Friday, October 4, 2013

The 12 Episode Not Quite Crisis

Actually not a Vanguard Post

Ever think on how short 12 episodes really are.?

It kind of makes it hard for a guy to plan what to review next while he is in the limbo between the old shows finishing and the new ones starting.

Now, we all know the reason why most anime are 12 episodes long. It’s a Season thing. It’s just the way it goes. 4 Seasons. Each one with new anime. Some better. Some worse. For the most part it doesn't matter. 12 episodes is actually a decent amount of time.

3 introductory episodes.

7 episodes to build up stuff, plot, and/or silly hijinks.

2 episodes to finish things off.

It’s, for the most part, simple.

The Complication

Unfulfilled Potential

Now, 12 episodes is fine most of the time, but there is a problem when it comes to adaptations. When it’s an original anime, the anime staff gets to decide how to plot out the story. When it’s an adaptation, the options are considerably more limited.

Basically, they end up adapting a story only up to a certain point. The point that fills the 12 episode gauge.

Problem is, story wise, that may not have been the best place to end the story. In the case of a light novel, chances are you adapted the introductory novel and one or two more.

Unless you decide to skip a hell lot of material.

In the case of a manga adaptation... let’s face it manga don’t enter the meat of the story so soon. By episode 12, you’re still on the Zabuza Saga (No offense to the Zabuza Saga intended).

So, you end up with a product that doesn't quite manage to capture the real feel of the story that was adapted.

For example, this season we had Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya and Blood Lad. Of the two, Blood Lad fared worse when it comes to plot. Illya managed to tell a story due to the way the manga is set up. Blood Lad… not so much. Fun as it was, most the early episodes feel unimportant in light of the actual plot and how the story ends. At the end it ends up feeling like the story didn’t really advance.

For these adaptations, you’re stuck waiting to see if the sales were good enough for a second season (like Word God Only Knows, the Monogatari series, and High School Dxd), and in most cases they aren’t going to be because you never quite got to the good stuff.

The Exception

Old Fashioned but Good
Not all anime are 12 episodes long. Exceptions are made sometimes. For examples, card games anime. The power of merchandising ensures those last a long time and get multiple seasons.

Like Vanguard. Which is pretty fun by the way. And Yu-Gi-Oh!

Major manga also get many-episode adaptations. Obvious examples include Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. Stuff that’s basically guaranteed to get an audience.  

Then there are rarer cases, when someone actually took a chance. Like Mushibugyo which got 26 episodes and that allowed it to actually tell a good story, something which wouldn’t have happened if it got stuck at 12.

Now, I know it is a big chance to take when making an adaption. Making anime is not cheap. It’s only natural to want to count your chickens before they hatch. Get good sales, and then think about another 12 episodes.

On the other hand, taking a gamble sometimes is not bad at all.

That said, sometimes long adaptations can mess up. Like Railgun S. That’s what happens when you run out of canon material or just don’t use it.

It’s a mixed bag, but I would really like to see more two-cour anime. 

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