Anime anthologies may not be as popular as the regular anime films or serialized shows, but they’ve been in existence for a very long time, entertaining fans through numerous short stories that feature different characters, genres, and worlds, often connected by an overarching theme. The following anime anthology series on this list have been part of the industry for several decades, with popular series like Memories, Robot Carnival, and Neo Tokyo being some of the oldest.
The joy of watching anime anthology series lies in the inherent variety of this category — if one doesn’t resonate with audiences, another will. There are different genres, styles, and creative ideas for different tastes, and viewers need not dedicate their entire time to watching a single anime series when they can enjoy different stories in shorter formats. While many viewers are probably focused on the best anime series of 2023, there is still a niche audience for anime anthology series. This list is for both them and newcomers seeking to know more about this distinctive format.
Here are the 10 best anime anthology series to watch next.
10 Neo Tokyo (1987)
Neo Tokyo presents a trilogy of separate stories that explore aspects of science fiction and fantasy. Also known as Manie Manie: Labyrinth Tales, it follows the stories of a girl and her cat lost in a bizarre, maze-like world, a racer in a dystopian future, and construction workers working tirelessly in a post-apocalyptic world.
An ’80s Anthology with Ambition
Directors Rintaro, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and Katsuhiro Otomo combine their creative skills to craft amazing short stories that continue to garner praise for their creativity and unique visual styles. With their quick glimpses into other worlds, each segment in this anime anthology offers interesting, mysterious, and fantastic stories of ’80s Japanese animation, exemplifying the potential of the medium. Not Currently Available to Stream or Purchase
9 Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (2013-Present)
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories spans 149 episodes across 11 seasons (so far), offering brief but chilling tales presented in a unique storytelling style reminiscent of traditional Japanese paper theatre. Drawing inspirations from various the country’s urban legends, folklore, and supernatural tales, these short stories create an eerie and atmospheric viewing experience.
All Kinds of Ghost Stories
Featuring different stories with their own spooks and intense moments that explore a wide range of ghost stories, this anime anthology is tailor-made for horror fans looking for something bizarre and truly terrifying. Indeed, these stories are designed to frighten and unnerve viewers. Yamishibai is worth tuning in to for viewers who enjoy creepy stories with chilling twists. Stream on Crunchyroll
8 Flavors of Youth (2018)
Directed by Haoling Li, Zhenxing Yi and Yoshikata Takeuchi, Flavors of Youth consists of three stories that share common themes of love, loss, memories, and the impact of the past on the present. The first segmnt follows a man as he recalls his love for traditional Chinese rice noodles, while the second delves into a fashion model’s reflection on her relationship with her sister. The third narrative follows a young man as he thinks about his lost love.
A Reflection of Our Beautiful World
As this character-driven story delves into the personal experiences of each character, the anime envelops viewers in a contemplative and nostalgic vibe. With its simple yet powerful story that captures the real world and conveys powerful messages and emotions, it stands out from other anime series. Beyond its emotional depth, it captivates with its picturesque animation, truly honing in on the details that make our world as beautiful as it is. Stream on Netflix
7 The Animatrix (2003)
- Release Date
- May 9, 2003
- Peter Chung , Andy Jones , Yoshiaki Kawajiri , Takeshi Koike , Mahiro Maeda , Kôji Morimoto
- Akio Otsuka , Clayton Watson , Pamela Adlon , Hedy Burress , Terrence Carson , Melinda Clarke
The Animatrix offers an escape to a different world through its adult animated short films set in the universe of The Matrix film series. Comprising nine stories, each directed by renowned directors, this anime anthology provides insights into the war between humans and machines, the creation of the Matrix, and the backgrounds of certain characters.
A Deeper Dive into The Matrix
Many fans of The Animatrix appreciate it for its innovative animation styles that push the boundaries of the medium, its compelling and emotional resonant storytelling, and the additional layers it brings to the overall Matrix narrative. The Wachowskis have managed to create an anthology that it is both thought-provoking and visually appealing. More than that, the score further adds to its magnetic vibe and stronghold on viewers. Buy on Apple TV
6 Mushishi (2005-2014)
Mushishi is an intriguing anime and manga series created by Yuki Urushibara that explores the world inhabited by organisms known as the Mushi. The series unfolds through standalone stories featuring Ginko, a self-proclaimed “mushi Master,” as he investigates issues arising from the interactions between humans and the Mushi. As Ginko embarks on this journey, he encounters many philosophical questions and existential themes.
Different from Other Anime
Mushishi is such an extraordinary anime series that maintains its breathtaking artistry and peaceful atmosphere while skillfully sustaining tension in each story. Each episode is wholly intriguing, leaving viewers awe-inspired and yearning for more. With its unhurried narrative, sentimental charm, and calm atmosphere, Mushishi defies expectation, offering anime fans a contemplative experience (rather than the fast-paced action they might be used to). Stream on Hulu
5 Memories (1995)
Memories comprises three separate and unrelated segments, each directed by a different filmmaker. The first, helmed by Koji Morimoto, follows a group of travellers who find themselves in a mysterious spaceship controlled by an operatic singer. The second is directed by Tensai Kamura and follows a man who mistakenly ingests an experimental biological weapon, while the third is directed by Otomo, the creator of Akira, which still considered the greatest anime of all time.
What Makes it Great
Memories has been praised it for its animation quality, storytelling, and the unique perspectives brought by each talented director involve. Each segment offers a different style and genre, providing a diverse viewing experience. If you enjoy mind-bending stories accompanied by superb music, art, and an entrancing atmosphere, then Memories is certainly worth checking out. Stream on Prime Video
4 Love, Death + Robots (2019-Present)
Created by David Fincher and Tim Miller, Love, Death + Robots features a collection of standalone short stories, each with its own unique animation style, storytelling approach, and thematic content. The series features genres such as horror, fantasy, science fiction and comedy, which are all connected by themes related to love, death and robots.
A More Mature Anime Anthology
With its stories that centre on mature content, showcasing elements of violence, nudity, and other explicit content, this is perfectly suitable for adults who enjoy animated stories. Its exceptional quality lies in its diversity and creativity, which is made possible by the anthology format it embraces. Some stories are thought-provoking and bloody, while others are purely entertaining and visually striking, so there’s something for everyone. Above all, the series has been praised for its innovation and willingness to experiment with different storytelling techniques. Stream on Netflix
3 Star Wars: Visions (2021-Present)
Star Wars Visions
Star Wars anthology series that will see some of the world’s best anime creators bring their talent to this beloved universe.
- Release Date
- September 22, 2021
- Michael Sinterniklaas , Neil Kaplan , Adam Sietz
- Star Wars
Standing as a unique project in the Star Wars franchise, Visions features a collection of short stories from different anime studios, each offering its own interpretation of Star Wars lore. This Emmy-nominated anthology series explores familiar themes, but it foremost presents new perspectives on Jedi, Sith, and elements from the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
What Makes Great
Visions serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of the Star Wars franchise. It is a dream-come-true for fans of both anime and Star Wars, and it provides an opportunity for fans to see the galaxy through the eyes of different artists and cultures. It’s no secret that Star Wars has largely been inspired by Japanese samurai culture and cinema — Visions allows new audiences to see those influences on full display. Stream on Disney+
2 Short Peace (2013)
Short Peace features a series of four animated stories directed by Otomo, Haime Katoki, Shuhei Morita, and Hiroaki Ando. It covers various genres, from historical drama to science fiction and fantasy, with each short exploring different themes and visual styles.
One of the Most Visually Stunning Anime Ever Made
Like most anthology anime series, Short Peace portrays a variety of stories that capture each director’s style and perspective. It brings together a blend of traditional and futuristic settings to tell fascinating stories that are gripping and brilliantly executed. It is undeniably one of the most visually stunning titles on this list. Not Currently Available to Stream or Purchase
1 Genius Party (2007-2008)
Produced by the renowned Japanese animation studio, Studio 4°C, this entry consists of two parts: Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond. The first part features seven short stories, while the second comprises five. Each part offers a blend of genres and artistic styles. Notable directors like Masaaki Yusa, Mahiro Maeda, Shinichiro Watnabe, and others contribute to its appeal.
What Makes it Great
Absolutely mesmerizing and intriguing, Genius Party has been celebrated for its experimental and artistic nature, as highly talented anime directors collaborate to create eye-popping and avant-garde animation. Its captivating essence lies in its willingness to push the boundaries of Japanese animation and storytelling, resulting in something outside the mainstream. Genius Party’s overall essence and storytelling bring to mind other experimental anime series like Robot Carnival and Memories. Stream on Hoopla