Every season, we see dozens of new titles plastered across the anime landscape. Japanese TV, and sites like Crunchyroll or The Anime Network are plastered with new dramas, action shows, comedies, and more. From high school to the high seas, deep space to the deepest depths of darkness, there seems to be a title for just about everybody.
Between the long-form shows and specials, though, is a world of anime that is almost invisible to the greater market. Shows that run for no more than five minutes slip through the cracks, and disappear for years before some lucky fan uncovers them.
These are the unsung classics, the low-budget lovelies that can dare to be weird, while still earning a profit. They’re the shows that drive countless variety programs, and tell stories that would never work as full episodes. These programs are the homes of running gags and quirky catch-phrases, and short adventures with slow burns.
However, despite their oft-ignored status, short-form titles have led to some of our most unexpected classics. If not for the format, the world would never be introduced to quirky catgirl Dejiko (DiGi Charat) or the antics of Steel Angel Kurumi. Titles like Neo Ranga and Higepiyo would be confined to the manga format, and titles like Rizelmine, well… the less said about that, the better.
However, most important, the world would miss out on titles that are so crazy, so unusual that few would even fathom how such a concept could work. The short format is ideal for shows that are, for lack of a better term, batshit loco. It’s this class of shows that proves most exciting, as we begin to see shows like Ippatsu Kiki Musume, in which the protaganist is thrown into increasingly absurd life-or-death situations, or Plastic Nee-san, about a model-building high schooler who finds herself in silly, over-the-top situations. These titles rarely have a plot to speak of, and they tend to border on the nonsensical.
As with all anime, dealing with short-forms is akin to a treasure hunt. There are the highs and the lows, and finding a genuinely good program could seem daunting on a good day. But patience is a virtue, and those who do make the dive could find rewards that make the entire experience worthwhile.