Why Do Most Anime Have 12 Episodes?

Why Do Most Anime Have 12 Episodes
Credit: A-1 Pictures

Why Do Most Anime Have 12 Episodes
Credit: A-1 Pictures

Have you ever wondered why most anime follow certain conventions that seem to repeat season after season? For instance, compared to older anime, many new works seem to start with 12-episode seasons at which point they may or may not receive another cour or season. So, why do most anime have 12 episodes?

Why Do Most Anime Have 12 Episodes?

The reason why most anime nowadays have around 12 episodes is associated with budget concerns and time constraints.

In previous years, when there were fewer anime titles coming out per year, it was common for anime to span for longer periods with their fair share of fillers.

For some of the most popular works, this is still a possibility, with anime like One Piece, Detective Conan, and Naruto spanning hundreds or thousands of episodes.

Even a selected number of newer works are likely to receive a longer adaptation if there's enough confidence about their performance, although the end product might still disappoint, as was the case with Shaman King (2021) for instance.

Apart from those few anime that never truly stop airing, however, most current works respond to the constraints of anime seasons.

Each year has four anime seasons, each spanning over three months. Episodes are typically released weekly; as such, anime with 12 episodes perfectly fit within this timeframe.

Certain seasonal anime, on the other hand, have 24 episodes. These are either all released weekly without a break or split their content and take a one or two-season break - these are known are split-cour anime and still come out in chunks of 12.

Some fans who have grown up watching longer anime that are now considered classics might find this a bit restrictive.

While it's true that this model doesn't fit every single anime - with quite a few never receiving a proper ending - it doesn't always have negative implications for anime shows' quality.

Related: The Best 12-Episode Anime Series

Today, most creators know that they're expected to tell as complete a story as possible within 12 or 24 episodes and modern works have much fewer fillers.

Moreover, those anime that become very popular are likely to get as many 12-episode cours as needed to complete their stories in the best possible way.

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