The definition of an animated "movie" is a little more flexible in Japan. While Americans usually expect any animated feature film to be anywhere from 75-95 minutes*
, some anime released officially as "movies" can be as short as 30 minutes. This is especially common because anime movies in Japan are quite often shown as double or even triple features.*
In contrast, a movie in America clocking under 80 minutes (Ned Kelly & His Gang
setting that trend in 1906, and Snow White
for animation a few decades later) is fuel for criticism and suspicion of a padded out regular episode with slightly higher production values (never mind the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has three Oscar categories dedicated to short films). So anime movies that short are usually packaged as OVAs
(themselves rarely released singly nowadays, also unlike Japan) or DVD bonus material rather being sold as a separate product.
Depending on the length, some clearly function as theatrical Pilot Movies
- The first six Pokémon movies were rather short, padded out by the Pokémon-centric shorts before each one.
- The Digimon franchise has nine movies in this vein - two each for Digimon Adventure (the first of which was a Pilot Movie), Digimon Adventure 02 and Digimon Tamers, one each for Digimon Frontier and Digimon Savers, and the standalone Digimon X-Evolution; Digimon Xros Wars has no films. All of them save the Adventure movies and the first Tamers movie * are non serial movies. The American release known as Digimon: The Movie is just a rather odd edit and splice of the first three.
- This results in some weird plot changes. In the original Japanese, the films had no real link between them. In the dub version, all the segments are linked together flimsily by saying that the computer virus that created Diaboramon was also responsible for the events in the other segments. Within the Digimon universe this makes practically no sense.
- The very first Yu-Gi-Oh! film, produced by Toei following their short-lived "Season 0" series (as opposed to Studio Gallop's later, more popular take on the franchise), clocks in at about half an hour.
- The first three One Piece movies were all similar in length to Digimon movies, because the first three One Piece movies were double features with the first three Digimon movies (from the fourth One Piece movie on, they were pretty much full length, while Digimon movies pretty much remained half length).
- However, after a 115 minute epic written by the manga's author, the 11th One Piece movie is only 30 minutes long, reverting back to the double feature format (this time with Toriko), albeit in 3-D.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! appeared as two very short "introductory" films before it actually began broadcasting.
- The Di Gi Charat movie was logically about four times as long as a typical episode... making it just short of half an hour. It was typically shown as a triple feature alongside The Slayers Premium (itself only about 7 minutes longer than a typical Slayers episode) and the Sakura Taisen movie.
- The Slayers franchise had several of these. The Motion Picture itself is only 75 minutes long. The three other Slayers movies – Return, Great, and Gorgeous – all clock in at around an hour apiece.
- "The Very Short Azumanga Daioh Movie" features big-budget animation, but is the length of a single segment in a regular episode, making it a shade under six minutes long.
- The Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle movie lasted barely over 30 minutes. Why, one can only wonder, since it seemed to move a tad bit too fast.
- Made worse if you see the interviews with the original cast and director: whey asked to state their favorite parts, most of them respond that it's hard to choose, because the movie had to pack so much into a short time frame. The obvious question of "why not make it longer?" is never asked.
- Simple answer: many studios screened this film alongside the XxxHolic movie, another CLAMP title, which was also noticeably short, only an hour long. The two movies share a scene between them. Maybe they were supposed to be a package deal.
- The Macross 7 movie was the length of a single 30-minute episode, and was taken from a script idea that there hadn't been time or budget to include in the main run of the series. It's set in the middle of the action, before the big Grand Finale fight.
- The third Ranma 1/2 movie, Team Ranma vs. The Legendary Phoenix. It's about a half hour long, and in the US it was sold as an OAV and packaged with other OAVs, even changing the opening and closing sequences.
- Yu Yu Hakusho had both a short movie and a second movie whose length is normal by Western standards. The short movie resembled a TV episode in length, but had a standalone movie-style plot. This movie was a double feature even when released in America, being packaged with the Ninku movie.
- The Soreike! Anpanman theatrical features are consistently 51 minutes long, but they are shown together with a 20-minute-long short film. This was not always the case - the film from 1990, Baikinman no gyakushuu, ran at least 80 minutes.
- A 20-30 minute Gekiganger 3 movie was included in supplemental material to Martian Successor Nadesico, on top of the OVA release of the Gekiganger 3 "series".
- Noiseman Sound Insect is an actual short movie the length of a normal anime episode, but with all the values and the budget of a full feature film.
- The two Pretty Cure Max Heart movies clock in at 70 minutes apiece; the Splash Star movie doesn't even break an hour.
- Voices of a Distant Star, at 25 minutes. Notable for having been done by just one guy and his Mac, except for (obviously) the soundtrack and the voice acting on the DVD release. His 2007 film 5 Centimeters per Second also counts, with a runtime of just over an hour.
- Inukami! had one. The movie was the length of an average TV episode, except with a little more at stake than your average TV episode and a slightly bigger budget. Namely, the Censor Box elephant was CG and chrome.
- The New Maple Town Story: Palm Town Chapter "movie" is actually the series' first episode padded out with scenes from Maple Town Story's final two episodes in place of the original flashback sequence.
- Actually that was common practice up to (probably) the late 80's/early 90's. The Lady Lady movie is similar to the above example, the four (!) Attack No. 1 movies were slight re-edits of two to three episodes each, while the Tongari Boushi no Memol movie is actually just a summary episode.
- Each of the Dragon Ball Z movies are about 30-45 minutes long, the longest of which is "Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan" at an hour.
- Out of 10 Dr. Slump movies, only one (the second) was a full length feature. The rest had running times from 20 to 60 minutes.
- Toei produced masses of very short original movies for their popular TV shows. One of the shortest might be the Mahou Shojo Lalabel movie, clocking in at 15 minutes.
- Kino's Journey has two 30-minute movies.
- Hetalia: Paint It, White would be just under an hour long, about the length of two regular half-hour episodes, without the clips from the series thrown in. Given the source material, they didn't have a lot to work with, but wanted a feature-length film. The move proved controversial in Japan and the Japanese DVD release removed the clip show parts, but the American release includes them.
- Blood: The Last Vampire is a rare example that actually got shown in American theatres, likely due to very high production values.
- Also applies to Toku movies, since the genre has a lot in common with anime. Traditionally both the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider franchises have movies released in the summer and released as a double feature with Super Sentai getting the short end of the stick with run-times shorter than that of a normal episode while the Kamen Rider feature runs between 45 minutes to about an hour.
- Kamen Rider has been moving away from this somewhat starting with Kamen Rider Decade and Kamen Rider Double. In addition to their summer movies Decade's finale was incorporated a part of a standalone Kamen Rider movie that crossed over with W, but even that didn't completely escape this, running as three distinct segments (one for Decade, one for W and team-up) that run about half an hour each. Kamen Rider OOO and Kamen Rider Fourze have continued the tradition.