Short anime series may not generate a lot of buzz, but they can be just as entertaining as their lengthier counterparts. By telling the stories of complex and exciting characters and implementing beautiful artwork in one short but the complete storyline, they are a great alternative if you don’t have the time to sit through five or more seasons of the more popular shows.
Here is our list of the 20 best short anime series.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- 1. Elfen Lied
- 2. Erased
- 3. House of Five Leaves
- 4. Another
- 5. Baccano
- 6. Samurai Champloo
- 7. The Devil is a Part-Timer
- 8. Ping Pong the Animation
- 9. Death Parade
- 10. Senyuu
- 11. Wakaba Girl
- 12. Tonari no Seki-Kun (The Master of Killing Time)
- 13. Devilman Crybaby
- 14. No Game, No Life
- 15. Interspecies Reviewers
- 16. Grand Blue
- 17. Deadman Wonderland
- 18. Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven’t you Heard? I’m Sakamoto)
- 19. High School of the Dead
- 20. Hetalia: Axis Powers
1. Elfen Lied
Lucy is a “Diclonius,” a special human breed with a pair of horns and invincible telekinetic hands. After enduring some pretty inhumane scientific experimentation by the government, she executes one of the bloodiest escapes in mainstream television. Still dazed from her breakout events, she meets two college students and unknowingly drags them into the dangerous world of conspiracy and government secrets.
While the first episode will give you gore and death unlike anything you’ve ever seen, the rest of the series cleverly uses comedic humor and romantic subplots to balance its darker themes. If you enjoy the tension in horror shows, you will love Elfen Lied.
Satoru Fujinuma has a remarkable ability; whenever something terrible happens, he is transported back in time several minutes before the tragedy strikes. He calls this phenomenon “Revival” and has used it to save many lives. One day, however, his mother is brutally murdered. With suspicious fingers pointing at him, his abilities transport him 18 years to the past, where a serial killer is abducting and butchering his young mates.
Suspecting that the murders in this timeline might connect with his mother’s death, Satoru is on a mission to uncover the killings.
3. House of Five Leaves
Set in Japan’s Edo period, House of Leaves tells the tale of Masanosuke Akitsu- a skilled ronin with a meek personality that has him labeled as unreliable by his employers. During his lowest point, he gets a seemingly innocent job as the bodyguard to Yaichi. However, his new gig throws him into the Five Leaves’ illicit world (a band of outlaws led by Yaichi) and has him questioning his principles.
This short anime combines a refreshing art style with a very serene atmosphere, giving the viewer an experience not found in the typical samurai shows.
Another is a horror and mystery anime set in Yomiyama North Middle School in classes 3-3. Twenty-six years after a popular student’s death threw the entire town into a fearful existence, the teenager Kouichi Sakakibara joins the gloomy class 3-3. Ignoring the warnings from everyone, he grows closer to Mei Misaki, an eyepatch-wearing student that the rest of the class treats like she doesn’t exist. This unusual relationship serves to bring him closer to the truth behind the phenomenon plaguing class 3-3.
The unending eerie atmosphere of Another will keep you on edge throughout the show. That and trying to understand Misaki Mei is what makes the short series a worthy watch.
Baccano follows three seemingly unrelated events that are part of a bigger story. In the 1930s, a transcontinental train starts its bloody journey from Chicago, while in New York, a scientist and his aide are looking for the immortality elixir. In 1711, three immortal alchemists will learn the price of eternal life onboard the Adema Avis. Two would-be thieves, Isaac and Maria, merge these two events with lifelong consequences for those involved.
Everything unfolds within 13 episodes, creating a fast-paced action-adventure anime worth every second of your time.
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6. Samurai Champloo
Fuu Kasumi works a waitress in a small teahouse. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she spills the tea on a customer, making her the subject of harassment by a band of samurai. During the confrontation, Mugen and Jin (a rogue and lone samurai) get involved and kill the village perfect’s son.
When the two are captured and sentenced to death for the murder, Fuu rescues them and enlists their help to find a special samurai as payment. And while this quest promises lots of action and dynamic sword fighting, it is also a hilarious adventure presented in a unique and irresistible design.
7. The Devil is a Part-Timer
How does the idea of the devil flipping burgers sound? I’d say awesome. After a failed attempt to conquer the land of Ente Isla, Satan has to retreat and accidentally ends up in modern-day Tokyo on earth. Without his magic, he is trapped and powerless and assumes a human identity to make ends meet. So, he starts working at a local fast-food restaurant as a human named Sadao Maou.
The anime uses the dark lord to present the everyday struggles of mundane life humorously. Watching him flip burgers at his part-time job and he tries to pay rent on time has a hilarious slice of life vibe. Throw in the well-animated action scenes, and you are in for a helluva binge-watching session.
8. Ping Pong the Animation
Ping Pong the Animation is a story of Makoto Tsukimoto and his friend Yutaka Hoshino. Nicknamed Smile and Peco, the two have been playing ping pong their entire lives and are bound by their mutual love for the sport.
If you enjoy competitive sports anime, this series won’t disappoint. It is a coming-of-age story about passion and the desire to be the best at what you do. If that’s not enough, the short series brings a unique art style and animation to the table, making for a refreshing watch.
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9. Death Parade
What happens after death? Well, in Death Parade, there is no heaven or hell. Pairs of recently deceased have to play a random game to decide who will be reincarnated and fade into oblivion. This premise sounds pretty interesting to anyone who hasn’t watched the show, and you’ll be glad to learn that Death Parade’s execution of the concept is brilliant.
Overall, the short series has a killer story presented in a slick art style. Include the recognizable characters, and you will feel like the 12 episodes of the series are just not enough.
After a thousand years of peace, a portal opens between the demon and human realms. As hordes of monsters surge into the human world, the defeated demon lord Archimedes threatens to awaken, and the King has to rely on the descendants of a legendary hero to save the realm. Among the descendants is Alba Fruhling, accompanied by a talented soldier Ross.
Following the adventures of the duo, Senyuu is a comical adventure with pretty odd characters. Alba is an amateur adventurer with blunt skills, while Ross is a sarcastic and sadistic sidekick. If you enjoy satire, Senyuu will give you a good two hours’ worth of it.
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11. Wakaba Girl
Wakaba Girl shows a sheltered rich girl, Wakaba, who dreams of becoming a Gyaru. She begins her school year determined to achieve her goal and ends up befriending three other school girls. As her friends try to help her become a Gyaru girl, they also enjoy a glimpse of her rich life. The short series with seven-minute episodes follows the four school girls’ adventure through waterpark trips, gym classes, and school festivals.
While the series may not appeal to everyone, it offers the perfect dose of cuteness and happy feelings through a well-written plot and compelling character development.
12. Tonari no Seki-Kun (The Master of Killing Time)
Toshinari Seki gets easily bored in class, so he always comes up with intricate setups to kill time. Anything goes for Seki, whether it’s an intense shogi game, a domino course on his desk, or even a pet. Despite the fun that Seki brings to the lesson, his deskmate always seems to get in trouble with the teacher.
Spread over 21 episodes, each 7 minutes long, The Master of Killing Time is a comical watch with humor that is easy to digest.
13. Devilman Crybaby
In this Netflix adaptation of Nagai’s 1970’s manga, demons plan to reclaim the world. However, they cannot take form without a human host, and after a series of unfortunate events, Akira Fudo has no option but to merge with the demon Amon. Luckily, his will is strong enough to overcome the demon and use its power as his own, becoming a Devilman.
Using his newfound abilities, Akira fights other demons for humanity’s sake while battling a hungry and primeval awoken by his partnership with Amon. The series can get quite dark and cruel, taking its viewers on an emotional rollercoaster during its short runtime.
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14. No Game, No Life
No game, no life follows the adventures of two gamer siblings, Sora and Shiro, behind the legendary username “Blank.” After receiving an email challenging them to a chess match, the duo is plunged into another realm where they meet the god of Games Tet. They win the match and are then transported to the Disboard, a world where all forms of conflict- no matter how grave or light- are settled through high-stake games.
No Game no Life’s intelligent characters, unique concepts, and abundance of humor are what make it a worthy watch.
15. Interspecies Reviewers
The world is a home to countless diverse races, and thus, there is a wide variety of brothels. Revelers find it hard to decide where to go until a group of brave warriors embark on a perverted adventure to review and assess all types of succu-girls to find the sexiest species.
Its raunchy presentation makes it a worthy watch if you’re open-minded and willing to try something different.
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16. Grand Blue
Iori Kitahara is a freshman at the university in the coastal town of Izu. When he moves to the city, Iori has dreams about having the best college experience. He takes residence above the Grand Blue (his uncle’s diving shop), where he is sucked into the alcoholic activities of members of the diving club.
The anime series follows the misadventure of Iori and his new group of carefree friends as he tries to live up to his ideal college dream. It’s a comic masterpiece with lots of humor, never-ending laughs, and some touching moments.
17. Deadman Wonderland
What was to be a typical day for Ganta Igarashi and his classmates takes a turn for the worst when a mysterious man in red massacres them. Being the only survivor, Ganta is framed, sentenced to death, and sent to a prison called Deadman Wonderland. Here, he comes face to face with sadistic inmates and has to engage in deadly battles to gain candy to prolong his life.
It is an action-focused anime with an interesting premise. Throughout the 12 episodes, viewers enjoy some really killer scenes lit up by beautiful soundtracks.
18. Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven’t you Heard? I’m Sakamoto)
This 12-episode anime has one of the perfect protagonists you’ll ever see. Everything he does, he does so well; he is attractive, intelligent, and charming. On his first day in high school, all the girls are swooning over him while the boys die with jealousy. Every attempt to derail him fails, and it seems like no one will ever achieve his levels of excellence.
Sakamoto desu ga? It is a silly comedy with everything to laugh about.
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19. High School of the Dead
Set in modern Japan during a zombie apocalypse, High School of the Dead follows the adventures of a group of high school students dealing with the worldwide catastrophe. As the series progresses, the students have to battle deadly zombies and the threat of societal collapse and moral decay.
High School of the Dead delivers the gory entertainment only attained when watching brave characters hack and slash hordes of mindless zombies.
20. Hetalia: Axis Powers
Finally, an anime with a pretty creative concept; if nations were people, what personalities would they have? The story is set in World War I & II events and focuses on the Axis powers. North Italy is a clumsy and carefree personality; Germany is pretty severe, while Japan is stoic with bizarre interests. Occasionally, it focuses on the turbulent relationship of the Allied Forces.
Hetalia uses a comic approach to educate the viewer on politics and historical events. Its random comedy and light approach to weighty issues some of the reasons to watch the anime.