I’m something of a serial watcher of anime shorts, I try to watch every single one each season. Short anime tend to be overlooked a lot, because the general expectation is that the short runtime acts as a cap on how good they can actually be. Sometimes this is the case, a lot of short anime ends up being pretty bad. But, with the increasing number of the things coming out each season (I’m currently watching 13, which is still missing a few of the ones airing) some of them are bound to be winners, and they are. The format tends to work best for gag commedies, they can get in, tell a joke and get out without overstaying their welcome, but there are plenty of good examples outside this framework. So today I’m going to take a diferent aproach and run some of the better shorts of the year, in no particular order.
I find the Sengoku Era fascinating, or more accurately I find the aproach Japanese media takes to the Sengoku Era fascinating. There’s a huge amount of media out there that draws from this period. It’s often conflicting and contradictory, but as a whole they form a strange sort of cultural gestalt where historical characters are elevated to recurring characters in some grand ever expanding universe. It’s something I haven’t really seen with any other historical era or country (I mean, my own country’s romanticisation of our past is like, Braveheart, an American film). If you’ve seen a few of these shows you end up building up a set of expectations, Yoshimoto will be a buffoon, Hisahide will be blatantly evil yet nobody will see his/her trechery coming, Nobunaga will be a passionate unifier or a merciless demon. A lot of the fun of this kind of series comes from seeing how each one takes their own slant on these archetypal characters.
Nobunaga no Shinobi does this excelently, it’s those same archetypes through the lense of a character with no understanding of their historical significance, most of the punchlines are predicated on you already having knowledge of that particular significance, but if you do it works well. Also, Chidori is adorable.
Sekkou Boys has one joke – what if a bunch of statues (get it, idols) – formed an idol group. It gets a lot of mileage out of that one joke, and in a short having one joke is a lot less damaging than in a full length show. It does start to wear itself a bit thin by the end, but it can still surprise with dumb twists on that core concept. Has a high density of dumb puns, dumb puns are always a plus.
This show should be -and sometimes is- skeevy as heck. It mostly works because with the exception of the obnoxious mascot character, everyone is not OK with how creepy the concept could get, and actively avoids it. It’s mostly just about a bunch of kids hanging out, and occasionally beating up said obnoxious mascot character. Also, there’s a talking penguin who pretends to smoke. What a dork.
Teekyu is impossible to accurately describe. First off, it’s bad. Teekyuu is a bad anime, but that’s the joke. With each episode lasting only 2 minutes you’d expect it to be light in actual content. Instead, each episode contains an unreasonable number of things, jokes are delivered at lightning speed and then discarded, if 10 seconds have passed and at least 5 things haven’t happened it’s a slow episode. By casting anything resembling coherence to the wind Teekyuu manages to circle back around on itself, becoming weirdly compelling. By most conventional metrics it’s bad, but that badness is part of the charm.
It’s on its 8th season, and will probably air forever. 10000 years from now, when humanity has been driven to near extinction by the fires of the nuclear apocalypse. Then clawed our way back from the ashes to some semblance of civilisation. They’ll probably still be making more Teekyuu.
It’s about Tennis or something.