Omnibus, from the Latin, translates to “with all”. I’ll admit that I only learned this term as used in anime in recent years. Before that I was only familiar with Omnibus in the manga realm, such as the massive compiled omnibus volume of Azumanga Diaoh, which is a thicc 700-pages, by the way.
Anyway, Omnibus style, when referring to anime typically refers almost exclusively to romance anime. The Omnibus style is often used when adapting visual novels or dating sims with multiple love interests you can woo in anime series. The thing is, in anime, there can only be one girl that “wins” these romances, unlike the visual novel where you can repaly all routes.
However, with the Omnibus style of storytelling, the timeline is reset so the watcher can see all outcomes with all the girls. Omnibus romance anime is often a preferred alternative to harem series since every girl wins in the end instead of just one.
So what are some Omnibus series to get you started?
Amagami is the literal poster series for Omnibus format. You say Omnibus format, and this will always be the first series that is brought up. Its fame came because of how successful it is. Each of the girls it features is distinctly interesting, making it so you are not just rooting for one girl, but all the girls who have their stories told. That is the quintessential omnibus experience and Amagami SS sets the bar.
Photokano deviates from the mold a little bit by starting off generally setting the scene for a few episodes before switching to an omnibus style. As it follows a man that enjoys photography, particularly taking pictures of girls, you get to see how each upcoming girl is viewed in his eyes before the romance starts. After the first few general episodes, you get down to the romance where each girl gets their story told. Unfortunately, this series does kind of rush through everything as it is only 13 episodes.
Seiren was made by the same author that created Amagami SS, so if you came here more for recommendations for Amagami SS rather than just omnibus style shows, this is an excellent one to follow up with. It follows the exact same format of a man who isn’t quite ready for love exploring the relationships with several unique women. At the conclusion of each romance, the story resets and starts the next story.
Unfortunately, while there are a lot of visual novels marketed toward women, there are not a lot of omnibus adaptations that take advantage of that. Amnesia is the sole contender (that we know of). Instead of following one man that woos women in the omnibus reset style, Amnesia follows one woman and her many choices of handsome males. Like other series, she explores relationships with them before the show moves onto the next.
Sky of Connection
Sky of Connection can often be a difficult sell even for those looking for an omnibus formatted series. It is a romance show where time resets and each girl gets her happy end, but one of those relationships is an incestuous one. Furthermore, there is some pretty graphic sex in this one, which means you might want to watch it on your own. Though the relationships are touching, the story is a little darker than your standard omnibus romance.
The World God Only Knows
Alongside from Amagami SS, The World God Only Knows is another famous omnibus show. This series focuses on the main character that is literally the best at playing dating sims. However, he is cocky and accepts a challenge from a demon that he can make anyone fall in love with him, and thus he is stuck playing dating sims, only the 3D girls are more complex real women. True to the style, after he woos a girl, it resets the story and he starts again. The romance isn’t quite as touching as other omnibus romances, but the comedy of this series is definitely what makes it shine.
Higurashi: When They Cry
Not all omnibus stories need to be romance, it is just the genre where the style works the most. Higurashi isn’t a romance story, in fact, the anime and the visual novel it is based on is a horror story, and a pretty brutal one. While the story resets in the omnibus style, it often does so in a confusing way that can leave audiences a bit confused.
While the story goes back to the beginning after each arc, it doesn’t always start the same way, so people don’t realize the story has reset. It can also start by telling the stories of different characters, making it further confusing.
While many don’t realize it, Tatami Galaxy is actually the very definition of an omnibus show. The main character as an adult meets a god of matchmaking. He lamented not finding romance in college, and also laments that he spent so much time breaking couples up out of jealousy. As such, this god allows him to go back again and again to his freshman year where he joins different clubs and explores all the would-be different results. Each episode is a new club and a new adventure. While not the focus, romance does play a big part of the series. However, few recognize this as part of the romance genre.
In its own way, Clannad both is and isn’t an omnibus style story. While it is based off a visual novel where you can pursue multiple girls for different endings, the Clannad anime instead focuses on one girl winning. However, every girl that was a love interest in the game gets an arc in the anime. It simply doesn’t see them through to the romantic conclusion. This makes it more harem than omnibus, but there is one thing that can make it fit more into this category – the OVAs. Clannad has two OVAs in which instead of Tomoya ending up with the main girl, it features him pursuing relationships with two other choices. It is this reset in time that does technically make it a semi-omnibus story.
This one is likely pretty controversial, thus why we saved it for last. However, if you have already watched Erased, you know how it can technically fall into the Omnibus style. In the same vein, so can Steins;Gate. While both Erased and Steins;Gate are technically time travel anime series, but it is a thin line between omnibus and time travel. At multiple points through the series, you find that the series rewinds to a previous point in time. You get to play out a time line and see how it affects the future, and if it doesn’t end positively, it rewinds. Technically, time travel anime are often just a hop and a skip away from omnibus style..
If you have more omnibus-style anime series that could help other fans of the style, let us know in the comments section below.
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