The evolution of the anime season release schedule

Between shortened production breaks, midseason premieres, and unorthodox series run times, the anime release schedule is very different these days.

The history of anime streaming is complicated. The length of the seasons, the number of anime, and the series cycle have all changed several times over the years. For nearly a decade, the annual cartoon calendar consisted of four seasonal blocks with three or four dozen shows each. Still, the past year and a half has included some interesting upheavals to this consistency, possibly involving broader changes in the years to come.

Previously, networks had about two weeks between the conclusions of their outgoing series and the firsts of the next, which typically started two weeks apart. This not only gave viewers a chance to reflect on the conclusions of their favorite shows, but also gave them the opportunity to take a break from weekly episodes to rate which shows they would choose next. Lately, this gap has gradually narrowed, to the point that some rotations no longer have any. While the transition from summer anime to fall anime saw a general hiatus on the last weekend of September, summer saw most of its new anime begin a week after the spring finals. .

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Magia Record and The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated both had weird series lengths

A number of production irregularities regarding the series itself accompanied this rapid release schedule. Some anime have been released with an unusual number of episodes. Although the industry standard tends to be a full 12- or 13-episode course, the return of the summer of Magic Record and dissemination of The Grand Jahy will not be defeated had eight and 20 episodes scheduled, respectively, with the latter extending into the fall season. Both airs began in early August, about a month after almost every other summer anime started.

Likewise, 2021 saw both Heike Monogatari and Fena: pirate princess start on abnormal dates. Fena, partially produced by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, also straddled the summer and fall seasons. Rather than adjusting its episode count to end with most of the fall anime, it ended with 12 standard episodes in mid-October. Heike Monogatari started in mid-September. Even though it got ahead of the fall season, it arrived a bit too late to be categorized as a summer anime. While the series is scheduled to end with Episode 11 on November 25, its broadcast has been distributed in Japan only through Fuji TV’s video-on-demand service. It is expected to have general release in January 2022.

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Fena Pirate Princess and Heike Monogatari rode seasonal blocks

Still, it should be noted that the past two years have been anything but usual for the world as a whole. Most industries have suffered setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and anime production is no exception. Many series have had to take breaks in their broadcasting, either due to preventive shutdowns or epidemics in the companies themselves. The titles that have had to suspend their productions range from mainstream entries like A play and Digimon Adventure (2020) to more specialized selections such as Tsukipro animation.

While the impact of COVID-19 on anime production cannot be considered a good thing, fans have good reason to be hopeful for the future of the release schedules. Since some projects seem poised to challenge both the length of conventional series and seasonal release dates, future companies might have more creative freedom when planning their series as a whole. Rather than stretching or consolidating the storylines to fit the standard of 12 or 13 episodes, creators can choose a number of episodes that best complement the rhythm of each series. There may even be more series like The Grand Jahy will not be defeated with longer strokes.

Digimon, One Piece and Tsukipro have been delayed by COVID19

Additionally, if these trends continue, the way audiences watch their anime may change as well. Rather than making lists of multiple series to juggle at once, staggering the schedule will allow viewers to sample episodes over longer periods of time. In addition, as in the case of Fena: pirate princess and Heike Monogatari, streaming services may become more involved in the production or initial distribution of anime.

This can open the door to more innovative and creative projects that are not as immediately suitable for general release. Suffice it to say, if other studios or networks adopted these unorthodox practices, viewers could soon see drastic changes in their viewing experience.

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