Steep drop has some hoping less quantity will lead to more quality.

Believe it or not, there used to be a time when it was unusual for an anime to air in a late-night time slot. Anime aired either in prime time or on the weekends, and if it wasn’t considered mainstream enough for either of those, it’d be produced as a direct-to-video series.

The tables began turning in the late 1990s, though, and now the vast majority of anime exists as late-night TV programming. With more anime in total produced than ever before, that means a huge amount of content being pushed onto TV between sundown and sunup. However, Japanese Twitter user @anime_local says that while the late-night anime bubble hasn’t popped, the swelling is about to go down considerably.

Japanese TV programming is divided into four seasons a year, with the spring season starting in early April. Not including short-form (i.e. less than 30 minutes per episode) anime, @anime_local says that in the spring of 2018, 42 late-night anime TV series debuted. This year, though, that number is currently down almost 65 percent, with only 15 late-night series currently confirmed for spring 2019 premiers, according to @anime_local’s count.

▼ @anime_local’s list

@anime_local offers several theories for the slowdown, ranging from a shortage of new manga, novels, and other existing franchises that are attractive for adapting into an anime TV series; changes in working conditions in the anime industry; and publishers of original works not having the resources to devote to anime projects.

“But in any case, they’ve been making too many anime series in the first place,” he asserts, following up with the question “How many anime from spring 2019 can you remember now?”

The list @anime_local provides for spring 2019 is incomplete, by his own admission, and as he points out there are still about 10 time slots which are expected to be filled with as-yet undesignated late-night anime. However, that would only bring the total up to only about 25 series, still down about 40 percent from spring 2018.

Many commenters chimed in to echo @anime_local’s opinion that the late-night anime TV block is oversaturated, with reactions including:

“25-30 series? Sounds like just the right amount to me.”

“Yeah, they really have been making too many, and the quality is starting to drop.”

“I don’t think it’s just a problem of not having new IPs to adapt, but that the IPs that are already being adapted haven’t been releasing new manga/novel volumes.”

“I just wish they’d stop with this trend of ‘Eh, we’ll just make it a CG anime.’ I want them to put in the effort to make hand-drawn art.”

“I think it’d be better to have fewer anime series. Personally, I‘d prefer if they took the same total budget and split that up among 10 series.”

“Can we not have them stop at about 20 series and up the budgets and quality for each one?”

Unfortunately for the last two commenters, that’s not how anime production really works. While fans and consumers might sometimes have a mental image of a singular-minded anime industry, the truth is that the industry is actually made up of a number of competing organizations, and with entertainment being a hit-driven business, the temptation to roll the dice as many times as possible in hopes of finding something that just happens to catch on and become a breakout success is very hard to resist. That said, if @anime_local’s projection hold, it looks like otaku will at least be a little less busy trying to watch all the new shows this spring.

Source: Twitter/@anime_local (1, 2) via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso (Edited by SoraNews24)
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