The sheer length of some of the most famous anime series can alienate newcomers. Friends can enthusiastically recommend “Naruto”, “Van Pease” or “The Legend of Galactic Heroes”, but these series, which have become classics, consist of hundreds of episodes, which makes them something of a time-consuming, to say the least.
Maybe the viewer is new to anime and is not sure that he wants to spend so much time on one piece of media, or maybe he is a long-time fan who simply does not have the time or patience to sit out another 70 episodes until they finally reach the story arc that their friends continue to admire.. Fortunately for the times, there are many great short shows in anime that are not held back by their duration consisting of 13 episodes or less.
Updated by Tanner Fox on July 25, 2022: From Spy X Family to the second season of the series “Komi can’t Communicate” and everything in between, a huge amount of high-quality anime content was released in 2022, and although it’s great, many fans just don’t have time. Infamous outdated anime series such as Dragon Ball and One Piece require serious time expenditures, but even standard-length series can sometimes seem too time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are many short one-season anime series for fans who don’t have much free time. Covering all genres and eras, no one should miss these fantastic franchises.
Katanagatari (12 episodes)
Adapted from a light novel by Nishio Isin (the famous Bakemonogatari), Katanagatari tells the story of an ambitious woman and her somewhat thick-headed guardian warrior who travel across Japan to collect 12 legendary blades. With a vibrant anime character design, outstanding animation and engaging dialogues; Katanagatari is not to be missed.
One caveat is that, although there are only a dozen episodes, the duration of each of them is forty-five minutes, which means that Katanagatari will be slightly behind the times compared to other one-season anime series.
Gunbuster and Dibuster (6 episodes)
Top wo Nerae of 1988! Gunbuster is notable for being an early work of the respected Gainax studio, producer of a number of classic games such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It should also be noted that “Gunbuster” is the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno, the mastermind of “Evangelion”. Partly a training montage from the 80s, partly a military story about the horrors of relativistic time during space travel, Gunbuster deserves its reputation as a classic.
Gunbuster also has a more recent sequel, also consisting of 6 episodes, in Diebuster 2004. Although it is somewhat contradictory compared to its predecessor due to a completely different presentation and tone, these two stories are still parts of the whole and deserve to be considered both separately and in relation to each other.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (12 episodes)
When recommending Madoka, it’s best not to talk about her much, except to stick with her at least until the fourth episode. Madoka challenges the genre in a lot of extremely interesting ways; they just don’t open up until the viewer gets a little comfortable with the show.
Although Madoka works great as an independent series of twelve episodes, there are also a number of sequels and side stories in the form of films and other adaptations. Fans usually find some of these recordings necessary to watch, so those who want more can happily continue watching the original series.
FCLL (6 episodes)
Combining an outlandish visual style with wild scenery and excellent animation, FLCL (or Fooly Cooly) is one of the most popular OVA offerings from Studio Gainax. Naota is an ordinary boy living in an ordinary city until a woman from outer space hits him in the face with a guitar, which causes a combat robot to grow out of his forehead.
Although its presentation and concepts may seem strange at first glance, FLCL is actually a surprisingly mature study of the transition to adulthood and what exactly adulthood should look like when a person really gets there. This is a classic anime with one season, and there are only six episodes in it, so there’s really no good reason not to watch it.
Kaiba (12 episodes)
Don’t be fooled by Kaiba’s obviously simple and disarming aesthetic; this is a show that isn’t afraid to venture into the territory of the absolutely dark and tragic. The heroes of the series live in a world where memories can be stored in special chips that give eternal life to the chosen ones. The main character wakes up with no memories, his only possession is a medallion with a photo of a woman in it, and from there everything escalates.
Touching on the role of memory in the nature of being, as well as the class divisions and conflicts they generate, Kaiba is as visually inventive as he is thematically appealing.