Understanding the Industry: Sequel Situation

So us weebs are enjoying an era where we have more sequels coming out than basically ever before.  Now if you had told me that would happen back when I first started watching anime or even up until just a few years ago I would have said an age of sequels would be a good thing.  But now that I’m in the age of sequels, I’ve found it to be something of a double edged sword.  Keep in mind I like having sequels to shows that didn’t conclude, and seeing a show get a second season generally will get me to watch it if I gave it a pass when the first season aired.  However the increased number of sequels comes with some problems.

Perhaps the most glaring is a simple law of averages problem, with every season we are inevitably going to get a some great shows, some shit shows, and a bunch somewhere in the middle.  Normally that’s fine because if a new IP is shit, it sucks for the IP and the creators but it doesn’t damage anything else.  If a sequel is of poor quality however, it has a chance of severely damaging a previously successful IP, and that’s not good.  In my mind a bad sequel to a good show is much worse than just a bad show, again because it damages the reputation of the previous series and none of us, fans, creators or the businessmen in charge of funding and sales want to see that happen.  In a similar vein we are starting to see more split cour series, where a show airs for 12 episodes, takes a season off and then resumes with another 12 episodes.  I can’t say for sure how practical and successful this is from a business perspective, but for my part I’ve found the practice to generally cause shows to fall flat on their asses.  Let’s take Aldnoah Zero and FSN UBW.  Now I generally liked both these shows but they did something that sort of baffled me, they ended the first season on a big cliff hanger moment and then took a season off before starting season 2.  Now first off, ending a season on a cliffhanger is a pretty stupid idea, when a season ends the audience wants some kind of conclusion, even if it’s just that our heroes have overcome the first trial of many.  Secondly, I don’t know if this is a problem for most weebs but I’ll go ahead and say that I cannot maintain a hype train to a cliffhanger ending for 3 months, not when I have a lot of other shows to enjoy in the down time.  When Aldnoah Zero and UBW came back after a season of anime, I was glad I was getting a conclusion to the story but any tension or hype the cliff hanger ending had hoped to build was utterly lost on me.  I think it would have been a lot better if they had just taken a week or two off instead of three months, I would have been much more hyped that way.   Basically I have a hard time seeing the value in these split cour series, I assume they make more sense from a business perspective but honestly I think most shows that go this route should just be a double cour series, a 24 episode season, as opposed to a split cour series.

I think having 24 episodes helps from the creative standpoint, I imagine it would be easier to work with 1 larger timeslot than a couple small ones and it doesn’t pressure the creators to rush as much when they have 24 episodes instead of 12.  Take for example Tokyo Ghoul and Hitsugi no Chaika.  Tokyo Ghoul has a ton of problems but the primary issue is that each season is paced terribly, with the first season burning through tons of story and introducing too many characters, while the second season dawdles along and doesn’t introduce very much of anything.  So in season one it can be tough to keep up with the story while in season two I had a hard time not being bored.  But think about how that might have changed if Tokyo Ghoul was a single 24 episode season instead of two 12 episode seasons.  I think if they had the 24 episodes they would have been to smooth out the pacing somewhat, they likely would not have been able to cover as much ground, but if they made the parts they did cover better I can’t see how they wouldn’t get a timeslot for a sequel considering how popular the show is.  Similarly I think Chaika would have done better as a 24 episode series.  Now Chaika did a very good managing its 12 episode season one and 10 episode season two, but a lot of people complained that season two felt rushed and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable complaint.  Chaika was far better than most, but all too often I find that 10 episodes series feel too rushed to be properly enjoyed.  Noucome and Triage X were not especially good shows, but they would have been a lot better had they not abruptly ended on episode 10.  Honestly I think any 10 episode season is a bad idea, we the fans are used to 12, so 10 feels too short, and it puts the creators into a corner.  I mean plenty of shows have trouble working with just 12 episodes, that problem will only get worse when the episode count drops to 10.  Again I think Chaika season 2 handled the 10 episode run time better than any other show I’ve seen, but if it’s the best I’ve come across and it still feels a bit rushed, that speaks to a problem with the 10 episode limit not the show itself.  Now Chaika is one of the exceptions that I think would do just fine in two 12 episode series but it would still work better in a single 24 episode block.  That way the creators could still have only 22 episodes of story and just kept the other 2 as filler downtime to give the viewers a break and slow the story down, and boom pacing issues solved.  So that’s my main point with this whole spiel, in the case of split cour series, studios should really invest in trying to make them double cour series.  I think that 24 episodes grants the animators a lot more freedom or at bare minimum gives them more options and some wiggle room to work with.  The other option is to just wait longer between sequels so that the quality of each season is at least equal so fans aren’t disappointed.  The final option, and the one I’m a big advocate of is to slow down the sequel scene on new shows.

See despite the fact anime fans are getting more sequels than ever, a lot of the sequels people have been waiting years for still aren’t being made, instead we get sequels to stuff that came out very recently.  I don’t know about everyone, but I would love to see sequels more along the line of Medaka Box season 3, Claymore season 2, Spice and Wolf season 3, To Aru Majutsu no Index season 3 and Black Lagoon season 3 getting made.  There are shows people have been waiting to see resolved for years and the current anime industry isn’t pursuing them.  Maybe I’m being idealistic but I see serious opportunity in this plan, resurrect some interest in older IPs that did well in their day and at the very least you get some hardcore nostalgia fans, at best you may just more people in general paying attention to, and paying for, anime.  I mean Spice and Wolf was loved by the community, I have hard time imagining that a third season couldn’t be relatively successful.  In the same vein I don’t think reboots are a bad idea.  Hollywood and the video game industry may be full of reboots but anime is not and it has a lot of potential for success.  HunterxHunter 2011, JoJo, and now Ushio to Tora, these are reboots that tons of people got excited about and in the case of the first two were major successes.  Hell I’m very happy with the new Arslan Senki right now.  So why not reboot some older IPs and then make sequels for those?  Look I bashed UBW pretty hard in my review  but honestly I was really on board with the project because I wanted to see FSN with updated visuals.  And I think a lot of people thought the same thing, they got excited that they could see FSN in HD.  Why not do the same for other shows?  Now I will follow this up with a caveat that the rebooting needs some judgment, certain shows already have the proper visual styles and effects and rebooting those might not be a great idea.  Cowboy Bebop for example, is a show I think already has its ideal art style and trying to update it won’t help because newer art simply won’t fit the atmosphere and tone of the show as well as the original stuff does.  But by and large I think making sequels for or rebooting older shows has a lot more potential for gain than pumping out new IPs and then giving them rapid fire sequels.  Anime fans are used to waiting for sequels, there is no need to overly rush new sequels, so rebooting old stuff seems to me like a great way to buy time to make proper sequels for new IPs.

Anyway so that’s where I’m at now.  Split cour series should stop and just become double cour shows when possible and if not possible the sequel should be given more time to help keep the quality on par with the original.  I would love to see older shows get new sequels and maybe see old stories get resolved and I see opportunity in that.  Reboots will need to be controlled so anime doesn’t end up quite like Hollywood but a few more here and there would probably be beneficial to the industry.  So that’s what I think the industry should do so long as sequels are still a big thing.  What do you guys think?  Am I being naive and optimistic?  Am I an idiot?  Or do I seem to have some good insights about the situation?  Leave a reply in the comment section if you feel up to it and if you like what you hear here feel free to subscribe.  See you in the next one.

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