Ah, anime shorts. I quite like anime shorts. If regular length episodes of anime are like sitting down for a meal, then shorts are like little snacks. Quick little bites of anime goodness to enjoy between the aforementioned “meals”. Much like regular anime, shorts come in a wide variety of styles and quality, and while most of the time they merely end up being enjoyable time wasters, they can sometimes transcend their limitations and become some of the best pieces of anime to watch in a given year, such as in 2014 where Tonari no Seki-kun made its way into my Top 10 overall favorites for the entire year.
With 2016 finally starting to wind down I decided to get started with my end of the year activities by giving my favorite shorts from the year their chance to stand in the limelight before their get buried by the tidal wave of articles and videos praising the regular length anime series from this year. The rules here are simple. For a short series to be considered it had to air this year, be available for viewing on Crunchyroll, and the majority of its episodes had to be 15 minutes or less in runtime. That last rule unfortunately means that RWBY is out of the running, thanks to its wildly inconsistent episode lengths that quite often exceed the time limit. With that out of the way, let’s get the show on the road. These are my favorite short series of 2016, starting off with my honorable mention.
HM - Shelter
And I can already hear the amount of people clicking away...anyways I start things off with my lone honorable mention this year, Shelter. Now it might seem strange to not have the most talked about anime short of the entire year on the main list, but here’s the reason for that. This list is meant for short series as in works comprised of multiple episodes, which Shelter is not. It’s more of a short film than a short series, and as such it doesn’t qualify, but with it being talked about so much, justifiably so at that, I felt that I had to have it on here in some capacity, if only to mention why it actually isn’t part of the main list. Seriously though, if you haven’t seen Shelter yet, god damn it, do it already! Just because it isn’t on the main list does not mean I dislike it! Watch it damn it!
#10 - Re:PETIT
Re:PETIT was like a shining beacon in the Summer season when it came to short series, as the season was otherwise abysmal when it came to shorts, both in terms of quantity and quality. This was also a surprisingly hilarious series. The only problem with the show, and why it is at the bottom of the list, is that enjoyment in it extremely depends on seeing its parent series Re:ZERO. The short is filled to the brim with in-jokes about Re:ZERO. It excels more as a companion piece to Re:ZERO than as a stand alone series on its own.
#9 - Ninja Girl & Samurai Master
The sole short to stand out from the pack of entertaining, but not really special shorts in the Fall season, Ninja Girl & Samurai Master is in a similar situation as Re:PETIT. Much like Re:PETIT some external knowledge is needed to get the most out of Ninja Girl & Samurai Master. In this case it is knowledge of the Sengoku period of Japanese history. The likes of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi make recurring appearances, with the twist being everyone is filtered through comedic anime tropes, such as Hideyoshi’s famous wife Nene being portrayed as a tsundere in this show. The real star of the show though is Chidori, the titular ninja girl. She’s probably pound for pound the most adorable assassin ever created.
#8 - Ojisan and Marshmallow
Ojisan and Marshmallow has one of the simplest, yet creative premises amongst shorts this year. It is about an older man who is obsessed with marshmallows named Hige and his female co-worker named Wakabayashi who is obsessed with Hige. The show follows Hige’s quest to eat various forms of his favorite fluffy confection and Wakabayashi’s quest to get into Hige’s pants. Despite the relatively simple nature of the show and its characters, the creators managed to constantly come up with hilarious new ways to create jokes.
#7 - Kagewani -II-
Kagewani was one of the most genuine anime surprises last year. At first appearing to be merely a really solid monster of the week (quite literally) horror short, the show managed to spin a rather enthralling story, a feat made even more impressive by the length of the episodes and how late into the show they began developing it. Kagewani -II- continues the story from the first season, but now with an entire season to be able to focus on it. This season also manages to pull a page from Resident Evil’s playbook, by decreasing the show’s focus on dread-inducing horror and increasing the amount of action in the show. Thankfully, unlike Resident Evil though, Kagewani -II- manages to show some god damn restraint, and still retains some genuine scares and thrills.
#6 - Sekko Boys
It isn’t unheard of to see shorts that parody idols and idol culture, just look at Miss Monochrome as another example. However, Sekko Boys is probably the first time the idols in question were...sentient reproduction busts of famous gods, saints, and other historical figures. In terms of sheer absurdity, Sekko Boys is one of the most out there shows of the entire year, short or otherwise. Much like how Monster Musume was able to create great comedy from simply dropping monster girls into cliche harem romcom situations and watching the chaos ensue, Sekko Boys just revels in the insanity of its gypsum idols and their manager trying to live their lives and advance their careers.
#5 - She and Her Cat -Everything Flows-
Plain and simply, this show is about a young woman trying to live life on her own with her beloved cat. We follow her hardships such as trying to find a job, as well as see how she met her cat in the first place. There’s not much that can be said about this excellent four episode long short without spoiling things, but needless to say your feelings about this short will greatly be affected by whether or not you own pets yourself.
#4 - Please tell me! Galko-chan
Please tell me! Galko-chan is, ironically since much of the show’s content is about “girl talk”, one of the ballsiest shows of the year. Nothing was off limits in this show, which got very personal and realistic with the subject material the members of the cast would talk about. Everything that would make guys during middle school, high school, and hell, even in adulthood, plug their ears and go, “Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, nope, hell nah, I’m out!” is covered in gleeful comedic detail and more. But this short is not just about this kind of…*ahem* in depth discussion, but also has a very strong theme of nothing is as it seems to be on the surface. This is extremely exemplified in Galko-chan herself, who is into a wide range of interests, from obscure horror films to anime and video games, that no one expects a person into gyaru fashion like she is would be into. Additionally, it’s surprisingly one of the prettiest shows of the year, with a striking and vibrantly colorful visual style that almost never dips in quality at all.
#3 - Tabi Machi Late Show
Back in the Winter season, I did an impression article (though it was more of a soft review because I do my impression articles after four episodes have aired and this is only four episodes long just like She and Her Cat) for this short titled, “Tabi Machi Late Show is a poignant anthology about goodbyes, regrets, and life’s journey”. Almost an entire year later, I still feel the same way about the short. It’s an emotional series that will stir different feelings in the viewer depending on their own life experiences, but the themes of each of the episodes are things that can resonate with all of us, because at the end of the day they are things we all experience in different forms as we go through life.
#2 - Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro
While nowhere near as absurd as Sekko Boys is with its premise, Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro is probably the weirdest overall show of the whole year, a quality to the show that unfortunately did it no favors when it came to gaining an audience.. It is about Agetaro, a young man who wants to become both a successful DJ and eventually take over his dad’s tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlets) restaurant. Through both of Agetaro’s passions we get to see how there is rhythm and music to be found in even the most mundane things. The off the wall presentation makes the show look more like an Adult Swim original show rather than an anime, but it oddly works. The show’s style just somehow meshes with its writing and especially its music, which is one of the best soundtracks from any anime series this year.
#1 - Space Patrol Luluco
I’ll straight up admit, part of the reason Luluco is my favorite short series this year is because I’m just a complete and total fanboy for Studio Trigger, and this series is just one giant love letter from Trigger to its fans, featuring cameos from and shout outs to literally all of their original works. Kill la Kill? Goes without saying. Little Witch Academia? Naturally. Inferno Cop? They’d be crazy not to include. Hell even SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED, one of their Anima(tor) Expo shorts, got its day in the sun. This show wasn’t just callbacks to their prior works, though, it has its own tale filled with the hyperactive, drug-fueled, over the top comedy and action we’ve come to expect from Trigger and especially Hiroyuki Imaishi. The cherry on top is that the ending of the series even makes the cameos have purpose when everything is all said and done. This show was a labor of love five years in the making, and as currently one of the last two shorts to come out of the short lived, yet excellent Ultra Super Anime Time block, it serves as a great swan song to the block. But above all else, it was far and away the most fun and entertainment I have had with a short series this year and thus it is my favorite short of 2016.
There you have it, my favorite short series of the year. As you can probably see from my list, I kind of felt this year was a rather front loaded one when it came to the short series, as a whopping eight of my picks came from the first two seasons this year. There’s just no two ways about it, though. The quality of the shorts from the first half of the year and second half are like night and day, with the Summer season far and away being the most dire season when it came to shorts I’ve ever seen. To put it into another perspective, had I not seen Re:PETIT, the Summer season wouldn’t have had any representatives on this list.
So, what about you guys? What’s your favorite shorts from this season? Feel free to share in the comments, and for the record you don’t have to follow the same rules I did (like any of you would have done so anyways even if I didn’t state this), so you can even include Shelter and RWBY if you so choose. Hell you don’t even have to pick just from the shorts on Crunchyroll. If you liked some of the shorts FUNimation grabbed, by all means name them as well!
Stay tuned in a few weeks for my two other planned end of the year articles, one over my favorite hidden gems of the year, and one over my overall favorite (non-short) shows of the year from Crunchyroll.