Size does matter.

I think we have all experienced a show that made us say, “That took too long to do what it needed to do.” Most clearly evident in shows that have filler, like many Shonen Jump titles. And on the flip-side I’m sure we have all wished a certain series was longer (because 7 seasons was just not enough of Ranma for you!).

Well how many times have you also felt that, “Boy that ending sure was rushed.” I think pacing is a form of art that is not always supremely executed by the Japanese. I’m sure the rather harsh time restraints and budgeting of anime (or TV in general) leads to some unevenness in story and plotting, but I don’t think the blame lies solely there. I have seen OAVs and movies which theoretically have unlimited time constraints and they have had major pacing issues.

I have to think that with such a large repertoire of shows they can’t get it right all the time. Quite a few OVAs are used to wet the appetite so you will buy the manga. Or there have been those few instances where OVAs were basically made for existing fans of the manga, as a little bonus, such as the Angel Sanctuary OVA, the Tokyo Babylon OVAs, and the Here is Greenwood OVAs.

BTW – I felt that some of the better Ranma stories like the Musk Dynasty, Konatsu, and Saffron never got put in the anime.

Of course, there are many reasons for it. Especially with shows that are running closely along side a manga. While most longer running series, I think, would benefit from taking a break between season, marketing doesn’t see it that way. They are afraid of being forgotten or out done by a new show in the coming season. So instead you can end up with filler, that many times is pointless, boring, or worse, just plain bad. I shake my fist at you D.Gray Man and your last 20 episodes!

It seems like all in all filler does not necessarily have to be bad. I mean, if you like the characters and their adventures, some more of their tales should be just as good. It just turns out most of the time filler is useless, annoying, and takes time and budget from the better written main plot line. I did like the G8 filler arc from One Piece. Many people consider the Black Rose Arc from Utena as filler and that was awesome. But I have seen countless other filler arcs and they have mostly been weak sauce. For some reason, when other writers take another person’s creation it just always seems like they are missing some vital point that brings the other person’s creation to life. I’m not sure there is some tangible element to it but it just seems off.

Well, I also think that how many filler episodes you get in a row can really determine whether or not you are okay with it. Like one here and again, is fine and can be fun or funny. But when you are looking at 10 or 15 in a row, it starts to get painful. The ideal would be, if you have to have filler, to intersperce it within episodes that have plot. Cutting back and forth between filler and plot. Lots of American television series do this to build suspense and it seems to work a little better.

If certain long running anime could take season breaks, it might definitely help them. There would be less need for horrible filler. Each season the original would manage to have time to build more of the story. It works well enough in the U.S. with TV shows. I’m sure that some people will tune back into One Piece or Detective Conan if there were some repeats for two or three months. It might also lead to less recap episodes in certain series. I won’t be too harsh towards Japanese TV executives because sometimes a certain tactic that works in one country, may utterly fail in another. Maybe they have tried similar strategies in the past only to find that people flee a show on hiatus like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Then there are shows like Detective Conan that are very episodic in design. Maybe a few overlapping episodes, but for the most part you can tune in every week, or once a month, and still know what is going on. These are clearly the ideal for television.

Well all the mega major shows that have been on TV forever tend to be like that. Crayon Shin-chan, Sazae-san, and Doraemon are all the same way. They are always shows that have family appeal because there are the only shows that are going to get the ratings to survive that long. Otaku shows can’t usually sustain an audience as well. Or at least that is the conventional thinking.

And obviously ratings have a big factor after the series has started. Although, this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem unless you are in a super good slot. Like all the otaku shows that air later at night seem to keep plugging away regardless.

Many times a you see a series drag because it has to be a certain amount of episodes. I remember figuring this out while watching the first season of Magic Knight Rayearth. The last five episodes, roughly, are the same episode over and over again. Talk about frustrating! And you commonly see a deterioration of animation right along with it. Of course, that is a budget issue.

Well the last episodes of Evangelion are famous for people talking with their hands over their mouths to cut down animation costs. There are also a bunch of shows that have spectacular openings and good to spectacular endings but shoestring budget middles.

My preferred length is right around the 13 episode, half season mark. It is long enough to tell a small story, develop attachments if there aren’t too many characters, and wrap it up without feeling like it went too fast. I also feel that it is just a nice manageable number. And for me it usually can be watched very quickly. That is not to say I don’t enjoy a longer series. Because for the most part, I feel studios have a handle on how long a series should be.

I think that I feel 26 episodes is the best amount of time it’s just really easy to mess up 26 episodes. I feel 13 episodes is greater for smaller stories. There have been plenty of 26 episode shows that should have been shrank down to 13 episodes shows to cut down on some of the fluff. But I think a well done 26 episode show is ideal. It has enough time to stretch its legs and really tell a meaty story but not enough time to wear out its welcome. I feel 13 episode shows are best for shorter or simpler stories. I think the Giant Robo OAVs clearly show that some giant robot anime might be more accessible if it were a little shorter.

I think the most important things is for a show to do the most it can with the time it’s given. I will stick with a series if it goes on 200+ episodes like One Piece and I won’t complain about a two episode OAV if they entertain me. All too often short OAVs seem rushed or frantic while longer series seem to have unnecessary filler that makes a series drag when it should be getting to the meat of the story. The ideal length is always just enough episodes to tell the story that needs to be told. No more and no less.

Narutaki Currently!
Watching Hayate no Gotoku!
Reading Dragon Eye
Listening to Pocket single by Ai Otsuka

Hisu (Brainwasher Detective) Currently:
Watching Gaint Robo
Reading Tista
Listening to Asterisk by ORANGE RANGE

Top 5 Favorite OAVs
1. Gaint Robo
2. Rurouni Kenshin
3. Record of Lodoss War
4. Bubblegum Crisis
5. ROD: Read Or Die

7 thoughts on “Size does matter.

  1. Phatbhuda says:

    I feel that giant robo is accessable because of its own merit. I wish it was longer!

    Maybe so many giant robot anime is trying to be a Star Wars Space Opera. And space operas need to be epic and that can easily lead to long and confusing.

    Dunno really, just brain farting here.

  2. Lothos says:

    26 episodes is probably my ideal for a series as well. And I agree with Hisui that it’s just a length where it can either be perfect, or fall prey to pacing issues depending on what they’re trying to do with the story.

    But I’ll always take an overly long series over an unfinished or rushed series (such as Bastard! or ::frown:: potentially Kekkaishi).

    Initially I was detracted by very long series like Ranma and One Piece due to me having the fear that I would really like the series and then end up spending all my money in order to continue watching it; and by way of limited resources, then miss out on other series I could have watched.

    Speaking of Evangelion and its ending, I think I was one of the few people who was fine with how the TV series ended (after rewatching the series) and actually preferred it over the ending in the movie. Not to say that I didn’t like the movie, I thought it was fantastic.

    And just as an FYI, working 12 hours on a Saturday SUCKS…especially when you worked 12 hours or more every day throughout the week…and will end up working a few hours on Sunday…and you’ve done the same thing for the last dozen weeks or so :P

  3. reversethieves says:

    Wow, I had forgotten about Bastard!! (Where is that tape…? I know it’s around here somewhere) But that was an OVA which makes me think it was sort of a wink at fans for a very long manga. I’m surprised you didn’t mention everyone’s favorite unresolved anime, Berserk!

    And NO Kekkaishi comments like that! We have to be positive!

    The thing about really long series, like One Piece, it’s not really meant to be bought and watched 100 times over. It is supposed to be something you tune in to on TV but we don’t have the luxury (or alteast not a version worth watching). So it is a difficult thing.

    As for working so much, well you will be on vacation soon! And you can spend all that cash right here.

    Narutaki

  4. Lothos says:

    Berserk, while technically unfinished, did have an ending to the series. It was just very open ended, kinda like how Claymore was. Sort of an ending of a chapter (or volume) of the story, but letting you know there is more out there (if you liked what you saw, go buy the manga!). Bastard! just kinda…stopped in the middle of something. There wasn’t any kind of closure. Though I do acknowledge that Bastard! might never have been planned to actually have an ending since it wasn’t a televised series.

    Another show that always irked me was Flame of Recca…42 episodes and it had a horribly rushed ending. They got to episode 41 and realized “oh crap, we haven’t really resolved any of the stuff we introduced in the last dozen episodes, better get that done in the last episode!” ::enter inexplicable character actions and ridiculous deus ex machina style resolutions::

  5. Jeremy Williams says:

    You made some good points about budget constraints. I recently came across this situation in Burst Angel; the beginning of the series has smooth, lovely animation, but things get painfully choppy in episode 17. I’ve yet to purchase the sixth and final DVD, and I’ve heard that the ending is a pleasant surprise, so perhaps the frame rate problem is fixed.
    As for series that end too soon, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, as spectacular as it is, has a really open-ended conclusion that could have easily continued. There were even rumors of a Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2041, but that idea kinda died in the ether. Thanks for crushing my dreams, AIC!!!

  6. reversethieves says:

    I know that there is a popular joke about a lot of anime have good animation for first episodes and the last episodes and the middle being crap in Ninja Nonsense. It’s one of those often-posted pictures on 4chan.
    Well ADV was throwing money into 2041 and then their money problems started and you never heard anything about it since. Now they seem much more stable when Sojitz bailed them out but I I have not heard anything about 2041 even though they have more capital now. I guess it’s gone to that odd limbo where the live action Evangelion has gone. </p>
    – Hisui

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