Anime & Manga TV & Film

When is anime too long?

Warning: Be aware of some spoilers from the anime mentioned.

Some anime are short – too short – and we wish they had more episodes. But, then there are anime that seem to never end. You know which anime I’m talking about. The latter are the ones that truly annoy me. For example, “Inuyasha,” “Bleach” and “Pokémon” are all shows that continue on and on for X number of seasons. You’d think they were “Power Rangers” or something, always coming out with the next big “new” and less and less entertaining thing.

Article by Arturo Compean

Image courtesy of wikia.nocookie.net
Image courtesy of wikia.nocookie.net

Inuyasha

“Inuyasha” is an anime based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi. The manga ran from 1996 to 2008 – 14 years of 56 volumes. The anime had its first run from 2000 to 2004 with 167 episodes. It was later picked back up in 2009 to finally finish the series in 2010. My first experience with “Inuyasha” was when it appeared on Adult Swim’s Toonami. The show was amazing … at first.

The story follows a young high school girl, Kagome, who happens to be the reincarnation of a special priestess, Kikyo, who protects the mystical Shikon Jewel, the Jewel of Four Souls. Kagome is transported back in time to the feudal era and sets free a half-demon named Inuyasha who was trapped to a tree by Kikyo. After setting Inuyasha free, he protects Kagome from an evil centipede demon who was trying to take the sacred jewel from her. After the skirmish, a crow demon takes the jewel and flies away. Kagome fires a single arrow at the crow and, in destroying the demon, shatters the sacred jewel into hundreds of pieces. The jewel shards are scattered across the realm and it is up to Kagome and Inuyasha, along with a few friends they pick up along their journey, to collect the powerful shards from falling into the wrong hands.

Based upon the given summary above, the show seems pretty awesome, right? A human reincarnated priestess and a half-demon off to protect the feudal era with the help of their friends, what’s not to like? There are many things actually. First off, even with 167 episodes, the content of the show really hasn’t changed at all. Kagome and the gang are usually found killing demons and collecting shards. And, usually, after they’ve collected five or six shards, Kagome is attacked by some super demon, loses her shards and starts back off at square one. The main antagonist in the plot is Naraku, a powerful and manipulative demon who sets up traps for the gang to collect shards in a way that puts them in his own hands in the end. and then he ends up possessing them.

Image courtesy of ib.huluim.com
Image courtesy of ib.huluim.com

This plot is reused time and time again. It just makes the show so repetitive that the viewer is unable to understand when the major climax is coming. For four years, 167 episodes this plot was reused. After watching it for so many times, I couldn’t help but lose interest. Why come back to a show that is showing you the same thing over and over again? I lost interest around half-way and chose to believe everyone lived happily ever after, which they did when “Inuyasha: The Final Act” aired. From 2004 to 2009, there wasn’t an ending to the show, it was just left on cliffhangers with distant hopes of a happy ending. When this final act aired, my godsister told me about it and she said it was available on Hulu to watch. Just having that bad taste in my mouth, I never watched the ending. What was the point? I already gave it my own ending, so I didn’t need to watch the series finale.

“Inuyasha” will always be one of the childhood shows I’ll remember that brought me into the world of anime, but it also reminds me that not all anime is perfect, and sometimes it is drawn on for too long and needs to be cut short. Another show like “Inuyasha” is “Bleach.”

Image courtesy of style-anim.blogspot.com
Image courtesy of style-anim.blogspot.com

Bleach

“Bleach” is another anime based on its manga counterpart. “Bleach” as a manga was written by Tite Kubo, beginning in 2001 and is still ongoing. The anime aired from 2004 to 2012 with 366 episodes, not all of which followed the manga’s exact story. Again, my experience with “Bleach” began by watching it every Saturday night on Adult Swim’s Toonami.

“Bleach” follows a young man, Ichigo Kurosaki, who gained the powers of a soul reaper by Rukia Kuchiki transferring her powers to him after she was injured by a hollow, a monster that can hurt both humans and spirits. Ichigo takes on the new responsibility of being a substitute soul reaper, fighting off hollows in the World of the Living and ushering spirits to the Soul Society, where they may rest in peace. Along with their other spiritual supernatural friends, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora “Chad” Sado, and Uryu Ishida, they protect their home, Karakura Town.

“Bleach” was another one of those shows that seemed absolutely perfect. They had a great story arc – seemingly flawless and really going places. However, it seemed to go in every direction possible. Whenever there was a clear arc to the story and it seemed to get really interesting, the show would throw in a side-arc – a filler arc – that didn’t contribute to the main story at all.

Image courtesy of hdw.eweb4.com
Image courtesy of hdw.eweb4.com

To this, I have no clue as to why they did so. All it did was distract the viewer from the main plot to a side plot that was boring and useless. Only after suffering through the side-arc where the viewers allowed to finally resume the main-arc. Was this a ploy to continue viewership throughout the show’s plot structure? Did it end up having an adverse effect and actually lose some of its viewers? For me, it was the latter. I got very tired of seeing filler-arc after filler-arc and being forced to go through the new, irrelevant stories and characters. I wanted to watch the root of the show – the main story. I actually found myself skipping an entire side-arc and watching the main story on Hulu so I could finally finish the show.

While the show has a great premise and main plot, there are only so many subplots that can fit into one story. I found myself losing major interest around the 200-episode mark, give or take. You tend to hate the new stories that are presented to you, and the new characters whose only purpose seem to be their existence as filler material. This show, as of right now, does not have an ending. The show has been speculated to be ending in 2015, when the ending of the manga occurs. I will not be one of the viewers to see that ending.

Image courtesy of chalcids.deviantart.com
Image courtesy of chalcids.deviantart.com

Pokémon

Now, believe me, I know, “Pokémon” is a sacred show (and game) that most geeks hold very dear to their hearts, but come on. This show, as well as the games, have been going on for ages! The show itself started off back in 1997, that’s 17 years ago. “Pokémon” has been around for relatively the same amount of time I’ve been alive! The show has over 850 episodes featuring Ash and his adventures in the land of Pokémon.

“Pokémon” follows Ash, a young boy of around 10 who, with his starter pokémon, Pikachu, aims to become a pokémon master. In every season, Ash is accompanied by new friends that aide him in his journey. Ash must battle other trainers to become stronger, so that he can battle gym leaders, who are the only ones able to dispense gym badges. With enough gym badges, Ash would be able to battle the Pokémon League of that region to see if he will become a Pokémon Master … which never happens. He always comes out second best with a heartfelt loss. Then, the cycle is repeated in a new area where new pokémon exist.

In all honesty, “Pokémon” is my childhood. I’ve always wanted to have my own Growlithe and Eevee and be able to battle other trainers, but, tragically, that’ll never be the case. The games, which I have sadly not been able to keep up with, are possibly the only reason as to why this franchise is still alive. But, why is it still going? What happened to the original 150 pokémon? What happened to the “Pokémon Rap” that named all 150 pokémon? Now, there seems to be well over 500+ pokémon of all new breeds and types, and they seem to be even more ridiculous than each season before it. I lost all interest in “Pokémon” after the Hoenn season, even with the games themselves including Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. There’s only so many times you can repeat the same story over and over again and try to change the setting to make it seem different.

Image courtesy of movieplot.com
Image courtesy of movieplot.com

Maybe it’s because I was born with millennial childhood shows that have become major franchises in the world today that I’ve grown wary of them being overrun and over used. Maybe I’m secretly jealous that I wasn’t able to play the new generations of Pokémon. Even with all those possibilities, Team Rocket doesn’t deserve to blast off again for the billionth time.

When does a show become too long and you have to ask yourself, “Do I just wish that everyone lives happily ever after and accomplishes their goals? Or should I stick it out to the very end?” There are many things that contribute to the loss of interest in a show. Time, repetition, mundane plots, minor character development, etc. But, these three shows exemplify how a viewer can lose interest in a show and how the developers try to come up with new and innovative ways (that tend to not be new at all) to recapture the audience. Ultimately, in my opinion, they fail to do so and lose the show even more of the audience.

If you want to know some shows that I think are about the perfect length, I would recommend watching shows that only have about one to three seasons. Three maybe pushing it, but if the story is good, I’d stick it out. Shows like “Sword Art Online,” “Code Geass,” “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and “Kill la Kill” (OMG so good, must watch, best show ever, hint hint, wink wink, watch it) have perfected their lengths.

3 comments

  1. Personally, I think the biggest bit for when a show gets too long is if it gets stuck too much in a cycle of formula without change. Bleach was good, but way too long to hold my interest, but the Macros series spans three seasons, four movies, six OVAs a light novel (which, admittedly I never saw) and five manga. Gundam is substantially more massive than that, and both have had me glued to my seat through it all. A good portion of that though comes from the changes between seasons, there are entire cast changes in both (Amuro et al are only in the UC Gundam shows, while Wing, 00, etc are all AU, each with their own distinct cast) all held together by a common theme instead of a reoccuring formula of “get shard, get five more shards, lose shard”, as pointed out.
    That said, if I’d never heard of Gundam or Macross, I likely wouldn’t have tried to digest more than a small amount of them just because of how big they are. Another point against massive franchises, as they are typically remarkably hard to get into if you haven’t already seen the 100+ episodes before it. Same reason why I haven’t seen much Naruto or One Piece.

    1. Hello The Ranting Loon! Thank you for reading my article and I absolutely agree with you. Shows that become formulaic, much like the ones you mentioned and Pokemon, tend to only stick to the formula and do not deviate for fear of losing viewers. I’d really like to see an anime that took more chances with their show rather then repeat what we’ve already seen over and over again with minor differences. And I have to agree with you on the massive franchises. The only reason I’ve stuck with Naruto is because I remember watching it from the very beginning when Cartoon Network aired it on Toonami, and the same happened when Bleach started on Adult Swim. It’s hard to get into a show if you haven’t been there from the very beginning, it’s just not the same if you’re starting off midway. But sometimes if the anime is only in its 2 or third season it might be easy to catch up.
      Once again, thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing more of your comments later on! -Art

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