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Old 2012-06-16, 23:33   Link #1
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Split Cour vs. Traditional Two Cour

A recent trend in anime has been the split cour approach, where a two cour anime airs like it was two separate one cour shows with a season off between them. A couple prominent examples of this are Fate/Zero and Rinne no Lagrange.

So, given how Split Cour seems to be becoming more commonplace than the traditional two cour approach (a 24-to-26 episode anime airing over two back-to-back seasons), I was curious to know people's opinions on Split Cour vs. Traditional Two Cour, as well as on Split Cour in general.

Do you prefer the Split Cour approach, as the break between cours can help build up more anticipation for the "second half" of the show? Or do you prefer the Traditional Two Cour approach because of how it can build up (and sustain) momentum over 24 or more consecutive weeks?
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Old 2012-06-16, 23:42   Link #2
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I think it sucks, but at the same time, it's like thinking your political leaders suck. It's kind of useless to have an opinion on something you have no voice in.

That said, even though I know my angst over forgetting half of what's going on while waiting for a second cour is pointless, and that it'd be far more mature to just let that go and angst over things that actually matter, I...go ahead and angst anyways. I guess first world problems are my prerogative for being born into the life I was.

Furthermore, while you've given two examples, they're also about the only examples I can think of (don't really count shows like...oh...Gintama...or Natsume...for instance). So, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's a prevalent issue. Yet.

In some ways, super fast subs are kind of a bad thing. In the old days, since subs were so slow, I'd just wait 'till a show was completely subbed (and often, the subs weren't available anyways, until well after a show had ended), then watch it all in one go, without feeling like I was depriving myself of entertainment. In that case, splitting up a season had no practical effect on me.

These days, with same-day subs for so many shows, it's hard to take that approach, and thus any delay in continuing the show is agonizing. For me, at least. I can barely stand waiting one week. A whole season, for a show that had real momentum, is painful.

As to your two examples, the split wasn't as bad as I thought it would be for Zero. There was a noticeable shift in direction and momentum between the first season and the second, and to be quite blunt, the first season was actually really dragging, as much as I enjoyed it. Now, if they had split the second season in half with some long period of time, I'd have really been pissed, as there was real momentum going there. As for flowers and girls and strange looking mech, I didn't enjoy it, so I have no real valid opinion on the merits-or lack-of splitting its season.
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Old 2012-06-16, 23:44   Link #3
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Depends on if it has an effect on the animation quality
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Old 2012-06-16, 23:59   Link #4
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I have worse at the moment. Basically a series of 26 episodes split into 7 "films", released roughly two to three months apart from each other.

It will probably be shown as a single two cour series in 2013.
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Old 2012-06-17, 00:14   Link #5
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"Cour" is not in my vocab.; and I don't recognize (accept) the usage of the word.

I just stick to the term: "season"
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Old 2012-06-17, 00:15   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Calca View Post
Depends on if it has an effect on the animation quality
I'm actually more concerned about how it might affect the writing. Split-cour strikes me as a way for production committees to hedge their bets and only release the second half if the first one makes enough money to justify continuing. That would make it much more difficult to write a coherent 24-26 episode script.

Split-cour seems rather different from traditional sequels like the forthcoming second season of Moyashimon or the two Nodame sequels. In the case of Nodame Cantabile, for instance, the show could have ended after the first season, but the success of the property created a demand for manga sequels and their accompanying anime adaptations.

Another case in point might be Claymore. The clumsy ending of that show makes me suspect Madhouse hoped or expected to produce a second season since the manga had already continued past the end of the animated release. When the bad news came down that 26 episodes would be it, we got a hasty and unsatisfying ending for the anime. That type of ending could be more common in split-cour series if the studio doesn't know whether the production committee intends to finance the second cour until late in the first season.

On top of all this you have the usual problem of anime adaptations being released before the manga concludes. If the source material is already long enough to support both halves of a split-cour release, it's probably less of an issue than if the second cour depends on as-yet unpublished, or worse unwritten, manga content.
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Old 2012-06-17, 00:21   Link #7
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If it's based on a currently publishing product like manga, I'd actually encourage split cour sometimes.

But with adaptations of completed material and original anime? Breaks immersion. Don't like. I have enough issues with waiting a week between episodes of many anime already, and most of the anime I watch now are complete because I love watching several episodes in a row. Waiting a whole season for the story to continue is terrible.
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Old 2012-06-17, 00:22   Link #8
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A little bit of both. An over-arching narrative being split into two cours runs the risk of the second half not actually being made. However, traditional two cour shows don't provide a coherent drop point if I'm not compelled to finish the series; for completionists like myself a split season spares me some grief.

So I'd say it also depends on the show itself.
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Old 2012-06-17, 00:40   Link #9
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It's pretty bad for marathoners like me because I have to wait a bit longer.
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Old 2012-06-17, 02:39   Link #10
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What Seiji says... I think it is primarily a hedge bet of marginal economic times. And it *does* affect the writing unless they've ACTUALLY storyboarded all two cours (which happens rarely if at all from what I hear).
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Old 2012-06-17, 02:43   Link #11
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Y'know what I hear about 26 episodes nowadays? "OMG, the pacing is so slow", etc etc.
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Old 2012-06-17, 02:49   Link #12
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Originally Posted by Kyuu View Post
Y'know what I hear about 26 episodes nowadays? "OMG, the pacing is so slow", etc etc.
Pat those people on the head and send them out to play... its a modern form of short-attention-span. You see it in all sorts of activities any more.
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Old 2012-06-17, 03:00   Link #13
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Originally Posted by creb View Post
Furthermore, while you've given two examples, they're also about the only examples I can think of (don't really count shows like...oh...Gintama...or Natsume...for instance). So, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's a prevalent issue. Yet.
Other examples I can think of are White album,The World god only Knows,Horizon,Kimi to Boku,Jormungand and likely AKB0048 ( production member says there's a 2nd cour planned even though it hasn't been announced yet).

As for my view,it is a compromise I'm willing to make,sure I'd preffer traditional 2 cour (Chihayafuru,penguin drum,Moretsu Pirates...) but I'll still gladly take it over one cour.Especially in adaptations where the writing is already done in the manga/light novel
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Old 2012-06-17, 05:52   Link #14
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Setting aside the pragmatism from the industry's perspective, it depends on the type of show.

For example, we have Fate/Zero, which is a heavily action-oriented show and is, by extension, dependent on the plot's momentum. As such, splitting the resolution of the overarching plot into two separate cours wasn't all that good a move in terms of its overall impact. On the other hand, a show can bypass this as long as it stops at key points, usually as particular mini arcs are resolved. One show that does this relatively well is Code Geass. With that, the important thing here for me is the exact point where the the story is cut off.

What matters for me is whether cutting off a story at a particular point retains its flow and pacing such that a viewer preserve their enjoyment of both halves as if the long time interval never happened.

Of course, this is a non-issue for shows that aren't bound by an overarching plot (K-On!, Lucky Star, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, etc.) since split cours are virtually indistinguishable from simply having an entirely new season.
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Old 2012-06-17, 06:13   Link #15
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I personally think it is a bit of a 'cop-out' for studios (along with 'it will be all-right on the DVD' to cover up today's shoddier production 'values' does any station employ a technical producer nowadays, the small screen is where you should show the 'finished article' not some 'rough draft') to do this across multiple genres and categories of shows. Not even such stalwart shows as Doctor Who and fate/zero are immune to this. It shows a level of almost-gutlessness by not wanting to admit that they have not dotted every I and crossed every t in the production stage on behalf of the production teams to persist in this behaviour, a season exists intact in nature the same should be for ALL the television shows we watch.
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Old 2012-06-17, 07:18   Link #16
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Lots of excellent replies here, both pro and con and more 'middle-of-the-road'. I also want to thank totoum specifically for raising some other examples of the Split Cour approach.

From a writing quality standpoint, I see a slight flaw with split-cour (in addition to what SeijiSensei and Vexx already mentioned). I think it makes anime studios want to end the first cour on a semi-conclusive and/or cliffhanger-esque note. This might be fine with an anime original show like Lagrange, but with a LN adaptation like Fate/Zero, I can see how this can cause anime studios to spread out the adaptation in a less-than-ideal way.

But then, that's no different than what you'd see for a LN spread out over two one cour shows aired a year apart from each other, so Split Cour is no worse (and is arguably better) than that at least.
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Old 2012-06-17, 07:22   Link #17
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Can't say I approve of it very much-- it breaks the flow and makes it less prevalent in my mind. To me, Fate/Zero didn't seem to be designed with this in mind, and it didn't leave off at the halfway point being particularly exceptional. It also didn't help that near it came that infamous filler episode that was good in its own right, but not placed especially well. Even standard 2-cour series like Shana would know how to do that right.

And then there's Lagrange; which might have ended at the halfway point on a good note but I wouldn't know, because they had a bunch of rather boring as hell episodes approaching it, and at this point pretty much any interest I had died a few weeks back.
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Old 2012-06-17, 08:23   Link #18
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Seems a mixed bag. In the case of something like Fate/Zero, it is somewhat strategic. Show starts airing in the October 2012 season, BD pack for season 1 goes on sale in March along with related merch from about February or so, then season 2 airs in the current season. Also considered that for animation standards to be up to scratch, more time was needed. I would also imagine that during that gap, people would have been chatting in various places like Twitter and to friends IRL and online, spreading the word. I am aware of a fair number of people IRL that didn't even know about Fate/Zero after S1 had aired but had caught up in time for S2. In terms of marketing and production, it made sense. Merch, online hype, sales in between - it worked. In terms of writing - personally I didn't have an issue with the cliffhanger. If people had issues with how there were lax periods at some points in Season 1, that's more an issue of how Urobuchi wrote novels 1 and 2, which comprised the content of S1.

Another factor to take into account would be why the show is airing. In the case of a manga adaptation, studios would certainly like to do 2 seasons, but the simple fact of the matter is that this is a heavily sales-driven industry where only about 1 in 3 projects don't return a loss. There is no point in doing a 2nd season if the 1st season didn't achieve the desired result - significant increase in manga sales. Current example of this would be Jormungand, which announced a 2nd season a bit into airing since the effects were enough to justify more being made and in the anime sense, the pre-oders thus far are mid-pack and on target to break even to small profit. Another one would be Chihayafuru, which didn't do well in anime sales initially and seemed doomed to never continue until the 80% increase in manga sales occurred with the most recent volume, giving the green light for more to be adapted. In an ideal would, it would be nice to see a title be seen to the end, but these aren't the days of the South Seas bubble economics. Money can't be handed out and spend so freely. There has to be a justification for it in financial terms.

In a viewing sense, there can be fatigue at times. Watching a large slab of content at regular intervals can be a bit draining. And as Vexx said, attention spans are shrinking these days. I personally don't mind seeing one season then waiting a bit for the next. Mainly due to IRL time issues and the fact I watch older shows as much as I watch current content. Just because the new episode is there doesn't mean I have to drop everything at watch it on the spot. There are some shows I can blitz through and others which I simply need time to rest/reflect between episodes.

Other factors which I would wonder about what be the schedules of studios, seiyuus, merchandise proudction, the timing of a new manga volume release or a game, if a budget was being adhered to appropriately, if a certain big title that will dominate a season/attention and will weaken the exposure/hype of one's one title.

It's not necessarily a bad trend. But I don't want it to predominate. Split cours should happen for pertinent reasons. Not just for the sake of being a hipster.

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Old 2012-06-17, 09:52   Link #19
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I'd prefer split cour personally(A lot more), that way they don't catch up to the original content as fast, and have plenty of prep time to show how far they get in the second part/each season in the future.

Two Cour makes fillers more likely to happen, slow down plot, & worse:

Make an anime end in a anime-original way.

Though if the original content is done I don't mind a Two Cour.
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Old 2012-06-17, 10:59   Link #20
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Considering what I've read on the production of the split cour approach and how similar it is to a standard two-cour series, I feel it's more of an animation/funding issue than anything else. Shows like Yuru Yuri were originally scheduled for one season but it took a year for the second season to come around, this gives some evidence that they're produced the same.

By splitting a two-cour show over two seasons, you allow the animation studio to ease on the second half of production and put more effort into it. For shows like Fate/Zero which blend standard hand-drawn imagery with computer graphics animation, the extra time is helpful in maintaining that high quality. For studios like Sunrise, which have multiple series each season, you also allow your staff to assist whenever needed on other shows instead of having to continually work on the same show for half a year minimum. This helps with the fatigue that occurs with long productions.

The other avenue that split-cour benefits over a full two-cour series is the video release. I'm sure we've heard about the horrors of Kadokawa's 11/12/13 volume releases with 2 episodes each when they've produced a two-cour series, but these series don't have that same stigma. A standard two-cour series is released on 8-9 volumes, but by spliting releases into two "seasons" you now have the same 12 volume release that Kadokawa planned. To take an example, the split cour Kami nomi series had 12 volumes at 7,140 yen per volume. The same publisher released Shakugan no Shana Final on 8 volumes at 7,875 yen per volume. Both shows had 24 episodes, but Kami nomi purchasers paid 22,680 more (MSRP), allowing for more money going to the disc publisher. Of course this depends on the show and the show's popularity, but a popular show would earn more money with a split-cour release than a single two-cour release (i.e Horizon). Spreading the releases out to promote the second half also helps as well.

The main problem with a split-cour stategy is to have a stopping point that's suitable for the "first season." Personally, I didn't think Fate/Zero had a good stopping point, but Kami nomi handled it very well. You need something that "ends" yet allows for a continuation easily. It sounds easy, but the source material may not allow for it. It just depends on the series.

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