There are countless anime series out there, and it can be difficult to determine which ones rank among the all-time favourites. To make it easier, we’ve gathered together a list of 25 incredibly popular short anime series from Japan.
These renowned titles were chosen for their innovative storytelling, high-quality animation, and captivating music. Whether you’re an avid fan or just beginning to venture into the world of anime, these short series will provide hours of entertainment with unforgettable moments that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll.
So join us as we explore this awesome selection of top-rated anime:
Charlotte is a short anime series with a lot of heart and interesting characters. It dives into complex themes not often explored by other anime series, such as destiny, miraculous powers, and the power of friendship.
This great series follows the story of Yuu Otosaka, a gifted high school student who gains special abilities that enable him to slip into others’ minds for five seconds at a time. Of course, this newfound power leads to problems as he often gets into trouble due to abuse of his ability.
As time goes on, Yuu begins to realize that his destiny may be more connected than originally thought and embarks on an adventure with fellow students who each have specific powers.
With an award-winning soundtrack and thrilling visuals, Charlotte is sure to please all fans of anime and those looking for something different in their TV viewing habits alike.
24. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is a short yet captivating anime series about the oppression of violent mutants known as Diclonii. The story follows Lui, a mutant girl who can empathize with humans but is forced to endure a life of mistreatment from those around her.
Despite her wretched circumstances, Lui has an inner strength and optimism that makes her journey all the more heartwarming.
Each episode brings with it intense emotion and thought-provoking plot points. The animation is smooth and fluid, and the soundtrack enhances each moment perfectly.
Elfen Lied remains one of the most beloved anime series among viewers due to its compelling narrative, charming characters, and dark themes.
23. Darwin’s Game
Darwin’s Game has become hugely popular in recent months, with fans on YouTube and across the world releasing reviews, detailed analyses, and more.
Darwin’s Game is a Japanese anime series based on a manga of the same name. It focuses on Kaname Sudo, a high schooler who finds himself thrust into a deadly game when he accepts an invitation to download an app called “Darwin’s Game.”
In this game, players must fight to survive using superhuman powers known as Sigils; failure means death. The show is full of action-packed battles and heart-stopping moments that will have viewers at the edge of their seats. As expected from any top-notch anime series, the animation for Darwin’s Game is nothing short of spectacular.
The art style captures all of the nuances of combat, and its iconography enhances the suspenseful mood of every episode. Additionally, characters are carefully fleshed out with compelling personalities that make viewers feel as if they’re stuck in this dangerous game as well.
22. Prison School
Prison School is a popular and unique anime series which narrates an exciting prison high school experience. The story revolves around five male friends who face the strict discipline of an all-girls academy when they become the first and only male students allowed to enrol.
This hilarious yet awe-inspiring show is filled with comical moments and thrilling cliffhangers. The amount of detail put into crafting each character and setting makes this anime stand out from other shows in the same genre.
Revenge, relationship dynamics, comedy and deep motivations are just some of the classic themes explored in Prison School.
Fans worldwide have been captivated by its captivating storyline and dynamic characters, making it one of the most successful short series anime today.
21. WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular!
Watamote: No Matter How I Look At It, it’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular! It is a comedic anime series that offers an up-close look into the life of high school student Tomoko Kuroki.
Struggling to be socially accepted by her peers, Tomoko faces many daily battles as she works to get closer to her goal of becoming popular.
Fans of the show love the relatable situations and the portrayals of teenage tribulations, making Watamote both funny and heartbreaking at times.
Throughout this short series’ runtime of twelve episodes, audience members will go on a journey full of cringe moments with Tomoko and discover how she overcomes her psychological issues.
Everyone should watch this unique anime about finding acceptance and using it for inspiration for facing their own troubles in life.
Although Watamote does not guarantee success in social situations upon viewing, it does provide an understanding towards those going through similar struggles seen in Tomoko’s journey.
20. Death Parade
Death Parade is an anime series that left many impressed with its captivating story about death and the afterlife. This short anime follows Decim, the arbiter of the afterlife who decides whether people pass on to the next life.
Set in an unusual bar setting, this show twists and turns as it goes and touches upon some interesting concepts of morality, justice, perception etc. It will leave viewers questioning how they view death and judgment.
The dark yet humorous tone of Death Parade fits perfectly with its unique characters, who are highly relatable and well-developed throughout the show.
From music to animation to dialogue, Death Parade has a lot going for it and plenty of heart-touching moments that go beyond just entertainment.
19. House of Five Leaves
House of Five Leaves is a short Japanese anime series with 12 episodes which aired from April to June 2010. This show was created and directed by Masayuki Yoshihara, who also did shows such as Various Friendships and Den-noh Coil.
The story mainly focuses on the character of Masanosuke Akitsu, professional ronin, who got hired by Yaichi and his gang of “Five Leaves”. These five inexperienced kidnappers come from different backgrounds and have contrasting personalities.
Masanosuke strives to protect the group from their own misdeeds and fights for them. The music for this anime is composed by Takeshi Senoo, who uses traditional instruments like shamisen against an epic backdrop to create a unique yet tension-filled atmosphere.
House of Five Leaves has something special that will delight viewers looking for tales of high drama in tight timeframes.
18. Grand Blue
Grand Blue is an incredibly captivating and visually appealing anime series that follows the life of Iori Kitahara, a college student who moves out to his uncle’s dive shop in Izu.
This anime series brings together heart-touching moments with hilarious antics, allowing viewers to both enjoy a good laugh and tear up.
With its brightly coloured animation and high-quality art style, Grand Blue provides eye candy for fans of short anime series.
In fact, this show has been gaining more and more viewers every day due to its easy-to-follow storyline and entertaining characters.
If you’re looking for something unique and offbeat that won’t take a long time to watch, then Grand Blue is definitely the show for you.
Not only is it full of exciting revelations and intriguing characters, but the adventures that this series takes us on are truly one-of-a-kind and unforgettable.
17. Plastic Neesan
Plastic Neesan is an outrageously hilarious short anime series by Kyoto Animation Studios. It follows the everyday misadventures of an android girl named Kaguya, created by a strange scientist whose delusions make her live a bizarre life.
She often finds herself in unexpected events and ends up in awkward situations leading to chaotic moments. The humour hits right at heart as this mischievous android finds amazing ways to tackle life’s daily problems.
This beautiful show has action, comedy and cleverly hidden messages in its 20-minute episodes that’ll make you laugh out loud.
Plastic Neesan is easily one of the best-recommended anime series available today–it’s worthy of being added to your watch list. Enjoy this unique gem from Kyoto Animation Studios and treat yourself to something funny, interesting and inspiring.
16. Ishuzoku Reviewers
IShuzoku Reviewers is an anime series that has quickly become popular in recent times. Set in the fantasy world of Theon, the story follows a group of elite travellers who are tasked with the mission of evaluating various species of succubi and other mythical creatures to determine their level of erotica.
This anime is unique in its premise and will keep you engaged as you follow the adventures of these characters as they explore new exotic races and drink tea while discussing their findings.
It brings comedy, fantasy, and fantasy elements together to create an entertaining plot with strong character development.
Every episode takes place at a different bar or pub where Stunk, the protagonist, reviews specially selected creature girls accompanied by Crimvael, his fairy companion quipster, from episode to episode.
Ishuzoku Reviewers excels in its colourful characters, evocative music score and out-and-out comedic writing, which make it incredibly enjoyable for audiences that love fantastical escapism blended with hilarious hijinks.
“Baccano!” is a short anime series that provides audiences with intense action, intriguing characters and a thrilling story. It centres around the chaotic events on the American-European controlled steamship known as the Flying Pussyfoot in 1931.
The show follows the adventures of multiple characters with intertwining relationships and shocking secrets to uncover. Each episode is deeply layered with mind-boggling plot twists and creative visuals that satisfy any fan of anime, whether they are diehard enthusiasts or newbies alike.
This series will capture your attention from start to finish — you’ll never want it to end! “Baccano!” packs powerful punch after punch to keep viewers on their toes, so make sure to check out this must-watch anime of 2008.
With its innovative storytelling style, stellar animation quality and well-written character development, this series will leave a lasting impression on anybody who watches it.
14. The Comic Artist and His Assistants
The Comic Artist and His Assistants is an entertaining Japanese anime TV series that follows the story of Aito Yuuki, a talented comic artist.
With the help of his three female assistant editors, Aito works hard to meet each issue’s demanding deadlines while learning valuable lessons about friendship and artistic inspiration throughout this comical journey filled with humour and animation.
The thoughtful dialogue, well-paced episodes, and top-notch voice acting make this show a must-watch for any anime fan.
From discovering their own true passions to building meaningful connections between them, The Comic Artist and His Assistants take viewers on an enjoyable ride exploring traditional art forms in today’s ever-changing world of manga and animation.
13. The Devil is a Part-Timer
The Devil is a Part-Timer, an anime comedy series originally released in 2013, tells the story of a demon lord forced to live on Earth.
On Earth, they reside as an average part-time employee while dealing with all kinds of worldly problems. His easygoing personality and zany antics make for adventures full of humour and surreal plot twists.
As the anime progresses, we see him making the most of his mundane life by growing close to his fellow employees at his workplace. It’s a good mix of comedy and adventure that promises hours of entertainment for viewers.
While The Devil is a Part-Timer might be short compared to other anime series spanning dozens of episodes, its high-quality animation, music and action-packed scenes more than make up for it.
Another is a highly rated and critically acclaimed horror anime series from 2012. Following high school student Kouichi Sakakibara as he moves to Yomiyama North Middle School, it’s soon revealed that the town suffers from a curse.
With grisly and scary incidents occurring on a regular basis, Kouichi soon discovers that they are linked with one of his classmates named Mei Misaki-who seems to be invisible to all other students.
This short yet intense anime series presents a spine-tingling look at the dark forces at work in Yomiyama, making it one of the most memorable and talked about series ever released.
From its gripping storyline full of unexpected twists to its detailed animation and haunting soundtrack, Another is an essential watch for any horror fan looking for something chilling and mysterious.
11. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is an online Japanese anime series perfect for those who love a combination of comedy and drama. It follows the hilarious antics and misadventures of a hard-working office lady and her much younger, often dense husband.
With its cheeky, sharp dialogue and memorable characters, this show quickly became a hit in Japan when it was released in 2014.
Rated PG-13, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is full of lighthearted fun that appeals to both children and adults alike.
Its warm romance mixed with endearing slice-of-life moments makes it easy to see why this short anime series has become so popular.
10. Ping Pong the Animation
“Ping Pong the Animation” is a short anime series that has been making waves in the industry. This series showcases a variety of stylized animation and character designs combined with a compelling story to create an unforgettable experience.
The main plot depicts two teenage boys – Makoto Nikaido and Smile Yuuya — who have been trained since they were children to excel in table tennis competitions.
Throughout the show, these young heroes must learn to confront their difficulties both inside and outside of the ping pong court while dealing with insurmountable odds stacked against them.
Though this series may be short in length, it packs a powerful punch in its drama and delivery, earning praise not only from professional critics but also from anyone who has watched it.
9. Deadman Wonderland
Deadman Wonderland is a short anime series that follows the story of Ganta Igarashi, a young student wrongly convicted of murdering his classmates and sent to a prison full of horror and twisted games.
Ganta learns he has an extraordinary power that allows him to manipulate his own blood, leading him to take on evil forces as he fights for his freedom and survival.
Watching Deadman Wonderland can be incredibly rewarding; it’s intense, gory, and has thoughtful explorations of morality and society.
Each episode packs in much more content than you would expect from an anime series with only 12 episodes, ensuring you have plenty of time to appreciate the drama and suspenseful narrative.
With intriguing characters, excellent animation quality and powerful themes, Deadman Wonderland is definitely worth watching if you’re looking for an action-packed short anime series with wits.
8. Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time
Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time is a hilarious short anime series that will keep viewers eagerly engaged the entire way through.
The premise of the show follows Yokoi, an ordinary student who has the misfortune of sitting next to Seki-Kun, a genius boy in her class who would rather play with his toys than pay attention in school.
Each episode chronicles the bizarre creations and experiments that Seki-Kun comes up with in order to entertain himself during class, leaving Yoki to battle her own boredom while also attempting to resist joining in on Seki-Kun’s fun.
Tonari no Seki-Kun captivates viewers with its absurd humour combined with its real-life situations that many can relate to.
Erased, originally known as Boku dake ga Inai Machi, is an intense and compelling short anime series that immediately captivates viewers.
It follows the journey of Satoru Fujinuma, a young pizza deliveryman in the small Hokkaido town of Sulaimon who is granted a peculiar power to travel back in time moments before a life-threatening incident occurs.
With this newfound “Revival” ability, Satoru uses it to prevent catastrophes from striking. However, later on, he discovers that Revival might also have another purpose – to protect someone close to him from being murdered. Combined with his own investigation skills, he must determine who the killer is during his travels back in time.
With its exciting plot twists and superbly crafted artwork, Erased definitely stands out among other short anime series and appeals to viewers of all ages.
Senyuu is an anime series that packs a lot of punch into its twelve short episodes. Developed by Bridge and directed by Yasuto Nishikata, the show chronicles the story of the brave hero Archimedes, who is tasked with retaking the Royal Capital.
He has been granted various magical objects and skills in order to help him on his quest, and our story follows his journey as he takes on monsters and villains along the way.
Senyuu offers bright, colourful animation with different visual styles used for each episode. With witty humour and some familiar characters, this series allows its characters to develop at high speed without seeming rushed or incomplete.
Each episode comes complete with elements of suspense, adventure, and fantasy that will pull viewers into the world presented in Senyuu.
Its diverse cast makes it easy to relate to particular characters, which, combined with adventure-filled storylines, ensures that fans are coming back for more after each episode ends.
5. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
Zankyou no Terror, otherwise known as Terror in Resonance, is an award-winning short anime series that was created by criminologist and science fiction novelist Kusanagi. The series follows two teenagers who are members of a secret terrorist group, Sphinx.
Set in the fictional Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan, the series explores the themes of revenge and youth culture in a way that resonates with viewers from all age groups.
Zankyou no Terror documents their dangerous plot to bring down Tokyo’s government and its consequences on everyone involved.
Its gripping plot, complemented by impressive artwork, has contributed to its increasing popularity among fans of both genres: mystery and romance.
4. Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto)
This slice of life and comedy anime follows the enigmatic title character who remains composed and unruffled no matter what his schoolmates put him through.
Calm, cool, collected and talented in just about everything he does, Sakamoto proves that even the most ordinary boy can be extraordinary when given the opportunity to shine.
The lightheartedness of this series will charm viewers with its unique style that reconciles eccentricity and understatement into an uplifting story about self-Improvement.
From trying gender-bending clothes to taking on bullies in surprisingly gentle ways, Sakamoto demonstrates resilience by turning obstacles into opportunities.
3. The Promised Neverland
“The Promised Neverland” is an anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name and has quickly captured viewers’ imaginations with its captivating story.
The plot follows a group of orphaned siblings as they attempt to discover what lies beyond the walls of their orphanage while trying to evade their caretaker’s sinister agenda.
With characters that range from strong-willed and optimistic Emma to mysterious sly-fox Isabella, each character adds another layer to the struggle for freedom.
Through intense action sequences, breathtaking visuals, and a perfect blend of mystery and horror elements, “The Promised Neverland” appeals to all ages with its fast-paced narrative. At less than 25 episodes long, it’s a great watch for those who don’t have time for a full-length anime series.
2. Devilman Crybaby
Devilman Crybaby is an edgy, explosive and thought-provoking short anime series (only 10 episodes) that conveys an in-depth exploration of the human mind.
Produced by Science Saru and directed by visionary Masaaki Yuasa, this Netflix-exclusive series has taken fans around the world by storm with its dark humour, breathtaking animation techniques and a story that will keep you glued to your seat.
The show follows Akira Fudo, a timid high school student who discovers his superhuman alter ego – Devilman – after merging with a demon.
Created to explore the darker side of mankind, crybaby focuses on themes ranging from love and betrayal to violence and revenge.
Its mature content and unflinching visual representation have earned it global critical acclaim from many renowned publications like “The New York Times”.
Beastars is an anime series that has taken many fans by storm. The series follows the life of a boy and his best friends in a world where carnivores and herbivores live together. A teenager, Legosi, who’s a grey wolf, is the main protagonist of this adventurous saga.
He is constantly facing challenges as he navigates through all the complexities of his ongoing relationships. From being chased down by carnivores to having awkward conversations with fellow classmates, every episode of Beastars offers something exciting and entertaining.
Despite having more than one species involved in its storyline, Beastars manages to capture each detail magnificently and gives its fans great life lessons.
Short anime series is a great way to explore a whole new world of creativity and art. Whether it’s comedy, romance, fantasy or horror, there’s something for everyone. There is no shortage of compelling stories with unique characters and captivating art styles for viewers to explore.
Even if you don’t watch them all, some of these well-known short anime titles can provide hours of entertainment due to their often humorous (or sometimes even tear-inducing) plot lines.
If you’re looking for something that can be enjoyed in short bursts while still delivering an intense plot and artful animation, the 25 short anime series mentioned in this article are an excellent starting point.