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Recap episodes are pretty common in anime. Every so often there will be an episode (or multiple episodes like in One Piece) that brings the audience up to speed on presumably a lot of material. In the past few years I've noticed that even 1 cour anime will have a recap episode somewhere in the middle (between episodes 4 - 6), and recently there have even been shows that are 1 cour with 2 recap episodes(thought the title escapes me at the moment).

I've never seen a positive fan reaction to a recap episode, so why are they still so common? Are they a hold over from the days before Video on Demand (VoD) through The Internets? Or is it just another filler-related solution?

Recap episodes are different than recap OVAs for the purpose of this question.

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Recap episodes may or may not have an actual purpose. From this article, which I recommend reading, recap episodes may have a purpose for long running series.

If the show has taken an extended detour into filler sub-plots, for example, a recap episode reminds everyone of where the main story is at. It can also catch newcomers up on the story.

Most of the time, however, they are just an indication of a problem within the anime staff. To quote,

A recap episode, generally, means they finally didn't make it. Some insurmountable challenge has come up, someone has dropped the ball, something just couldn't happen on time.

In short, it's just so that they can have something to broadcast, and it was not originally supposed to be aired, had they been on schedule. From that same article, this has a number of consequences. For one, since TV broadcast time is booked on advanced, there can only be a set number of episodes, which cannot be changed. Recap episodes would take up a slot of the set number of episodes, and the remaining episodes would have to be compressed in order to finish the story within the number of episodes they were given.

On the viewers' side, you have to admit, it somewhat annoys you, especially if it happens after an episode with a really good cliffhanger.

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    It's become somewhat common for shows to have recap movies or OVAs, too - obviously these aren't filler (since they're produced outside the normal schedule), but they are commonly used to maintain interest in the show between seasons (and in some cases to announce that there is, in fact, a new season coming). Some recent-ish examples include Mob Psycho 100, Made in Abyss and Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai. – ConMan May 6 at 0:25
  • @ConMan True. Although, personally I never watch recap episodes/OVAs/movies. Didn't include this information since the asker said he/she is referring to recap episodes, which I assume are episodes like Youjo Senki's recap. – W. Are May 6 at 1:29
  • Very true. My comment is definitely tangential to the main question. – ConMan May 6 at 5:22

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