Shorts tend to not capture much praise or attention on most occasions. This, while understandable, often results in overall scores that don’t fully do justice to how much fun they can deliver in their short runtime.
Even though I have only ten listed here, that doesn’t necessarily mean these are the only ones worth checking out. She and Her Cat: Everything Flows, Aggressive Retsuko and Gakuen Handsome are examples of other anime shorts that are also worth a shot. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K would also likely be here had I seen more than a few episodes before the time of writing. They might not be much more than time-wasters to watch between other, more important full length titles, but why not cram in a bit of fun wherever you can? It’s not like they’re a big time commitment or anything.
Studio DEEN’s theatrical adaptation of the Ao Oni freeware rpg/horror style game – that seeks to bring to life the atmosphere of its source – is set to be released in 2017. Ao Oni the Animation however is not a similar product, not by a long shot. Instead, this (also DEEN produced) short ended up being a series of comedic spoofs starring the titular “Ao Oni” (Blue Demon) and a group of idiotic high school stereotypes that managed to trap themselves in the monster’s mansion. The episodes of this short not only have little bearing on the content of the game and upcoming film, but with each other as well since by the end of nearly each installment, most of the cast has been brutally slain in comedic fashion (don’t worry, they’re always fine in time for the next episode). It’s not much, but at 3:30 minutes per episode, does it need to be much more than bite-sized slapstick fun?
Ninja Girl & Samurai Master is yet another short that delights in (though not as frequently as Ao Oni) treating bloodshed and death in as flippant a manner as possible. This time, in the form of perhaps the cutest animated Warring States Period pieces you’ll ever see from anime. Humor-wise, this is a solid choice for folks who enjoy classic Japanese manzai humor alongside bits of heavy mood dissonance. Not to mention, it has a surprisingly soothing opening.
8. Sekko Boys
One of the best things about shorts is that they allow creators to use bizarre gimmicks to hook us in without giving them enough time to get stale. Sekko Boys is one such series that uses this to its advantage, as it’s a series about a male pop idol group known as ‘The Rockies’ (that happen to be a bunch of Greco-Roman busts) and their easily frustrated manager. The absurdity of the series is compounded by some simple, yet effective sight gags. Such as how the boys are able to move around freely when offscreen somehow, but still have to be moved around via trolley by their manager, or simply how their seiyuus emote so darn well for characters that are, well, a bunch of inanimate Greco-Roman busts.
As a 20th anniversary gift from Nintendo, Pokemon Generations took us through a gamut of stories ranging from the humble beginnings of the Kanto region all the way up through to Kalos. Not only did this web series adapt some important moments from the actual in-game cut-scenes, but filled in some blanks with side stories that further fleshed out the regions and people inhabiting the Pokemon universe. Of all the titles mentioned here, Pokemon Generations is the one that had its potential hampered the most by its brevity since there was so much more that could’ve been done in way that a full series (or even just more episodes) might’ve easily accomplished. The lack of episodes dedicated to the newly released Sun and Moon video games is also a tad disappointing. But if the only major complaints I can come up with have to do with there not being enough of it, it goes to show there’s not really much to complain about.
For any of Pokemaniacs who somehow still haven’t looked into this one, here’s a link to the official Youtube playlist where you can freely watch every episode!
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Tabi Machi outside of its brief, yet apt description as a series about “goodbyes and journeys”, as it’s a series made up of four stories of people about to undergo or who have already gone through a huge turning point in their lives. The perspectives are varied, from the uplifting story of a young chef thanking his source of inspiration, to the regretful story of two girls that could’ve been friends if not for the petty wedge they placed between themselves. These stories, centered around the difficulty of parting, are rather simple in terms of presentation, but with emotions this well articulated, there isn’t too much need for bombast.
Now here’s one that has a lot of cool inside jokes for avid readers, but also pokes fun at their idiosyncrasies in ways that are often applicable to all forms of nerdiness. It’s especially poignant to anyone who is friends with a bibliophile (or any kind of nerd really) since this series has them down to a tee, in particular how they like to flaunt their faux intellectualism. You don’t necessarily have to have even read very much or know much about literature to enjoy it. I guess must’ve been my love for Eri Kitamura’s voice that helped this jive with me so well.
Eight seasons. I honestly can’t tell you of any other title with as much numbered installments within the realm of anime. And thank goodness for that because Teekyuu‘s brand of zaniness is something I come to miss quickly soon after each season comes to a close. The reason for its longevity has everything to do with how the only real constant between episodes are some character quirks, the fact that they don’t really play tennis and Teekyuu’s trademark speed. Beyond that, random nonsense of a different kind is employed each week to fill the gaps. While I’d still love me some more Teekyuu down the line, I can at least feel content knowing that my Teekyuu prayers up until now have been answered.
From sex, tampons, breasts, nipples, underwear, pubic hair, both male and female nether regions, etc, there are no sacred subjects when it comes to Please tell me! Galko-chan. It wouldn’t be fare to say the appeal simply lies in gross-out humor, but rather how such subjects are contextualized. Rather frank discussions on whether or not its possible to tell how much pubic hair someone has based on the size of their eyebrows hit pretty close to the sort of bizarre/gross conversations kids might conceivably hold during their formative high school years when no one else is paying attention. Please tell me! Galko-chan might be nasty, but it’s nasty in a way that I find both warm and welcoming.
The marriage between deep-fried food and DJing wasn’t something that anyone probably thought they would need until watching Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou. What we have here is a mix of a goofy artwork (that lends perfectly to the series’ sense of humor) and an unusual premise that centers around a rookie looking to strike out big in this new field he’s discovered (sort of the typical sports anime template). It made for a rather hilarious take on the lifestyle of the struggling artist and his struggles in finding both the right audience and creative inspiration. The whole connection between being able to create fried, Japanese cuisine and being able to scratch records well is absurdly tenuous, but both the level of research into the subject matter and a sense of self-awareness help its bizarre premise stand under the pressure of twelve, 9 minute long episodes easily. Having the sort of soundtrack that’s easy to “chill out” to certainly helps too.
This may very well have been the short that struck a cord with the most anime fans this year, so its inclusion at the number one spot should’ve been easy to predict. That said, I’ll go for the predictable choice over a wild card if it means being honest, and honestly, Space Patrol Luluco was just too fun to pass up. What makes it stick out was how just about every aesthetic and most narrative choices made make it feel like studio TRIGGER’s love letter to both the fans they’ve garnered since Kill la Kill, and even fans of classic Gainax as evidenced by the above pose. You’ve also gotta love how the narrative brazenly wears its heart on its sleeve as a story of one girl’s shallow and ultimately insignificant feelings of a schoolgirl crush against a wholly unreasonable universe of bizarre aliens, space pirates and alternate dimensions (which gives way to direct references to other TRIGGER properties). Space Patrol Luluco is not only a great example of a short done right, it’s just a flat-out great series and even top 10 of the year contender in my eyes.
You can watch both Space Patrol Luluco here on Crunchyroll, alongside every other series (barring Pokemon Generations, which I’ve linked above) on this list.
MFA_Community is the official publishing arm of the MAL Featured Articles club. This article was written by gedata, one of the club’s writers, in collaboration with the official Featured Articles team.