“Great things come in small packages” we’ve all heard this saying before. And it holds for so many things, including the anime we consume. Sometimes, you don’t want to bother with a super long anime with 100+ episodes and 10 filler arcs. You just want a short, sweet escape to binge and savor in a single day, otherwise known as anime with 12 episodes.
And thankfully, there is a variety of anime that focuses on shorter seasons, putting quality over quantity. Mostly Shojou anime follow this formula, providing a respite and concluding very nicely within a short time frame. But there are some Shonen anime, like One Punch Man, that also have no more than 12 episodes per season.
Shorter anime satisfies that craving where you want to watch something, but not invest too much time in it. And because of this, animation studios can focus on making the storytelling more concise and to the point.
But what makes a shorter anime better than the longer ones? Well, for one thing, it’s just easier to digest. And it’s always welcoming to not be subjected to filler episodes. If that sounds like your jam, here are our top picks for bite-sized anime with 12 episodes!
1. 91 Days
I can best describe 91 Days as ‘mafia noir’ but make it anime. If you like crime sagas, thrilling mysteries, and just a hint of vintage, you’ll enjoy this tale of one man against the world.
91 Days stars Angelo Lagusa, the son of a family that was slaughtered by the hands of the Vanettis, the ruling family of the Lawless district, and a member of the Italian American mob syndicate. Angelo goes into hiding after the mafia wars, only to be brought back to Lawless through an anonymous letter. He vows to avenge his family and destroy the Vanetti family from the inside out. And so, he starts by infiltrating their ranks as Avilio Bruno and ends up befriending Nero Vanetti, the heir of the clan.
Set during the Prohibition era in America, this is a gritty story about revenge, family politics, and the mafioso. Highly recommended, especially if you’re a Godfather fan.
2. Snow White With The Red Hair
Who doesn’t enjoy a good fairy tale? Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, we all grew up on fantastical stories about princesses and the ‘happily ever after’. But that’s exactly where Snow White With The Red Hair differs from fairy tales!
Shirayuki is a brilliant pharmacist who was born with peculiar blood-red hair that catches the heart of anyone who sees it. Of course, some of that attention is unwanted, like that of Prince Raji Shenazard, who immediately decides he wants to marry her, even if it’s by force. To escape this fate, Shirayuki runs from the country and comes across Zen Wisteria, an injured swordsman. She helps with his wound and later, decides to accompany his group to Clarines, where it is revealed that Zen is the Crown Prince. Both decide to further themselves as individuals, with Shirayuki aiming to become a better herbalist and Zen a prince worthy of his title. They also sense that the support they give to each other might be something more.
A story of strong forged bonds and deadly enemies lurking on the horizon, with a reverse damsel in distress trope, this 12 episodes long anime is a twist on the classic fantasy. Highly recommend it if you enjoy slow burns in quick bursts!
3. Oresuki: Are You The One Who Loves Me
You’ve heard of love triangles. Well, how do we feel about love pentagons? This is one convoluted high school romance but entertaining, nonetheless.
Enter Amatsuyu “Joro” Kisaragi: a completely average high schooler who miraculously ends up scoring dates with not one, but two popular girls. The first is Sakura “Cosmos” Akino, the student council president and the second is Aoi “Himawari” Hinata, his friend from childhood. Over the moon and expecting confessions from both, he is devastated when the two reveal that they only asked him out for his help to pursue Taiyо̄ “Sun-chan” Ōga. AKA his best friend.
He grudgingly agrees to help both girls, secretly plotting to date whichever girl doesn’t end up getting with Sun-chan. Of course, things don’t end up that easy, especially when Sumireko “Pansy” Sanshokuin ends up proclaiming her love for Joro. Pansy is a ’boring’ bookworm, and just happens to be the girl Sun-chan is in love with? Talk about a messy situation!
This short series is filled with misunderstandings, shenanigans, and awkward situations. All the things that add spice to a romance. If you like harems, this is the one for you!
4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This story goes from a 0 to a 100 so fast, that you barely process what just happened. But hey, cute magical girls can’t be that scary! Right?
The premise is simple enough. Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, two simple middle school girls from Mitakihara, are transfixed over the new arrival at their all-girls school, the transfer student Homura Akemi. One day, Madoka and Sayaka accidentally come across Kyuubey, a cute cat-like magical creature that offers them a deal: Have any one of their wishes fulfilled if they choose to become a magical girl, helping rid the world of witches. However, Homura, who is revealed to be a magical girl herself, begs them not to accept the offer, implying the route only leads to suffering.
This anime broke me when I first watched it. Like, no joke, in 12 episodes it delivers gut punch after gut punch, completely subverting the magical girl genre. If you like dark anime that can genuinely be sinister, I can’t recommend this enough, especially for a 12 episodes long anime.
5. No Game, No Life
Hey, maybe you don’t like suffering an existential crisis and just want a quick laugh. And if you’re a gamer, all the better! You might just enjoy No Game, No Life.
This comedy anime follows two shut-in siblings, Sora and Shiro, who are infamous in the online gaming community as the undefeatable group, Blank. Tet, a god from another reality, challenges them to a mess of chess and they win. Their reward? They get to live in a world that is themed around games! Of course, they think it’s a joke but quickly learn they are stuck in this strange parallel reality called Dishboard.
This is a light watch for Isekai fans. And it pokes fun at itself, which is always nice. Game enthusiasts will especially enjoy this!
6. The Promised Neverland
One o the best Shonen’s that have come out in the past few years, Promised Neverland promises a ride filled with thrill, psychological horror, and intrigue.
The anime takes place in the Grace Field House, a shelter surrounded by woods. Here, orphans live happily together with their guardian watching over them, a ‘Mama’ named Isabella. The children spend their time how they wish, if they keep inside the boundaries of the orphanage — a rule that absolutely can not be broken. They do have medical checkups every day to see if they stay healthy. And every few months a child gets adopted and they leave, never to be heard from again. But apart from that, the kids are living in a utopia.
However, three siblings named Ray, Norman and Emma start becoming skeptical. And soon they become privy to the cruel, twisted truth of Grace Field House. This is a wild anime with 12 episodes, filled with fear every step of the way. If you want to get your blood pumping, this is it!
7. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)
This supernatural fantasy has something for everyone! It is chaotic and filled with action. Welcome to the world of Kekkai Sensen!
Leonardo Watch is a simple photographer who gains the ‘All-seeing Eyes of the Gods’ ability but at the cost of his sister’s eyesight. And so, he heads to Hellsalem’s Lot, for answers regarding the mysterious power. He soon runs into Libra, a secret organization of both strange beings called eccentrics and superhumans, that must keep Hellsalem’s Lot secure from letting its chaos breach the outside world. Leo ends up joining them, but he realizes quickly that this might’ve been more than he could take.
Leo’s adventures as an ordinary boy thrust into the weirdest place on the planet make for an interesting watch. The story itself isn’t very complex, but the way it is told is certainly different!
Are you a fan of future dystopia? Or even Cyberpunk elements? Then Kiznaiver should be on your next watch list!
Welcome to Sugomori City, a futuristic Japanese town, that was created to experiment with a large-scale concept known as the Kizna System. The Kizna System links people through shared trauma, physical, mental, and emotional. Those associated thanks to the system, are termed ‘Kiznaivers’.
Enter Katsuhira Agata, a high school student. He was amongst many of his classmates when they were told they were going to become Kiznaivers by Noriko Sonozaki, a mysterious but emotionless girl. What follows is a story of shared pain leading to bonds between the unlikeliest of people.
Filled with sentiment and facing your trauma head-on, this anime is very emotional, especially for a 12 episodes munch. Perfect for those seeking a little drama in the typical high school setup.
9. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
This is just plain, old-fashioned fun. Imagine a protagonist so cool, he refuses to slip. And the kind of antics that ensue.
Meet the effortlessly cool Sakamoto: a prodigy who is very popular in his school and beloved by every student. Even the faculty loves him! Well, almost all of them. Of course, because he’s so loved by everyone, especially the girls, the guys tend to feel a little threatened. And so, they try to pull elaborate pranks on him. The keyword here being try because Sakamoto never trips and, heck, ends up coming out as even cooler than before! Does he have no weakness?
I love a good, oblivious protagonist and over-the-top antics. The denseness here is top-tier and it makes me laugh every time!
10. Bungou Stray Dogs!
The way I love detective mysteries, man. There’s just something so satisfying about good suspense. Add to that some paranormal elements and you’ve got a winner.
The story starts with our protagonist, Atsushi Nakajima, who has been kicked out of his orphanage over strange occurrences that he believes are the work of a mystical tiger. He is homeless and starving by a riverbank when he encounters and saves a strange guy named Osamu Dazai from drowning. Dazai is a supernatural detective who has been looking into the same tiger phenomenon that plagued Atsushi. And together with Doppo Kunikida, Dazai’s partner, they solve the mystery. But now Atsushi is left in a weird situation where he gets compelled into joining their organization made up of paranormal investigators, taking cases the police can’t fathom understanding.
This is a dynamic supernatural mystery show with the zaniest cast of characters. Explosive and funny, I highly recommend it!
So what are you going to put on for your next binging session? Let us know below!