Friday, October 18, 2013

What is this... 'Cour'?

When I watch an anime, I usually don't have anyone to talk to about it. Only a few of my friends watch anime, and they don't watch nearly as much as I do. While watching Attack on Titan over the past few months, I've had the unexpected pleasure of having someone else I know watch it as well. It's been exciting to be able to talk to someone about it, and I've bugged her about "getting caught up" so I can let my inner otaku out and gush about the twists in the story. However, she's not even close to being an "otaku", and so some of the things that are normal in anime strike her as odd. One of these things is the way anime seasons are set up. So, I've decided to lay it out plainly, both for her and anyone else that might be wondering...

So just sit back and pay attention...


To start off, forget everything you think you know about 'seasons'. As an American, I'm inclined to think of a season as a 22-24 episode run of any particular show. But anime doesn't conform to this, or to any logical idea of a 'season'. For instance, the first season of Pokemon is 80 episodes long (82 in Japan), while the second season is only 36 episodes long. The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime was 52 episodes, while Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was 64 episodes. I could go on, but I think I've proved my point. The point is, anime season lengths are whatever the producers decide they should be.Anime seasons also don't take breaks like normal television seasons do. Anime airs year-round, with the exception of holiday breaks. For instance, Naruto Shippuden airs every week, and has been since 2007. How then do we classify a season of anime? Well, allow me to introduce you to the 'cour'...


According to the internet, a 'cour' consists of 11-13 episodes. This is a much easier way to classify anime, some of which are only 11 episodes long to begin with, such as Ano Hana or Usagi Drop. On most occasions you can tell when one cour ends and the next begins by when the anime changes its OP ("opening song"), but not always. When you have a traditional 22-24 episode season, it's known as a "two-cour season". You also have what is known as a "split-cour season", but to explain that we need to talk about seasons...

Wait... Seasons?


"Seasons? Again?" Nope, different type of season. This time we're talking about seasons of the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter. There are four anime seasons in the year; put simply: 52 weeks in the year, 13 weeks per quarter (season), 11-13 episodes per cour = 1 cour per season.

So many numbers...

A "two-cour" anime could air over the winter and spring anime season. A "split-cour" anime could air the first cour in the winter anime season and the second cour in the summer anime season.


"Goon, you said that anime cours are 11-13 episodes long, right? Well the 64 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood doesn't divide into 11, 12, or 13. How does that make sense?" Remember when I said that seasons are whatever the producers decide they should be? Well most recent anime do conform to the cour system, but sometimes they don't. This is why anime seasons are so confusing... but also why they are so good.


Anime is more concerned with telling a story than fitting into accepted season norms. While there are whole seasons of "filler" (that's looking at you Bleach and Naruto), most anime worry more about telling the story rather than stretching or cramming to fit into a season. This is why FMA:B is 64 episodes, because they didn't throw any pointless filler in or try to cram it into four cours. They told the story no matter how long it took. Of course, not all anime is like this, but I find that most of the best ones are.

So there you have it! Another of my explanations of how anime, manga, and otaku life works, as taken from over a dozen anime forums, sources from the internet, and personal experience.

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