profound exploration of good versus evil, making it a must-watch for anyone seeking a short anime with depth.
5. Just Your ‘Average’ School Life: Daily Lives of High School Boys (12 episodes)
Stepping away from high-stakes drama and supernatural thrills, the Daily Lives of High School Boys offers a refreshing slice-of-life experience. The 12-episode series provides a humorous and relatable look at the day-to-day antics of a trio of high school friends, Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake.
This charming anime shines through its simplicity, using situational humor and an array of colorful characters to weave a heartwarming narrative that will leave you in fits of laughter. The series brilliantly captures the essence of adolescent awkwardness and camaraderie, making it a must-see short anime for a light-hearted escape.
6. Cracking the Teenage Enigma: O Maidens in Your Savage Season (12 episodes)
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is a coming-of-age anime that beautifully captures the turbulent wave of adolescence. The 12-episode series revolves around five high school girls in a literature club, each grappling with their sexual awakening. This introspective series explores a range of emotions and experiences that encapsulate teenage life, from the confusion of first love to the struggle of self-acceptance.
Balancing poignant moments with sharp humor, it’s a bold, heartfelt take on the perplexities of growing up. The characters are richly nuanced, each journey unique, making for an engaging, relatable, and thought-provoking narrative. O Maidens in Your Savage Season is a gem of short anime that treats the teenage enigma with the sensitivity it deserves.
7. Reincarnation Roulette: Youjo Senki: Saga of Tanya the Evil (12 episodes)
In a unique blend of alternate history and fantasy, Youjo Senki: Saga of Tanya the Evil presents an atypical, gritty war story through 12 gripping episodes. The plot pivots around Tanya Degurechaff, a ruthless soldier reincarnated as a young girl in a militaristic empire reminiscent of early 20th-century Europe.
With her cunning mind, Tanya must navigate through the brutalities of war, all while defying a divine entity. Combining intense battles, political intrigue, and philosophical undertones, this series delivers a relentless thrill ride. Its fascinating examination of morality and ambition set against a backdrop of war creates an absorbing short anime that will linger in your thoughts.
8. Sweet and Sour Morsels: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (11 episodes)
Anohana is an 11-episode emotional roller coaster that is sure to tug at your heartstrings. The story centers around six childhood friends who have grown apart following a tragic accident but are drawn back together by the ghost of their deceased friend, Menma. While trying to help Menma pass on to the afterlife, the group must confront their unresolved feelings and long-held regrets.
Anohana beautifully blends its supernatural premise with a touching exploration of grief, guilt, and the power of reconciliation. With its well-developed characters, rich emotional depth, and stunning animation, Anohana is a short anime that will leave you reaching for the tissues yet feeling profoundly moved.
9. A Delectable Slice of Life: Sweetness and Lightning (12 episodes)
Sweetness and Lightning is a heartwarming culinary adventure serving a delightful slice-of-life experience in 12 episodes. The series follows a widowed father, Kouhei, and his young daughter, Tsumugi, as they navigate life and overcome grief through the power of home-cooked meals.
Each episode is a small exploration of family, friendship, and the joy of sharing food, filled with moments that will make your heart flutter and your stomach rumble. From its lovable characters to the scrumptiously detailed food animations, Sweetness and Lightning offer a comfortable watch that is as nourishing for the soul as it is appealing to the senses.
10. An Absurdly Acute Adventure: Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World (13 episodes)
Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World is a contemplative 13-episode anime that invites viewers on an introspective journey through myriad unique lands. Our guide through these realms is Kino, a nomadic traveler who spends only three days in each location, long enough to learn about their ways but not to get attached.
This episodic adventure showcases the diversity of human nature as Kino encounters a vast array of cultures, beliefs, and moral dilemmas. With its philosophical underpinnings, elegant animation, and compelling narrative structure, Kino’s Journey is a thought-provoking short anime that rewards viewers with a profound exploration of the human condition.
11. Unraveling the Threads of Fate: Charlotte (13 episodes)
Charlotte is a 13-episode anime that weaves a tale of supernatural abilities, fate, and resilience. The series centers around Yuu Otosaka, a seemingly ordinary high school student who uses his secret power to lead a satisfying life until he crosses paths with Nao Tomori, a fellow student with similar power.
Their encounter sets in motion a series of events that forces Yuu to confront his abilities and the larger destiny at hand. Through its stunning visuals, captivating storytelling, and emotionally charged themes, Charlotte crafts a profound narrative that explores the thin line between blessing and curse, strength and vulnerability. It’s a short anime that unravels the threads of fate, leaving a lasting impact.
12. Yuri!!! On Ice (12 episodes)
Yuri!!! On Ice is a groundbreaking 12-episode anime that combines the beauty of competitive figure skating with a heartfelt narrative. The series follows the journey of Japanese figure skater Yuuri Katsuki, who contemplates retirement after a crushing defeat until his idol, Viktor Nikiforov, appears to coach him.
With captivating ice skating sequences, deep character development, and a heartwarming depiction of relationships, Yuri!!! On Ice captivates from start to finish. Its exploration of themes like self-doubt, ambition, and love set against intricate choreography and a compelling soundtrack make this short anime a sensational watch.
13. Quantum Leap of Faith: No Game, No Life (12 episodes)
In a world where games resolve disputes, No Game, No Life shines as a riveting, 12-episode anime. It follows siblings Sora and Shiro, elite gamers who are transported to a game-dominated world by a god named Tet. Here, they must navigate complex games, outwit opponents, and strive to become the rulers of this world.
With its vibrant animation, clever game strategies, and unique bond between the siblings, No Game, No Life presents a thrilling adventure filled with humor, action, and intrigue. This short anime series is a feast for the senses, providing an immersive, fantastical experience that engages the viewer with every twist and turns.
14. In Pursuit of Paradise: Made in Abyss (13 episodes)
Made in Abyss is a 13-episode anime that plunges viewers into a mesmerizing yet dangerous world. The narrative revolves around Riko, a young girl who descends into an enormous abyss in search of her missing mother, accompanied by a humanoid robot named Reg.
Despite its charming art style, the series isn’t afraid to delve into darker themes and brutal realities, creating a stark contrast that enhances its overall impact. Its rich world-building, engaging character arcs, and haunting beauty of the Abyss make this short anime a remarkable journey that is as thrilling as it is poignant.
15. Katanagatari (12 episodes)
Katanagatari is a stylistically unique and narratively captivating 12-episode anime. The series focuses on Shichika, a swordsman who fights without a sword, and Togame, an ambitious strategist who seeks 12 legendary swords for the shogunate. Set in Edo-era Japan, the anime delivers a fascinating blend of action, romance, and drama, supplemented by an intriguing historical backdrop.
The series boasts a distinct art style and an innovative storytelling approach that makes each episode feel like a self-contained story, all contributing to an overarching narrative. Katanagatari’s cleverly crafted plot, engaging characters, and thematic depth make it a standout short anime, delivering a rewarding viewing experience long after the final episode.
16. Bloom Into You (13 episodes)
Over 13 beautifully drawn episodes, Bloom Into You weaves a poignant and authentic tale of self-discovery and love. The series explores the life of Yuu Koito, a high school student who struggles to understand the feeling of love until she meets the enigmatic student council president, Touko Nanami. As Yuu navigates her blooming feelings towards Touko, the series tackles issues of identity and the complexities of adolescence with sensitivity and grace.
With its subtle character development, relatable themes, and gorgeous animation, Bloom Into You presents a nuanced portrayal of queer love rarely seen in anime. It’s tender and delicate exploration of first love and self-discovery makes this short anime a standout series in its genre.
17. Petals in the Wind: She and Her Cat (4 episodes)
Comprising just four short episodes, She and Her Cat beautifully captures the simple yet profound bond between a woman and her cat. The series provides a glimpse into their everyday life through the eyes of the cat, offering a heartwarming and sometimes melancholic perspective on companionship and the passing of time.
Despite its brief runtime, the series leaves a deep impression, with its minimalist animation style complementing the introspective narrative. She and Her Cat is a simple yet poignant short anime that encapsulates the beauty of ordinary moments. It is a must-watch for anyone who cherishes pets’ quiet yet significant presence in our lives.
18. A Quantum Leap into Love: The Tatami Galaxy (11 episodes)
The Tatami Galaxy is a visually striking and philosophically profound anime that follows an unnamed protagonist navigating university life, exploring alternate realities where his choices diverge. Over 11 mind-bending episodes, the series tackles themes of regret, destiny, and the pursuit of an ideal life.
Its fast-paced dialogue, innovative narrative structure, and visually stunning animation make it a unique viewing experience. The Tatami Galaxy is a thought-provoking exploration of life’s possibilities and the significance of everyday decisions, making this short anime an intellectually stimulating journey that leaves viewers with plenty to ponder.
19. Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Is An Intense Rush (12 episodes)
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is a high-octane, 12-episode anime that elevates the battle royale genre. The series pits twelve warriors, each bearing a name and traits of the Chinese zodiac, against each other in a deadly competition for a single wish.
With each episode focused on a different warrior, the series adeptly combines intense battle sequences with character development, shedding light on their motivations and histories. Juni Taisen’s unique premise, gritty animation style, and relentless action make it a thrilling short anime that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
20. 91 Days (12 episodes)
Set during the Prohibition era, 91 Days is a 12-episode anime that tells a tale of revenge amidst mafia wars. The series follows Angelo Lagusa, a man on a mission to avenge his family’s death at the hands of the Vanetti crime family.
As he infiltrates their ranks, the series delves into the dark underbelly of organized crime, showcasing a grim world of violence and deceit. With its intricate plot, complex characters, and stylish animation that captures the era’s spirit, 91 Days is a captivating short anime that blends the best of gangster drama with the artistic flair of the anime medium.
21. Angel Beats! (13 episodes)
Angel Beats! is a compelling 13-episode anime that blends high school life, action, comedy, and heart-tugging drama. Set in the afterlife, the series revolves around a group of deceased students who form a rebellion against God for the unfair circumstances of their lives.
Through its cast of engaging characters, each with their unique backstories, Angel Beats! It tackles themes of regret, acceptance, and the value of life, resulting in a profound narrative that will move viewers to both laughter and tears. With its stunning animation, captivating plot twists, and deeply resonant themes, Angel Beats! is a short anime that delivers a punchy, emotional viewing experience that is hard to forget.
22. The Garden of Words (1 episode)
A single-episode masterpiece, The Garden of Words is a visually stunning anime film that delves into the subtle complexities of human connections. The story revolves around a chance encounter between a high school student passionate about shoemaking and a mysterious woman who shares his quiet retreat in a Tokyo park.
The film explores their evolving bond, loneliness, and unspoken emotions through beautiful animation and a sensitive narrative. The rain-soaked scenery and atmospheric details provide a poetic backdrop to their intimate story, creating a mesmerizing viewing experience. The Garden of Words is a short anime that delivers a touching narrative with breathtaking visuals.
23. Voices of a Distant Star (1 episode)
Voices of a Distant Star is a one-episode OVA beautifully captures the bittersweetness of love and distance. The story follows two childhood friends separated by vast distances when one of them travels through space as part of a military operation.
The narrative brilliantly captures the couple’s attempts to keep their bond alive through messages that take increasingly longer to reach each other due to the vast expanse of space.
Through its compelling storytelling and atmospheric animation, Voices of a Distant Star delivers a poignant exploration of love, time, and the vastness of the universe. This short anime is a heartfelt gem that showcases the profound depths of human connection.
24. Time of Eve (6 episodes)
Over six thoughtful episodes, Time of Eve invites viewers to explore what it means to be human. The series takes place in a future society where humans live alongside highly advanced androids. The narrative primarily unfolds in a unique café that treats humans and androids equally, blurring the lines between man and machine.
The series’ nuanced portrayal of AI, the ethical quandaries posed by their existence, and the exploration of themes like identity, empathy, and prejudice make for a thought-provoking viewing experience. Time of Eve is a short anime that combines philosophical depth with compelling storytelling to create a resonant narrative that lingers.
25. Hotarubi no Mori e (1 episode)
Hotarubi no Mori e is a single-episode anime film that spins a beautiful and tender tale of love and transience. The story centers around the relationship between a young girl named Hotaru and Gin, a mysterious boy she meets in a forest inhabited by spirits. Their bond deepens over the years, despite the curse preventing Gin from physically contacting humans.
With its elegant animation and poignant narrative, Hotarubi no Mori e navigates the complexities of human emotions and the bittersweet reality of ephemeral relationships. This short anime is a delicate exploration of love, loss, and the fleeting beauty of life, making it a heartfelt addition to any viewer’s anime repertoire.
26. Tsurezure Children (12 episodes)
Tsurezure Children is a 12-episode rom-com that masterfully encapsulates the joys and challenges of young love. This series showcases a delightful array of couples, each with unique dynamics, from shy confessions to hilarious misunderstandings. The show balances humor and heart-warming moments, producing an ensemble cast with charm and authenticity.
Its distinct storytelling style lends a sense of freshness and relatability to the genre, making it a must-watch. Tsurezure Children is a short anime that captures the essence of teenage love in all its delightful awkwardness and sweet triumphs.
27. Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.) (24 episodes)
Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan distinguishes itself as a hilarious gem in supernatural-themed animes. Over 24 short episodes, it tells the story of Kusuo Saiki, a high school student with a wide range of psychic abilities. However, Saiki is far from enjoying his powers and seeks an ordinary, hassle-free life.
Each episode presents a different, often absurd, predicament resulting from his powers and the eccentric characters around him. The series shines with its comedic timing, clever satire of tropes, and Saiki’s dry wit. This short anime offers a unique blend of humor and supernatural elements, making it an engaging watch.
28. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (12 episodes)
Don’t be fooled by its cutesy appearance; Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a game-changer in the magical girl genre. This 12-episode series follows Madoka Kaname, a middle-schooler who is offered a chance to gain magical powers in exchange for fighting malevolent entities.
However, the anime swiftly plunges into darker themes and dilemmas, with a captivating and heart-wrenching narrative. Its blend of stunning visuals, haunting music, and a deeply layered plot makes it a thought-provoking and emotionally gripping short anime that challenges conventions.
29. Plastic Memories (13 episodes)
Plastic Memories, spanning 13 episodes, is a touching exploration of love, memory, and the human condition. The story is set in a world where androids with human-like qualities, called Giftias, coexist with humans but have a limited lifespan. The series primarily focuses on Tsukasa Mizugaki and a Giftia named Isla as they retrieve expired Giftias.
The series balances heart-warming moments with profound sorrow, underpinned by a narrative that explores the meaning of existence and love. Plastic Memories is a short anime that promises to be a deeply moving experience, leaving viewers with nostalgia and melancholy.
30. Barakamon (12 episodes)
Barakamon is a delightful 12-episode slice-of-life anime that combines humor, warmth, and a generous dose of personal growth. The series centers on Seishu Handa, a calligrapher banished to an island after a public outburst. As he interacts with the quirky villagers and embraces the slow pace of rural life, Handa embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
Barakamon beautifully captures the essence of community and simplicity, delivering life lessons with a light touch. This short anime is a charming and heart-warming ride, showcasing the restorative power of a simpler, connected life.
In this journey through some of the top short animes, we’ve explored various unique worlds, each offering a distinct blend of story, artistry, and emotion.
From comedic gems like Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan and Tsurezure Children to heart-rending tales such as Plastic Memories and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, these series captivate despite their brief runtimes.
Whether you’re drawn to high-stakes adventures, profound philosophies, or intricate human connections, there’s a short anime tailored to your tastes. Compact yet impactful, these short animes serve as perfect examples of how powerful storytelling needs no extensive runtime to leave a lasting impression.