Anime weather report: Why anime release schedule is divided by weather

As anime fans eagerly await the upcoming anime spring season 2023, it’s worth exploring the unique nature of anime production and how it differs from Western television shows. Anime is a unique and fascinating medium that has a different approach to production and release than Western TV series. Unlike the Western model of full series releases, anime releases are divided into four seasons, each lasting three months, and are categorized according to the weather season: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of anime seasons, why they are divided into parts and how the number of episodes is determined.

Demon Slayer season 3: Swordsmith Village Arc episode 1 is set to release on April 9, 2023, and will run for an hour, similar to the first episode of the Entertainment District Arc.(Viz Media)

What is a season in anime?

An anime season is a three-month period in which an anime show is aired weekly at the same time on the same channel in Japan. Unlike Western TV series that release entire seasons at once, anime shows are released in parts that fit into the broadcasting schedules of Japanese broadcasters. The majority of anime series are given a 12-week block, known as a cour, in which their show can be aired weekly. This time constraint often means that most anime series delivers a complete story within the 12-episode runtime.

What Are the Anime Seasons?

Anime seasons are divided according to the weather seasons, which are slightly different from the calendar year. Winter is the first quarter of the year (January, February, and March), followed by spring in the second quarter (April, May, and June), summer in the third quarter (July, August, and September), and autumn or fall in the fourth quarter (October, November, and December). The anime calendar starts with Winter and ends with Fall as the first and last seasons, respectively. This allows for a regular cycle of anime shows throughout the year, and broadcasters have a rough schedule planned many months in advance.

Why do Anime Have 12 or 24 Episodes?

Anime shows usually have 12 or 24 episodes to fit within the three-month cours assigned by Japanese broadcasters. The weekly airing schedule allows for an episode every 12 weeks, with adjustments made based on the show’s popularity and expected audience. Occasionally, a split-cour run may occur, with a break between the first 12 episodes and the rest of the series. Some of the biggest series may be given two broadcasting seasons, giving them 24 weeks, while smaller series might only have 10 or 11 episodes. The production studios must finish the show within the given cour, and this helps to create a sense of urgency and excitement among the viewers.

Why are Anime Seasons Split into Parts?

Anime seasons are sometimes split into parts to accommodate Japanese broadcasting schedules or due to the production company’s capabilities. Most anime series must fit their story within the allotted cour, to avoid unsatisfying cliffhangers. A continuous run is typically considered one season, with subsequent seasons continuing the story at a later date. At times, anime series opt for split-cour runs, airing the initial 12 episodes, taking a break, and then returning with more. A hit anime may return quickly but must wait for a new season if a show is already scheduled. Split-cour runs allow studios to maintain animation quality. A split-cour season can enable studios to enhance animation quality by avoiding one-week deadlines for six months.