It’s not uncommon for popular cartoons to include special episodes where the characters are drawn in a chibi format. Chibi is a Japanese slang word to describe something short. For example, we often see short characters called “chibi”. However, it later became an art form in its own right. In the chibi art form, the characters are drawn in an exaggerated manner. They are given a big head, big eyes and a small body. With this overdone method, the characters look cute (yes, even the scariest ones). Thanks to the chibi style, many merchandise such as keychains, t-shirts and toys were born. Even the Western market has started to create characters and toys in the chibi style.
Some episodes have very tense storylines. These tense situations can be forgotten for a while, thanks to these special episodes. Sometimes they follow the same plot but with hilarious twists. Below are some of the most popular chibi style anime that fans are enjoying. It is not a ranking list, because their ranking depends on the person. But you are guaranteed to have a great time watching them, as long as you know the original series.
1. Rock Lee and his ninja buddies
Rock Lee and his ninja buddies, originally known as Rock Lee no Seishun Ninden Full Power, is a spin-off series of Naruto Shippuden. It consists of 51 episodes and debuted in February 2012. The story follows the daily life and training of our protagonist Rock Lee. This is the first spin-off series that does not follow the Naruto Shippuden story. The story is purely for comedic purposes, and even villains like Orochimaru are presented in a fun way. Besides Rock Lee, his teacher Might Guy and his teammates Neji and Tenten are also featured in every episode.
You can watch all 51 episodes on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
2. Himuto! Umaru-chan
Himuto! Umaru-chan is a manga series written and illustrated by Sankaku Head. What’s special about Umaru-chan is that the main series is presented in a chibi way. Or rather, the main character is. Umaru Doma is a gifted high school girl and represents elegance. Her classmates admire her beauty and her academic and athletic qualities. However, Umaru holds a secret that only his older brother Taihei knows. She’s secretly a big game nerd with a fast food addiction.
By the time she gets home, she transforms into a chibi version, puts on her hamster hoodie, and starts playing games. She can be seen with a bottle of cola and a packet of chips next to her at all times. Despite her brother’s concerns, she does not give up on her lifestyle. But the anime is a great comfort watch and the characters are interesting.
3. Isekai Quartet
Isekai Quartet is the ultimate crossover presented in a chibi format. The series features characters from KonoSuba, Re:Zero, Overlord, Saga of Tanya the Evil, Cautious Hero, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. The first season aired between April and June 2019. Season 2 came soon after and aired from January to March 2020. And now, a movie called Isekai Quarter – Another World is expected to release in 2022. A third season is also in preparation.
The story follows characters from various isekai anime encountering a mysterious button. When they press it, they are transported to a whole new world. In this world, they are placed in a high school, and hilarious situations and friendships ensue. The series is a fun watch and is not tied to any of the main storylines, despite the references.
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4. Attack on Titan: High School
You knew this was coming. Attack on Titan is a series in dire need of a stress-free release. From the first season, we saw death and carnage in every episode. Did you get attached to a character? Too bad they don’t come at the end of the season. But enter Attack on Titan: Junior High, where titans exist, but humans don’t die.
The series reimagines all of the characters as students and teachers at Attack High School. Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, along with the other characters, are all hilariously presented. Yes, even Levi. In fact, Levi is one of the funniest characters, although he never smiled. All of the events from Season 1 of the anime are given a fun twist in a 12-episode collection. Also, characters who died too early in Season 1 have bigger roles here.
5. Toradora SOS!
Toradora! is one of the best high school romantic comedies. However, the series focuses more on romance than comedy after a while. Not that that’s a bad thing, but if you needed something funnier, here’s the alternative. Toradora SOS! is just as good as the original, and the chibi shapes elevate it. The specials are 5 minutes long and consist of 4 episodes. They mostly discuss food in these episodes, and they’re very informative. Plus, Taiga’s reaction to everything she eats will make us laugh out loud.
6. One Piece: Straw Hat Theater
A true chibi anime classic, Straw Hat Theater or Mugiwara Gekijou aired alongside episodes 279-283 in October 2006. They are based on the parallel comics by creator Eiichiro Oda. These five episodes are still sure to make a fan laugh.
The first episode concerns Chopper Man’s entry into Dr. Usodabada’s secret lair. The second explains how the food was in the Straw Hats’ crew before Sanji arrived. Episode three asks a hypothetical question: if they were all obahan (older woman), who would be the strongest? All characters are depicted with bob haircuts and old lady voices. Spoiler alert, the strongest is Nami or Namijima in this case. Episode 4 showed Luffione, Zorocia, and Sanjino as mafia families struggling for control. The final short showed them all as monsters.
7. Kimi ni Todoke Season 2 Specials
Kimi ni Todoke is a cute and heartwarming romantic comedy with lovable characters. The anime also featured a surprising amount of chibi characters, which was well received. The chibi version of the protagonist Sawako is to die for. Three special episodes were released after season 2, and fans loved them just as much.
Specials are adorable and funny short episodes presented in a fairy tale style. Cinderella and Snow White were the stories. Kazehaya is, of course, the prince. However, Sawako has become the witch, which makes her surprisingly funny. Episodes one and two channeled the kindness very well, but episode three caused some division. The creators decided to go with a 3D format, and not everyone is a fan. But you will enjoy the stories nonetheless.
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8. Bungo Stray Dogs Wan!
Bungou Stray Dogs was an epic show, and its chibi version is just as epic. Title Bungou Stray Dogs Wan!, the miniseries is much more recent. It follows the original script but with humorous twists. The Armed Detective Agency and Mafia characters are all chibis. In fact, the manga is longer than most chibi spin-offs, at eight volumes. The anime consists of 12 episodes and shows the mundane but hilarious life of the two agencies.
9. Damekko Doubutsu
Damekko Doubutsu, literally translated as “Useless Animals” is a series by Noriko Kuwata. It consists of characters wearing animal suits, and together they live in the “useless” forest. Uruno, the main character, wears a wolf costume but is as shy as a rabbit. Meanwhile, his best friend Usahara the Rabbit is as aggressive as a wolf. He also smokes all the time. There are 26 episodes in total, lasting five minutes. They are hilarious and really enjoyable.
10. Shakugan no Shana S Specials
Shakugan not Shana has a number of special episodes featuring chibi-Shana in the lead. The main story is about a high school student named Yuji Sakai, caught in an age-old conflict of balance and imbalance. In the process, he befriends a balance side fighter and names her Shana. Together they struggle against the forces of imbalance.
The specials do a wonderful job of parodying the original, and sometimes it’s much needed. The anime has some very serious characters, so it’s good to see them in a humorous light. While we’re at it, I recommend you take a look at the other promotions as well.
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