There is nothing better than being able to binge a short anime with around 12 or 13 episodes over the weekend and feeling totally fulfilled about it! Especially if the story of the anime is complete, you won’t have to deal with that gaping hole in your heart and the never dying curiosity about what will happen in the future (yes NGNL fans, I am looking at you!).
While you might be aware of the best short anime (with 12-13 episodes ofcourse) out there, I have decided to compile a list of some of the underrated ones, that you should definitely check out. So without wasting any further time on introductions, let’s get straight to the list!
Best underrated short anime with 12-13 episodes:
Let me get this straight, I am not a huge fan of horror anime, they never manage to scare me (so please keep that in mind while reading this). Even so, I somehow decided to pursue watching Another (mostly because it just had 12 episodes) and I felt rewarded and impressed enough to include it in this list of underrated anime with 12-13 episodes.
No, even with its chilling narrative, Another doesn’t plunge you into an eerie and foreboding atmosphere full of jump-scares. Instead, the anime uses a disquieting feeling to create a labyrinth of dark secrets and unnerving mysteries, which our main characters have to navigate through in order to uncover the truth.
The plot is set against the backdrop of Yomiyama North Middle School, and begins when Kouichi Sakakibara a transfer students, attends class after being absent for the first month. It is here that he meets Mei Misaki, a mysterious girl.
As expected with a horror anime, the eerie atmosphere, mostly in the form of unsettling corridors, comes to fore, setting the tone for what is to follow. But it’s not just that, Misaki also has this aura of otherworldliness surrounding her, which is enough to give you the chills at start. It is almost as if the specter of death follows her around as unfortunate events unfold around her.
Kouichi realizes that there is something amiss with class 3-3 of which he is a part. It turns out that the school is cursed and Misaki seems to be shunned for some reason. However, Kouichi decides to stick with her and from then on, these two are embroiled in a harrowing quest to uncover the truth behind the curse that has plagued Yomiyama North Middle School.
If you ask me, the Another slants more towards a dark investigative thriller as the story unfolds. You definitely have to praise the storytelling in the series, which manages to maintain an escalated level of tension.
Another holds a mirror to the haunting nature of the human psyche and builds a perfect story around it. It is not without it’s flaws, and I feel that some parts of the anime could have been executed better, but still it is a good psychological thriller worth watching.
As someone once said, it’s a haunting melody in a long forgotten song!
9. Id: Invaded:
The next title in our list of short anime with 12-13 episodes is Id: Invaded. And I’ll start off this recommendation by saying this – the anime is a cerebral masterpiece.
Released in 2020, the anime follows Sakaido, a brilliant detective tormented by his own haunting past and burdened by an insatiable desire for redemption. He is someone who has commited a heinous crime in the past, but that is precisely what enables him to enter the confines of human mind using the highly advanced Mizuhanome System.
But it’s not as easy as I make it sound. Get ready to use your 100 percent brain power! The Mizuhanome System is a device that allows investigators to traverse the enigmatic depths of the “Id Wells,” which is basically a bizarre and disjointed stream of thoughts constituting the unconscious mind of a criminal.
This psychological plane is created using something called as ‘cognition particles’ which are found at a crime scene. So now you get the gist.
Sakaido is tasked with navigating the landscapes of fragmented memories and distorted realities which is left behind by a serial killer. Going by the alias of “The Perforator”, this killer often leaves behind a a trail of macabre and gruesome crime scenes. Teaming up with Kaeru, Sakaido has to confront the darkest recesses of his own psyche, as he tries to nab this criminal.
Id: Invaded often blurs the line the boundaries between what is real and what is a construct of the twisted subconscious. Each time Sakaido descends into the Id wells, we see him peeling back the own layers of his conscience as he tries to make sense of the layers of fragmented identities and deranged motives.
The anime does a brilliant job of exploring the complexity of the human mind and the themes of identity. Sakaido’s character development is also worth noting. The way he grapples with his past and the way he evolves over the anime is something that stood out for me personally.
The series can be a bit hard to comprehend at times, and for all the complex and riveting narrative that it creates for itself, the anime itself fails to scale that peak at times. So, for some viewers, it could be a mixed bag. Even so, Id: Invaded is a brainier substitute for an anime like Steins;gate and is definitely an anime you should check out.
It is criminally underrated, for sure!
8. 91 Days:
91 Days is a short anime series with 12 episodes, which released in 2016. It is set in the fictional city of Lawless, which is controlled by the mafia during the Prohibition era in the United States. The story follows Angelo Lagusa, a young man whose family was murdered by the Vanetti Family, one of the most powerful mafia families in Lawless.
Seven years later, he returns to Lawless under the alias Avilio Bruno after receiving a mysterious letter. In order to seek revenge, he decides to infiltrate the Vanetti Family and befriends the main man’s son, Nero in the process. However, as Avilio gets closer to his goal, he begins to question whether revenge is really what he wants.
Produced by Studio Shuka, 91 Days is often praised for its crisp animation. However, that’s not the only good point about it. Boasting an engaging plot featuring revenge, along with great character development along the way, 91 Days is an anime which manages to thoroughly entertain you within its span of 12 episodes.
Each personality you encounter in the anime is somewhat morally grey, which mirror the people in the real world in some way, making the show all the more complex when it comes to their motives and actions.
While it’s a revenge story on paper, it’s gives the feel of a neo-noir crime drama when you watch it. The prohibition era vibes are captured well in the series, and even the smallest of side characters seem to have been written with some purpose.
Overall, if you are on the lookout for anime with 12 or 13 episodes, 91 Days is a series that you definitely need to checkout.
There is a bonus 13th episode available for the anime, however that is not of the same standard as the series.
7. Sakamichi no Appolon (Kids on Slope):
Set in 1966 in the small town of Sakamichi, Kids on the Slope anime narrates a harmonious and heartfelt tale of friendship, music, and the transformative power of jazz. If sitting back and enjoying some old school music over the weekend is what you aim for, then you should definitely check out this anime.
Would you consider watching this anime if I said it was directed by the same person who helmed Cowboy Bebop? The influence of jazz music should have been a dead giveaway! And yes, Yuko Kanno too is a part of the show!!
Set against the backdrop of a society that is in its nascent stage of evolution, Kids on Slope follows the lives of three high school students as they navigate the delicate rhythms of adolescence.
Kaoru Nishimi, a reserved and introverted transfer student in Kyushu, finds solace in his love for classical music and the sanctuary of his piano. However, his world undergoes a radical shift when he crosses paths with the spirited and impulsive (bad boi) Sentarou Kawabuchi, an avid jazz drummer with an infectious passion for life.
Sentarou’s love for jazzz begins to rub off on Kaoru, who takes a liking to the art form and the two embark on a musical journey. Their shared love for jazz leads them to the doorstep of Ritsuko Mukae, and the after-school jazz sessions at the basement of her family-owned record shop.
Together, they form a tight-knit trio, with both their music and friendship blossoming, akin to the the transformative notes of jazz! However, drama and love triangles do make an appearance as the anime progresses, as it shifts the tone from a simple coming-of-age drama to more complex emotional series.
Kids on Slope is an anime that is rich on character development. I know, some people don’t agree on this. As each of the characters deals with their inner struggles and flaws, the music acts as a cathartic outlet for their unspoken emotions. The jazz becomes an expression of their evolving selves. Sure, music sometimes takes the back seat, but it adds a lot of thematic depth to the characters and their development!
Director Shinichiro Watanabe too needs a special mention here as he brings the source material to life, capturing its essence and delivering a compelling and emotionally resonant narrative.
FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly, is 6 episode anime series that is known for defying the conventional narrative styles and incorporating a peculiar artistic flair.
The anime tells the tale of Naota Nandaba, a seemingly ordinary 12-year-old boy living a mundane life in the eccentric town of Mabase, after his brother leaves town. However the mundane doesn’t last for ever as Haruko Haruhara, a charismatic and unpredictable pink-haired woman, crashes into Naota’s life—literally.
With her bass guitar and her penchant for chaos, Haruko becomes a catalyst for the extraordinary events that unfold around Naota. As the story progresses, viewers are taken on a wild and surreal journey filled with bizarre occurrences, and mecha battles. Horns growing out of head and obtuse battles!!
FLCL boasts a frenetic energy thanks to its pacing. Coupled with vibrant visuals, hard to grasp thematic symbolisms and motifs which are often seen as bizarre, the anime has gained a cult following!
But then, if you ask me, FLCL at it’s core is a story about a boy maturing! The non-linear structure is a perfect ode to the chaotic nature of adolescence and the confusion that is accompanied with it. The emotional turbulence on the other hand is mirrored perfectly with the blend of comedy and emotional arcs that are weaved together in the narrative.
It delves into themes of self-discovery, sexual awakening, rebellion against societal norms, and the search for personal identity as it races through plot with bizarre notions flying around!
FLCL will grow on you the more times you watch it. The foreshadowing and the symbolisms, which are otherwise missed during the first watch, thanks to its pacing, will stand during a re-watch and make you enjoy the series more!
While I did praise the art of the anime, the music also deserves a special mention and goes well with the tone that is set in the show.
If you like the anime, make sure to watch the sequel movies FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative for the complete experience.
5. Girls’ Last Tour:
Are you looking for a poignant tale of wholesome friendship and survival, set against the backdrop of a desolate landscape? If yes, then Girls’ Last Tour is an anime that fits the bill. I would call it the most unique ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime (I’m evil?).
The plot follows the journey of Chito and Yuuri, two young girls navigating the remnants of a civilization that once thrived. As they navigate the vast urban ruins in their beloved Kettenkrad, a small motorized vehicle, the two search for sustenance, shelter, and a sense of purpose.
And throughout their journey, they keep encountering abandoned technology, half-forgotten memories, and fragments of a world gone by. The world devoid of human presence sets an eerie tone, and through the eyes of Chito and Yuuri we end up witnessing the beauty and tragedy of the human existence.
Once you watch the anime, you’ll start observing and finding solace in the smallest of things around you, just like the girls: savoring the last drops of warm soup, cherishing the beauty of snowflakes, and sharing moments of laughter amidst the somber stillness.
The highlight of the anime is without a doubt the bond that forms between the two girls, despite their contrasting personalities.
Chito, the introspective and contemplative one, ponders the mysteries of the world around her, seeking solace in the pursuit of knowledge. On the other hand, Yuuri, the cheerful and impulsive companion, finds joy and hope amidst the ruins.
Their conversation range from outright stupid to profound, philosophical ones. There’s also a cruel sense of humor in what is depicted in it, so yeah.
The art style and the music perfectly helps to bring forth the harrowing nature of the world without humans. I first thought that the animation style had some weird similarity to Nichijou, but then I reealized that it is unique in its own right.
If you are like me, you’ll find yourself contemplating about the purpose of life and the essence of humanity itself. Not just that, I felt that the anime also tried to raise questions about the consequences of war, the senselessness of conflict, and the impact on future generations.
While it is never explicitly mentioned, it is conveyed via visuals that the destruction that we witness was brought about by a war. So, it also serves as a reflection on war and its aftermath. I wish Thorfinn could see this anime!
4. Sonny Boy:
Sonny Boy is a cruelly underrated anime, which despite its mesmerizing setting and plot, continues to be overlooked.
The plot revolves around a group of students who find themselves inexplicably trapped in a void dimension along with their school building. Before long, some of the students manifest supernatural abilities, and this is where the descent into madness (of sorts) begins.
The students’ extraordinary abilities become both a source of salvation and a catalyst for conflict. This essentially forms two groups, with one side believing that they should use their powers to get back to the real world, and the other believing that the powers should be utilized for surviving this strange world.
Though the student council tries to impose orders, the two groups clash. But it’s not just the desires of these respective groups that serve as an obstacle, the students need to face their inner demons too as they confront this new world.
The students’ unique abilities and their resistance against the rules is thematically reminiscent of conflicts stemming from autonomy and societal constraints. The series raises questions about the existence of an individual as a cog in a system, the limits of authority, and the pursuit of personal liberation.
Sonny Boy also delves into the dynamics of power, raising questions about its responsible use, and the idea of rebellion. While it holds a mirror to the working class, and to our society as a whole, it doesn’t do complete justice to the themes it touches upon.
Instead, the characters are what makes this short anime really stand out. Nagara and Nozomi’s interactions are peach!
However, get ready for lengthy monologues and metaphorical dialogues, that not just reflect the themes I mentioned above, but are sometimes pure abstract.
The multifaceted narrative of the anime particularly helps to explore all the characters, their moral dilemmas, the difficult choices they face and the consequences of their actions in this unfamiliar dimension. We’ll end up questioning the very nature of right and wrong.
The animation style we see in Sonny Boy is also pretty unique. The fluidity of the animation is something that stood out for me and Madhouse should rightly be credited for the work that they did here. The OSTs too stood out and helps add more depth to the story!
Would you be surprised if I told you that Mononoke anime is actually a spin-off? Yes, it is actually a sequel of sorts to the Bakaneko arc of Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror, and trust me, it is equally good or even better than its predecessor. It is a palette of colors ready to burst out and just paint your world in Japanese traditions and folklore!
Set in Edo period, it revolves around the mysterious and nameless medicine seller, who possesses an uncanny ability to perceive and exorcise Mononoke – malevolent spirits born from the profound emotions of mankind.
Gazing through the veil that separates the seen and unseen, the medicine seller traverses the lands, uncovering dark secrets. Wait what?
I’m pretty sure you have seen your share of horror anime. While gore and violence have turned out to be defining elements of the genre, Mononoke manages to distance itself from the cliche and confidently stand out while doing so.
For the medicine seller to exorcise a mononoke, he first has to understand what fuels its, its form and the reason (you’ll understand this more when you watch the anime), before he can proceed to exorcise it. And in the process of doing so, he unveils the dark undercurrents of human nature, exposing the innermost desires and flaws that birthed these vengeful spirits.
As the narrative unfolds, we delve deeper into the intricacies of human psychology, exploring themes of guilt, regret, obsession, and the fragile boundaries between sanity and madness. The best part? All of this is done over a course of 2-3 episodes.
Well, Mononoke has 12 episodes in all. However, it comprises comprises of 5 different stories, each around 2-3 episodes long, featuring a new set of side characters and a fresh plot. However, in this small span, the anime manages to flesh out the characters and weave an aura of horror and mystery.
From opulent mansions to bustling theaters and serene mountain villages, the stage that is set for each story is quite vibrant and attractive!
But that’s not all. Mononoke is a masterful work of artistry. It seamlessly blends traditional Japanese aesthetics into its plot with vivid imagery and symbolic motifs. And the music? The haunting notes and spectral melodies play an important role in creating an immersive atmosphere for the viewers to thrive and enjoy the anime. You’ll be thoroughly enchanted by what you experience.
The metaphorical tales exploring the human psyche, often hit close to home, and makes you wonder if the anime, through the medicine seller, is actually prompting us to tackle our inner demons. I sure felt so!
While this anime is highly acclaimed, people sometimes point out the subtleness of the narrative and slow pacing as cons. For me, however, these were the points that adhered the most. It gives Mononoke its own unique identity, and makes it stand out as a work of art!
So yeah, looking for a must watch underrated anime with 12-13 episodes? Make sure to add Mononoke to it!
2. After The Rain:
After the Rain is a short anime which depicts a very peculiar story of love and attraction, breaking some untold barriers along the way. The anime weaves a tender story around heartache and healing amidst the backdrop of rainfall which changes its form according to the changing emotions and outlook of the characters.
Set in a quaint town, After the Rain revolves around Akira Tachibana, a withdrawn young woman. She was once an aspiring track and field athlete, however her dreams are unexpectedly shattered after she suffers a severe injury.
To fill the hole left behind by the injury, she takes up work as a part time employee at a restaurant in order to save up for college. It is here that she encounters Masami Kondo, her middle aged boss. This event sets the stage for the story to progress and pushes Akira down a path of self-discovery, even though our heroine fails to realize this yet.
Kondo is a divorced man with a child, and the chance encounter between the two blossoms into an unusual friendship, built upon a shared sense of solitude. Their interaction reveal that they have an unspoken understanding of the burdens carried by each other.
Before long, Akira finds herself falling for Kondo and her time at the restaurant, though mundane, are marked by a feeling of longing and unspoken desires.
The top-notch animation perfectly meshes with Akira’s character, and makes sure that you’ll enjoy the story more through the visuals and the symbolisms rather than through dialogues.
As the anime progresses, we see Akira struggling with her feelings, the societal norms, and the fear of rejection, which eventually adds more depth to the narration unfolding in front of us. The realization that her love might be unrequited instills some tension and drama into her relationship with Kondo. To be honest, these scenes hit me right in the feels.
Along with a strong cast of supporting characters, the story, though posing as a love story which burgeons outside society norms, explores the delicacy of human interactions in its actual sense.
Animated by WIT Studio and featuring only 12 episodes, After the Rain is a perfect short anime to watch on a gloomy weekend, if you are ready for an emotional ride. Also, let’s not forget the amazing ED by Aimer.
After the Rain has an open ending, and the fandom is sometimes quite divided about it. Once you are done watching this anime, I’d like to know your thoughts about the way the story was given a conclusion in the anime!
1. Somali and the Forest Spirit:
When I think of Somali and the Forest Spirit, the first thing that comes to my mind is the struggles that the author of the manga is currently facing, both financially and mentally. It’s almost as depressing as the story they so intricately created.
Somali and the Forest Spirit is nothing short of a masterpiece if you ask me. Set in a world where mythical creatures roam and ancient magic still exists, the plot revolves around an innocent and spirited young human girl named Somali, who wanders alone in search of her kind in a ethereal forest.
It is here that she meets a Golem.
Bound by a profound duty to protect and preserve the forest, the Golem becomes an unexpected guardian to young Somali, and they both embark on a journey to reunite her with her parents and to bring her home.
The highlight of the anime definitely are its characters and their interactions, especially the connection that forges between Somali and the Golem. Friendship doesn’t actually cut it, it’s more like a kinship, which nurtures and blossoms throughout their journey. Golem becomes a father figure for Somali, but in a very interesting way!
Why is it so interesting? Well, Somali is your innocent wide eyed kid bubbling with enthusiasm and a strong desire to explore, while the Golem is basically someone who was created to observe and protect the forest. It has no feelings of its own.
While he is unable to comprehend emotions at the start, the stoic demeanor gradually softens over the course of the anime thanks to his interactions with Somali. He tries to unravel the depths of his own emotion, and all of it happens without taking away any kind of realism from the story.
The journeys present us with a world that is teeming with wonder, danger, and the mysteries of a forgotten age. Trust me, this is fantasy exploration at its best!!!
However, the anime also forces you ask a poignant question – what does it mean to be human. As a kinship transcending the boundaries of species unravels in front of us, we can’t help but laugh, cry and come to deeply care for the characters in just a span of 12 episodes.
The anime has given the story its own conclusion, though part of the source material still remains to be adapted, but it still doesn’t take anything away from it!