Are Anime Shorts Series Actually Worth Your Time?

Aiura3

If you have been following the currently airing anime seasons these past few years you may have noticed that since roughly a year ago there has been an increase in a new type of anime: the three-minute anime series. Or, if we are lucky, they may even be five minutes!

Yes, there have been shorter anime series before and naturally there have been countless of OVAs or stand-alone titles that only take up a couple of minutes in total. But there has never been as many airing as there are today and they certainly have not been as popular. I cannot provide an answer as to why we are seeing this new trend, but if I had to take a guess it would be because they are safer to produce due to their shorter lengths. As a result, they do not need to sell as much to guarantee a profit.

What I can say, however, is that most of these anime shorts series are either hit or miss when it comes to actual quality. A common complaint is that they end before you get into their respective “mood” or that their time limit hinders them from evolving into something meaningful. Consequently it can feel like series are repeating the same thing over and over again during their very short run.

Despite only having seen ten or so of these shorter anime series I know what to expect when picking another one up. If it is a comedy it will most likely be horribly bad. Titles such as Recorder to Randoseru, Litchi DE Hikari Club and Ishida to Asakura come to mind. They repeat the same bloody joke ad infinitum with little to variation and are generally really bland in the visual department.

Teekyuu2

Luckily there are comedy shorts that have succeeded. In only two minutes – including an ending song! – Teekyuu manages to be batshit insane with completely random events and enough dialogue to fill full-length episode. The extreme pacing and randomness, put together with similarly wacky animation, creates an overload of fun in measly two minutes. Plastic Nee-san, Inferno Cop and Senyuu all work in similar fashion, which may be the very reason they are all that great. Thanks to not taking themselves seriously they manage to surprise.

But what else is there besides comedy when it comes to anime shorts? Well… the only thing so far is basically slice of life shorts. To me they have worked a lot better than the comedy counterparts. They do not mainly rely on jokes, but on cute and heartwarming moments, which is far easier to achieve. Plus they usually follow some sort of narrative, even if it only boils down to attending school.

The biggest problem with slice of life shorts is the actual length. Personally, a really good slice of life lulls you into a state of happiness that makes you feel all warm during the whole soothing episode (and perhaps for some time afterwards). This may work well with Aria the Animation, seeing how it has more than twenty minutes to instill this feeling, but not quite as well with Aiura or Yama no Susume, despite being the two shorter anime series I adore the most.

YamanoSusume4

So harmonic.

What I am trying to say is the following: how can an anime be short, yet relaxing? It simply cannot work. Of the two series I mentioned Yama no Susume works better as it has an on-going story about the main characters climbing a mountain which at least gives a sense of progression. Aiura, on the other hand, is only about our main gang doing nothing at school or home. It ends just when it is about to get good.

If I had to create an analogy, you could imagine Aria the Animation as eating a whole cake at your own pace, having all the time in the world to enjoy its flavors and texture. But Yama no Susume would be only eating half a cake while barely appreciating its taste and Aiura would be someone taking the cake away from you when you have only eaten a fourth of it. You want to eat more to be satisfied, yet you are not served any and leave with an empty stomach.

These two are titles that would benefit a lot from being longer. If a full-length series is not possible, why not do as Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san and run for half the length? It would work wonderfully as it would guarantee that they would not overstay their welcome. You could say it would be a delicious little dessert after a main course, much like the aforementioned Muromi-san.

Remember this?

Remember this?

On another note, there are certain full-length titles that would work just as well as shorter ones. Nichijou and Daily Lives of High School Boys (Nichibros for short) are built up around multiple sketches put together to a longer episode. For instance, Nichibros even had pre-airs that lasted for five minutes and that still worked extremely well. And it never becomes old to re-watch clips from Nichijou on Youtube.

In fact, I even dare to say Kill Me Baby and Shirokuma Cafe would work better if they were shorter, as they both were painfully slow and had fairly repetitive natures.

But to answer the question I asked in the title of this post. Are anime shorts series actually worth your time? For the most part the answer is a definitive “no”. Most usually suck and lack finesse, especially if we are talking about comedies. But at the same time we are only talking about a handful of minutes wasted if you want to give one a try. Besides, the ones that are great can stand up to any full-length anime.

You only need to find the shining gems buried beneath all the trash.

PlasticNeesan2v2

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36 thoughts on “Are Anime Shorts Series Actually Worth Your Time?

  1. Tofu says:

    Sorry to be a noob but I want to ask, what anime is the last GIF from? :O

    Also, I wouldn’t care about short anime series unless they were really impressive, which is why I dropped most 5/3 minute shows besides Yama no Susume. Besides the girls being adorable, we had a girl who was afraid of heights right from the start. There was a story AND in the end, there was character development. The characters had presence and I’d wished it was a proper series :)

    • It seems to be Kuniki from Plastic Nee-san. Anime: (http://myanimelist.net/anime/10711)

    • Marow says:

      @Tofu: Agreed about Yama no Susume having a proper series! The special episode showed that it worked just as well in a slightly longer format (even if it was only 2-3 minutes longer)! You should try giving Aiura a chance. It may not be as impressive as Yama no Susume, but it’s still really sweet.

      Sorry to be a noob but I want to ask, what anime is the last GIF from? :O

      As Doki said, it’s Kuniki from Plastic Nee-san! Go watch it! :D

  2. froggykun says:

    I don’t watch anime shorts, but I’ve been staring intently at the gif at the end there since the minute you published this post. Staring… staring…

    My day has been made.

  3. Author says:

    Sunred was half-size as well.

  4. darkness447 says:

    Reblogged this on Just my guilty pleasure reblog. and commented:
    Great post!

  5. Personally I abhor anime shorts. The only one that’s managed to actually snare my attention would be Poyo Poyo, and that’s based on the sole fact that it’s an overload of creepiness. I tired watching a few last season (or was it the season before?) and they only succeeded in creeping the hell out of me.

    Also, a week is TOO long to wait for a 3 minute “clip.”

    • Marow says:

      Poyo Poyo is so long! But since it’s about cats… perhaps I should give it a tr-

      based on the sole fact that it’s an overload of creepiness

      What?!

  6. ninetybeats says:

    Aiura and Haitai Nanafa are very entertaining in my opinion. I like the colors, the characters and the setting. Especially Aiura does a good job. I think the problem is that you cannot expect a few minute show to be as good as a full 20 minute or so show. It will not have the same effect on the audience, which isn’t the intention of the producer I believe. Comparing a short show to a full show is also unfair, because the show’s format is different. It has a less amount of time to tell its story, so it needs to cut certain elements for example creating a whole setting for itself. And how much is 2 to 5 minutes a waste. It would be more of a waste if I watched a show for 20 minutes hoping something actually happens after 15 minutes:p

    • Marow says:

      If you like colors you should give Yama no Susume a try if you haven’t already. Not as pretty as Aiura, but close to!
      As for Haitai Nanafa I found it okay. It felt awfully rushed in the beginning, but it found its groove later on and became somewhat fun. Can’t wait till the second season.

      I think the problem is that you cannot expect a few minute show to be as good as a full 20 minute or so show.

      You’re definitely right. A long anime and a short anime have completely different limits and approaches. As you say, a short one doesn’t have the same amount of time to tell its story. But still, I do feel that the creators of the anime should adapt to this and make better use of the shorter format, instead of trying to cram in too much which results in an overly “rushed” episode.

      As for the waste of time aspect, it’s more personal than anything. It’s much more rare to feel like I’ve wasted 20 minutes (an episode) on a full-length series as opposed to a shorts series with maybe 30 minutes in total!

      With a full-length one you have a better picture of how it will turn out, so it’s easier to stop. With a short one, you never quite know what to get, so you continue because “it’s so short!”. Then you end up realizing you wasted your time. At least that’s how it works for me :P

  7. Gisei says:

    I think anime shorts are made because the creator tend to have such funny and random ideas that are hard to place in a decent storyline. So instead they place their ideas on these short episodes that when aired usually goes with the commercial or before another show starts. though watching it is fun it is also pointless. unless you are after a good laugh but most of the time its pointless

    • Marow says:

      Hm, what you said makes me curious. Exactly when does these shorter series air? Is it in the middle of the night like most anime or during the day? And is it put in a normal time-slot, or only used as a “time filler” before a larger series?

      Which is your favorite shorts?

  8. To be honest, I’m not that a big fan of the type of humor presented in most slice of life series, and with Aiura unfortunately being the series I have spent the most time with these shorts, I can officially say that Aiura got away with being the fast food of anime, a trite and forgettable piece of trash that had no redeeming qualities or value whatsoever.

    That may sound rough or overcritical, but just as you compared Aiura to an unsatisfactory meal, so will I. Besides all that, I don’t like the current trend of shorter anime, as that will eventually lead to throngs of imitators that lack the skills to recreate what worked once, and it can only be a matter of time until all of it gets oh so stale. Great post though and good job.

    • Marow says:

      I’m not that a big fan of the type of humor presented in most slice of life series

      Aiura unfortunately being the series I have spent the most time with these shorts

      a trite and forgettable piece of trash that had no redeeming qualities or value whatsoever

      My slice of life heart just died a little :(

      Besides all that, I don’t like the current trend of shorter anime, as that will eventually lead to throngs of imitators that lack the skills to recreate what worked once, and it can only be a matter of time until all of it gets oh so stale.

      That might end up being the case, yes. Personally I’m wondering if more shorts will lead to more creativity. When you learn the format it’s usually easier to perform great things, you know? Although whether or not this is also the case with anime… who knows.

  9. Nopy says:

    I think anime shorts are a good way for companies to test the waters and for viewers to get a taste of a potential new series. I remember when Nyaruko came out as an anime short and I enjoyed it. Then an actual anime of it came out and now it’s on it’s second season. Overall though, most anime shorts don’t seem to be worth the time, even if they’re just a few minutes.

    • Marow says:

      Right, that’s true! I didn’t think of Nyaruko. It seems to have done quite well. Aren’t those shorts rather lacklustre, though? It seems like it’s mostly stills, unlike Aiura and co.

  10. Yumeka says:

    The only short anime I’ve watched (besides Hetalia – not sure if that counts) are Chi’s Sweet Home and Poyo, both of which star cats XD They’re still slice-of-life shows though, and I can’t imagine anything but those type of anime and comedies working in such a short format. It’s not too hard to get a joke or atmospheric moment across in a few minutes, but an engaging action sequence, conflict, or really any semblance of narrative would be hard to pull off at 3-5 minutes a throw. But short series serve their purpose in that they hardly take any time to add to your seasonal anime viewing, and can be good for a short break in between the “real” anime.

    • Marow says:

      Chi’s Sweet Home! That one is so cute. Gotta watch all the episode someday, especially since I love cats. :) (which you seem to do too!)

      Would be pretty fun to see a more narrative shorts series, actually! Inferno Cop may have been more of a comedy than anything, but it did tell an action story. Now, imagine something like that but with actual animation… hm… now I really want one :P

  11. […] Are Anime Shorts Series Actually Worth Your Time? […]

  12. DDK says:

    I like shorts, they’re comfy and easy to wear!

  13. Kai says:

    I had always been ignoring anime shorts like the plague.

  14. Overlord-G says:

    I’ll make this incredibly brief. 3-5 Minute anime shorts are just like regular cartoon shorts. there are some good and bad ones. Done. Whoever makes a long winded reply about these shorts being a waste of time because of their short length does not recognize their appeal.

    Short shows are cock teases. Even more than 12-13 episode “Manga Bait” shows.

    • Marow says:

      I’ll copy what I replied to another comment:

      “As for the waste of time aspect, it’s more personal than anything. It’s much more rare to feel like I’ve wasted 20 minutes (an episode) on a full-length series as opposed to a shorts series with maybe 30 minutes in total!

      With a full-length one you have a better picture of how it will turn out, so it’s easier to stop. With a short one, you never quite know what to get, so you continue because “it’s so short!”. Then you end up realizing you wasted your time. At least that’s how it works for me :P”

      But the real question is: was Morita-san actually good? You seem to like it.

  15. […] would recommend reading “Are Anime Shorts Series Actually Worth Your Time?”, because it can be applied here. This part in particular is important since it reflects how I […]

  16. My favorite anime short is Kigeki. You can’t beat it for the mood it sets, and using Schubert as part of the soundtrack was genius!

    I’m going to watch it again now.

    • Marow says:

      Never heard of Kigeki actually. It seems it’s part of some OVA series called “Sweat Punch” (what?!). This OVA series does seem rather interesting though… I think I might check it out! Thanks!

      And hopefully you’ll have fun rewatching it! :)

      • I certainly did! I had no idea that it was part of a series. Now, I’ll have to look those up too.

        I just remembered another favorite group of shorts: Saishuu Shiken Kujira. If you’re in the mood to laugh at some truly random screwball comedy, I recommend that to you as well.

  17. SieghartXx says:

    Nichijou and Danshi-nichijou, two of the best anime I’ve ever watched xD I laughed so hard with these two, even if they were random events! I find quite… Short? (duh xDU) these new animes :c I’m just the type of fan who wants a never ending story, although I know it’s impossible ;u; (well, One Piece may do it (?)), so I get like “What, over already? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *depression*” xD

    • Marow says:

      Nichijou and Nichibros are full-length :P

      I don’t want a never-ending story myself, since it’s better to end something while it’s still good. As for One Piece… the anime is just poor like other long-running anime. The manga is great, however!

      • SieghartXx says:

        Yeah, luckily *o* if Nichijou was short, I would’ve died waiting for every 2 minutes episode xD
        One Piece had it’s good seasons (I’m talking about animation here), like Ennies Lobby or Impel Down… But now, I can’t really watch it D; I don’t know who animates it, but it’s really awful ;_; just my opinion though.

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