The Best Anime With Less Than 20 EpisodesThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
People always say, “Watch Naruto, it’s awesome,” or “Watch One Piece, it’s the best show you’ll ever watch.”
Okay and who’s got the time to watch 1000 episodes? I do, but not everyone does.
Sometimes you just want to binge a quick show that’ll be one to remember. Not every anime has to have more than a dozen episodes to be amazing.
So I’ve gathered a quick list of great anime featuring 20 episodes or less. So these are all binge-able in a day.
Unless you’re like, really slow at watching anime.
15. Ping Pong the Animation
I know, I know—the art looks weird.
It’s not the typical style you’d see in an anime.
But that’s completely fine.
When you get used to the unusual art, you’ll get reeled into the story and its characters.
I didn’t know a thing about the game of ping pong when I first watched this show. After I finished the eleven episodes though, my appreciation for the sport exploded.
Make no mistake, this anime is not your average sports anime.
You probably won’t find any other sports show like it.
Ping Pong the Animation characterizes a genius talented athlete, another athlete who had to work hard to get better, and someone who isn’t as invested into the sport like his friends.
We get to see the emotions, the mentality, and the reality of athletic kids playing a sport—a side of a coin less polished in a sports anime.
14. Death Parade
Playing a few games to decide my fate in the afterlife doesn’t sound too pleasant.
Watching other people do it, however, is more than entertaining.
Under the guise of games and comedy, Death Parade delves into morally gray concepts and characters.
Their unfortunate history and decisions in the death game culminates in a judgment of reincarnation, or the permanent erasure of their souls. Exploring the human condition is fascinating to me – and makes for wonderful characters that feel like they would exist in real life.
I really wanted another season to continue to world-build the afterlife setting Yuzuru Tachikawa had created.
Truthfully, I’m grateful we even got this insight into the cycle of death and human morality in the first place.
13. Akudama Drive
This unique cyberpunk dystopian society enticed me in with its alluring art. And I stayed for the odd characters who had to utilize their own exceptional abilities for a single goal.
They certainly shine during the action scenes fighting against the superpowered police.
It was cool to see how the anime was inspired from other works too, like Akira and Ghost in the Shell.
The blend of ideas and strange characters perfectly fit into a heist anime. This one feels uncommon, yet well put together.
12. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Here’s an anime made by GOAT Wit studio, and it’s often overlooked for some reason.
The art here is absolutely gorgeous. I was in love with the shading, the color scheme, and the character designs.
And if it’s by Wit Studio, you already know you are guaranteed for some top-notch animation.
The show has an interesting premise that’s inspired by the steampunk genre, something that’s definitely uncommon to see in anime.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is a lovely piece of eye candy that clearly had a lot of effort put into it – and I hope more people will give it a chance.
11. Daily Lives of High School Boys
This may be my second favorite comedy anime ever. The first is Gintama, which I obviously can’t put on this list: you know, with over 350 episodes and all.
But even in just one season of 12 episodes and 6 specials, this anime has brought me so much joy and laughter I could never forget.
I love it all:
The fourth wall breaks, the unexpected punchlines, the reactions, the tongue-and-cheek humor.
You’d have to dead fish eyes to not find this show the least bit entertaining.
I imagine those dead fish eyed people would find the punchlines in those terrible action or horror films hysterical.
10. Goblin Slayer
After Goblin Slayer ended in December 2018, we waited for news for another season. Finally we got the announcement in early 2021 that season 2 is coming very soon.
We’ll get to see more of Orcbolg destroying those little green monsters in every way imaginable.
Personally, I’d like to see more world-building in the next season.
The fantasy world is pretty standard – but it would be cool to see more of the different races and their respective abilities and cultures.
The adventuring part of this anime is very fun to watch, especially when the Goblin Slayer is out of his element. If he goes out to other lands then maybe we’ll see different types of goblins that’ll give him a tough time…
Either way, I’m glad we get more goblin gore coming to us.
Yuzuru Tachikawa made one of the greatest twists in anime that nobody ever saw coming.
Everyone thought this show would be a classic monster slaying anime in a unique setting.
By the second episode, the director clearly demonstrated that Deca-Dence offered beyond those initial expectations.
I don’t think anyone could have expected direct commentary on AI, global corporations, and the consumer-based society humanity runs on.
The concept is totally unique. But you can see how it was inspired by certain media like Mortal Engines, Attack on Titan, Darling in the Franxx, and plenty more.
Some technological elements may be unrealistic and very fantastical – but the elements of humanity and society embedded in the story are very real.
I don’t want to ruin the surprise if you haven’t watched it.
But trust me, if you like anime with a plot that makes you think, with some neat animation and a catchy opening, it’s in your favor to check out a few episodes of Deca-Dence.
8. Terror In Resonance
Have you ever listened to the lofi song “The Girl I Haven’t Met” by Kudasaibeats?
That girl is in this anime. Yeah, I was genuinely surprised too.
She’s a relatable character who I’ve come to really like.
She gets caught up in the plans of the two genius main characters who are terrorists—but wait, there’s a perfectly good reason, I swear.
I’m sure all terrorists said that before but don’t worry… you’d want them to succeed with their agenda.
There’s a dark conspiracy in their history, and from it we get a figure returning to haunt them. It’s very fun watching the police try to solve riddles and figure out the mystery behind this group.
And the conclusion is near perfect and so well done.
I wish I could rewatch this anime for the very first time just to meet everyone again.
Watching detectives do their thing couldn’t ever get boring.
Not when Kenjiro Tsuda is voicing the main character, that’s for sure. The mysteries, the backstories, the ID’s: they all connect into a twisted puzzle.
The minds of these murderers compel you to try and figure out the secret behind it – alongside the genius detective.
But you can’t compete with their brilliance. This cast of characters can’t be molded into cookie-cutter shapes.
Usually that applies to the villains, but in this show, it applies heavily to the main character as well.
He may be a genius detective – but he’s a murderer as well.
That’s why the show is so intriguing, and it’s why you want to keep watching so he can arrive at his catharsis in the end.
6. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
If I had to describe this show in one word, it would be “cinematic”.
The whole plot plays out like a movie. And the futuristic dystopia setting brings in some beloved tropes like time travel, AI, and… idols?
OK, the idol element may seem odd to include in this serious story. But honestly I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Especially the glorious OST—oh, it gets me emotional every time.
Now I’m aware everyone won’t be able to appreciate this anime like I do – but I won’t stop praising it.
5. Sonny Boy
It’s easy to say that Sonny Boy is not your average anime.
Everyone here has depth, growth, and different motives in a world (or should I say multiple worlds) that makes no sense.
It’s a coming of age story for all the kids trying to figure themselves out, and figure out how to get out of the universe they’re trapped in.
The nonlinear plot tells a wide variety of stories from all ranges of perspectives. And it’s all brilliant: the creative ideas of each world, the supernatural abilities, and the relationships between the kids all have their own intimate themes.
But I can’t lie.
Despite all the great things Sonny Boy shows us, the OST is my favorite part.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for punk rock.
4. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
The Isekai genre is oversaturated and oftentimes poorly executed.
I won’t argue there are anime in this category that have some… issues.
But if you think all isekai is trash then you’re in for a treat.
Mushoku Tensei was animated by Studio Bind, an animation company formed in 2018 solely for the production of adapting this story into an anime.
There are passionate and talented people behind this project. And you better believe that talent shines through in these eleven episodes.
We get to see our protagonist grow through his early stages of life as a skilled magician. We watch as he gets a second chance to fix his past mistakes as a former unsavory NEET from our world.
And Rudeus makes sure that second chance does not go to waste.
Erased cemented winter as my favorite season.
Playing the opening song under the snowing white sky puts a whole different chemical in my brain.
Aside from the blissful OST, the quiet atmosphere tailored with dark undertones also feels full of melancholy and a sense of nostalgia.
Like reliving one’s childhood with long lost friends – which would be a dream to many.
Satoru travels back in time and finds that chance, but he can’t afford to enjoy himself. He knows a secret about his old town—a series of murders not yet transpired.
But how can a ten year old do anything to stop it?
2. No Game No Life
I wish this show wasn’t on this list.
Unfortunately, this anime is in the “Less Than 20 Episodes Club” and there’s nothing I can do to help it.
But hey, this is a ranking of the best ones, right? So that counts for something.
I mean, the world of Disboard is no joke. A giant red moon floating over a city, a drifting forest in the sky reaching towards the ground with its humongous roots, and gigantic mysterious chess pieces scattered about the world…
The vibrant fantasy dreamland penned in fluorescent colors casts a magic spell on your senses.
I bet if Shiro and Sora ate a chunk of the ground it would taste like candy. And I wouldn’t put it past Tet to turn the ground into brownies.
Actually, the two ingenious siblings could make the ground become candy by themselves, with the rules of Disboard and their skills.
I think I just spoiled a plot point here…
Anyways, this anime gives you a lot to chew on.
There’s so many creative ideas in this world, and with the brother-sister duo, they can explore them all.
Each time I remember my first time experiencing this anime, I feel more and more inclined to read the light novel.
I just don’t want to move on without enjoying the full story of Shiro and Sora, and the world of Disboard.
1. Wonder Egg Priority
This is an anime with a style that looks like something KyoAni or Naoko Yamada would make – but it’s actually not created by them.
But they had an immense influence on this anime, that’s for sure.
From the cute adolescent girls to the gorgeous lighting, to the realistic backgrounds, there’s a lot of comparisons to draw here.
And there’s a lot I’d want to compliment this anime for, but the art is certainly the easiest to point out.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first watched it… but I didn’t expect a dark magical girl anime with mind blowing sakuga and a deep impactful story.
You can tell the animators & storyboarders put a lot of effort into the craftsmanship of the story and characters.
I mean, they literally used flowers throughout the show as symbolism.
The cinematography to frame those shots also feels very thought out.
How could I ever forget this show any time soon?