The world of anime boasts a diverse array of captivating short series that leave a lasting impact on audiences despite their brief runtime.
These short animes, often consisting of a limited number of episodes, showcase incredible storytelling, compelling characters, and innovative narratives that linger in the minds of viewers.
While numerous exceptional short anime exist, several standout series have solidified their place as some of the best in the medium.
What Are the Best Short Anime Series?
The world of anime is rich with exceptional short series that deliver immersive storytelling, lovable characters, and thought-provoking themes within a limited episode count. Coming up next, we spotlight some of the best short anime series of all time.
FLCL (Fooly Cooly)
FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly, is a six-episode OVA (Original Video Animation) series that burst onto the anime scene with its audacious style and unconventional storytelling. Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki and produced by Gainax and Production I.G, FLCL follows the life of Naota Nandaba, a young boy whose mundane existence is turned upside down when he encounters Haruko Haruhara, a guitar-wielding alien.
The series seamlessly blends coming-of-age themes, surrealism, and frenetic action, exploring themes of adolescence, maturity, and the complexities of growing up. With its frenetic pacing, vibrant animation, and an eclectic soundtrack by The Pillows, FLCL remains a beloved cult classic among anime enthusiasts.
FLCL is a surreal and chaotic anime that is full of symbolism and metaphors. The series is also very funny and heartwarming. It is a story about growing up, learning to deal with your emotions, and finding your place in the world.
Death Parade is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant anime consisting of 12 episodes. Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa, this series takes place in a mysterious afterlife world where souls are judged through intense and revealing games.
Each episode showcases a different pair of characters who face these otherworldly games, providing a deep exploration of human nature, morality, and the complexities of life and death. The show’s dark yet poignant storytelling, coupled with its philosophical themes, intricate character development, and stunning animation, makes Death Parade a standout short anime that leaves a lasting impact on its viewers.
Death Parade’s narrative is a captivating blend of mystery, suspense, and philosophical exploration. The series delves into the complex nature of human morality, questioning the boundaries between good and evil and the role of choice in shaping our destinies.
Death Parade is a must-watch for fans of anime that delves into philosophical themes and explores the complexities of the human psyche. Its captivating narrative, enigmatic characters, and stunning visuals create a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant experience that stays with viewers long after the final credits roll.
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, Devilman Crybaby is a 10-episode series that reimagines Go Nagai’s classic Devilman manga with a modern and visually striking approach.
The anime follows Akira Fudo, a timid and compassionate teenager who merges with a demon to become Devilman, aiming to protect humanity from impending demonic threats. This anime is renowned for its bold animation style, visceral storytelling, and mature themes that delve into the darkness of human nature, morality, and societal issues.
Devilman Crybaby received widespread acclaim for its unflinching portrayal of complex characters and its ability to deliver a profound and emotionally charged narrative within its limited episode count.
The series is particularly celebrated for being such a visually stunning anime with a vibrant and dynamic art style that perfectly captures the intensity of the story. The animation is fluid and expressive, and it is used to great effect to convey the emotional turmoil of the characters.
The series also boasts a powerful soundtrack, with music that ranges from heavy metal to haunting orchestral pieces. The music perfectly complements the tone of the anime, adding to its emotional impact.
Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100, created by ONE, the same creator behind One Punch Man, is a 12-episode series directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa. The anime centres on Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed “Mob,” a seemingly average middle schooler with extraordinary psychic abilities.
Despite his immense power, Mob strives for a normal life and personal growth while navigating the challenges of adolescence. The series blends humour, action, and themes of self-discovery, friendship, and the consequences of power.
With its unique art style, dynamic animation, and engaging character development, Mob Psycho 100 stands out as a memorable short anime that resonates with audiences through its heartfelt storytelling.
Mob Psycho 100 stands as a testament to the creative genius of ONE and the visionary direction of Yuzuru Tachikawa. Through its vibrant animation, compelling characters, and exploration of profound themes, the series offers a dynamic and emotionally resonant viewing experience.
The series has left a lasting impact on viewers, earning a dedicated fanbase and recognition for its innovative approach to storytelling and character-driven narratives. Its exploration of themes related to identity, emotions, and personal growth resonates with audiences, solidifying its place as a standout anime in the genre.
Erased is a captivating mystery-thriller anime comprising 12 episodes, adapted from Kei Sanbe’s manga. Directed by Tomohiko Itō, the series follows Satoru Fujinuma, a struggling manga artist who possesses an ability called “Revival” that sends him back in time moments before a life-threatening incident occurs.
When Satoru becomes a suspect in a murder case, he uses his power to travel back to his childhood to prevent a series of tragic events. Erased weaves an intricate narrative that blends elements of suspense, time travel, and emotional depth, exploring themes of regret, redemption, and the power of personal connections.
With its compelling storyline and well-crafted characters, Erased remains a standout short anime that captivates audiences with its suspenseful storytelling.
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain offers a unique and challenging viewing experience that invites viewers to question their own perceptions of the world around them.
The story follows Lain Iwakura, a shy and introverted teenager who stumbles upon a mysterious website known as “The Wired.” This virtual world, an early depiction of the internet, quickly captivates Lain, drawing her deeper into its labyrinthine depths.
As Lain becomes increasingly immersed in The Wired, she begins to experience strange phenomena, blurring the lines between what’s virtual and what’s real. She encounters digital avatars, experiences glitches in her own perception, and questions the very nature of her own existence.
Serial Experiments Lain is renowned for its surreal and often disturbing imagery. The series employs a variety of visual techniques, including experimental animation, glitch art, and dreamlike sequences, to create an unsettling and thought-provoking atmosphere.
The narrative is further enhanced by philosophical musings and cryptic dialogue that challenge viewers to interpret the deeper meaning of the story. The series draws inspiration from various sources, including cyberpunk literature, existential philosophy, and the writings of William Gibson and Jean Baudrillard.
In the realm of anime, Katanagatari is regarded as a unique and captivating series that blends elements of historical fiction, action, and romance, creating a captivating narrative that stands out from the crowd. With its interesting characters, dynamic animation, and intriguing story, Katanagatari takes viewers on an unforgettable journey through a world of swords, strategy, and self-discovery.
The story follows Yasuri Shichika, the heir to the Kyotouryuu school of swordsmanship, a unique fighting style that utilises one’s body as a weapon rather than relying on a traditional katana. Shichika is accompanied by Togame, an ambitious strategist who seeks to collect all twelve Deviant Blades, legendary swords scattered throughout the land, for the shogunate.
Katanagatari masterfully mixes action, humour, and romance, creating a narrative that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The action sequences in the series are dynamic and visually stunning, showcasing Shichika’s unique fighting style and the power of the Deviant Blades.
The series is also infused with a healthy dose of humour, often derived from Shichika’s naivety and Togame’s dry wit. Their interactions create a light-hearted atmosphere that balances out the darker themes of the story.
Violet Evergarden (2018)
Violet Evergarden invites viewers on a profound journey of self-discovery and the healing power of human connection. The story follows Violet Evergarden, a young woman who has spent her life as a soldier, trained from a young age to fight in wars. After the war’s end, she is left with a deep emotional scar, unable to understand the concept of human emotions, particularly those surrounding love.
Seeking redemption and a purpose in life, Violet becomes an Auto-Memory Doll, a writer who transcribes people’s thoughts and feelings into letters. As she travels from place to place, writing letters for others, she begins to grasp the power of words and their ability to heal emotional wounds.
Violet Evergarden is populated by a cast of well-developed and relatable characters, each with their own stories to tell. Violet’s journey is intertwined with the lives of those she encounters, as she helps them to express their emotions, find closure, and move forward with their lives.
Those notable characters include Major Gilbert Bougainvillea, Violet’s former commanding officer who becomes her mentor and surrogate father; Iris Cannary, a fellow Auto-Memory Doll who befriends Violet and helps her understand the complexities of human emotions; and Claudia Hodgins, the head of the Leidenschaft Auto-Memory Doll Agency, who becomes a trusted friend and confidante to Violet.
A Place Further Than the Universe (2018)
A Place Further Than the Universe takes viewers on an unforgettable journey to Antarctica, a place where the characters not only explore the wonders of the natural world but also delve into their own dreams and aspirations.
The story follows Mari Tamaki, a high school girl who feels lost and directionless after her mother’s death. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa, an eccentric and determined young woman who dreams of leading an expedition to Antarctica.
Mari is initially hesitant to join the expedition, but she is drawn to Shirase’s passion and the prospect of embarking on an adventure that takes her far beyond her comfort zone. Together, they recruit two other high school girls, Hinata Miyake, a skilled navigator, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a brilliant but socially awkward mechanic.
A Place Further Than the Universe is a celebration of friendship, self-discovery, and embracing the unknown. The series encourages viewers to step outside their comfort zones, pursue their dreams, and cherish the connections they have with others.
The world of anime is rich with exceptional short series that deliver immersive storytelling, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes within a limited episode count. These short anime series showcase the creative prowess of anime in delivering impactful and memorable experiences, proving that a limited episode count is no barrier to creating captivating and unforgettable stories.