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Life often gets busy, and there’s not always time to watch super long anime series. Even when there are hours to spare, sometimes you just want an anime that’s more compressed. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing 13 episode animes out there – and even some shows that have even fewer episodes. The best short anime series deliver complete story arcs, complex characters, and beautiful animation in a small package. The greatest anime doesn’t have to be an epic to feel epic.
The seemingly ordinary and unimpressive Saitama has a rather unique hobby: being a hero. In order to pursue his childhood dream, he trained relentlessly for three years—and lost all of his hair in the process. Now, Saitama is incredibly powerful, so much so that no enemy is able to defeat him in battle. In fact, all it takes to defeat evildoers with just one punch has led to an unexpected problem—he is no longer able to enjoy the thrill of battling and has become quite bored.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! is about Satan working at McDonalds. Why is he doing such an absurd thing? Because he was defeated in his own world, transformed into a human, and the Devil’s gotta eat. The anime is a hilarious look at the hellish nature of low-wage employment, and it’s well worth any viewer’s time.
In ERASED, Satoru Fujinuma travels back to his childhood in the 1980’s to try and prevent a classmate from being murdered. Through his repeated attempts, viewers are pulled into a dark world of secrecy and abuse. It’s an emotionally devastating story that will stay with you long after it’s over.
Violet Evergarden is a gorgeously animated Netflix original about a child soldier who was raised to be a killing machine. After the Great War ends, Violet has a new goal – to find out what her Major meant when he told her he loved her. To better understand the complexity of human emotion, she becomes an Auto Memory Doll, whose job it is to transcribe other people’s feelings into letters.
Through rich colors, detailed landscapes, and otherwise breathtaking art, No Game No Life takes viewers on a journey through the world of Disboard, where every conflict is decided through creative, elaborate games. In this world, protagonists Sora and Shiro go from shut-ins with no prospects to royalty within a few days. It’s a beautiful example of how the right environment can capitalize on a person’s talents.
Elfen Lied tells the story of Lucy, a Diclonius who has been the subject of brutal government experiments since childhood. Caught between her thirst for revenge and her desire to connect with humans, Lucy must come to terms with what she’s done, and what was done to her.
In Angel Beats!, Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up to learn that he is dead, and is quickly recruited into helping the Afterlife Battlefront fight a so-called “Evil Angel.” Through a combination of moving back stories and action-packed battles, the true nature of the Angel, and the afterlife, come to light.
Nine and Twelve – members of Sphyx, the terrorist group at the center of Terror in Resonance – are escapees from an experimental institute for gifted children called The Settlement. They have a message for the world, and they share it via terrorist attacks. This is one of the few anime to take on this important society issue in such a direct way.
How does a community handle the presence of a gaping chasm full of secrets? In Made in Abyss, brave explorers who call themselves Divers descend into this chasm, and its terrifying secrets are slowly revealed.
The highly rated Baccano! combines multiple storylines that include tension in the mafia, fateful encounters on a transcontinental train called the Flying Pussyfoot, and an elixer that promises immortality. These stories seem unrelated at first, but they intertwine in a deeply satisfying way.
Yuri!!! on Ice beautifully combines elements from both sports anime and romance. Whether you’re watching for the love story between Yuri Katsuki and his skating coach Victor Nikiforov, or for the beautifully rendered skating routines that real figure skaters have paid homage to, this show has something for everyone.
Calligrapher Seishuu Handa is banished to a remote island after punching a critic in the face. What follows is Barakamon, a funny, heartwarming story about a twenty-something from Tokyo struggling to take himself less seriously alongside the island residents.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a rom-com about a high school girl named Chiyo Sakura who tries to confess her love for her classmate, Umetarou Nozaki, but ends up helping him draw manga instead. It combines actual information about the manga industry with hilarious slice-of-life hijinks, fabulous characters, and a few genuinely heartfelt moments.
Want to be absolutely horrified but still oddly fascinated? Look no further than Devilman: Crybaby, which tells the story of Akira Fudou, a gentle soul who is turned into a demon against his will. Most demons use their incredible physical prowess for mindless violence, but Akira uses his to protect humanity – at least, to the extent that his friend Ryou will let him.