I know in American television production there are pilots that are produced, presumably as a proof of concept, for shows that are never aired. Or, alternatively, as with Sherlock on BBC, the released first episode wasn't the originally produced one.

Does something similar happen with anime, or are pilots only produced for shows that will definitely air?

  • 4
    IIRC these exist with manga, but I'm not sure how it works with anime.
    – Maroon
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:47
  • 4
    As far as I know (but I don't know much, mind you), pilots in the American sense aren't really a thing for anime, but "pilot-y" productions do exist in some cases. Consider, for example, the initial OVAs for Little Witch Academia, Kyousougiga, or Death Billiards, all of which were kinda pilot-y, and were followed up by full-size adaptations. (@Maroon You're right - they do definitely exist for manga.)
    – senshin
    Mar 6, 2017 at 20:48
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    A thing to note is that, unlike American TV shows, most (not all) anime are adaptations of existing works. The examples @senshin gave are all original anime, but they are the exception rather than the rule. In some cases the anime is not even intended to make a profit itself but is commissioned essentially as an advertisement by the rights-holders of the original work. In such cases it would be surprising if a "pilot" of this style is needed, which probably explains the lack of such examples.
    – Logan M
    Mar 6, 2017 at 23:05
  • Sometimes American pilots are seen. The original pilot (a 2nd was later made) for Star Trek was re-purposed to become part of the two-episode story called The Menagerie. (If you don't remember the story itself, you probably remember the sexy green women and short aliens with big throbbing heads.) Also about two decades ago one of the American networks had a summer season show which consisted of pilots which never became series. // I agree with the others about anime pilots; with source material usually already existent, there is little reason to bother with a pilot.
    – RichF
    Mar 7, 2017 at 0:16
  • Oh! I just thought of what I had thought was an anime pilot, but turned out to be an extended video ad for the manga. It may have later served as a pilot, however. See: What is the background of March Comes in like a Lion meets BUMP OF Chicken?
    – RichF
    Mar 7, 2017 at 0:22

3 Answers 3


Not really, since Most anime's are based on popular manga's already published. Making a pilot in the US is byproduct of creator's who try to push their show to producers and executives. If the manga is popular, the anime will no doubt be successful. This is not always the case in the US and Japan. "The Big O" was a miserable failure in Japan, but in the US was well received.


The proof of concept for the animes are in the manga (most of the time). Take Naruto for example, in the pilot version Naruto is the son of the Nine-Tails Fox and the chief of the village (kind of the third Hokage) says he has the mission of getting a human friend to not turn evil like his father. It was a pilot that changed prior the manga to be better.

  • I am not sure that counts as there are bound to be anime that get a pilot episode that don't turn into a series.
    – Joe W
    Oct 8, 2020 at 1:27

I can't think of many examples of pilot episodes for anime.

Not sure if this counts, since it was made to pitch to American TV networks, but there was a pilot episode produced for an English-language version of Space Adventure Cobra. It re-used a few shots from the first episode of the Japanese TV series, but was made up of mostly unique footage, using an entirely new script that also had some modifications to some of the details of the plot.

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