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I know of the time notation for some anime—between 22:00-27:00. I know that this indicates that the show airs at a particular time, and likely targets a particular audience.

Why would this notation be used, and be preferred over a more traditional 24-hour format?

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This is a hypothesis: The time goes beyond 24 hours in order to make it easier for the viewers to identify which day of the week they should stay up late to watch the show. For example, "Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties is aired on Monday 25:35" informs the viewers that they need to stay up late on Monday.

If we write in standard 24 hours format Tuesday 01:35, it may cause some confusions:

  • Is the show aired at 01:35 in the afternoon, or some hours past midnight?
  • Some people only take note of the day of the week, but not the time: "Since it is on Tuesdays, there is no reason to stay up late on Monday".

In Japan, both 24-hour format and 12-hour format are used in everyday life activity. Therefore, a time without any indication of the period of the day such as Tuesday 01:35 might be confusing. The confusion may also be partly attributed to the cultural perception about the hours of darkness.

Quoting the Wikipedia article1 (emphasis mine):

1 The Wikipedia article lacks citation, though.

Times past midnight can also be counted past the 24 hour mark, usually when the associated activity spans across midnight. For example, bars or clubs may advertise as being open until "26時" (2am). This is partly to avoid any ambiguity (2am versus 2pm), partly because 8the closing time is considered part of the previous business day, and perhaps also due to cultural perceptions that the hours of darkness are counted as part of the previous day, rather than dividing the night between one day and the next.


There is another notation that is commonly used, where the day of the week is the day that the viewer has to stay up late, and the time is clamped to 24 hours with some text to clarify the time. Using the same example as above, in this notation, it will be Monday, late night at 1:35.

For the purpose of reference, I do a sampling from the anime of Spring 2013 season (late night shows only):

The usage of the 2 notations are more or less equally common. We can also observe that it is more common to specify only the starting time, than specifying both starting and ending time. The data might be skewed by the fact that all the shows here are late night shows, and the sample size is quite small (17 shows).

  • +1, was going to post a similar answer, but you were faster :P Also, when the time listed is "22:00-27:00", you immediately see how long will the show be, it's more convenient than trying to calculate the duration of "22:00-03:00". – SingerOfTheFall Jun 4 '13 at 5:12
  • @SingerOfTheFall: It is indeed easier to calculate, but do they ever specify time range? I have only see the start time in the advertisement text. – nhahtdh Jun 4 '13 at 5:14
  • not sure, it's just a guess. – SingerOfTheFall Jun 4 '13 at 5:16
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    @Makoto: In Japan, both 24-hour and 12-hour format are used in everyday life, so I think this is one possible source of confusion. There is also this text in the Wikipedia page (no citation, though) This is partly to avoid any ambiguity (2am versus 2pm), partly because the closing time is considered part of the previous business day, and perhaps also due to cultural perceptions that the hours of darkness are counted as part of the previous day, rather than dividing the night between one day and the next. – nhahtdh Jun 10 '13 at 6:05
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    Just as a side comment, at my job I've had to process ticketing data for movie theaters, and they tend to serve data for midnight and after showings as 24:01, 25:00 etc the previous day. So it's not just for TV showtimes, movie theaters use that notation too. – Danalog Jun 26 '13 at 17:30
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From Wikipedia:

Time-of-day notations beyond 24:00 (such as 24:01 or 25:59 instead of 00:01 or 01:59) are not commonly used and not covered by the relevant standards. However, they have been used occasionally in some special contexts in the UK, Japan, Hong Kong and China where business hours extend beyond midnight, such as broadcast-television production and scheduling. They also appear in some public-transport applications, such as Google's General Transit Feed Specification file format or some ticketing systems (e.g., in Copenhagen). This usage prevents a time period reported without dates from appearing to end before its beginning, e.g., 21:00–01:00.

  • I can't recall whether time period is used in anime advertisement (I only checked a few recent ones, and they only include the starting time). However, many anime airs after midnight, so the reason This usage prevents a time period reported without dates from appearing to end before its beginning doesn't really apply here. – nhahtdh Jun 4 '13 at 17:43
  • @nhahtdh Maybe not for an individual program, but when you see the entire schedule it would be confusing to see a show at 23:00-25:00 followed by a program at 01:00-01:30. – Dean Jun 4 '13 at 18:19
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    That's true for a whole schedule, but the anime is just a single show, though. I have looked through the official website of several shows in this season to see how they specify the date. Turn out that half of them uses a slightly different notation, where the time is not beyond 24 hour. – nhahtdh Jun 4 '13 at 19:19
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Whist in Japan, I've seen this happen in other places outside of anime. The opening times for one onsen was 18:00 - 20:00 for women, 21:00 - 25:00 for men.

I'm pretty sure it's to avoid the break that happens when switching days. It's easy to see that the men's bath is open for 4 hours, but 21:00 - 01:00 isn't so obvious at first glance.

It's also related to waking hours - if you're up at 1:00 it's more likely that you've stayed awake rather than woken up early. In that vein, keeping the same day's hours could potentially be less confusing

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