When there are hundreds of episodes to watch, it can be a daunting undertaking. These brief anime shows, on the other hand, are perfect for catching up on.
It can be difficult for newcomers to get into anime because of the length of some of the medium’s most popular works. The Legend of Galactic Heroes and other great anime series may come highly recommended by friends, but with their hundreds of episodes, they need a significant investment of time on the part of the viewer.
In some cases, the viewer may not have the time or patience to sit through another 70 episodes until they eventually reach the story arc their friends are talking about; in other cases, the viewer may be new to anime and not sure if they want to pour that much time into a single piece of media. For those who are tight for time, there are many of fantastic 13-episode or shorter anime series to choose from.
1. Katanagatari (12 Episodes)
Katanagatari fans will recognize that this is likely cheating, as the show’s 12 episodes each clock in at 45 minutes or more.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s simply a small gripe.
An ambitious woman and her slightly dimwitted warrior guardian set off throughout Japan to collect 12 fabled swords in this film adaptation of a light novel by Nisio Isin (of Bakemonogatari fame). Because they’ll have to deal with both living dolls and people with guns as part of their journey, the term “blade” is used loosely here. Katanagatari is a must-see for everyone who like character design, animation, and conversation.
2. Gunbuster & Diebuster (6 Episodes)
Top wo Nerae from 1988! Gainax’s Studio Gainax is best known for producing masterpieces like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Gunbuster is no exception. In addition, Hideaki Anno, the brains behind Evangelion, makes his directorial debut with Gunbuster. As a satirical look at the perils of relativistic time travel in outer space, Gunbuster has earned its place in cinematic history.
Also in 2004, there was Diebuster, a six-episode followup to Gunbuster. Due to their vastly differing presentation and tone, both stories need to be viewed on their own merits as well as in relation to one another, even if they’re regarded controversial.
3. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (12 Episodes)
Recommendations for Madoka should be limited to “watch at least till episode 3” while discussing the anime.
Many unexpected twists and turns can only be discovered when the audience has had a chance to get to know Madoka a little bit better.
Despite the fact that Madoka is a fantastic twelve-episode series on its own, there have been numerous sequels and side tales made into films and other forms of adaptation. For those who haven’t finished the original series but want to see more, these installments are often regarded as essential viewing by fans.
4. FLCL (6 Episodes)
FLCL (or Fooly Cooly) is one of Studio Gainax’s most well-received OVAs, thanks to its unique visual style, outrageous setpieces, and top-notch animation. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world populated by robots, you’ll have an idea of what it might be like to be Naota.
Even though the film’s presentation and topics may appear strange at first glance, FLCL is actually a sophisticated examination of the transition into maturity and what adulthood should genuinely look like. So why not? It’s a cult favorite and only six episodes long, so there’s really no reason not to see it!
5. Kaiba (12 Episodes)
Keep in mind that Kaiba isn’t hesitant to delve into the region of the utterly dark and terrible, despite its distinctly simplistic and disarming style. There are some who are granted eternal life by the use of special chips, which are used by the show’s characters. A locket containing a photograph of a woman is the only item the protagonist has with him when he wakes up, and things only get worse from there.
On the subject of class inequalities and the problems they produce, Kaiba’s visual style is as innovative as its content is thought-provoking.
6. A Place Further Than The Universe (13 Episodes)
There is a movie called A Place Further Than The Universe about four high school girls who go to tremendous lengths and with a lot of determination in pursuit of an apparently unachievable goal. Despite the show’s fantastical premise, the characters’ procedural battles feel quite relatable, making the show more convincing and interesting overall.
We learn a lot about each character while also seeing how they interact with each other as a group, and the series comes to an emotional close with a heart-wrenching epilogue.
7. Tatami Galaxy (11 Episodes)
Tatami Galaxy has it everything for fans of the romance, college slice-of-life, and existential time-loop nightmare genres. Tatami Galaxy, directed by creative industry veteran Masaaki Yuasa (director of Devilman Crybaby, among others), is revered by anime lovers around the world for its unusual graphics, funky tone, and unforgettable structure.
In the nicest conceivable way, it’s a strange program. On his quest to keep his love life intact, a college student finds himself being pursued by a demon-boy who intends to thwart him at every opportunity. As an added bonus, he’s stuck in a time loop, which complicates things, but is also an important aspect of the show’s structure.
8. Haibane Renmei (13 Episodes)
One of the most innovative works of animation ever produced, Haibane Renmei depicts the narrative of a young girl who is given birth as a being called a “Haibane” in a strange universe. There is an ongoing mystery surrounding Rakka and her fellow Haibane in this new realm, which is explored in the episode.
Trying to describe why Haibane Renmei is so fantastic without revealing too much about the program might be a challenge. However, the show’s focus on the internal struggles of its ensemble creates some wonderfully nuanced characters, despite the show’s slow burn. Haibane Renmei is made much more compelling by the fact that it takes place in such an extraordinary location.
9. Sora No Woto (12 Episodes)
Five teenage soldiers are stationed at an unimportant fort in a distant town at the end of a catastrophic fight in a planet that is in the midst of a long-term steady decline. A slice-of-life feel is achieved by Sora no Woto’s concentration on the daily lives of its protagonists, which makes it one of anime’s most calm war stories.
But there’s a gloomy undercurrent here. In this universe, the history is grim, and it seems as if powers greater than the show’s characters are working to bring the planet to its doom one step closer. As a matter of fact, the show emphasizes that even if this world may be filled with sorrows, there are still things worth keeping.
10. Serial Experiments Lain (13 Episodes)
A series of tests The rising connection of the human race through technology can lead to both connectivity and alienation, as depicted in the mind-bending animation Lain. As far as its ability to foretell the future influence of the internet on humans as a species goes, it was light years ahead of its time in 1998.
For the sake of clarity, Lain’s presentation and plot contain some intentionally opacity. If you’re looking for an anime that doesn’t pretend to be telling a “regular plot,” this is the one for you. There are many unresolved questions in this jumbled techno thriller, and the viewer is encouraged to create their own conclusions from the ambiguous pictures.