Why Anime Has 12+ Episodes Per Season (Compared To 10-20+ Years Ago)

Myne Ascendance Of A Bookworm Finger
Written by Theo J Ellis

12 episode anime shows are common these days. Almost every anime in each season is only 12+ episodes long.

The only exceptions to this rule are anime like:

  • My Hero Academia
  • Black Clover
  • Boruto

Or any other brand new shonen anime with past successes and a massive audience to support it.

There’s a good reason for that.


Why Anime Has 12+ Episodes These Days:


1. Non-Mainstream anime shows

momo miku and shamiko the demon girl next door

The Demon Girl Next Door is a good example of this.

Most anime that air these days aren’t mainstream shows like MHA, Black Clover, One Piece and so on.

Mainstream shows gain most of the industry’s attention, so naturally they have a lot of episodes and the leverage to support it.

A show like The Demon Girl Next Door (and dozens and dozens of new shows) can’t say the same thing.

In the case of a show like this, 12 episodes is a smarter move on the studios part.

With this they can:

  • Gauge
  • Assess
  • Observe

And determine whether an anime is worth taking to the next level and continuing. Having so few episodes allows them to do that.

If a lot of new and non-mainstream anime took the traditional route of 26+ episodes or more, that’d be more risky.

That leads to my next point.

Relevant: 11+ Anime Companies And Studios That Went Bankrupt In The Last 4 Decades


2. Risk management

ascendance of a book worm myne and tuuli

Ascendance Of A Bookworm and many other anime in the past few years get the same treatment… Unless they already have an audience (like Re:Zero, etc).

It makes no sense otherwise.

In 2019 – Ascendance Of A Bookworm ran for 12 episodes. It’s an Isekai.

The reception was good, so they went on to make a 2nd season in 2020. I imagine in Japan it must have “sold” enough or gave studios, sponsors and so on enough results to feel it’s worth making a 2nd season.

It built up an audience and so they ran with it.

catarina villainess anime

Same thing happened with My Next Life As A Villainess.

The isekai did so well they’ve announced a 2nd season for 2021!

That wouldn’t have happened if the anime didn’t do well online (and sales wise I assume).

But here’s a question: what if both studios made 26 or even 50+ episodes right out the door?

Chances are it might not have done as well. Or built up enough interest to keep viewers…. interested.

Aside from that there’s always the chance an anime won’t do well regardless, even if it’s just 12 episodes.

With 12 episodes an anime:

  • Costs less
  • Less risk
  • Less headache
  • Less worry

In the worst case they can scrap it, or at least make up some of the money on merch or the “boost” in popularity with light novels or manga.

If it’s an original series with no light novels or manga, there’s even more reason to manage risk by running with 12 episodes.

That way, they can measure success without breaking the bank.

But not many studios have the balls (or the budget) to make an ongoing, longer series like Black Clover, or just a standard 26 episode series like Toradora or Maid Sama.

It costs a lot of money to make anime after all, and it’s a long term investment type of business.

Mistakes or overestimation can be expensive.

3. Budgets

YouTube video

Like I just said, it costs a lot of money to make an anime. Even a short one.

Not sure of the prices in 2020 but a few years back, $2 million dollars was apparently the average cost of a full anime.

Not every anime studio is Toei Animation or Madhouse, so $2 million needs to be managed wisely.

That’s a lot of money to recoup if an anime goes down the toilet and doesn’t build up a big enough audience. Or drive up the sales of the original manga or light novel (if any).

Relevant: Is Anime Merchandise Really Expensive?

4. Expectations

the world god only knows watching tv e1599216312154

It’s easier to watch an anime series with 12 episodes.. Meaning you know it’s “just 12 episodes” so it’s easier to process.

When an anime is much longer it weighs on you. It’s why I didn’t watch Naruto for so many years, I focused on the 500 episodes instead of just starting.

Most anime fans do the same thing.

With 12 episodes:

  • It’s a wall small enough to walk over (instead of jump).
  • It’s more encouraging.
  • Everyone has enough time for it (12 episodes = 4 hours).
  • It’s just enough to decide whether you like it or not.

I’d assume studios have picked up on this, and it benefits them as well, so everyone wins.

Technology, life, and the 21st century is so immediate and its made “time” more valuable than ever.

Unless the anime has tons of original material, or the studio decides to create a “black clover” style anime, it’s a smart move on their part.


5. Promotional material

no game no life series cover 3

No Game No Life is the perfect example. The anime aired years ago and hasn’t had a 2nd season (for different reasons).

Either way – the anime only ran for 12 episodes and sometimes – that’s all a studio wants.

They can use a 12 episode anime as “promo” for the original:

  • Light novel
  • Manga

Or any other material the anime is adapted from.

This “promo” becomes enough to make more money from the franchise as a whole, and to drive up sales for the original material.

No Game No Life blew up so I imagine in the case with this anime, it worked better than expected.

the devil is a part timer series studio white

Same thing happened with The Devil Is A Part Timer.

This Isekai series aired for just 13 episodes, and became one of the most popular anime of its kind.

Originally from a light novel series, the light novel is still ongoing to this day. And plenty of material never seen the light as far as an anime adaptation.

That doesn’t matter if studio white fox planned it that way, because the popularity served its purpose. And help the light novel sell more.

It’s annoying as a fan to see it (cliffhangers), but that’s how it goes.


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My favorite animes would be the ones that aired on fox kids, jetix, Cartoon Network, kids wb, I used to troll 4kids for screwing up back then

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