We anime fans have it quite hard keeping up with all the latest and greatest anime like Fruits Basket, Sword Art Online, Boku no Hero Academia, and One Piece. Every new season that comes around leads to not one or even two new anime works but often ten to twenty different shows! Not counting continuing series from the season prior. The winter 2020 season alone had nearly 40 series! Yes, many of the anime in the winter 2020 season was hit or miss but we still had to buckle down and try to enjoy all these shows that were unleashed upon us! Needless to say, seasonal anime is great for those who need tons of anime in their life—who doesn’t—but is seasonal really the best thing for anime?
Many anime viewers only have a small inkling as to how anime is created and the blood/sweat/tears that go into crafting each series. Even the weaker anime series that many rate low still have tons of production value. Seasonal anime has become a norm for us anime viewers but this seasonal onslaught has led to anime becoming a bit…rushed. Anime studios and creators have deadlines that truly push their teams to their limits and we have to wonder...is this hurting the industry more than saving it? Some anime are doing quite well—like the series we mentioned earlier—but newer series have to be given to smaller teams more often than not to avoid interfering with a studios’ focus on a more popular series. Digressing for a minute, here’s the question we’d like to discuss in today’s article. Should anime be seasonal or not?
Well known anime studios like A-1 Pictures and Production I.G—creators of Sword Art Online and Haikyuu!!—often are regarded as the bigger name anime studios because they make a lot of anime in a year. In 2018, A-1 Pictures released several anime series—not including ONAs or OVAs which they also had worked on—and they would do the same in the following year, 2019. This meant they had works like Sword Art Online: Alicization, Yakusoku no Neverland, Kaguya-sama, and Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii all launch back to back which no doubt made the studio work pretty darn hard!
In our minds, we know that many anime fans will say that A-1 Pictures is a huge studio—as of 2017 it has 183 employees—but that doesn’t take away from the fact that all these shows coming out one after another put strain on the workers in some form or another. All those shows we talked about a moment ago were well-received anime series—we loved most of them here at Honey’s Anime—but that had to mean that A-1 Pictures was splitting their capable workers into teams and burning that midnight oil to beat those deadlines. Needless to say, anime releasing in such high amounts puts a toll on any studio’s workforce and while it may not happen now or even anytime soon, these deadlines and the number of anime being released will push the studio into unhealthy situations that could cause trouble down the line. If you don’t believe that, there is an article online from Crunchyroll that shows a worker being pushed to suicide due to excessive work hours…
Anime is art, that is something all of us otaku know to be true. Art—especially anime—is often subjective based on a person’s taste in a genre and/or preference in the studio that creates it. Time and time again we’ve seen some amazing manga creations fall victim to poor anime adaptations and we often wonder…why? Is it due to a lack of money? A studio’s lack of talent? Maybe…just maybe, it’s none of those things. Anime studios we mentioned earlier take on a lot of projects and that can mean some series just fall victim to lesser care than another series.
Let’s look at a semi-disliked series like Ousama Game: The Animation. The studio behind Ousama Game: The Animation was Seven, a lesser-known anime studio but one that has worked on numerous titles that range from all-ages to more adult-themed. Ousama Game: The Animation aired in 2017 and in that same year, Seven worked on ten OVAs/TV series. Seven isn’t like A-1 Pictures but is a smaller studio that was made from a now-defunct studio—Radix Ace Entertainment—that just wanted to work on fun and unique works. Imagine if Seven had only worked on Ousama Game: The Animation and had time to really pour into it? We could imagine the animation being truly incredible and possibly making a demand for more seasons of Ousama Game to be released later down the line. Anime studios being pushed to launch work after work are going to have their creations take a hit in terms of quality and you can look at every studio and their anime to notice that one or two series they make each year fail to do well.
The dire need for new anime every season is understandable. Most series tend to be only 12 episodes long and that means we, as otaku, long for a new show to fill in for the show we just binged or watched weekly. However, don’t you think that our constant switch from one series to another lessens our enjoyment of anime? Not only do we quickly go from one show to the next but we begin to get bored of genres—burnout as we all know it—that tends to dampen our love for anime as time goes on. Folks, we need to be real for a moment and realize that seasonal anime is making us jaded.
You might want to argue that your taste in anime is superb and you just have a love for quality works but we need to derail you from that thought process for a moment. Let’s examine isekai anime. When isekai series released in mass amounts over the last decade, we really began hating the genre collectively as anime fans. Some series like Re:Zero and Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari returned our love for the isekai genre but then shows like Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni came along and made us dislike the genre all over again. It’s an endless cycle and whether you want to believe it or not, it’s because we are constantly hit with seasonal anime!
In the early 80s and 90s, anime released a bit slower but the genres that were considered beloved actually spammed us more than you may realize. Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star and Gundam Wing all released around the same decade but we didn’t say “we’re tired of space-themed anime”. Instead, we anime fans embraced these shows because they came out apart from one another. Gundam Wing came out in the mid-90s while Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star launched by Sunrise back to back—one came out in the winter and the other the spring—it wasn’t a trend studio Sunrise would follow constantly. As anime fans, we need to realize that seasonal anime makes us grow bored of the same protagonist-becoming-overpowered plotline because it happens a dozen times in the span of a year.
The Solution, Anime Needs to be Year-Round!
After all, we’ve said about the issues with season anime it’s time to talk about a solution. What can save anime genres from becoming stale/repetitive and how can we enjoy better creations without pushing studios and their employees to the edge? Simple folks, make anime more spread apart! There are dozens of anime studios out there and if they came to an understanding they could workout releasing anime in smaller numbers per year while still retaining their profits!
Anime, when it becomes popular, makes money for the studio behind it. Merchandise, games, and movies all make that studio’s work double in profit which leads to what anime studios need; money. Anime could still gain revenue even if studios released fewer works per year if they put their attention on crafting quality titles over quantity. Anime fans might need to choose only between a dozen shows per year but we’d have a better love for the medium and would see anime creations being done with true effort and not just to beat that upcoming release window. Animation overall would benefit so instead of just one epic fight in a series like Black Clover, we’d see dozens of epic fights that make our anime love soar that much higher.
Anime is always going to be loved/hated by fans for various reasons. Yet, we truly believe anime could become even greater if the medium was given more time per creation. We’ve spoken enough about this topic, though, and we’d like to give you readers the time to input your thoughts. Do you think anime needs to be seasonal or could we all benefit from having less—but better tuned—works being crafted per year? Tell us using the comments section down below! For even more thought-provoking articles, keep stuck to our amazingly rich hive here at Honey’s Anime!