shorts

Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san.

Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san

Azazel

  • Trailer: The PV Trailer for the second season is the most I can find.
  • What it’s about: The Akutabe Detective Agency is successful for a very unusual reason: it solves its cases by summoning demons. Thankfully for the world, these demons are incompetent, lewd, and limited in their powers by the act of summoning, but their abilities are more than enough to cause trouble. Akutabe’s new intern Sakuma contracts with a particularly useless and perverted demon named Azazel, and struggles to get much work out of him at all.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s crude humour done well. Azazel-san never pretends to be more than it is, and instead revels in sex jokes, gross-out gags and slapstick. There’s just *so much* crammed into every episode that you’re certain to find something lowbrow to laugh at. And you can really tell that the voice actors were having a lot of fun with the script – to a man they all put in stellar performances. The art style and sound design are clean, bright, and complement the writing brilliantly – the character designs make great use of caricature for humour. And the episodes are only generally around 10-minutes long, so it’s not that much of a time commitment to complete the whole run in a binge.
  • Caveats: The show comprises a set of two-episode arcs, and some of the set-ups or characters do fall a little flat. When you find that you’re not enjoying a particular storyline (for me, the ‘pervert arc’ and ‘hospital arc’ of the second season were a bit of a miss), it’s easy enough to just skip ahead. There’s no real greater storyline going on, though there are a few continuity gags thrown in here and there.
  • Themes: “Be careful what you wish for”, at least in the early episodes. It’s fun to watch Sakuma’s changing attitude and outlook as the series progresses and she’s influenced by the idiocy and petty evil of the demonic side of the cast.
  • Similar works: Gintama is probably the best comparison to make.

Himegoto

Himegoto

himegoto

  • Trailer: PV Trailer
  • What it’s about: The Yakuza are after Hime Arikawa’s parents for unpaid debts, but since they’ve skipped town, they’re willing to settle for Hime himself. He’s been fleeing from them for some time and has even gone so far as to disguise himself as a girl to throw them off the scent. One day, Hime stumbles into the Student Council room of his new high school and his secrets revealed to the members within. They’re simultaneously amused and sympathetic, and offer to pay off his debts…if he submits to crossdressing and serving them for the rest of his time at the high school.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s a pretty lighthearted comedy romp for the most part, playing up the funny side of crossdressing for all it’s worth. The ridiculousness of the situation continue to escalate as new characters are introduced (with some new crossdressers among them), and the show isn’t shy about indulging heavily in fan-service to keep the audience watching. The story itself is quite simple and forgettable, being a series of 3-minute shorts. Himegoto is perfect if you just want a quick throwaway laugh without thinking too hard about the actual content.
  • Caveats: Don’t go into this expecting a very in-depth or sensitive treatment of transvestism or transsexuality, it’s not that kind of show. The humour is about as lowbrow as it can get without resorting to fart jokes. In short, it’s a low-investment, relatively low-reward series, but still worth watching if you’ve got a few minutes to spare.
  • Themes: Respect for others, and friendship despite differences.
  • Similar works: In terms of comedy shorts, Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to the Animation has a similar style of humour, though the fetish is different. In terms of crossdressing anime, Ouran High School Host Club.

Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken

Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken (I Don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying)

dannaga

  • Trailer: PV Trailer
  • What it’s about: Hajime and Kaoru are a happily married couple with wildly divergent personalities and interests. But what they both agree on is that they’re nonetheless perfectly suited to one another. The show follows their daily lives as they interact with each other, their family and friends, and face various milestones together as husband and wife.
  • Why you should watch it: Most comedy short series stick to a single gag and pad the episodes out around it. Danna ga, on the other hand, integrates the slice of life elements really quite well, while still eliciting a few big laughs in every three minute episode. See if you can pick up on the pop-culture and otaku-culture references in every episode. The story actually progresses a bit and you do come to like the characters for themselves rather than as tropes. It’s also just plain nice to see a pair of happily married adults as the focus of an anime for a change. With little time commitment required and a second season already announced for early Spring, it’s a good time to pick the show up.
  • Caveats: None really, beyond the basic ones accompanying any comedy short series. The one episode that switches to a different art style to cover Kaoru’s backstory saw a little grumbling, but you’d have to be a real curmudgeon to look down on a little experimentation in a three-minute piece.
  • Themes: Relationships are best when both partners love and celebrate differences, rather than similarities.

Plastic Nee-san

Plastic Nee-san

plasticneesan

  • What it’s about: Three schoolgirls who hang out in the plastic miniatures club, snarking on one another, playing pranks, and generally having a fun time.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s funny, it’s short, and it comes with a side of fan-service. Each episode is only 2-3 minutes long, so you can fit one in between whatever you’re doing and come away with a smile on your face. Or you can binge the whole series in about half an hour. The skits are ridiculously over-the-top and practically every one of them has been turned into a reaction gif at some point.
  • Caveats: This is not a deep series. The humour is your basic run-of-the-mill slapstick and physical gags.
  • Similar works: Teekyuu. Ai Mai Mi

Thermae Romae

Thermae Romae

thermae romae

  • What it’s about: Lucius is a bath-builder in Ancient Rome. Disappointed with the lack of innovation and elegance in the Roman Baths, one day he slips through a portal to a strange place: a bath-house in modern-day Japan. Watch as he discovers the marvels of the bidet, of shower caps, and of eggs boiled in the bathtub.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s very, very silly, in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. From the public-domain classical soundtrack to the cardboard-cutout animation, it’s clear that every expense was spared putting it together, but it’s still funny and charming. It helps that it’s short – only three or five (depending on how you divide it) episodes, for a total run-time of about the same length as a feature film. And you’ll definitely come out of it more appreciative of the basic luxuries of the modern bathroom.
  • Caveats: See the above section 😛
  • Similar works: Inferno Cop is the “action” version of this, while Plastic Nee-san goes for the ecchi schoolgirl comedy route.

Ojii-san no Lamp

Ojii-san no Lamp

ojii-san

  • What it’s about: Set in Japan on the eve of Westernisation, the story follows a young man seeking to make his fortune from the opportunities offered by the newly arriving technology – specifically, selling oil lamps to rural communities. But technology never stops marching, and it isn’t long before his own way of life becomes outdated.
  • Why you should watch it: For some reason, Japanese animators tend to focus on either the country’s Feudal Era or on the modern day without ever looking at the transition between them. Ojii-san no Lamp is a short story covering this gap, and it’s well-told. The central character is easy to empathise with and his story is especially relevant today, when it’s all too easy to fall behind the times despite your best efforts to keep up.This was one of the finalists in the annual government-sponsored “Future Animator Training Program”, so it received a solid backing from the studio in terms of art and resources.
  • Themes: Changes – embracing or denying them. The march of time.
  • Caveats: It’s only half an hour long, so while it’s a good story, give it a miss if you’re looking for something more “epic” in scale.
  • Similar works: Mushi-shi

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

inugami

  • Trailer: PV Trailer
  • What it’s about: The story revolves around Nekoyama Suzu and Inugami Yachiyo, a pair of high school girls whose personalities bear more than a superficial relationship to the animals in their name (Neko = Cat; Inu = Dog). The two feel an immediate attraction on their first meeting and it’s up to Aki, the straight man of the group, to keep things under control.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s a lighthearted comedy with very strong yuri leanings, and it isn’t afraid to edge towards the lewd end of the spectrum. The director’s previous credits are all for hentai series, and some of that shows in the lifelike fleshiness of some of the characters. At only three minutes per episode, you can watch the whole series in just over half an hour, but despite the short run-length, the show never feels rushed or chaotic in the way that other shorts like Plastic Nee-san tend towards. It also has one of the catchiest end-credit songs I’ve heard for a long while.
  • Caveats: There’s not a lot of substance to the show, it’s pretty much cotton candy.
  • Themes: None of note.
  • Similar works: Sakura Trick

Yama no Susume

Yama no Susume

yamanosusume

  • What it’s about: Aoi is an introverted middle-schooler afraid of heights, struggling to her new classmembers. At least until her childhood friend Hinata shows up and begins encouraging her to take up the hill-climbing they both enjoyed when they were younger. The show follows the pair as they explore the local sites, learn about mountaineering as a hobby, and make new friends from the people they meet along the way.
  • Why you should watch it: On the surface, Yama no Susume is just another moe show about a random hobby for cute girls to do cute things. And to a large extent it really is just that. It’s the execution that sets it apart: superb animation quality, characters presented in just the right length of time to flesh them out without dragging on, and a cute, calm and relaxing environment with some gorgeous background art. The extension of the episode running time from 3 minutes to 15 minutes in the second season did wonders for the story. In the end, a Slice of Life show lives and dies with its characters and, while the entire cast start out fairly stereotypically defined by single traits, soon into the second season they get a lot more depth. Hinata isn’t as airheaded as she acts, Kaede isn’t the hyperfocused and accomplished student that she appears, etc, etc. Even when the episode follows the cast not really doing anything, it’s fun.
  • Caveats: This ties into the section above – while it’s a well-executed example, this ultimately is “yet another” series following cute girls doing cute things. It’s pretty calorie-light in terms of deeper themes and meaning, but if that’s what you’re after, slice of life probably isn’t the best place to look for it anyway.
  • Themes: Learning to socialise, the beauty of nature.
  • Similar works: Aiura, K-On!

The Animatrix

The Animatrix

animatrix

  • Trailer: Official English trailer
  • What it’s about: Nine animated shorts created as side-stories and back-stories for the 2001 blockbuster The Matrix. The highlight is without a doubt “The Second Renaissance”, but most of the other stories are really, really good too.
  • Why you should watch it: The Wachowskis drew a lot of inspiration from anime, so they returned the favour by bringing together a star-studded crew of directors and animators – Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Mahiro Maeda (Gankutsuou), Takeshi Koike (Redline), the list goes on and on. Each vignette is markedly different from the others, spanning a wide range of genres, settings, and styles. there’s something for everyone here.
  • Caveats: You do need to be familiar with at least the original Matrix film. If you’re not, you might want to see about fixing that anyway. The opening segment, “The Final Flight of the Osiris”, was picked as the lede because of what was at the time a groundbreaking quality of CGI. But that was over a decade ago, and now it really doesn’t showcase the rest of the shorts all that well. Skip to “The Second Renaissance” if you don’t care much for what you see in Flight.
  • Themes: Transhumanism, xenophobia, the struggle for greatness – each of the shorts has a different message, so it’s hard to find an overarching theme.
  • Similar works: The Matrix Trilogy, obviously. In anime, look to Ghost in the Shell or Darker than Black.

Aiura

Aiura:

aiura

  • Trailer: PV trailer
  • What it’s about: The story follows the daily lives of three schoolgirls as they generally goof off both inside class and out. There’s really not much more to say, since each episode is only three minutes long.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s just a short bit of silly fun, an endearing slice-of-life show that follows “cute girls doing cute things”. The watercolour backgrounds of the exterior scenes are nice to look at. If you’re looking for something to cheer you up quickly, or a show to fit into short gaps while you wait for something, it’s definitely worth giving a shot.
  • Caveats: Don’t go in with high expectations about the scale of the plot.
  • Themes: Fitting in, socialising.
  • Similar works: Yama no Susume and K-On!.