Number of Anime Episodes?
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56 / M / East Coast
Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
If there is a thread already please direct me to it.

I have been watching Anime a long time and to me an average anime would have 24/26 episodes.No Ova's specials etc.Now I dont know if the downsizing is because of manga or whether the new trend is just go twelve to fit in a season.Now some do the 24 episodes and hard to find a 26 set.Is it to make more money out of two shorter seasons with more releases?Just a thought.To be honest if 12 is done right I can live with that. But then you get the it didnt finish sometimes!
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Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
And then you get shows like D-Gray Man, at a whopping 103 episodes... and it still ended with a major cliffhanger because the manga was ongoing!

It does seem like the recent trend has been 12 eps with a bonus ep 13 released with the DVDs, BDs, or a magazine. Of course, with the higher budges they require lately, I can understand why they do it that way. Especially since so many are based on light novels where they don't know for sure if the anime will sell, and they also need to wait for the author to write more books before they can make more anime...
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46 / M / Canada
Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
Others will give you a better history but most anime has never been made to make money by being shown on TV. Usually it has been made to sell something. Toys, the original manga or novel source material, etc.

In the '70s and '80s they made a different number, and IIRC from my childhood, there was usually a toy tie-in. It would be weekly and they'd make as many episodes as they wanted to run to advertise the toys.

Then we had the OVA era of the later '80s and '90s. Anime made direct to video to own. Expensive but obviously it had to be made to make a profit as it was not an advertisement for anything, though often there was original source material as well. The OVAs were generally small in number, sometimes one or a few, rarely anything like 12 or 25.

Then the discovery that people who watch anime wanted to buy it even for the high price of rental material when it was not made for and priced for single consumer sales. This is a bit ironic since today most anime still sold in Japan at that high, what was originally meant for rentals, price cannot be rented! There is a special version available for rentals or sometimes the cheaper DVD version is available for rent. Since this anime is priced high enough to pay for itself, it can be shown in the wee hours of the morning when the advertising rates are poor as it is an ad for itself and/or the source material essentially.

If it is an ad for the source material then perhaps you don't want it to complete the story. Instead you hope people will start buying the manga, novels, magazines, figures, etc. Then 12 episodes is enough, and a bonus episode tied to a future volume of the source material is a perfect way to turn people toward it.

With original anime the story will likely be finished, perhaps with the possibility of a second season but second and subsequent seasons tend to sell less than the original. Some people buy the first season hoping to encourage them to make a second season; this means there is no need to buy the second season unless they feel it really needs and will get a third season.

One cour (10-13 episode) shows generally have 2 episodes per disc, sometimes a cheap intro disc 1 with just 1 episode. Two cour (22-26 episode) shows generally have 3 episodes per disc though some try to do 2 like a one cour (recent example: Blast of Tempest) while others do 4 for most discs (recent example: Bodacious Space Pirates). People are only willing to pay so much however so generally they can't charge as much per episode for two cour as they can for one cour so they actually have to sell more copies to make as much money. This gets worse the more episodes you make as how many people can own 100 discs of Naruto??? You can see evidence of it here in this recent listing of how much anime costs in Japan, you will see that aside from the cheap short shows, the 3 2-cour shows charge the LEAST per episode:

Anime Distributor Episodes Volume2 Total (in yen) Per Episode (in Yen)
Aiura Pony Canyon 12 (3 minutes) 1 7,140 595 (4,750)
Muromi-san StarChild 13 (half length) 3 14,175 1,090 (2180)
Azazel-San Z StarChild 13 (half length) 3 15,750 1,212(2,424)
Majestic Prince TOHO 24 8 57,120 2,380
Titan Attack Pony Canyon 25 9 67,725 2,709
Railgun s Geneon 24 8 65,520 2,730
Flowers of Evil StarChild 13 6 39,375 3,029
Yuyushiki Geneon 12 6 37,800 3,150
Arata The Legend Bandai Visual 12 6 37,800 3,150
Devil is a Part-Timer Pony Canyon 13 6 42,210 3,247
Karneval Bandai Visual 13 7 43,050 3,312
Uta no Prince-sama 2000% StarChild 14 7 47,600 3,400
HENNEKO (normal version) Media Factory 12 6 40,800 3,400
Hayate - Cuties Geneon 12 6 42,840 3,570
Gargantia Bandai Visual 14 3 (box) 50,400 3,600
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Geneon 13 7 47,565 3,659
Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Bride Media Factory 12 6 44,100 3,675
Nyarko-san W avex entertainment 12 6 44,100 3,675
Oreimo 2 Aniplex 16 8 58,800 3,675
Valvrave Aniplex 12 6 44,100 3,675
Severing Crime Edge Pony Canyon 13 7 48,090 3,699
Devil Survivor 2 Pony Canyon 13 7 48,300 3,715
Photo Kano Pony Canyon 13 7 50,400 3,877
RDG Red Data Girl Kadokawa 12 6 47,880 3,990
Date a Live Kadokawa 12 6 48,825 4,069
HENNEKO (bedsheet version) Media Factory 12 6 58,800 4,900

So, for a show that is essentially an ad for itself, you make more money with less episodes. Sounds backwards right? Why not make 8 episodes or 6 then? There is a sweet spot and I guess they think it is what they use today, otherwise they'd probably change it. Sometimes a short anime is enough and is certainly much cheaper, essentially the cost of making one "full length" episode.

The new thing is game adaptations. It isn't really that new but more and more the original source material these days is a game, video and/or cards, rather than manga or novels. For them, like others with original source material, the disc sales almost don't matter and you just need to make enough episodes to make people want to buy the game. Ending the story properly is often a bad thing for game adaptations; it is better if you have to buy and play the game to discover what happens which often has many different possibilities for a game since the play is not always linear.
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40 / M / Reno, NV
Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
There's actually three main things that have led to this:

1. The diminished presence of the OVA market. Shorter/less popular manga used to be adapted into OVA series when that market was still strong. Nowadays, not much outside of porn goes direct-to-video in anime. Since these series are too short to make a longer show, or the budget is such that 24-26 episodes would be impractical, they are 12 episodes.

2. The number of shows. There are a lot more anime series on TV than there were 20 years ago. It isn't surprising that the studios wouldn't want to commit to a long show that had no guarantee of return when they already have other shows in production. And, quite honestly, a lot of shows were 12-13 episodes back in the day, we just didn't see them because sites like CR didn't exist at the time, and they weren't popular enough to be licensed and released on video/DVD.

3. For non-youth oriented shows, the money is coming from products (BD/DVD sales, figures, etc.) that tend to be price-inelastic and largely unrelated to the length of the show, as was mentioned in an above post. As I understand things, the physical media release tends to cover the bulk of the costs of production, and then character goods tend to make up the profits. Since most shows don't add a bunch of new characters every 12 episodes, there isn't much of a profit motive to make more episodes.

There are other factors involved, but these are some of the biggies.
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27 / M / US
Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
I think one of the big factors of this is that it is safer for the companies funding/airing the show. They can always renew the show for another season if the first one did well, and not have to worry about being stuck with a dud for 24 episodes. That being said, I do think there are problems with this as it puts limitations on what the creative team can do if they have to be ready to leave the story at the end of each season, at least initially.
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56 / M / East Coast
Posted 8/18/13 , edited 8/18/13
Very nice insight by all ! I started with 24 / 26 episodes so I'm spoiled. Even so just back a few years ago 24 was more the norm but times change I guess.Hell I started with B & W TV tube radios vinyl,45's been thru all the changes XD I remember doing points and jets on a car XD!
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