Why Are Anime so Short These Days?

In the Golden Days of anime, there are shows like Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, InuYasha, Pokémon, and Digimon that are considered “long-running”. They span for 100 to 700+ episodes that continuously air every week to excite many fans!

Meanwhile, there are anime shows like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and World Trigger Season 1 than spans only roughly between 60 to 70 episodes. Any yet, these episode counts are sufficient to tell a compelling and strong narrative.

Whether that’s 70 or 700 episodes, these shows succeeded pulling a dedicated fanbase! But nowadays, World Trigger Season 2 only has 12 to 13 episodes!

And when InuYasha: The Final Act premiered back in 2009 to 2010, it only spanned 26 episodes (which is only about half of what a full manga adaptation could have narrated)

Why downgrade from 700 or 70 episodes to 26 or 13 episodes? Why such drastic changes?

Today, we’re here to uncover the reasons why many animes are short these days. In addition, we’re deep diving into fans’ brains to understand the mysterious success behind seasonal animes.

1. Quick Answer

Anime shows are short nowadays because animation studios prefer to be cost-efficient in the long run when developing new episodes of a series.

Viewers have also been developing short attention spans throughout the years since anime shows segmented themselves in short TV program blocks during the early 70s.

To keep a viewer’s focus on a single episode of an anime series, many animation studios must fight for our personal time so we can constantly watch the remaining 30-minute episodes of the whole show (the “uphill battle in an ever-changing rapid competition”).

After reeling viewers for a good 3-5 weeks (or 3-5 episodes), the series will keep us entertained so we can keep watching.

Exploring the 3 factors below can explain the success of one cour (12 to 13 episodes) or two-cour (24 to 26 episodes) seasons that we see in many series nowadays.

  1. A faithful adaptation of the source material may mean less filler, hence, fewer anime episodes.
    • Filler Route
    • Faithful Route
    • Hiatus Route
  2. Fewer anime episodes mean cost-efficiency in the long-run.
  3. There’s an uphill battle or rapid competition against other mediums in the entertainment industry.

2. Faithful Adaptation may mean Less Filler

Anime adaptations can go two ways while the source material is still being written: a filler route in long-running animes, or a faithful route in short-running ones.

Filler route occurs in long-running shows like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Digimon.

Why are anime so short these days?
Naruto | Source: Crunchyroll
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Faithful route in short-running animes occurs in Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, World Trigger, Re: Zero, Dr. Stone, and The Promised Neverland Season 1.

I. Filler Route

The filler route was popularized between 1980 to 2000 when anime was just entering mainstream media in domestic and foreign markets. Consequently, “anime booms” were happening simultaneously around the globe.

So, it makes sense why producers are utilizing long running shows to increase their profits.

If the animation studio can increase profits because the director extends the life of the anime, then, we’ll get long (and sometimes) never-ending series. Detective Conan and One Piece has over 900+ episodes. Nothing can beat those two.

Why are anime so short these days?
Detective Conan | Source: IMDb
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One downside of a long-running series is that the audience dwindles away (exceptions are super fans or fanatics of course). When the audience sees that “nothing is happening”, they drop the show and move on to the next big thing.

That’s just how it is. They’d rather spend time watching new shows even if they are unpopular, new, or only one cour seasons. It gives audience’s minds a chance to rejuvenate on newfound shows.

Besides, it’s better to binge-watch a show, finish it within a time limit, and move on to the next anime in your watchlist.

II. Faithful Route

On the other hand, a faithful adaptation may mean less filler episodes. And I emphasized “may” because this is not entirely true. There are seasonal animes that, midway throughout the show, either become unfaithful to or diverge from the source material.

Examples are Tokyo Ghoul Season 2; Seraph of the End; Blue Exorcists; Soul Eater; The Promised Neverland Season 2; the episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist (2001) where the ending was comprised of “anime-originals”.

Why are anime so short these days?
Tokyo Ghoul | Source: IMDb
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Despite these truths, you can have a one cour or two-cour shows that faithfully follow the source material. Examples are Dr. Stone, Demon Slayer, The Promised Neverland Season 1.

However, some of these shows are open for debate as they are still currently fresh in the market (or the anime industry).

Still, I must say that Demon Slayer is on a league of its own since it made a name for itself since the movie. Its immense popularity is due to the accessibility of the series in Japan and in the different parts of the world.

And even if Season 1 of Kimetsu no Yaiba was only a two-cour anime, its popularity green-lighted the Mugen Train movie that broke records (hence, why we’re getting a Season 2 of the franchise this year) 😊 Fans can’t wait!

III. Hiatus Route

In the middle of these are “hiatus-packed-with-fillers” animes like Fairy Tail, Hunter x Hunter, and Bleach. The animators decided to put these shows in hiatus instead of continuously padding them with filler arcs.

Why are anime so short these days?
Fairy Tail | Source: IMDb
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Fairy Tail had to wait under a year before it resumed in 2014. The animation studio was changed as well, which is why it was put on brakes.

Hunter x Hunter (2011) is already a reboot and the animators don’t wanna risk adding more filler episodes to extend the life of the 148-episode show. But seven years since the show ended, fans shall see Gon and Killua again. 😊

The same story can be, more or less, stated for Bleach. Although this anime is packed with fillers, it was sent on hiatus for years until the announcement of the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc.

Those long-time followers of the anime are inclined to watch this exciting arc, especially after years and years of waiting!

3. Cost-Efficiency in the Long-Run

The more people you get involved in the animation, the more money you need because you must pay those staff. According to Anime News Network, approximately US$100,000 to $300,000 are needed per episode

Boiling down to it, it’s a matter of budget, trade-offs, allocations, and cost-efficiencies.

Directors, producers, animation studios, TV networks, distributors, production committees, voice actors/actresses, and many more people must come together to produce either long running or seasonal anime shows.

Long-running show are more expensive than seasonal ones. With long-running, there’s just no stopping point. The animation staff just keeps chugging in episodes every week as long as there’s a) a source material to adapt, and there are b) satisfactory cash inflows.

If it’s for series like Dragon Ball, One Piece, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto, Digimon, and Pokémon, monetizing excitement and excellent storylines go hand-in-hand with profitability (hence, why these shows are very long to attract kids, teens, and adults into a growing pool of anime viewers).

Why are anime so short these days?
One Piece | Source: Fandom
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Other shows tell a different story. Black Clover and Attack on Titan are two shows where the source material (the manga series) is not yet complete. Yet, Black Clover is going to end in episode 170 even if the manga is not yet finished.

This hiatus route is a challenging hurdle for fans and animators. After all, fans and animators alike have dedicated themselves in making the long-running, continuous series the huge success of Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece since the early 2000s!

4. An Uphill Battle in the Entertainment Industry        

Entertainment is at the palm of humanity’s hands in the 21st century.

What consumes and takes away 90% of our life and our 24-hour are the ever-indulging and ever-consuming gadgets: cellphones, tablets, flat-screen TVs, iPad, etc.

Because anime episodes are only 20 to 30-minutes, viewers like us already programmed our brains to have short spans of attention.

Hence, the fewer the number of episodes to watch AND the sooner we can finish this anime series, the more time fans can devote themselves to mainstreamnon-animemediums.

The entertainment industry includes watching live-action movies, real-life survival contests, singing contests, game shows, listening to popstars, celebrities, etc.

So, the more time we focus our attention on non-anime entertainment forms, the longer that “on-hiatus anime list grows” (hence, why we can barely scrape or finish that long-running anime series that was recommended to us!).

There’s an uphill battle and a rapid competition among anime producers, directors, animation studios. After all, they want fans like us to focus our sole attention on their wonderful works!

Still, they made a clever move. At breakneck speed, the producers take advantage of fans’ short spans of attention when it comes to the ever-hungry entertainment industry.

As the number of episodes increase, the harder it is for anime viewers to sit tight and get excited in those 100 to 300-episode anime.

These are the reasons why 12 to 26 episodes (or even, shows with 30 to 60-ballpark-episode-count in them) are preferable and recommended.

They are affordable, they don’t require much time, and best of all, they are achievable (fans can finish them instantaneously or within a set timeframe).

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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