Short, Obscure and Commercially Unavailable Anime

Day 10 of ’12 Days of Anime’ – [See other posts in this series]


When I went to Hibanacon earlier this year, there was a panel being run by Elliot Page titled “Short Anime for the Busy (Or Easily Distracted)”. It was a fun little presentation which introduced me to a bunch of new series I hadn’t heard of before, but it also reminded me of a project I’ve had on the back-burner for a while now.

Originally called “this recommendation list is too damn long”, I had started compiling all 500+ anime I’ve seen into an easily digestible series of spoiler-free recommendations. However I vastly underestimated how much writing it took to talk about 100s of shows at once, and also how difficult it was to make each recommendation distinct.

Now I’m ready to revive the list, in a partial and massively reduced form. Below I’m going to lay out some short, obscure and commercially unavailable anime that I’ve had the special pleasure of seeing. Obviously this means that you will not be able to acquire a legal copy or stream for any of them, and they are unlikely to receive one in the future. Whether that stops you or not is entirely up to you. You know yourself better than I do.

Gauche the Cellist

When Disney meets Whiplash. At least that’s how I like to view it. Gauche the Cellist happens to be one of the few films Studio Ghibli has helped produce that I wouldn’t recognize if it weren’t for them being in the credits. It strikes an interesting balance between the childlike anthropomorphic characters popularized by Disney and the themes of fierce determination and sacrificial devotion to success that Whiplash embodied. There is actually one scene in Gauche that is functionally identical to one in Whiplash, suggesting it might have served as inspiration for the latter, if that piques your interest.

It’s only around 40 minutes long and shows clear signs of aging in the animation department, but otherwise remains a worthwhile watch.

The Old Crocodile

This a short film about a very hungry crocodile. It’s presented like a old fable but it in a sense turns that standard approach on its head. The childlike narration might make this short seem targeted at a younger audience, but the way it manages to subvert expectations of form and genre is plenty enjoyable.

The content is such that if you want to dig deeper in the academia commentary it might service, you absolutely can, but if you simply want a point by point story you get that as well.

Otona Joshi no Anime Time

In an industry defined by minor deviations in service of an incestuousness creative market, Otona Joshi is a silent reward for all those wanting big leaps of ambition. The series is a set of four short stories that peer into the lives of Japanese women, none the same as the last.

It’s a humbling introspection, touching on the realities of womanhood as viewed through mature (or perhaps immature) individuals. The real beauty of it laying in how raw these retelling’s are, forcing viewers to reflect on their own preconceptions and biases before thinking of passing judgement on the characters themselves.

Otona Joshi finds perfection in the imperfect lives of ordinary people and remains a must see anime for anyone wanting to see adult women in anime that don’t live up to a immaculate ideal.

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Nope – this isn’t part of a secret code in a Lost style thriller. This is about the life of a Cicada. It’s as simple as that.

As for title? Watch it. Listen to this little Cicada’s story. Learn the context and understand how packed with meaning this piratical animation is. Don’t expect much to the animation, but the gradual progression in repetitive cycles is necessitated by the moral message the creators want to convey.

Check it out.

Naked Youth

Yes, quite literally naked. This is another really short one that I don’t want to inject too much commentary into before you have the chance to watch it. As the most unbiased description I can give, Naked Youth showcases brief moments of human growth in an open framing. For a keen watcher there is a narrative to it, but mostly it’s just about how our feelings develop over time, and how it informs the relationships around us.

Tales of a Street Corner

An extremely blatant war time tale that lets its symbolism stay out in the open with careful world building and notable abstraction. Nobody gives you names and dates, instead you learn by watching as posters for theater productions get plastered over with propaganda, for example. Even anthropomorphized objects stand in for human characters in order to reframe traditional understandings of suffering and tragedy during wartime.

The film definitely isn’t breaking into unexplored territory, yet thanks to its pleasant direction you still get a new and unique perspective on the topic.

Honobono Log

This one caught a lot of peoples attention earlier in 2016, so I’d be more surprised if you hadn’t heard of it by now. I still feel obligated to give it my endorsement. It’s just so rare that you find an anime willing to cut out the fluff and show relationships in their ever imperfect light.

These shorts show bickering. They show empty humdrum. They show politeness. I love it. You will too.

Red Thread

Ah, what a fantastic little animation. If you have any familiarity with Japanese media, you will likely know about the read thread (or string) of destiny. How it connects us to our fate and guides us to certain conclusions. If that isn’t ringing any bells, then you might want to recall the read hairband in ‘Your Name’, and how Makoto Shinkai used it to carry the same meaning.

Red thread is literally what is says on the tin. A single red thread, twisted and turned to weave a story of love and life, jumping from moment to moment, and showing how even minute experiences can connect us to one another.

For a few short minutes, and however skeptical you may be, this anime will have you believe in fate.


And that’s where I’m going to stop. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen far more short anime than this, but for the sake of brevity and in an attempt to separate the best from the rest, I think this is enough to be getting on with.

Like I said, as far as I am aware, these anime are not licensed overseas. If you want to watch them then youtube is probably your best bet, but don’t be surprised if you have to look a little further afield. If I am wrong at all, and you are aware of legally unquestionable avenues for watching, let me know and I’ll add a note to the article.

Thanks for reading!

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