26+ Short Anime Series You Can Binge In Just 4 Hours!

short anime series
Written by Theo J Ellis

Short anime series are some of the best these days. Especially because of how valuable time is with everything moving so fast in life.

These anime give you the opportunity to:

  • Test out a series without wasting time
  • Watch a full series without watching too many episodes
  • Or fully committing to a big series (like One Piece)

And they allow you to plan how much of and when you’ll watch an anime.

Let’s get into some of the best short series just like that.


1. Madoka Magica

madoka and homura friends cute

Madoka Magica is a classic series that changed the way magical girl anime are done. It brought something different to the table.

It’s about Madoka Kaname, a normal pinked haired high school student. And a bit of a klutz.

She becomes interested in becoming a magical girl after Kyuubey, a deceptive creature puts the idea in her head. And brings her into its world.

A girl called Homura Akemi swears to protect and prevent this from happening. Homura is a magical girl and a window into the dark side of this life and responsibility.

Few 12-13 episode anime series are as well done as this one. It doesn’t feel rushed.

Characters are well written.


2. Charlotte

nao and yu charlotte episode

Charlotte is a superpower series, which are a little different to the usual supernatural or magic series.

It’s about teenagers with powers, but these powers have limits. For example, invisibility in this world only works on one person at a time.

There’s a sense of realism and logic to it.

Also, when these teenagers reach a certain ag they lose their powers. So there’s that twist to the plot.

The main characters like Nao Tomori go around the city preventing other people with powers from misusing them, but it evolves into something more than that.


3. The Journey Of Elaina

The Journey Of Elaina episode 5

The Journey Of Elaina, released in late 2020, is an anime about a traveling witch. The alternative title is actually “wandering witch”.

Elaina, inspired by the adventures of an author called Nike, sets out on her own journey. And is trained in magic by a mentor called Fran.

It has one of the best jam packed first episodes. Somehow it manages to fit a lot in without feeling rushed or too overwhelming.

One stand out feature, apart from the adventures and life lessons, is the gorgeous visuals and art of the characters.

Almost every episode is a little different, so things stay dynamic and change throughout.


4. If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat A Demon Lord

dale holding latina if its for my daughter

If It’s For My Daughter is about a little demon girl called Latina. She’s alone in a forest after her parents are killed.

Dale, the other MC, see’s her in the forest and rescues her. And later decides to adopt and raise this little girl.

This anime has strong vibes when it comes to the father-daughter relationship the main characters have.

I’d recommend it to parents for the emotional story telling, the interactions, and the wholesomeness of having a family bond.

There’s nothing like it in this way.


5. Bloom Into You

touka blushing yu room

Bloom Into You is a Yuri series and one of the Yuri I’ve been into. There’s not too many of them.

It’s about Touko Nanami, a student council president. The so called “perfect girl” cliché you see in many romance series.

The difference here is Touko is secretly into girls, a girl in particular called Yu. But it goes further than that.

Touko’s friend Saya is also into Touko, secretly. And the anime focuses on the lives of Lesbians hiding their gay relationships from society who may judge them for it.

There’s relatable aspects to it for everyone.


6. Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden auto memories doll

Violet Evergarden is by Kyoto Animation, a studio known for its different visuals and innovative art style.

Violet, a blonde teenage girl from Europe is used as a tool for war. The anime tells the story of the aftermath of that war, and Violet’s journey of self development.

Psychologically she’s been affected by the past, and the most important factor is her major who saved her life and seemingly died. His last words were “I love you”.

She’s desperate to know, understand, and find out what these words really mean since she’s never had that type of love in her life.

Each episode feels like a movie and is emotional and well written.


7. Happy Sugar Life

Happy Sugar Life episode 5 screenshots

Happy Sugar Life comes down to Satou Matsuzaka who’s secretly raising a kid who’s abandoned by their mother.

The kid’s name is Shio.

The dark twist is Satou Matsuzaka has a disturbed, almost paedophilic relationship with Shio. More in the sense that she in love with Shio, but it’s mostly platonic.

If you never thought an anime with so many disturbed themes could be painted in a sometimes wholesome style, this anime will surprise you.

It’s become one of my best Horror anime besides Higurashi, Death Note, and Monster. With a satisfying ending to a degree.

Post: Anime That May Disgust Fans And Especially Outsiders


8. Kino’s Travels: The Beautiful World

Kinos Travels The Beautiful World kino house

Kino’s Travels is the inspiration behind shows like  The Journey Of Elaina. It aired back in the early 2000’s.

The story is about Kino, a girl who travels the world on a motorbike that can talk. They have deep, and even comical conversations with each other.

Kino never stays in a town, city, country or otherwise for more than 3 days to avoid being too comfortable.

The ending is sad, and each episode gives you something different with the many perspectives from each story being told.


9. Hinamatsuri

YouTube video

Hinamatsuri is about Hina, an Alien girl who ends up in the apartment of a Yakuza member called Niita.

Long and short of it, they end up living together in a daughter-father sort of situation. Hina has powers which she threatens Niita with though.

There’s also Anzu, the kid who ends up homeless. This “arc” is emotional and accurately highlights the problems with homelessness and how day to day life is.

The last relevant character is Hitomi. She’s a bit shady and disingenuous, and looks down on others. But she does have her role in the series.

It’s a good mix of action, humor, wholesome episodes and it seems to do it all to a high standard.


10. How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift character list

How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? is all in the name.

It’s fitness on steroids.

Fan service is used in a comical style to illustrate points.

Hibiki starts going to gym in fear of gaining weight, and she’s joined by her friend and meets another girl called Akemi.

All 3 start going gym together and that’s where the practical life lessons begin.

Just like Cells At Work, the information in this series is accurate and on point. So it’s definitely legit as far as educational value.


11. The Grimoire Of Zero

grimoire of zero scene screenshot

The Grimoire Of Zero, adapted from a light novel series, is about Zero. A powerful mage well known by name and abilities.

She’s joined by what they call “beast fallen”. A type of person who’s a human in animal skin. They’re judged and looked down on.

Both characters work together to accomplish their goals as a unit and are eventually joined by another character who’s a TRAP.

It’s only a short series and more could be accomplished when and if extended, but it’s a decent series.


12. Inari Kon Kon

Inari Kon Kon Inari friends

Inari Kon Kon is about Inari Fushimi, a girl who’s always visited a shrine since being a kid.

One day she visits the same shrine and makes a wish, not realizing that it’s about to become true.

After meeting Uka, the shrine maiden and goddess, the anime focuses on their relationship and bond with each other.

Aside from Inari’s friends, a third important character is Inari’s older brother who builds a romantic relationship with Uka.

For a Seinen series its unusual, wholesome, more emotional than you’ll expect going into it.


13. Talentless Nana

nana hiiragi dark side

Talentless NANA is an anime about lies, deception, and murder. Nana Hiiragi is one of the main characters.

She’s cute, seemingly innocent, easy to talk to and is the kind of person people open up to. Which plays a cunning role later.

You can think of it like My Hero Academia. The setting is similar, but the psychological elements, violence, and methods of murder are unique.

In that sense it resembles Death Note, and will constantly make you think as you try to predict what will happen next in the changing story.

Read: 5 Powerful Life Lessons To Be Learned From Talentless NANA


14. The Ambition Of Oda Nobuna

oda nobuna army anime

The Ambition Of Oda Nobuna is a historical series. It retells the story of Nobunaga, a war lord in Japan who reunited the country.

He’s a legend and all his men and soldiers for the most needs a ost part are referenced in this series. Except they’re now female characters.

The anime starts off with Yoshiharu, a guy who ends up in this historical period of Japan and has no clue as to why. So it’s an Isekai as well.

It needs a 2nd season because the 1st season does a good job of telling the story so well.


15. Blend S

Blend S maika sadist

Blend S is a comedy/slice of life series about girls who work in a café. And their male manager called Dino. He means well, but can get a little overly excited.

Maika, the main female character, is known for seeming to be sadistic when she’s really just trying to smile.

Dino takes advantage of this when hiring her as it helps bring in business and a constant stream of customers who get pleasure out of it.

Don’t let the theme turn you away, the anime is funny as f*ck, bonkers, and has some stellar comedy.

Relevant: 12 Of The Funniest Rom Com Anime That Are English Dubbed


16. Denpa Onna

denpa onna episode 7 screenshots

Denpa Onna is about a girl who claims to be an Alien, but is really just a sad excuse for a shut-in Otaku.

She avoids school because of these reasons, and isn’t the most conventional when it comes to social skills.

There’s also Maekawa, a girl who loves dressing up in costumes and is a bit eccentric.

Then there’s Ryuushi, a girl who’s overly energetic and sometimes tries a bit too hard. And of course, MeMe. An Auntie.

The male MC who;s view we see these crazy characters from is Makoto. The most normal of the series.

Relevant: 24 Of The Smallest Anime Characters In Anime


17. Helpful Fox Senko San

Senko San fox loli startled e1622053230204

Senko San is about a fox Loli who’s 100’s of years old. A depressed main character starts living with her.

As a Fox diety, it’s her duty to help those who are depressed so they can become happy and at peace again.

This is the crux of the series and why it leans towards a wholesome approach. It can literally make anyone feel better.

It’s also good to watch when you wanna just relax and kick back.


18. Hyperdimension Neptunia

Hyperdimension Neptunia uni ram rom nepgear

Hyperdimension Neptunia is one of those anime that’s better watched dubbed than subbed. The dialogue is miles better.

It’s about CPU’S, who are goddesses in their world. Well, the main set of characters are goddesses. They each run their own country.

There’s a thing called “shares”. Just like in the real world, shares represent how people feel collectively. And if a country’s shares drops, a Goddess is at a disadvantage.

Aside from the seriousness of how this anime sounds, it’s anything but that.

It’s all comedy and the MC Neptune is the highlight for me.

Related: 16+ Funny Anime Shows That Will Cheer You Right Up 


19. Black Bullet

Black Bullet villain kagetane

Black Bullet is about Rentaro Satome, a guy who’s almost killed by a monster called Gastrea in Tokyo.

He’s saved by the power of technology, with the left side of his body rebuilt.

He has an initiator called Enju Aihara. Initiators are girls called “cursed children” who’ve inherited some power from the Gastrea.

They have the Gastrea virus. Humans fear the cursed children for this reason.

The ending to this series is one of the biggest plot twists I’ve ever seen. And it’s savagely executed.

Read: 20+ Of The Best EVIL Anime Villains You Can’t Help But Love!


20. A Place Further Than The Universe

A Place Further Than The Universe episode 3 screenshot

A Place Further Than The Universe is about a group of girls who get together and go on a journey.

Shirase Kobuchizawa is a key reason as to why. She’s committed, doesn’t care for what people think, and wants to prove them wrong.

In just 4 hours this adventure series shows the average series how quality is done right.

The visuals, the characters chemistry, the life lessons that apply to both kids and adults… It’s inspirational.


21. Hanayamata

Hanayamata episode 8 screenshot

Hanayamata is about a Japanese dance called Yosakoi. It originates in Japan also.

An extroverted European girl pesters an introvert called Naru to join her group, which ends up being 5 girls in total.

It’s similar to the approach of Love Live and shows like it (and is an accurate representation of Japanese culture).

Nice, short, sweet, and chilled. It’s made by Madhouse Studios!


22. Gabriel Dropout

Gabriel Dropout angels and devils e1622053706983

Gabriel Dropout is like K-On but with a slightly more cheeky side to the comedy. And of course – the concept of angels and demons.

The main character Gabriel is an angel who once starts living on earth, becomes lazy and plays games all day.

Some demons who come to earth like Satania, act like demons but in reality are more like angels. This contradiction is common with other characters.

It’s too short of a series and needs more to expand the story, but as of now it’s one you can finish in no time at all.


23. Elfen Lied

elfen lied mew kawaii

Elfen Lied is a tragic horror series. The ending to this series is depressing and completely unfair.

The beginning of the series is ruthless, but expected and once you understand the story, you can’t have much sympathy.

The story is about Lucy, a girl who’s a Diclonius. A type of “created” life form by humans. After she escapes her lab, those same humans are to hunt her down and kill her off.

Profanity colorful words, child abuse, animal abuse…. This anime is heavy and is still one of most disturbed shows to this day.

It’s one of the shortest for these reasons as well.


24. Gakkou Gurashi

yuki miku and toromaru funny moments

Gakkou Gurashi is about mental illness, PTSD, and a group of  girls trying to survive in a world full of zombies.

Most people have been turned into zombies, and no one knows why. But one things for sure. Some schools have been equipped with rations and supplies, almost as if they were prepared for a zombie outbreak.

The main characters like Yuki Takeya are forced to live inside the school, which becomes their cage from the outside world.

Similar to Madoka Magica, it doesn’t feel rushed and it’s written well enough that everything fits and feels satisfying for a short series.

Read: 17+ Of The Best Horror Anime Series That Will Get You Invested


25. Monthly Girls Nozaki Kun

chiyo sakura and her friends funny moments

Nozaki Kun is about Chiyo Sakura, a girl who loves the main character called Nozaki. He happens to be a manga author as well.

This is the type of rom com that deliberately uses misunderstandings to get a laugh out of you, and uses it well.

Don’t expect a story where the main character ends up with her love interest. This is not it.

That’s fine though. That’s part of the gag and breaking the 4th wall. It needs a new season.


26. Gamers

Gamers anime uehara and amano

Gamers is another rom com that focuses on romantic misunderstandings between characters. It’s more extreme than Nozaki Kun.

In this case it’s about characters who are mostly gamers and Otaku’s. The jokes and the comedy relate to the gaming world, making it a bit niche.

The plot starts with Karen Tendou, the blonde girl everyone likes. And Amano, the guy who ends up meeting and befriending her by accident while shopping for games.

The comedy is a bit on the extreme side at times, and can get wild, so keep that in mind.

It’s not for everyone.


Other short anime series:

  • Flying Witch
  • Sankarea: Undying Love
  • Engaged To The Unidentified
  • Erased
  • God Eater
  • Land Of The Lustrous
  • Girls Und Panzer
  • Angel Beats
  • Anohana
  • Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
  • Barakamon


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Cool list, a lot are not for me though, our preferences just differ. I do miss a couple in the list:
Serial experiments Lain
Zankyou no terror

The first and the last just need more seasons but there aren’t at this time. The others are finished.

Alice Harcourt
Alice Harcourt

Dude! You totally forgot A Place Further than the Universe & O Maidens in Your Savage Season!

God may forgive you, but I won’t!