Twenty six = Thirteen. Please prove in detail. Some knowledge of series length may be useful (10 marks)

July 7, 2006

Another short post today until I go home and start working on my Haruhi wrapup.

I’m sure people have noticed that in recent years, there has been a trend toward single season series (13 episodes) rather than series spanning two seasons (26 episodes). Discounting Shounen series such as Yakitate!! Japan and Prince of Tennis, which go on for ever (or until the audience become so mind-numbingly bored that they stop watching), there has been a huge decline in the number of full length shows, especially in the popular category.

Of the recent seasons, I can only think of the Mai-Hime/Otome series, Speed Grapher, Higurashi, Black Cat and Shakugan no Shana that have lasted the full 24-26 episodes. However, other hugely popular series have been assigned 12-14 episode seasons, such as Ichigo Mashimaro, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, Rozen Maiden, Full Metal Panic: TSR, Paradise Kiss and even the great Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

Meanwhile, to complicate things, some really just bad, or just inexplicable series get 26 episode seasons. For example, (though I myself am not complaining) both Strawberry Panic! and Simoun are going to run for the full 26 episodes, even though I would count these shows as “niche”. Canvas 2 ran for 24 episodes, and I wouldn’t even have acknowledged its existence, if it weren’t for timely purchase of Megami magazine. And to top it all off (though probably completely irrelevant), Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z is going to run for 52 episodes.

I definitely won’t be watching ^_^. However, I do approve of this. In fact, the art here is arguably better than thenew show itself. I would watch it if the art quality were this good. And the plotlines also.

Anyway, getting back to the point, I was wondering what exactly decides whether a series is going to run 13 or 26 episodes, whether it was merchandising potential, or just plain time slots on networks. For example, are SP! and Simoun just going on networks that have ample time slots to show them and therefore can run the full length, while Haruhi cannot?

Also, is it just because more anime are produced per season that the number of 13 episode shows is increasing?

I for one would like to see more anime shifted to earlier on in the evening that isn’t Pokemon Advanced or Duel masters or some form of battle kids show. Surely there is enough money in anime for TV companies in Japan to put it on at some time other than 0200 in the morning? Or do they really make more money out of rubbish JDramas and Quiz shows? If there were more time slots for anime I’m sure the number of episodes per season would rise.

And though I do enjoy watching compact 13 episode seasons, I think this would benefit some anime greatly (though the only one that comes immediately to mind is “Midori no Hibi“)

So, 26 episodes or 13? What’s the general opinion?


47 Responses to “Twenty six = Thirteen. Please prove in detail. Some knowledge of series length may be useful (10 marks)”

  1. Lina Says:

    13 episodes is bit too short, some 26 episode animes seem to drag out a bit too much… how about 20 episode seasons instead? :P

    By the way, your definition of “two season” and “single season” anime is incorrect. By definition, 26 episode animes are also single season animes (ie: Da Capo – 26 episodes, Da Capo ~Second Season~ – 26 episodes. Dunno what you’d call Naruto’s as of yet uninterrupted 190+ episode run though, FILLER?)

  2. tj han Says:

    What if, the quality of the series is inversely proportional to the length? Just like how in expensive restaurants, the portions are tiny.

  3. tj han Says:

    In Japan, one season is 13 episodes. So his definition is correct.

  4. Lina Says:

    Yeah, so quite a few animation studios must have gotten this wrong then, since they tend to throw it in regardless of episode count (Papillon Rose ~New SEASON~, Taiho Shichauzo Second Season).

  5. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    From what I can remember, the simple reason why studios could not afford to put longer series to air was BECAUSE the industry grew too fast.

    First, I don’t know if you know this, but Anime studios PAY money to get timeslots, unless the sponsor is the TV station itself. This is different from cartoons in the West, where TV networks pay the STUDIO for cartoons.
    Anime studios depend on DVD/merchandise sales to make their money back, thus screening anime on air is nothing more than expensive advertising.

    Second, there had been a great many more anime series being green-lighted than before. If you check out an old Japan-Newtype Magazine 8 years ago, you will realise that there were comparatively fewer shows. (There was an article two years ago in the JP Newtype where an editor tried to watched EVERY episode of anime on air for that week. It was hell, and poof the the Japanese knows about the increase in series numbers.)

    These two factors combined, creating the fact that, since there is only so many timeslots in existence, you get a large number of studios bidding for timeslots. The law of supply and demand thus means the cost of screening anime increase GREATLY.

    That’s why two things happened;
    1. Many studios cram manga source material that could fit in 26, into 13 episode anime arcs. An example is Midori no Hibi, which had half its story arcs cut out.

    2. Some studios skip airing on air all together and go for DVDs. That’s why we got a revival recently.

    Another side-effect, is that only certain TV stations permit adult/mature content, even in the dead-of-night slots. Shows that originally intended to be more mature is sometimes forced to censor themselves for screening because they couldn’t get slots in the more tolerant TV stations. (compensated by DVD releases.)

    Sorry for ranting, but this is what I know.

  6. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    Another thing, the reason why there is so many new series is because the Anime studios were encouraged by licencing fees pumped in from the West.

    Excess licensing is dying down, so hopefully the saturation of the market will die down eventually.

  7. I guess that technically would be a “season” after all.

    Altho yeah, I would have just assumed a season to just be either 13, or 26 if it’s uninterupted.. and I don’t have any hard facts, but it sure feels like Naruto’s and Bleach’s big arcs end in multiples of 26 anyway.

    As for which I prefer? Depends really. Unless you’re dealing with a sitcom or epicly planned out series, most 26’ers seem to falter repeatedly and feel like they’d do better with a condensed episode count.

    But then sometimes it’s nice to spend an extra 13 episodes with certain characters even if the content feels stretched.. especially given that extra series made after a break from the first seem a lot more rare than what you’d see on American network television (“We didn’t get canceled? Let’s milk it!”)

    Although! if they are going to do a small run based on a manga that is still ongoing, I really would prefer to not see them paint themselves into a corner with a definate ending that they can’t get out of, should it’s popularity warrent more.

    I’m not saying to have no closure.. just, give it some leeway for canon, that’s all.

  8. Hinano Says:

    I just read the midori no hibi manga the other day and honestly it was good at 13 eps…any longer and it woulda turned into a big gag filler show up until 26. The anime basically took a few gags, a few main points and finished it up nicely to basically give you the idea of the manga. The manga is more like a “supplement” to read if you wanted to see more goofy hand girl action

  9. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    Err… I presume you are not a Nao fan, then?^_^;

    The shortening of Midori-no-Hibi means we lost all the arcs concerning Nao, her mad scientist father, and especially the mecha-Nao.

    If you don’t like her, I can understand… but personally the story is missing something without her.

  10. Yuribou Says:

    Vallen: Nao rocks. Thank you for the exposition on TV slots and that, it was very enlightening.

    Oh yes, Lina: I was referring to TV seasons, since on Japanese TV there are 4 seasons in a year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter), each of 13 weeks. Therefore 26 episode series technically stretch between 2 “seasons”.

    No one has explained to me why yet that shows such as SP! have managed to get 26 ep runs…are they just better funded?

  11. rikchik Says:

    I’d heard that the length of TMoSH was due to the studio (Kyoto Animation) also doing the next Kanon series. Between that and Vallen Chaos Valiant’s post above about studios paying for slots, it sounds like series length is heavily based on the studio creating it and how much they can do at once.

  12. jpmeyer Says:

    Er, just to clarify: there are seasons and there are cours (I think that’s a French word). “Cours” is the term for those 13-ish episode blocks.

  13. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    “No one has explained to me why yet that shows such as SP! have managed to get 26 ep runs…are they just better funded? ”

    There is no reason why any show can’t be 26 episodes long. It’s a matter of risk.

    In many cases, the studio was willing to spend the money for 26 weeks of TV exposure in order to improve DVD sales. The more episodes also means there is more DVDs to sell per customer.

    When it comes down to it, it’s all up to the individual studios and more likely, sponsors. If the sponsors are willing to pay the high price for a long series, that’s what will happen. The purse-strings are tighter recently only because screening shows on air are costing so much more now than before. It depends on luck, really.

    Shows like Bleach and Naruto are still getting long episodes, but that’s because of an aggressive marketing campaign that generate profits that could cover the cost.

  14. Lina Says:

    Oh guess I misread “This anime SPANS two seasons” as opposed to “This is a two season anime”, because you had the episode count in brackets… Galaxy Angel is a 26 episode anime, yet it only spans one season :P

    Anyway, SP! gets a 26 episode run because it was created by Sakurako Kimino and initially serialized in G’s Magazine, as opposed to Haruhi who was a nobody before the anime hit the air. Someone has to do the storyboard planning and pacing of the anime too… (Something Pierrot failed at in the first story Arc of Bleach.)

  15. Lina Says:

    Oops, there should be an “A”, “AA”, or “X” at the end of “Galaxy Angel”, to avoid confusion…

  16. Os Says:

    Chiiiigau! Not ALL JDramas are rubbish!

  17. Xak Says:

    On the contrary, the Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu novels were quite a sensation before the anime came out…they even won some prestigious award i think…but the anime has only 14 episodes because Kyoani is moving on to Kanon 2006…hope Kanon is as great a success as Suzumiya Haruhi!!!

  18. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    “but the anime has only 14 episodes because Kyoani is moving on to Kanon 2006”

    That’s completely baseless rumour, and was devised as an insult to KyoAni. Please stop spreading lies. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to change episode-counts like that for KyoAni.

    Suzumiya Haruhi as a novel did won an award, but good luck finding anything that suggest it was a “sensation” outside the people who had read the books. Most people in Japan didn’t even know about it. There was ZERO expectations.

    I am SICK of people making things up!!!

  19. Vallen Chaos Valiant Says:

    Footnote: I tracked the source of the “Kanon shortened Haruhi” rumour.

    It was a miss-understanding. There was no such thing, as I was present when that random poster was ranting. He was demanding there to be 26 episodes of Haruhi because he didn’t care for Kanon.
    AnimeOnMyMind picked up the quote incorrectly in here:

    And here is the origin of it all: And yes, I agree it’s ironic that it began during that poster’s argument with ME, of all people.

    …And that’s where all the lies started.

    Your info is wrong. Accept it.

  20. T_T||| Says:

    Vallen Chaos Valiant >>

    1. You said it was a baseless rumour then you went to say it’s a definite lie, when we don’t even know it’s true or not.

    2. IMPOSSIBLE? You’re not in KyoAni, how’d you know? The episode hopping makes things easier.

    3. Devised as an insult? Wow! Who devised it? You? I’d call it a compliment. KyoAni is a relatively small studio, so you can’t expect spreading out of manpower. Assuming the rumour to be true, to be able to make such a sensational hit with just a mere assumed cut-short 14 episodes series very much proves its worth.

    4. “Most people in Japan didn’t even know about it.”
    Are you implying that most people in Japan know about it now?

    5. ZERO expectations?
    I expected a lot from a novel illustrated by Ito Noizi, along with SnS. I didn’t even know an anime was coming out until I saw the tag on the novels. It would have been true if you said “little expectations” instead. ZERO is a sweeping statement and over-exaggeration.

    6. “I am SICK of people making things up!!!”
    Elitism at work. Everything that’s not your way must be lies. You have no capacity for alternate possibilities. Hello Jason Miao No. 2.

  21. T_T||| Says:

    “…And that’s where all the lies started.”
    No one else can think of the possibility. Only you can. It’s the sole source of the rumour. Wow you’re so great!

    “Your info is wrong. Accept it.”
    LOL Jason Miao No. 2. And I advise you to re-read my post above, for not once did I mention my stand. Of course you can’t accept the fact you suck and I’m a aniblog troller. LOL dickhead.

  22. yuribou Says:

    Take it outside, gentlemen.

    I myself like to believe tha Kanon did not cut Haruhi short. I reckon that KyoAni had the episode numbers planned from quite early on, so Kanon probably didn’t make much difference.

    Stop arguing though. If you do want to, take it to another blog

  23. T_T||| Says:

    Ok, LOL, Yuribou.

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