-4

Notes:

  1. Series of movies fall under 'movies' eg MCU, The Godfather, Frozen, etc.

  2. Movies that are released as 'sequels to series instead of adaptations from scratch' I guess fall under 'movies' in this post. But maybe we can just ignore these movies.


There are lot of Western live movies, Western live series, Western animated movies and Western animated series. I don't see any particular bias to certain categories.

When it comes to anime, I notice there are lot of anime series but not really a lot of anime movies.

I checked out MAL just now

  1. Top Anime

  2. Top Anime by Popularity

They're mostly series. Many of the 'movies' on the list are actually 'sequels to series instead of adaptations from scratch', except notably Kimi no Na wa.

To clarify, there are 2 cases I guess here, but maybe it's the same answer for both:

  • Case 1 - There are some anime movies that are anime originals. But it seems (ok actually I'm not sure for anime originals) anime originals are usually anime series instead of an anime movie. Why is this the case?

  • Case 2 - There are some manga (or novels / light novels / visual novels / drama CDs / etc) adapted to anime movies (or series of anime movies) instead of anime series (which may or may not have movies that are 'sequels to series instead of adaptations from scratch'). But it seems the adaptation is usually going to be an anime series instead of an anime movie/s. Why is this the case?

Guesses:

  1. For either case: Maybe there's a kinda compromise in that many anime series are pretty short (obvious exceptions are Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, etc) compared to Western series which sometimes go on for more than 5 seasons even if they still suck eg Once Upon a Time. Like many of these 'series' are actually better classified specifically as 'miniseries' or something. In this way, maybe there are about the same amount of anime series and anime movies if miniseries were counted as movies.

  2. For case 2: Maybe manga is usually made with expectation of anime SERIES, not MOVIE/S adaptations? As for the few cases of manga that becomes anime movie/s (WITHOUT or at least before there's an anime series adaptation), I guess it might be the same reason as why some manga are adapted to anime series initially and then later there may be movie adaptations that are 'sequels to series instead of adaptations from scratch'.

9
  • 1
    A season can easily have 4+ hours of content and a lot of that would have to be cut if it was instead made as a movie.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 23:28
  • @JoeW is your answer relative to anime as usually an adaptation from manga?
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 10:45
  • 1
    @BCLC What do you mean my answer? If you mean my comment a season can have 13+ episodes all 20+ minutes long which is 260+ minutes or 4+ hours.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:37
  • @JoeW wait start over. Case 1 - I mean, there are some anime movie originals right? So when someone is making an anime original then why do they think to make it an anime original series instead of an anime original movie? Case 2 - And there are some manga directly adapted to anime movies instead of anime series right? So why adapt into an anime series instead of an anime movie or series of anime movies? / Now what I'm asking re your 4+ hours is: Are you talking about Case 2? Like maybe manga is usually made with expectation of anime SERIES, not MOVIE/S adaptations ?
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 6:14
  • 1
    Related: Why so many anime these days end prematurely?
    – Dimitri mx
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 12:35

2 Answers 2

1

The short version is because the people involved in paying to have the anime made benefit more from doing TV shows, since

  1. they use anime as ads for the things they sell and

  2. an unknown title will reach more people as a TV show.

If you want the long version, keep reading.

Context about the industry

The anime "industry" uses a production committee system. This means that various company come together to each fund a little bit of the anime. And each company gets some value out of this. This way the risk is spread around a bunch of companies.

As a consequence a few anime not selling very well or being poorly received isn't an existential threat to anyone. On the other hand, if you strike gold everyone wins.

There are exceptions to this approach, like Studio Ghibli swimming in money and just doing their own thing. Or KyoAni being part of the production committee to have more freedom, risk and reward.

But generally it is the production committee who takes all the financial risk, so they are the ones deciding what anime they want made, how to make it and who is going to make it.

The anime studio itself is just receiving a fixed amount of money to make the anime. Whether the project fails or not is not really their concern in this scenario.

Why TV shows are more common

A big participant on the production committee is usually the publisher of the manga or Light Novel. Their biggest interest in this whole thing is to market the source material. They want you to get hooked with the anime and they want anime to not really resolve the story, so that you will then go out and also pay for the source material.
From their point of view they want as many people as possible to see this anime.

Movies have a larger barrier to entry. You have to visit a cinema and pay a ticket fee. You also need to advertise that your movie even exists. TV Shows on the other hand just get a TV slot. Anime fans will naturally get to know about this new anime and can watch it relatively frictionless.

Other participants on the production committee might be more interested in selling figurines or the soundtrack. Most of them have in common that they don't actually care that much about selling the anime itself. The anime is an ad that people need to see to become interested in the things they actually want to sell you.

Why anime movies exist at all nowadays

You might have noticed the trend that most anime movies in the past decade (the 2010s) are either the continuation or summary of an already popular franchise or made by a studio specialized in making family friendly content or trying to become something like that.

There's no such thing as an Akira or Ghost in the Shell of the 2010s.

The reason is the same as what I outlined above. The production committee has no problem milking a popular franchise. It makes the franchise stay relevant and will therefore keep people interested in purchasing what they are actually trying to sell.

At this point the continuation movie doesn't need to convince people to see it. There are already enough fans interested. They can also later be shown on TV! If the franchise is generating enough money this is simply win-win. Especially if you are short on source material for a popular franchise. A movie won't eat as much available story and keep everyone interested while stalling for time to get more source material.

But taking the risk of making a movie out of an unknown franchise and advertising it seems like a bad idea when you could go for the cheaper alternative instead.

4
  • Thanks Ocean. Is length irrelevant? 1 - Joe W says 'A season can easily have 4+ hours of content and a lot of that would have to be cut if it was instead made as a movie.' 2 - You said 'A big participant on the production committee is usually the publisher of the manga or Light Novel.' Does this mean your answer is talking mainly about non-original anime?
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 14:56
  • 1
    @BCLC (1) A movie might be more expensive than a TV show. Or it might not be. So it's hard to generalize length. (2) I'm trying to generalize and most new anime are in some way related to something that already exists. Original anime are nearly extinct.
    – Ocean
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 16:10
  • Thanks Ocean. Omedetou on reaching 1k rep. Actually I posted my own answer. Someone told me this happens in Western animation too. What's your opinion of this please? I kinda have a feeling anime is waaayy more into series than movies as compared to Western animation. Western animation has like so many Disney and Dreamworks movies. What does anime have?
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 19:26
  • @BCLC I'm not familiar with the current state of western animation, but it's worth pointing out that Disney started making movies in 1937, while Ghibli only started in 1984. (Dreamworks in 1998 and the various other Japanese studios focusing on movies around the 2010s.) If you compare the output of only the last decade your impression might change.
    – Ocean
    Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 11:10
0

Alternative albeit indirect answer:

It's been pointed out to me that this happens in Western animation too actually.

So I guess my initial assumption is kinda wrong:

There are lot of Western live movies, Western live series, Western animated movies and Western animated series. I don't see any particular bias to certain categories.

I have a feeling the animated series : animated movies ratio is much larger in Western compared to anime.

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