42 CommentsEditorials / By Scamp /

It did not need more episodes

This scene would not have made sense even if Angel Beats was 200 episodes long

When an anime doesn’t end up quite as good as the concepts and plot it tried to tell suggested it could be, varying theories as to how it could have been succeeded get thrown around. One of the most common gripes is that it needed more episodes. Off the top of my head, anime I’ve seen this theory thrown out for are Angel Beats, [C], Xam’d and Jyu Oh Sei, although I’m sure there’s plenty of others. However, in all 4 of these cases, I am not convinced that more episodes would have helped. It would have just resulted in more of the same.

Take Angel Beats for example.

  1. The world it created made no sense. It needed more episodes to explain it thoroughly.
  2. It didn’t explore the side characters very well. They needed more episodes to give them more depth.
  3. The tone of the anime shifted unnaturally and felt jarring. It needed more episodes to smooth out the transition.

Yeah, I don’t agree with any of these. The tonal shift is what the director, Seiji Kishi, does in all his shows. He deliberately uses it for either comedic effect or shock value. Now I don’t think he did that particularly well in Angel Beats, but that’s a different story. Given more episodes, he would have continued using that tonal shifting style anyway. The characters lacking depth didn’t come about through lack of exploration of their characters. Almost all of the characters that didn’t have their back stories explored were one-stock joke characters anyway. There was no back story to tell. Giving them back stories would have come off as trite. No extra episodes would have changed that, unless the show changed their personalities entirely, and that’s not what they wanted to do in the first place. As for the plot making no sense, that’s because the very core of the plot was borked from the start. The world would have made no sense no matter how long they tried to explain it, because the very fundamentals of it made no sense. More episodes would just have made it make no sense even slower.

Jyu Oh Sei races through what seems like it should be a sci-fi epic in the space of 11 episodes. But none of the scenes that occurred necessarily felt rushed in of themselves. The reason it’s so short is because the show didn’t really care about its characters or developing them. It’s token, soulless development. Giving it more episodes would have simply made the anime drag through scenes the viewer didn’t care about. Keeping it short, in my humble opinion, actually kept it watchable. It could be argued that it needed to take better care of developing its characters and giving them personalities and souls, but that’s a problem with the story, not because it was given too little episodes.

And so on and so forth. My key point I’m trying to make is the lack of episodes in of itself isn’t what these anime are lacking. It’s a different problem. In solving that problem, the show might naturally need more episodes to do that in, but don’t trot out the excuse of needing more episodes when something is flawed. Obviously there are cases where more episodes were obviously needed. Anything where the plot doesn’t finish obviously needs more (although sometimes you get people wanting every single bit explained, resulting in some twats asking for more episodes of Madoka), and some genuine cases where an anime with a finished plot still needed more episodes. But please, think about what the problems with the anime in question are before you start claiming it was flawed because it ‘needed more episodes’.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, if it had more episodes, I think the material in the light novel and manga would have been in Angel Beats, but that’s it.

  2. Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    The only one of your examples I watched was Angel Beats and I seriously don’t understand people wo claim it should have been longer. Yes, I would probably watch it longer because I liked some of the characters, but the plot had everything it needed for that kind of plot. As much as I loved T.K., I wouldn’t want to know his backstory. He was awesome as he was and developing him could destroy such a great comic relief, because every backstory was full of drama.

    • luffyluffy
      Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

      All TK wanted to do was be in a compedititve dance group.

      But then he hit by a truck.

  3. Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Haha, I was thinking about writing something similar to this after No. 6 (which has emerged as another candidate for the “it needs more episodes!” crowd). Damn you for getting to it first! *shakes fist*

    As you write, often times the problems with an anime are so fundamental that more episodes to flesh out a story, characters or whatever would not help in the least. The prevailing theory is that more = better, but it’s not that simple. Most crews just do not use their time effectively. Keeping No. 6 focused on Shion and Nezumi, with use of the totalitarian city as the oppressor, would have made for a good series, and that’s exactly what No. 6 does in the beginning. But then it piles more and more and more and more and more, until the show just explodes from all the fat that has been packed in.

    Telling a good, spare story almost seems to be a lost art.

  4. Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I can agree with you on all accounts especially Angel Beats!.

    I actually like the shortness of Jyu-Oh-Sei albeit the first time I watched it was in English dubbing. There wasn’t anything wrong with the story and it did highlight its setting splendidly.

    As for [C], giving it more episodes would serve no purpose. Even asking a second season for it would have no purpose (especially if we believe that the Financial District will never die). Quite frankly, what [C] lacked was the animation department and I don’t think adding more episodes would fix that issue.

  5. DrIdiot
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you with the examples you gave above but I think No. 6 actually could have used more episodes (or at least better planning) because for the first half of it, it seemed like it might have been a reasonably decent show and then everything suddenly went to shit. Of course, there was no reason for everything to go to shit so badly regardless of number of episodes, so for sure incompetence played a large role there too.

    But I agree completely with [C]. It was retarded from the get-go.

  6. Nebulous
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I liked Xam’d (loved the soundtrack), and I agree with you totally. The fact that Xam’d was confusing had very little to do with the amount of time it had, merely how it wished to use it. [C] may have been a bit better with 2 episodes or so to go into depth on whatever it was trying to say but not any significant amount of time really. You’re also forgetting the abomination that was Fractale where the ending part about Nessa could not be made palatable or understandable if the show had 52 episodes.

    I think the main problem is that they are stuck with the amount of episodes they have and it seems rather inflexible nowadays. Death Note was 37 episodes – when was the last time you saw a series with that amount? Or a series with 15-18 episodes? It seems like we are stuck with the 11-13, 22-26, 48-52 episode format which is quite inflexible.

    But it in no way excuses things like Angel Beats which IMO was a huge disappointment, due to how ridiculously out of place everything was. Look at Madoka which I believe most people can agree was one of the best shows recently and how it used it’s short episode run extremely well. You can tell deep and meaningful stories in short, time but that requires good planning preparation, and an overall view of what you are trying to do with your story. Noitamina shows do rather well tbh, with both Horou Musuko and Usagi Drop knowing EXACTLY what their story is about and how they can deliver that message. [C] on the other hand had so much superfluous information and themes (Kimimaro’s father etc.) that it didn’t know it’s head from its tail and ended up as a mess of ideas.

    Furthermore I think that the rigid “Must tell entire story right now because I won’t get a second season” also somewhat hurts Anime. I was watching The Wire and the first season you see them deal with a lot of Issues like a typical TV program. But when the season ends their is still loads of story that can be told without having to rehash or repeat what has already occurred. If for example [C] wanted to have a second season what could it possibly do? The only thing [C] has that is interesting has already been fully explored – it left no taster of any ideas that it could develop further if it had more time. Same with many, other shows and why they can’t produce anything significant with extra time.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I don’t hold it against any show for not finishing its story because it plans for another season, so long as it manages to have a story contained in that one season. But all the shows I’ve mentioned her are clearly meant to be all that has to be said on that story.

      Also am I really the only person who likes [C]? It has some pretty glaring flaws, but it certainly had interesting stuff to say

  7. Hogart
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, it’s pretty lame illogic to claim a bad series could be improved with more time. If a series isn’t trying, giving it more episodes will just end up making more of the same nonsense that drags it down in the first place. Sure, some series are rushed and couple stand to have another episode or two, but you can’t fix a fundamentally bad story by dragging it out.

    Some anime are hurt by trying to adhere rigidly to a set number of episodes, but I’d wager that has more to do with not giving the writers creative freedom and/or time to adapt the story properly. I think that’s really what’s killing anime – the need to just start animating without proper planning.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      I’ve heard that’s a pretty big problem in video games too. Jumping to animate before proper planning. It’s rather fitting when you hear Madoka’s script was written 3 years before the show itself aired

  8. fathomlessblue
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you. I still think extra episodes can in theory give characters more depth, making them more endearing; however, if like you say, their concept design was paper thin to begin with, no amount of episodes will help. That’s certainly the case with Angel Beats and Madoka; although, as I’ve previously commented, the latter’s story benefited from having simple characters).

    But yeah, mostly the problem is down to execution. Angel Beats, having its planned length cut in half, still tried to fit 24 episodes in a 12 cour show. More eps may have somewhat fixed the pacing (if not the tone changes), but nothing could have elevated the plot or characters. It’s the same with Fractale, C and mostly recently No. 6. X’amd if anything needed less episodes and just more coherence.

    At the same time, I’m not against the idea for more episodes for the sake of it. Sure Angel Beats couldn’t have been fixed, but I still had a blast watching and would be pleased with another cour if it focused on the comedy aspect. I also (unlike you, obviously) was happy with another season of Arakawa. Was it necessary, or even better than first in terms of plot and comedy? No, but I still enjoyed it, and while disappointed with some aspects, certainly did not regret watching!

    If anything these grumbles about the lack of episodes make a good case for the inclusion of more dvd/blu-ray exclusive episodes. They can give fans more of the show, while trying to clear up plot issues they were unhappy with the first time round. Of course the latter will most likely fail, but if that’s what it takes to shut people up that the show’s story can be fixed, then so be it!

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      I’m not saying more episodes is automatically a bad thing. Just that it won’t fix the problems. Mind you, I do also hate a show outstaying its welcome, like Arakawa or Denpa Onna or Rainbow (that’s the Madhouse Rainbow, not Rio Rainbow Gate)

  9. romulus
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    There is this a correlation between those 11-episode-long anime series I can’t leave unnoticed. Before a season they all seem to be not only good but the best of the upcoming season, (synopsis and staff alike) than they turn out to be forgettable, totally flawed or mediocre at best
    My examples are Angel Beats, Fractale, [C] and other long forgotten shows.

    I do not say that all 11-episode-long shows suck, but the span of 11 episodes is clearly unfit to convey anything complicated, something that many Noitamina shows aim for (as Noitamina tries to contain quality) and fail (as Noitamina shows are limited to 11 eps)
    The other choice for these shows is to fly low and not to aim too high.
    Seriously, Usagi Drop was good. But what was it about? What did it enrich our minds with? Nothing, it kept us entertained, that’s all. No problem with that as we watch anime to be entertained, but if a format can only score a point that way than the format is better off dead.

    Now lets get on-topic: If the source of many problems is the lenght, why not give it more episodes? Biggest fail of AB was the rushed change of tone. Lesser fails include too much drama. Only 3 more episodes AND cutting down on weird shit would have made it way better. Also,

    Guilty Crown seems to be the best anime of the upcoming season. It is 11 episodes long. FAIL ALERT – FAIL CHANCE 70%

    • Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink
      • romulus
        Posted September 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        O.O WOW THX

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Really? Bunny Drop was about parenting and how your priorities change. I thought it got that across pretty darn well

      • luffyluffy
        Posted September 19, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        And Bunny Drop made me cry nearly every week, I think it was pretty damn good.

        … Made me realize how my own childhood sucked dicks.

      • romulus
        Posted September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        By no means i was trying to criticise Usagi Drop as my final score was 5/5, I simply found that basic concept rather simple and the final product lacking impact. But it seems thats only me. Maybe I was pampered during my childhold?

        Anyways, it seems that the general theory doesn’t stand this way. As a revamped version: being 11-episode-long means 70% failchance, wíth exceptions.

  10. Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    In my opinion, Angel Beats is terribad quality. It was so utterly stupid that it was pretty funny at times. If (somehow) more episodes meant that they actually got it to make sense, therefore, it would have ruined the show to do so. As you point out, the computer monitor room was a perfect example of how ridiculously nonsensical the series was. I thought it was very funny as is, but by that point I had long given up on the show ever making sense.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I still like Angel Beats. And [C]. And Xam’d. And Jyu Oh Sei. Using an example like Fractale would make the argument in this post rather weak

  11. mcm38
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Xam’d and [C] had enough episodes. And Angel Beats does indeed need a more rational plot. Even tough so, I do get the feel Angel Beats would eventualy do need more episodes to go in depth of the plot. Cause as how I see it, most of the characters could have magnificent backstorys sticked to them even tough they were added just for the comedy material.
    Take TK for example. He’s purely there for the funny background of a blonde dancing weird guy, but at the same time that makes him incredibly mysterious. He stands out like most of the other chars with some realy abnormal attributes. You keep wondering what kind of person he was before ‘death’.

  12. Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    You’re looking at it the wrong way. It’s not that ‘it doesn’t need more episodes because it doesn’t make sense fundamentally’, it’s ‘if they knew it would be longer, they would /make it/ make sense fundamentally’. If the producers could make Angel Beats two-cour and knew it from the start, they would make the world make more sense, flesh out the secondary characters more, and I don’t know about the tonal shift though. And hey, No. 6 definitely needed more episodes, especially as it had coherent source material.

  13. Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Most anime waste a lot of time with very pedestrian pacing. They don’t need more episodes, but directors, writers, and series planners to better use the amount of time they have. Thirteen episodes averages about 290 minutes. Granted having to block things out in 22 minute chunks seriously messes with pacing, but more time aren’t what most shows need. Agreed. That said, I disagree with you on Angel Beats. Maybe a different cast dynamic would have been a better solution to getting it said in 13 episodes, but with the cast dynamic as it was, more episodes would have benefited the show.

  14. Marow
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit on the fence with this question, especially since you mention Angel Beats (which I, for some magical reason, liked, but that’s not my point).

    Fractale didn’t need more episodes, because it wouldn’t make sense anyway with the keys, stupidity and whatnot. And the characters themselves were shallow and never even hinted that it would try to make them deeper.

    Angel Beats on the other hand, would benefit from more episodes I believe. It just felt all over the place, like they had a much longer show, but needed to cut it down to one cour. Which would explain all the characters, new enemies and so on. I even heard rumors stating that it was supposed to be a six cour (!) show, but only was one cour in the end.

    But the more I think of it, there really aren’t any good arguments that either say “needed more episodes” or “wouldn’t make sense anyway”. It all comes down to personal taste and what you want to defend.
    I like Angel Beats, I want to defend it, I believe it would need more episodes.
    I don’t like Fractale, I don’t want to defend it, I don’t believe it would need more episodes.

    I mean, I could argue that Fractale is indeed a masterpiece that was ruined by its length. But I don’t, because I don’t like it.

    But nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind seeing more episodes of a certain show, just to see what would happen.

  15. Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    Madoka Magica, Haibane Renmei, Tatami Galaxy.

    Now and Then, Here and There, Baccano, Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

    These are all one-cour anime TV series with some traits in common. They each defined their thematic core, embraced that identity, and cut all the fat.These are also examples of tremendously inventive, ambitious, affecting, and influential titles. What wonders that good series planning, composition, and directing can accomplish.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    The original Jyu Oh Sei manga is great hard sci-fi. The story is told in a very Niven-esque manner. I recommend it.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      The anime is very good hard sci-fi too, probably the best in just sheer crazy sci-fi ideas out there in anime. It’ just the story and characters that aren’t good

  17. Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I utterly disagree with you. While you can say Angel Beats couldn’t have been better even if it had more episodes, there’s no proof or basis to what your saying except that “the director has the tendency to do this”. First and foremost, are you even sure that the director Seiji Kishi made all those jokes funny. Maybe there’s some animation director there that helped him work on it. And if you say “its because most of his shows are funny”, I don’t think Kamisama Dolls is that funny (mostly energetic, but funny…).

    Furthermore its definitely much more plausible to say it could have been better since Maeda himself explained that the script was written for a 2-cour. Your proof of Angel Beats not being better even if it was 2-cour is weaker than the proof that Angel Beats could have been better with someone ACTUALLY involved in the animation process. Its very hard to point proofs on something that you have no idea with.

    Furthermore just look at the Sci-fi noitaminA animes like No.6 (just pulled off some sort of ending), C (lacking character development), and even Fractale (just terribly muddled overall). I would like to say, based on what I have seen, all three of these started panicking when they realize they only have a few episodes to work with. I for one wasn’t a big fan of C, but it had a lot of concepts to explore which it terribly failed to do so BECAUSE OF LACK OF TIME.

    Though in the end who knows? Its not like you can go back in time, go to Japan, plead the studio, broadcasters, etc. to lengthen your animu. Unless you live in Steins;Gate or something.

    Just my 2 annoyed cents.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      I’m not saying he’s funny. I’m talking about the tonal shift Angel Beats was often derided for, which Seiji Kishi does in every single one of his shows, without fail. My point there was the tonal shifts weren’t because he was rushing.

      As for rushed sci-fi Noitamina shows, I don’t see what you think more episodes would have done for any of those shows. I haven’t seen the ed to No.6 yet (holiday la la la) but all the shows you mentioned had a clear arc they were following. With the exception of Fractale, which was a pile of poo from the off

      • Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Besides most of Seiji Kishi’s works as of late, (the plot-centric ones), are all 13 episodes. It’s hard to say it could have been or it could have not been if you haven’t shown me an anime of his that is more than 13 episodes.

        And just because there’s a last arc that they were following so to speak, doesn’t mean they are exempted in rushin/could have been better. Do you honestly believe that C explored all the possibilities that it could have. No. 6 is a finished light novel series that could have been better if it had more episodes to have the story flourish more.

        But Fractale’s crap.

  18. 3242
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I rest your point on angel beats and 200 episodes invalid, 5 – camp.
    If it was so very long, it would of had to have many episode detailing the world to even practically every single npc getting their own filler episode, so therefore, by that time, that scene may of made much more sense…

  19. Bob Bobsters
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Nichijou got the plot completely across, More episodes would’ve fixed that.

  20. Ryan R
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I think that the “It needed more episodes” argument is sometimes valid, but I’ve grown increasingly skeptical of it in recent years, as its thrown around an awful lot.

    If an one-cour anime show ends up generating a lot of negative and/or lukewarm response, I can pretty much guarantee you that the “It needed more episodes” excuse is going to get trotted out by one or more of the show’s biggest fans.

    It’s actually a very clever tactic. The biggest fans of a show are likely to want more of it simply because they loved it to pieces and hence want more (this is the true main reason why some Madoka Magica fans want more even though the narrative is fine the way it is). So by a show’s fans arguing “It needed more episodes” they hope to turn the show’s critics into people arguing alongside of them “Yeah, it would be good to get more episodes of this”. Again, pretty clever. Decent way of turning the people you disagree with into your allies.

    Clever as it is, it’s starting to become a bit too transparent. It’s starting to become clear that this is often a means to deflect more substantive and harsher criticism of a work than just “it needs more episodes”.

  21. Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Steins;Gate does not make sense *if you try to parse every last detail*, because time travel does not make sense. However, the world of Steins;Gate is fully realized and ‘makes sense’ if you don’t delve into it too deeply. It’s complete bullshit; but it’s bullshit completely explored.

    Angel Beats does not make sense, because the afterlife does not make sense. Here, unlike the example above, Angel Beats’ bullshit is not completely explored, and it could gain quite a bit from further exploration of the aforementioned bullshit. Yes, extending Angel Beats to 2-cours does not fix all of its’ issues; but it can help improve the series nonetheless.

    I agree, more time does not fix most issues: Xam’d and [C] have none of their issues tied with the episode count. Yes, Angel Beats would gain more from fixing certain other issues than it would from extending its’ episode count. But all of that doesn’t annihilate the possibility of some (completed) shows benefiting from more episodes.

    Posted January 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Angel beats was just weird, nuff said.

    I thought Jyu-Oh-Sei was very good. I wouldnt say the characters were souless or didnt have personalities though. It was survival of the fittest, the strong eat the weak. I kind of thought it was ironic. On earth the plants help us live, but on chimera they can kill/eat you. What the show wasnt missing was character development, it was depth. Obviously with depth comes more episodes, so in a sense having more episodes would benefit it. However having more episodes of the same content wouldnt be beneficial. There was definitely more aspects the show could have expanded on.

  23. Judgment
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    What people most people fail to realize is that Angel Beats has incredibly deep characters. The problem is most people don’t try to feel the characters nor even bother trying to understand. There are a lot of different anime out there where people criticize the characters for being “stock” or “shallow.” That is absurd, there’s more than one way to portray a character.

    You need to feel the emotions of the character and see what he/she feels. You don’t just watch the anime, you need to feel it with all of your senses.

    Many great works such as Shakespeare are just as shallow and stock if we go by your method of evaluating characters. The problem here is that you people treat anime too differently. People look past what they initially see and study Shakespeare. This is how it becomes a great work. On the surface level, Shakespeare’s plays are generic and trash. This is the same with anime, you need to study it in detail and you will understand its greatness.

  24. Judgment
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Also, a majority of the anime you’ve listed make perfect sense. It’s like a lot of works out there, the average normal people simply don’t understand it.

    All of the anime you listed make perfect sense, I simply don’t get what’s confusing. If you don’t get it, you’re simply not capable of doing so, not because the series isn’t good.

    Problem here is that most of you posters are too simple minded and only look on the surface. In order to understand, you simply need more intelligence.

  25. Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink


  26. Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    What evil have I seen on my computer screen?

  27. Raiphin
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Y’know, I feel fairly confident in being able to determine for myself if the Emperor is in fact, wearing new clothes.

    And in the case of Angel Beats, that Emperor is really quite naked.

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