Anime Vice News

Almost Otaku: What's the Ideal Length for an Anime?

Is it that 26 episode sweet spot?

 This really could've been longer.
 This really could've been longer.

kashif1: Here's my question, what do you think is a good length for an anime? On one hand you have Bleach which is now almost 290 episodes, Then there are the fullmetal alchemist animes which are both around 60, and then you have stuff that is 27 or even 14 episodes long.  What is the best length to tell a story?

This is the fundamental dilemma of all serialized entertainment, isn’t it? When do you stop and when do you keep it going? The standard length seems to be somewhere around the 26 episode sweet spot (which none-too-coincidentally corresponds to a half-year, or two seasons. )That’d seem like the easy answer, but this obviously a little more complicated. Anime and manga are notable for generally being more disciplined about staying finite, even despite pressure from fans. This definitely isn’t a case of one size fitting all.

 I'd have to stay up for a day and half straight to watch all of this show.
 I'd have to stay up for a day and half straight to watch all of this show.

We explored a similar topic a while back - - when have shows jumped the shark? - - but this one extends a little broader; it encompass shows that were actually too short. If you like something, your first thought once it’s finished is that you want to see more of it - - or, at least, something like it. That’s just natural. And I think I’ve definitely seen some cases where brevity actually works against something.    

I thought FLCL, for instance, was something that was cut off a bit too earlier. I think it could’ve been twice as long. I realize the whole thing was supposed to be a less-stressful goof for Gainax, but I still think the show could’ve used more space to explore all the relationships and crazy ideas it only just broached in the show. Eri, in particular, got short-shifted a bit and we really didn’t get to see enough of Haruko’s added interstellar intrigue at the end. As a result, the whole thing felt like a glimpse of a story rather than full-fledged experience.

On the other end of the stick, I’m honestly hesitant to pick up watching FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD because 60 episodes is just so daunting a number to get through. That’s at 20-30 hours of material! Then again, considering how complex the world is, only 17 episodes in, I’m sure they need that many episodes to explore the Elric brothers’ universe. I don't begrudge 'em for that, but that's just a sign of it being a different animal.

I don’t know. Sometimes series get long-in-the-tooth and drift too far from what made them interesting in the first place. Other times, an extended run allows for interesting complexities and “happy accidents” when creatives play round robin with an idea. And sometimes stories are squished into a box that’s too confining. Like I said, no one size fits all.

What do you lunatics think? When has a series go on past its natural life span? When has it been cut before its reached its prime? What’s the ideal length for a show?

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of    HYBRID BASTARDS!  &   UNIMAGINABLE .Order them on Amazon   here   & here .

damswedonon Sept. 14, 2010 at 10:36 p.m.
I think your right here, it really does depend on the show for example School Rumble had about 50 episodes set over 2 semesters + series (really could of done with another series). This gave the writer time to develop the characters and form a story that felt natural for the school setting. 
However Azumanga Daioh's two section episodes meant that the show didn't feel wrong even though the show spans 2 years in 25ish episodes.
InfiniteGeasson Sept. 14, 2010 at 10:43 p.m.
From my own personal experience, shorter anime tend to be better than longer anime. And by short I mean anywhere from 6-50 episodes. Once you start getting more than that it usually isn't all that great in my opinion. Stuff like Angel Beats which was 13 episodes and FMA: Brotherhood which was 60 something are some of the best shows I've seen. There are of course exceptions to every rule though and long anime can be good too.
Count_Zeroon Sept. 14, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.

As far as length goes, for me it really depends on the show. For longer series like a Fist of the North Star or Naruto, unless your writing is solid, or at least your characters are really likable, it's hard to keep it going past 60 episodes without losing steam. On the other hand, under 6 episodes can be a little short, unless you're basically telling a direct-to-video feature length story.

So, for me, 13-24 is a happy medium, unless there's enough material to tell a good story beyond that (Berserk, Durarara, Black Lagoon, Patlabor, etc.)

sotyfan16on Sept. 14, 2010 at 11:25 p.m.

Length hasn't been an issue for me as as long as the show is entertaining then I'll be faithful.  

5/6 eps has been an issue for me as think they can go for more (unless the eps are 30-60 long).  
My pick:Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

12-14 eps has done really well in my book as yes the stories may seem rushed but typically everything ends with the viewer mostly satisfied or craving more. But, this length has greater potential to get a second season than the next set. 
My pick:Angel Beats!

15-26 eps (yes there are anime with such lengths if you sometimes count OVAs) have been even better then the previous lengths mostly due to better story and character development. However, the current length faces greater likelihood of at most getting a second season. 
My pick: Toradora

27-65 eps have their ups and downs but these series are very in-depth on all levels of development. Obviously they don't typically get another season. 
My pick:Death Note

66+ ep series are generally few in number and build arc upon arc of to develop the characters. These series are large chunks to take in and become repetitive after an amount of time. 
My pick:Dragon Ball Z

So, length is not the problem for me in comparison to a good story and solid characters. If I had to choose though I would say 24-26 eps is the generally "right" length (in consideration of manga material).

Trogd0r2on Sept. 15, 2010 at midnight
I just hate when the anime doesn't finish the story like air gear and D.gray-man.  I enjoy watching really long anime to get to know the characters really well.
JJOR64on Sept. 15, 2010 at 1:55 a.m.
@Trogd0r2 said:
" I just hate when the anime doesn't finish the story like air gear and D.gray-man. "
Sadly, that happens to most anime that are based on manga.  Want to know what actually happens/happens next?  BUY THE DAMN MANGA!!!!!!!  MUHAHAHA!!!  That's how they get you by the balls.
SamJazon Sept. 15, 2010 at 1:58 a.m.
For me, it's not so much the length, but the pacing that's important. If an anime's good, I'll watch dozens of episodes.  However, I stay the hell away from serial anime, like Bleach and Naruto, simply because I won't catch up. They don't tell a story that's plotted out, they aim to stay alive as long as possible, so they usually screw up the pace.
Take Gantz for example. One of my favourite manga, but I hated the anime because the pacing was awful. One episode was spent on the main character weighing the decision of killing an alien monster or not. Granted, the manga did the same thing, but the pacing worked on paper, but not on TV.
But a well-paced anime will bring enjoyment to me regardless of how long it is. If it's good, it's less of a case of "Alright, X episodes left!", than it is "Nice. Next episode!"
So, yeah. I don't think length is that important. What's your opinion on pacing?
EganTheVile1on Sept. 15, 2010 at 2:30 a.m.
DBZ is the one in my mind which was too long, WAY too long... Many episodes were nothing but filler, clip shows, drag-outs, and purely pointless crap, case in point DBGT did not follow the same formula as DBZ in this sense, ran far shorter, but the DBZ formula would have probably made this series "Baby" and "Evil Shenrons" stories stretch out forever.... The Buu seasons were especially guilty of this. And proof I am right is that the new series is nothing more then streamlined DBZ episodes and covers about 15 episodes in 4 without you feeling you missed anything.
metalsnakezeroon Sept. 15, 2010 at 2:35 a.m.
I don't think there will be a perfect length to a series. It all comes down to how the directors want to use the time they are given. 13 ep for a series can make it feel rushed unless they do a good job at the story ( Darker than Black season 2) and 24 ep is usually a good length to get the story through and a happy medium for most people.
Halberdierv2on Sept. 15, 2010 at 4:37 a.m.
i think anime is too short in general, with many of them having enough in them to reach 50 episodes without being rushed. I mean, not everyone can mass produce episodes like in Bleach and One Piece, but 24eps is waaaay to short.
ninjadude853on Sept. 15, 2010 at 4:48 a.m.

i love how anime is short, i just love it, It makes it easy to get into, and i love how it ENDS a HUGE problem all american entertainment seems to have to me is that the creators don't know when to stop! and it inevitably detereriates (just look at Heroes) but in anime, you get just one or two seasons of (usually) quality entertainment, and i freaking love that 
and the majority of anime that runs for longer than 60 episodes SUCKS, not because the story is bad, but because shows like naruto, one piece, and bleach are inevitably caught up to by the anime, which results in HUNDREDS of episodes of crappy filler, which annoys the hell out of me
Kuma_From_Argentinaon Sept. 15, 2010 at 5 a.m.
I want a TTGL of 60 episodes.... 
Or a FLCL of 26.....
LordCmdrStrykeron Sept. 15, 2010 at 5:06 a.m.
Well, let's go down my personal best-rated anime ever from MAL (10's only, leaving out a few movies):
Eureka Seven - 50 eps 
Evangelion - 26 
Trigun - 26 
Cowboy Bebop - 26 
Gurren Lagann - 27 
ROD TV - 26 
FLCL - 6 
Gunbuster - 6 
Diebuster - 6 (I luv Gainax OVAs, can you tell?)  
Aaand, I guess that's all, so I suppose if you were going strictly on the numbers I would have to say a standard season is probably my favorite length.  Although there are a LOT of 9's at 13 episodes, stuff like Black Lagoon, Nanoha, Zero no Tsukaima, Air, Hellsing, Ichigo Mashimaro, Mahoromatic, Kemonozume, Ga-Rei Zero, Rideback, Abenobashi, Bakemonogatari, Canaan, and Tokyo 8.0.  I like 13 episodes or 26 episodes the best, and me liking stuff like Eureka Seven is few and far between.  I've started and stopped watching Bleach about a dozen times. 
EDIT:  WATCH FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!  60 episodes for that series almost seems like too little because there are so many great characters and so much stuff is happening all the time.
sickVisionz moderator on Sept. 15, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.
I think it totally depends on the series.
" i love how anime is short, i just love it, It makes it easy to get into, and i love how it ENDS a HUGE problem all american entertainment seems to have to me is that the creators don't know when to stop! and it inevitably detereriates (just look at Heroes) "
I actually dislike that they stop everything so short and you usually never ever see the characters again.  Heroes is an example of a show that didn't know when to stop (although I enjoyed 3 seasons of it, which is still way more than what anime usually provides) but there are a lot of other long running shows that have stayed entertaining for a long time.  The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, Entourage and tons of others are examples of shows that lasted 5+ seasons and stayed good the whole time. 
If the Sopranos was anime, they would have shot Tony in the head in episode 13 and we would have been robbed of like 50+ additional good to great episodes.
macker33on Sept. 15, 2010 at 11:15 a.m.
Yep,26 for me is perfect,,onizuka was 43 episodes and that was perfect,,afro samurai was about 5 episodes and that was plenty long enough.
26 plus a movie is perfect.
AlphaZroon Sept. 15, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.
I happen to like the length of FLCL for the mere fact that that much crazy can only be contained in 6 episodes sure the show could have benefited from maybe a couple more episodes focusing on the other characters but the only problem with that is the show is about Naota and his fever puberty dreams.  
As far as other anime goes yea there are some that go on for too long, mainly due to filler but that's the nature of the business. 
Addfwynon Sept. 15, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.
As long as it takes to tell a succinct story without drawing it out.  If that's a 2 episode short, 14 episode season, 26 episode season, or even multiple 26 episodes seasons.  If they start drawing it out just to make it last, then it needs to stop. 
However, if something maintains a cohesive narrative over a long period of time, and that is just how long it takes to tell the story (Code Geass) then that is perfectly acceptable.  
pepemetaleroon Sept. 15, 2010 at 1:41 p.m.
Killing a serie... let me guess... pokemon
I can think in death note, It was really good when L was alive but when he died, everything went down. I really enjoyed the end of the story, when Light was dying and he saw L..  
Papasanon Sept. 15, 2010 at 5:34 p.m.
Fooly Cooly (FLCL is the American logo, not the title. The Japanese title and logo is フリ クリ, which is romanized as Furi Kuri.) is perfect at 6 episodes. If they had further delved into the characters it would have ruined them, as it was their vaguery and ambiguity which made them fascinating. 
However, anime which go for eighteen million episodes are soap operas, and useless to me. 
My favorites overall are in the 26 episode range. Perfect span for a complete story, and then I can get on to another series.
vergiliuson Sept. 15, 2010 at 9:25 p.m.
Monster is 74 episodes and manages to stay reasonably tense and interesting the whole way.   I think what let it succceed has to do with breaking the story into manageable chunks, having a large cast so that we don't get bored of the same few characters, and never completely losing sight of the overarching story arc.
I think that a lot of writers have trouble with the needs of a long series, especially pacing and maintaining constant forward action.  I'll take some examples from manga.  Bleach, for instance, has gotten its feet tangled in all its characters, many of whom are there just for giggles.  One Piece has done a good job, by contrast.  it also has a large cast, but the enter and leave the series as appropriate.  The addition of the latest member of the straw-hat crew was foreshadowed all the way back in like, Volume 1 or something.  Since we know where Luffy's going and why, and since there's a reasonable amount of hinting and foreshadowing that goes on well in advance of the plot unfolding, things largely seem to be going somewhere and things don't feel made up as it goes.   Monster has similar things going for it.
At the end of the day, a story should be told in as long as it takes to tell that story.  So I guess if I had to give a rule I would say, "Anything goes, except for filler."

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