Looking for something you can watch over the weekend or binge in a day? Finding good anime that completes its purpose within just 12 episodes or less can prove to be difficult since most recommendations give lists of long, famous shonen series. While they may be just as good to watch, since shonen is the top genre that rules anime, sometimes we all do need a short slice-of-life break or a compact, novel-like experience involving mystery or magic.
The likes of being a fan of anime come with a very specific problem – they can be extremely long and sometimes overwhelming. Especially when you are really into the plot and can never seem to wait for a new episode to drop. This list has put together the top 10 anime with only 12 episodes that will give you a fulfilling watching experience in the short time it lasts.
1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, popularly known as Madoka Magica is a 12 episode series that follows two protagonists – Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, who encounter Homura Akemi, a transfer student, and a cat-like magical familiar named Kyuubey. The familiar offers to grant them any wish – no matter how impossible it seems, in exchange for them becoming magical girls and fighting the evil of the world, witches. Homura, on the other hand, warns Madoka to not take up the offer as it will only bring her pain.
Madoka Magica is not like your average maho-shoujo anime as it takes a dark approach to the genre. The characters have the same cute magic girl outfits as any other show, but they all go through tragic events that come at the cost of their power. It explores the values of friendship, sacrifice, and suffering that are naturally caused as compensation for happy things.
2. No Game No Life
Siblings Sora and Shiro are two inseparable shut-ins who go by the name “Blank” and dominate different online games. Despite their digital fame, the duo believes that life is just another boring game. One day, they are abruptly sent to Disboard – a different world where everything is a game, after responding to a message from an unknown user. Tet, the mysterious sender, tells them about the rules of the universe and two are set on a journey to beat all games and ultimately dethrone the god of games itself.
One of the really impressive aspects of No Game No life is its bright imagery and fluid animation that is very pleasing to the eye, the usage of color is very pretty and it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen. Every episode is completely different from the previous one with the duo encountering different situations and an abundant amount of games. The series is crisp yet elaborate isekai watch and fans have been waiting for a season 2 for years.
3. Classroom Of The Elite
If you liked Assassination Classroom, you would probably like Classroom Of The Elite too, both of the series are vastly different but they share the aspect of scheming and cutthroat high school goers that have been put in a competitive setting. The psychological-thriller story follows the perspective of Kiyotaka Ayanokōji, our shy and awkward protagonist who likes to keep his distance from people. Despite having extremely high intelligence, he is a member of Class D where the school dumps its worst students. Class D can rise to the ranks of A, but it has never been done in years.
Classroom Of The Elite is an ongoing series so it has much potential to grow deeper into the plot and delve into the characters. As of now, fans love our scheming protagonist who uses great wits to survive the system of hierarchy in the school. The anime does a lot of interesting things as we delve into the minds and stories of our characters who do their best to survive in such a competitive environment.
4. Yuri!!! On Ice
Yuri!!! On Ice was an instant hit when it first premiered and the main reason was probably because of the beautiful relationship that the two main characters shared. The series is about Yuri Katsuki – once Japan’s most promising figure skater, trying to rise up the ranks after his crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Finale. When he returns home while contemplating his future, he finds himself in the spotlight after a video of him replicating a dance previously performed by Victor Nikiforov a five-time world champion as well as his biggest inspiration, goes viral. Following that, Victor actually shows up at Yuri’s residence unexpectedly and offers to mentor and help for the next Grand Prix series.
Because Yuri on Ice is about professional figure skating, it places a strong emphasis on strength, competition, and the thrill of victory. Viewers are exposed to the deepest thoughts of each skater as they perform their routine – their aspirations, dreams, insecurities, and reflections on their own actions. As a result, we get a greater sense of who each character is. The show also showcases a more gentle side of competitiveness as characters cheer and praise each other for their feats and have healthy relationships.
5. Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun is a comedic, light-hearted series about Yashiro Nene – who, in hopes of fixing her love life, summons the spirit of the school toilet, the urban legend Hanako of the toilet – who turns out to be a young boy. In a series of events, she is spiritually bonded to Hanako and becomes his aid, assisting him in the destruction of bad supernaturals at school and the alteration of rumors in order to maintain the balance between the spirit and human worlds. The story also takes a subtle dark turn as Nene discovers her link to the spirit world as well as the truth surrounding Hanako and his past.
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun has a very loyal fan base that adores the lovable characters and the semi-mystical art style of the show. It is a fun watch as the show plays out many more Japanese urban legends and has an interesting new story to watch each episode.
6. SK8 The Infinity
SK8 the Infinity is a breath of fresh air series in a world full of similar sports anime. Although the show features a sporting prodigy, Reki the protagonist of SK8 the Infinity, is not the prodigy himself — and this distinction is crucial. After midnight in Okinawa, a group of hardcore skaters known as “S” compete in a secret, no-holds-barred race known as “S” – racing each other on skateboards down a winding track dug out of an abandoned mine and occasionally forming rivalries or rather “beefs”. Reki, a hardcore skater in high school, introduces incoming transfer student Langa to S one night and ends up dragging him into the skateboarding world.
SK8 the Infinity is shaping up to be a sports anime show unlike any other: one that recognizes both the joy of being able to share your talents with others and the anguish and coming to terms with the fact of knowing that you do not need to be the best at what you love. So far, SK8 has been about the various aspects of skating that people enjoy — the thrill of outdoing yourself, the recognition and respect that comes with being good — but also about how we don’t need anything fancy to be happy. All Reki needs to do is skate.
Erased is about Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year old manga artist, who also works as a pizza delivery man. suddenly finds himself sent back several moments before a tragedy strikes. He saves many lives from being lost with this ability that he mysteriously obtains and calls this phenomenon ‘Revival’. Satoru is taken back to the past once more when he is wrongly accused of murdering someone important to him, this time in 1988, 18 years ago. There, he learns that the murder is in relation to the kidnapping of one of his classmates years ago when he was a child and he decides to do things right this time.
Erased is a compelling watch that will keep you wanting to know more as Satoru goes on a mission to prevent the death of his classmate and protect his loved ones. It is a psychological thriller that provides all that it promises – a good plot, time-traveling, and a great mystery to solve.
8. Blue Period
Blue Period is a Netflix original anime series centered around the life of Yatora Yaguchi – a boy with a people-pleasing personality who excels academically but suffers from inner emptiness and discontent. One day, he becomes so impressed by a painting in his high school’s art club that he decides to try his hand at painting. Later, after being encouraged by a friend, Ryuji “Yuka” Ayukawa, he joins the art club, becomes more involved, and attempts to apply to Tokyo University of the Arts as his institution of choice.
While having a seemingly normal plot, Blue Period might come off as your generic high school life anime series, but it differs a lot from the mainstream ideas of those shows as it concentrates on the opposite side of the educational system. It’s about the joy of loving and making art and the journey of struggles it brings that comes with loving an unconventional career choice. Blue Period also has a unique set of characters that match the modernity of our times and a simple plot line that makes it easy to watch.
9. Grand Blue Dreaming
Grand Blue Dreaming is a simple, slice-of-life anime about a new college freshman, Iori Kitahara, who is set to living a great college life on the Izu Peninsula, where he stays in a room above his uncle’s shop, Grand Blue. He soon meets the local scuba diving club which is a rowdy bunch of upperclassmen who spend most of their time drinking, partying, and stripping instead of diving. Despite his efforts to distance himself from them, he finds himself a part of them before he knows it.
The seinen anime has a comedic plot with no real basis of an end goal. Just as real college life is unpredictable and whimsical, the characters too, just go about life as it comes. Since most anime is set in a school, it is a nice break to watch something meant for a more mature audience once in a while.
10. Kyoukai No Kanata
Kyoukai no Kanata is a dark supernatural fiction series that takes a new turn by adapting the style of dark fantasy in a modern time era. The protagonist, Kanbara Akihito, is of youmu lineage – a race of creatures from the spirit realm who roam the human world in disguises. The plot starts when Akihito first meets Mirai – a spirit warrior who was sent to kill him as per her duty.
If you love a show that packs in a lot of action with a developing romance between two initially opposite characters that live through a plot of fantasy, then this is the recommendation for you. It is also known for its great art by Kyoto Animation, which does bring out a lot of emotions in the series.
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