Being an anime otaku is all about a ravenous hunger and obsessive interest in the medium, but in recent years more than a few fans are starting to feel like there’s such a thing as too much content. Each 13-week Japanese TV season sees the debut of dozens of new series, and it’s now virtually impossible for viewers to stay up-to-date with every currently airing franchise, contributing to fan burnout and the possibility of genuinely high-quality shows getting lost in the crowd and never finding their audience.
Seiji Mizushima is one of the people such concerns weigh heavily upon, but he’s not just some fan with a massive backlog of episodes he doesn’t have time to watch. Mizushima is a pro who’s been working in the anime field for more than two decades, directing hits including the 2003 "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Gundam 00" TV series, and he recently took to Twitter with a bold proposal for how to improve the industry.
"I don’t think anyone would be worse off if the amount of anime getting made was cut in half. Some directors are even handling two shows in the same season, which is an incredibly tough schedule. There’s just an excess supply of content, and there are never enough people in the studio to get work done. What is the point in making so much anime? It’d be better to do a proper job of making series one by one.”
Many other Twitter users shared Mizushima’s frustration, leaving comments such as:
“Yeah, half as many series would be great. I can only watch, at maximum, like 10 shows a season, and only finish like six of them. I liked it better back in the day when one series was 26 to 50 episodes.”
“There are just too many shows. It’d be OK if they were all high-quality, but so many are one-season shows that end in like 12 episodes, then everyone forgets about them before the fanbase can builds up any foundation.”
“There’s no way I can watch them all, and a lot of series have really similar titles and stories.”
“I wish they’d go back to how it was in the old days, when one series would run for an entire year. And I agree there should be fewer series. I want them to have plenty of time to do a good job.”
“With all the time it takes to keep up with what’s currently airing, when do people who buy Blu-rays watch them?”
As mentioned by multiple commenters, it used to be the norm for anime to run at least 26 episodes, shown over the course of six months. By shifting to 13-episode runs, with the potential for sequel series if the show turns out to be a hit, anime creators don’t have nearly as much time to differentiate their works from other examples within the same genre, which can result in them feeling generic and uninteresting.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the unprecedented amount of anime being made today also includes some niche shows that are designed to scratch a very particular itch. For example, this spring "Uma Musume" was a solid success, but it’s hard to imagine how a historical race horse schoolgirl lesbian idol singer anime could have ever been produced except in an era when the industry is saying “Sure, let’s put that on TV and see if anyone watches it” to just about anything.
▼ Uma Musume
There’s also the fact that while Japanese animation may not have the “just-for-kids” image of its Western counterpart, anime is still very much a youth-oriented form of entertainment, primarily aimed at students and working 20-somethings without the time drains of family life or later-stage adulthood. The “too much anime” complaint might stem, in part, from fans having to adjust their media consumption habits as they get older, exit the largest fan demographic, and can no longer select “all of them” when choosing which anime to watch. After all, people would call you crazy if you said you wanted to watch every episode of every current live-action fictional TV series, and they’d do the same if you grumbled about not having time to watch every live-action movie that came out.
Still, anime is unique in that while it’s technically just a medium, there tends to be a lot more consumer crossover across genres than with live-action storytelling, which makes market oversaturation easier to occur. It’s also a basic law of economics that there exists, somewhere, a maximum total amount of demand for any entertainment product, and when supply gets greater than that, bad things are bound to happen, so maybe Mizushima has a point when he says the anime industry should slow things down a notch.
Source: Twitter/@oichanmusi via Hachima Kiko
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