The Ideal Number of Episodes
Nowadays, most anime are around the 10-20 episodes mark, some rarely goes above that, and even some “long running shounen” like Sket Dance or Gintama didn’t last long. Sket Dance ended at only 70+ episodes while Gintama ran for only 50+ episodes after it’s first hiatus (though the show’s airing once more this fall). Unlike before, it was not even surprising for uncommon anime like Law of Ueki, Kiba, Kyou Kara Maou and others to reach 50-80 episodes in length.
Perhaps anime studios had finally understood the inferiority of airing anime consecutively, and this certainly holds true for some shounen series. There are a lot of problems once an anime reaches a point where they caught up with manga, either they make fillers, create an original branching storyline of their own, or perhaps put the show on hiatus. The first problem is the most common, especially for most shounen anime, like the Big Three. Putting in fillers make the story draggy, and it’s sometimes worse when the fillers don’t even blend in with the plot of the current arc.
If you had been following the latest anime in the charts, you will easily notice that anime studios now had a new marketing scheme. They create something which I like to call a “stopping point”. Anime now tends to break down themselves into different seasons, even when each season doesn’t have much of a conclusion, some examples I could give includes Bakuman and Nurarihyon no Mago. Both of these anime are perfect candidates for being a long running shounen series, but they scrapped that idea, and instead stopped themselves at certain fixed periods (20+ episodes), before continuing in a new season. There are even some anime like Fate/Zero and Rinne no Lagrange, which, even though they were originally 20+ episode series, were divided into halves, with the latter half airing a little later (note that I said “halves” instead of seasons, since I don’t really see them as separate seasons).
I believe that the anime industry is going in the right direction in this regard. Having a stopping point allows anime studios to slowly gather resources; they could wait for more original source materials while their “first season” had ended, instead of adding more recaps or fillers, which downgrade an anime’s overall quality. For original anime, the stopping point allows them to take a break and brainstorm the other half of the plot structure and to hopefully, construct a perfect, conclusive ending. If their budget is getting low, the stopping point could help them for obvious reasons as well. This will ultimately creates an anime with good, constant quality animations.
Having a series too short is tough when you need to give viewers a lot of information within that period, making the plot feels rushed. Having a series too long may feel draggy, especially if the series went out of details. I myself disliked anything more then 30 episodes, and this new direction of prioritizing anime length in 10+ or 20+ episodes is a good thing for me. In the end, it all comes down to these two choices for me, 10+ or 20+, which is the more ideal amount of episodes? My choice would be a 20+ episode series. It is not too long, yet not too short, a length perfect for ample developments, progressing plot points and finishing up with a conclusive ending. It however, still depends on how the anime studios divide the plots and spread it along the 20+ episodes, there are some which even though they had this ideal number of episodes, they still couldn’t bring out a decent, flowing story. But still, I think 20+ episodes is the most idealistic length for most anime, and is also a good length to induce a “stopping point”.