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Recall that the anime industry produces TV anime according to a 4-season schedule: winter (Jan-Mar), spring (Apr-Jun), summer (Jul-Sep), and fall (Oct-Dec).

Since at least 2010 (and perhaps even before than that), there have been consistent differences in the average quality1 of anime released in each season.2 The details are open to argument, but most commentators will agree that spring is consistently the best season of anime in any given year, while winter is the worst.3 My personal impression is that on average, spring > fall > summer > winter.

It is not surprising that seasonal trends would exist - in Hollywood, for example, all the big "blockbusters" come out in the summer, and it seems that January and February are off-months for the industry (or so this article claims).

The real question, though, is why? What is it about winter that makes it the dumping ground for lousy anime? What is it about spring that gets the anime industry to put out good content?


1 When I talk about "quality" here, I'm basically talking about Rotten Tomatoes ratings - an aggregate of opinions from critical reviewers and ordinary consumers. Quality may not be objectively measurable, but quality-as-perceived-by-the-consumer certainly is. Technical merits of the production (e.g. sakuga, sound direction, etc.) are important in this context only insofar as they factor into the "Rotten Tomatoes ratings" here.

2 For ease, let's restrict ourselves to thinking about anime that run for one year or less (so no Naruto, Bleach, Yugimanz, etc.), and treat anime as belonging exclusively to the season in which they began airing (so e.g. all of Shingeki no Kyojin counts as a spring anime).

3 I can substantiate this claim if need be, both by reference to user ratings on sites like MAL and by reference to more subjective impressions by commentators who know a thing or two about anime. That said, I'm sure those of you who have a finger on the pulse of the anime-osphere probably have more or less the same impression.

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    i can only think of 2 factors which could have some sort of effect, the Christmas Hangover (where everyone is out of money having splurged during Christmas), during this time people could take extended holidays, and there's the end of the financial year (Tax Time!) however i don't know how that effects the production of anime (no knowledge of tax law in Japan) – Memor-X Jun 17 '14 at 1:45
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    could the fact that 'Golden Week' is in springtime have anything to do with it? Maybe more holiday time = more anime watching time. – user2716766 Jun 17 '14 at 2:12
  • Potentially also due to lack of budget? During winter allot of the time slots get filled with season bound series and movies. So Getting a good timeslot will be more expensive, although a little bit dependant on the channel it gets broadcasted on. – Dimitri mx Jun 17 '14 at 17:49
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    This question seems really subjective. When you are talking of the quality, do you mean the quality of the drawings, animation, sound and the constistency of it all? That could be an objective question, but as you are referencing MAL ratings I don't think that's what you're talking about. – Samuel Robert Jun 18 '14 at 12:51
  • @KirKill I have added a clarification as footnote 1 in the post. Does that help? – senshin Jun 18 '14 at 15:31
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I was going to agree with you jogging off recent memory however taking a look at upcoming anime for the rest of the year I can't say I agree one season is stronger than another. Here are a few examples for the rest of the year: Akame ga Kill!, Hanamonogatari, Space Dandy 2, Sword Art Online, Fate Stay/Night remake, Psycho Pass 2, Durarara 2, Evangelion 4.0, Log Horizon 2, new Gundam series. There are plenty of other great looking titles too though I can't say I know them well enough to know whether they will be successful or not.

I feel like this is all just a subject of opinion really, though this does seem to be the season for romance anime however, cant recall there being this much of it before.

Last winter did seem to have an unusual amount of mediocre anime though. I only watched a few things last season (winter) other than ongoing shows that were still running from the previous season.

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    I don't think we can answer this question just by cherry-picking the good series from upcoming seasons. For example - winter 2011 was probably the worst season in recent years (competing against winter 2012 and winter 2013 for that title...), but it also featured one of the most critically-acclaimed anime of the past decade: Madoka Magica. – senshin Jun 18 '14 at 19:01

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