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The 13 best one-season anime to watch in a weekend

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From shonen to shōjo and everything in between

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Erased

It’s nothing new to note that there’s too much TV to watch, and this staggering wealth of options applies to anime too. With streaming services like Crunchyroll and Funimation making it easier than ever to keep up with seasonals, Netflix increasingly producing more original anime, and an abundance of classic series now available to watch without tracking down illegally ripped DVDs on eBay, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when deciding what to watch. And sure, choosing to marathon a long-running anime like One Piece, which will air its 1,000th episode on Nov. 20, means you can avoid having to make another streaming decision for a long, long time. However, this also means you’ll have less time to explore the wide array of first-rate anime that are well worth your time.

That’s where the beauty of the one-season anime comes in. They’re quick, satisfying binges that you can watch start-to-finish in a single weekend. Some of the greatest anime of all time are only one season, like Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Death Note. But the list of exceptional one-season series doesn’t end there. There’s a bounty of other fantastic one-season anime available to stream, like the sci-fi thriller Steins;Gate, the ice skating romance Yuri on Ice, or the hilarious space western Trigun.

So the next time you’re struggling with decision fatigue, queue up one of these one-season anime and enjoy the unparalleled gratification that comes with checking a show off your must-watch list in record time.

Steins;Gate

Number of episodes: 24

Rintaro Okabe looks down at his cell phone in Steins;Gate.
Steins;Gate

The idea of hooking a cell phone up to a microwave in order to send texts to the past is very silly, but Steins;Gate is definitively not a silly show. A tightly plotted sci-fi drama, Steins;Gate follows Rintaro Okabe, an egotistical “mad scientist” who, along with his two friends and colleagues, unexpectedly discovers a way to send messages — and eventually memories — into the past. It’s an exceptional time travel story with a compelling cast of characters, thrilling mysteries, and edge-of-your-seat action.

Steins;Gate is available to stream on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Trigun

Number of episodes: 26

Trigun

A space western set in the 32nd century, Trigun follows Vash the Stampede, a pacifist gunslinger with a 60 billion double-dollar bounty on his head for accidentally destroying a town with his superhuman abilities. However, due to his amnesia, Vash has little memory of the incident or his childhood alongside his twin brother, Million Knives, who now wants him dead. As Vash travels the planet, he’s joined by Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, two insurance agents whose duties involve evaluating claims caused by the damages Vash inadvertently causes while fighting off bounty hunters and assassins sent by his brother. As Vash’s history is explored through flashbacks, the truth about the town’s destruction and Knives’ vendetta comes to light in this high-energy adventure.

Trigun is available to stream on Funimation and Hulu.

Yuri on Ice

Number of episodes: 12

Yuri On Ice
Yuri On Ice

This ice skating romance is pure serotonin. After Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki decides to go on a hiatus after a brutal competition loss, he’s shocked when his hero (and crush), Russian figure skating champ Victor Nikiforov, shows up at his doorstep offering to be his coach. This leads to an energizing rivalry with the up-and-coming Russian skater, Yuri Plisetsky, whom Victor had previously promised to coach. The skating animation in the series is absolutely breathtaking, but it’s the slow-burn romance between Yuri K. and Victor that will stay in your heart long after the finale credits roll.

Yuri on Ice is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Erased

Number of episodes: 12

A young Satoru Funinuma runs past Kayo Hinazuki in Erased.
Erased

Nearly 20 years later, Satoru Fujinuma remains haunted by the disappearance of his fifth grade classmate, Kayo Hinazuki. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant, Satoru discovers her death is somehow connected to Kayo’s abduction. Using his mysterious ability to travel back into the past, he becomes determined to save his mother and Kayo from their tragic fates and uncover the truth of who’s behind their deaths. Erased is an atmospheric, twisty, and gripping tale, so don’t surprised if it doesn’t even take a full weekend to get through it.

Erased is available to stream on Crunchyroll and Netflix.

Ouran Host Club

Number of episodes: 26

Tamaki Suoh points his finger at the off-screen Haruhi Fujioka while other members of the Ouran Host Club stand behind him.
Ouran Host Club

This comedic, reverse harem anime is one of the most iconic gone-before-its time anime. Joking about waiting for season two is practically a hobby of the shōjo community at this point. The series follows Haruhi Fujioka, an Ouran Academy scholarship student who finds herself indebted to the Host Club after breaking an expensive vase. At first, Haruhi is supposed to only run errands for the club’s six wealthy male members, who entertain female clients in the school’s unused music room. But due to her natural rapport with the clients, Haruhi is promoted to a host-in-training, a role which requires her to disguise herself as a boy — and which leads to ample opportunities to winkingly poke fun at typical shōjo tropes.

Ouran Host Club is available to stream on Funimation, Netflix, Hulu, and Tubi.

Samurai Champloo

Number of episodes: 26

Jin and Mugen look at Fuu in exasperation in Samurai Champloo.
Samurai Champloo

Shinichirō Watanabe’s directorial follow-up to Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo is a contemporary, hip-hop-infused story set against a historical backdrop. The series follows waitress Fuu and her two hired bodyguards, samurai Mugen and ronin Jin, as they set out to find a mysterious samurai in an alternate Edo era Japan. Samurai Champloo is a largely episodic series, but it has a charming momentum that makes it perfect for a quick binge. Fans of Cowboy Bebop’s referential storytelling, contemplative themes, and inclusive world-building will also find a lot to love in the series.

Samurai Champloo is available to stream on Funimation and Hulu.

Fruits Basket (2001)

Number of episodes: 25

Tohru Honda gazes up in awe in the 2001 adaptation of Fruits Basket.
Fruits Basket (2001)

The Fruits Basket manga was adapted for a second time in 2019, with the reboot running for three seasons. However, if you’re in a rush, you still can’t go wrong with the original, single-season adaptation of the beloved story. The series follows Tohru Honda, a recently orphaned high school student who moves into the house of her classmate, Yuki Soma. On her first day living there, she inadvertently discovers the family curse: twelve of the Soma family members are possessed by the spirits of the Chinese zodiac and transform into their animal when, among other things, they’re hugged by someone of the opposite gender. There’s something for everyone in this charming anime — particularly if you’re already a fan of Ranma 12. And though the manga’s author Natsuki Takaya notoriously disliked the original adaptation, the 2001 series remains a classic.

Fruits Basket is available to stream on Funimation and Hulu.

Gurren Lagann

Number of episodes: 27

Kamina, Simon, and Yoko stand around the robot head of Gurren in Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann is a mecha anime set in a world where humans live underground with no knowledge of what the world is like above ground. When the young outcast and digger Simon discovers a drill-shaped key and the mecha that goes with it, he’s able to break through his subterranean village’s ceiling and reach the surface. There, Simon and his best friend Kamina discover that the surface-dwellers are under constant attack by the tyrannical king’s army, made up of humanoid creatures piloting mecha like the one Simon found. What follows is a boisterous adventure as Simon and Kamina launch a rebellion against the king. It’s a modern classic that handles high-stakes, real-world issues with an energetic, light-hearted tone.

Gurren Lagann is available to stream on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, and Hulu.

Kaiba

Number of episodes: 12

A recently awoken Kaiba looks down at the mysterious locket he’s wearing.
Kaiba

If you’re in the mood for something a bit different, Kaiba is a mesmerizing sci-fi anime with a wonderfully distinct aesthetic. Set in a dystopian world where memories can be digitally stored — and therefore stolen, sold, and exploited by the upper class — Kaiba begins as its titular protagonist wakes up with no memories of who he is or what happened to him. What Kaiba does have is a hole in his chest and a locket with a photo of an unknown girl inside. Kaiba sets out on an interplanetary journey of self-discovery in a vivid, philosophical tale about longing, loss, and the human condition.

Kaiba is available to stream on Crunchyroll, Peacock, and IMDb TV.

Devilman Crybaby

Number of episodes: 10

devilman crybaby art
Devilman Crybaby

When kind-hearted Akira is dragged to an underground orgy, his best friend Ryo baits demons into attacking the party so that he can film them to prove their existence. During the melee, a demon, Amon, attempts to possess Akira, but the high schooler’s good nature proves strong enough to overpower the creature. As a result, Akira physically transforms into a Devilman, but manages to retain his human soul, making him a powerful weapon in the war between demons and humans. Devilman Crybaby is graphically violent, horny on main, and wonderfully surreal. But the show isn’t lurid and shocking simply to get a rise out of viewers; it uses its unflinching storytelling and visuals to speak to modern-day bigotry and the needless cruelty of humans. And the way Akira’s relationships with Ryo and his two high school friends, Miki and Miko, develop provide just the right amount of gentle heart to counterbalance the show’s gratuitous brutality.

Devilman Crybaby is available to stream on Netflix.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Number of episodes: 12

Midori Asakusa looks excited and determined while holding her sketchbook in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is an endearing love letter to anime that follows three high schoolers who start their own anime club with the goal of creating the “ultimate world” from their own imaginations. Midori Asakusa is an energetic and passionate freshmen who aspires to create her own an anime one day. When she discovers her classmate, amateur model Tsubame Mizusaki, shares her dream, the two decide to team up — a collaboration strongly egged on by Midori’s financially-focused best friend, Sayaka Kanamori, who sees this as a potential gold mine. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is utterly charming, and you don’t have to look further than the opening theme to get a sense of the show’s boundless kinetic joy.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is available to stream on Crunchyroll and HBO Max.

Death Parade

Numbers of episodes: 12

A determined man plays air hockey in Death Parade.
Death Parade

If you found yourself marathon-viewing Squid Game, you’ll want to queue up Death Parade next. In this dark thriller, the recently deceased are sent to a bar where they must compete in Death Games as a means of determining whether their souls will be banished into oblivion or reincarnated on Earth. During the process of playing the games, which include everything from darts to bowling to Twister, the deceased’s memories return, revealing the choices they made and secrets they kept that led them to their deaths — and providing all the information the bartender, Decim, needs to determine the fate of the players’ souls.

Death Parade is available to stream on Funimation and Hulu.

Kids on the Slope

Number of episodes: 12

Sentarō focuses as he plays the drums in Kids on the Slope. MAPPA and Tezuka Productions

Another standout series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, Kids on the Slope follows Kaoru Nishimi, a high school student who’s struggled to make friends due to his family constantly moving. But when he transfers to his latest school, Kaoru develops an interest in studying jazz after meeting Sentarō Kawabuchi, a delinquent with a passion for the genre. Through their love of jazz, the pair quickly develop a deep connection — one that becomes slightly complicated by a love triangle between Kaoru, Sentarō, and Ritsuko Mukae, whose family owns the record shop where the boys hold their jam sessions. A poignant slice-of-life series, Kids on the Slope beautifully blends tender character development and lush animation with evocative music from composer Yoko Kanno, who previously collaborated with Watanabe on Cowboy Bebop.

Kids on the Slope is available to stream on Crunchyroll.