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With Sword Art Online Season 1, there are 25 episode split into 2 Arcs, the first Arc, Sword Art Online ends with episode 14 while the rest of the season is the second Arc which is Alfheim Online.

In original Rozen Maiden series there are 2 seasons, season 1 end on episode 12 while the second season known as Träumend ends at Episode 25, likewise with Spice and World, both seasons have about 12 episode.

Now i am wondering, is there a way to tell the difference between Arcs and Seasons, i know i can't relay on openings as Sword Art Online has different openings for it's 2 arcs likewise with Spice and Wolf and Rozen Maiden which had different openings for it's different seasons.

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Seasons has to do with the broadcast of a show, it doesn't necessarily always equate to 12 episode per season, sometimes a show can only be 10 episodes. See: What defines one "season" of anime?

Arcs has to do with the story. Wikipedia defines a story arc as:

A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television, comic books, comic strips, boardgames, video games, and in some cases, films. On a television program, for example, the story would unfold over many episodes. In television, the use of the story arc is much more common in dramas than in comedies, especially in soap operas. Webcomics are more likely to use story arcs than newspaper comics, as most web comics have readable archives online that a newcomer to the strip can read in order to understand what is going on. Although story arcs have existed for decades, the term "story arc" was coined in 1988 in relation to the television series Wiseguy, and was quickly adapted for other uses.

The way to tell the difference between the two is how they are broadcast and how the story continuity flows from episode to episode. There could be many story arcs in a single season of an anime, or there could be many seasons in an anime that only has one overarching story arc.

  • "Overarching story arc" - even though it is in common usage, I think this expression sounds pleonastic. – Mindwin Jan 8 '14 at 13:31

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