Timeslot History: The Particularly Difficult to Investigate

Thanks in large part to wikipedia, allcinema, tvdrama-db, and geocities, I’ve more or less finished gathering the data for my investigation of anime which first aired between 1994 and 2000 (i.e. immediately pre and post Eva). Of the 382 series myanimelist lists for that time period, 11 originally aired on non-Japanese TV, 3 were part of a pay-per-view package with no defined timeslot, 1 was a commercial series, and 1 was a bloc of shows, rather than a specific series. All those aren’t really interesting for the purpose of putting anime aired late at night in Japan in context.

I was able to find some confirmation of their initial broadcast time (either as a standalone or as part of another, longer block) for 363 of the remaining 366. 3 series, however, proved particularly troublesome to pin down. I’ve browsed through all of the above sources looking for a specific timeslot for each, and spent a healthy amount of time on google trying various combinations of keywords I’ve discovered are useful over the past week, but couldn’t dredge up that specific piece of info in their respective cases. With the likely amount of effort required to pin down that information, which effects less than 1% of the overall sample, being unduly large, I plan to simply exclude them from the final analysis. Given that, though, it’s worth mentioning which shows they are and what I *was* able to find out while looking into them.

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Timeslot History: The Wonderful 40

The 1996-1998 late-night boom was one of the most swift and dramatic shifts in the field in anime history. In 1996, fewer than 40 new anime were broadcast. In 1998, 75 new shows took to the air, and that number continued to grow, with hiccups, until it peaked in 2005.

Not all TV anime airs in neat 30-minute slots, though, and one of the more interesting things I found out about that period while building up a list of which shows over this period were broadcast when was that 18 of the 150-odd shows first aired in 1998 or 1999 were shorts aired on a particular variety program by the name of Wonderful. This program, a 55-minute affair that started 5 minutes before midnight on Mondays through Thursdays, featured comedy, celebrity guests, and an idol group called the “Wonderful Girls”.

Besides its other segments, Wonderful also had a dedicated anime slot; the last 10 minutes of the show, from 24:40 to 24:50, were partitioned out for some kind of short anime for a bit over 2 years (from September 1997 to December 1999) before anime was replaced by drama and other material for the remainder of the show’s five year run. The majority of the shows to air in this microslot were not notable, or in many cases even safe for work.* But, as mentioned, it did feature a total of 18 new shows** over that span. That amount makes it mildly noteworthy, as does the fact that two of those shows were directed by ace pilot Akitaro Daichi.

*NSFW warning, there.

**Counting 3 sequels of existing properties: You’re Under Arrest, Nippon Ichi Otoko No Tamashi 2 (the first and second seasons both aired in this slot), and Yume de Aetara.

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Timeslot History: Friday 18:30, TV Tokyo

I’ve spent the past week or so beginning my research into anime timeslots in the mid-to-late 90s, and it’s a truly fascinating subject. My ultimate goal here is to get an accurate accounting of which shows during that period were actually late-night specific, as opposed to just series airing in daytime. In the very tedious and very, very fun process of collecting data on shows airing in this period, I’ve discovered a number of dedicated timeslots that existed around this time that are interesting enough to summarize.

The TV Tokyo Friday 18:30 slot, which lasted for over 20 years, served as a sort of proto-late slot for part of that period. It started rerunning Captain Tsubasa in 1985, but soon moved into rebroadcasting of OVAs and then new anime. Many of the series in this timeslot in the mid-90s are debatably works that would have been OVAs if they had been made 5 years earlier and late-night shows had they been made 5 years later. And that’s not purely idle speculation; Slayers aired in this slot throughout the 90s, but the new Revolution season aired in the same timeslot as Toradora (Wednesdays 25:20, TV Tokyo), and El Hazard had its first TV season aired here (in the same year as the first OVA series) before the second one in 1998 went to a similar late-night slot (Wednesdays 25:15, TV Tokyo).*

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TV Tokyo Thursdays: The Original Dedicated Late Show Timeslot

Those Who Hunt Elves, while not the first late-night anime, was the one to capitalize on the post-Eva boom when it aired on TV Tokyo at 25:15 on Thursdays (i.e. 1:15 on Fridays) late in 1996. But it wasn’t the only anime to run in that slot – it carried anime for a little over 2 solid years before face4/4 ended up there at the beginning of 1999.

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noitminA Has Nothing on the Nihon TV Tuesday 24:50 Slot

One of the fruits of digging into the adaptations of manga produced in 2011 has been a treasure trove of TV anime ratings data. Which, in turn, holds heaping helpings of unrelated but utterly fascinating information.

My favorite tidbit so far? Timeslots that get designated to run a certain kind of show are much more prevalent than I, at least, had thought. People may deify noitaminA for its stellar pre-Fractale record, but if you want to talk anime-focused timeslots with godly 7-year runs, there’s at least one very prominent contender. The Nihon TV 24:50 timeslot (plus/minus 10 minutes, depending on the quarter) hosted the following shows from 2000 to 2011:

Show Title (Airdates) (Ratings for First Episode)

Hidamari no Ki (2000-04) (3.2)
Hajime no Ippo (2000-10) (4.8)
Tenchi Muyo GXP (2002-04) (4.3)
Hanada Shounen-shi (2002-10) (3.1)
Air Master (2003-04) (4.4)
Captain Harlock [TV Airing of Endless Odyssey OVA] (2003-10) (3.4)
Gokusen (2004-01) (3.8)
Monster (2004-04) (3.2)
Akagi (2005-10) (2.4)
Ouran High School Host Club (2006-04) (2.1)
Death Note (2006-10) (3.4)
Buzzer Beater (2007-07) (2.5)
Kaiji (2007-10) (3.2)
Real Drive (2008-04) (2.0)
One Outs (2008-10) (2.5)
Souten Kouro (2009-04) (2.6)
Kimi ni Todoke (2009-10) (2.8)
Rainbow (2010-04) (2.2)
Kimi ni Todoke [cut reair] (2010-10) (2.1)
Kimi ni Todoke Season 2 (2011-01) (2.1)
Kaiji Season 2 (2011-04) (2.3)
Chihayafuru (2011-10) (2.4)

Note in particular the period from 2004 to 2011. That’s some serious all-around ass-kicking, a double whammy of ratings that aren’t bad (especially for 12:50 in the morning) and maximal critic-pleasing potential. By all accounts, this timeslot is currently plugged; Chihayafuru’s second season aired at 25:59, and I can’t find anything currently airing in it. But still, phenomenal run. I guess I’m adding timeslots to the list of industry-related things that really ought to be looked into.

Edit: Corrected the title to reflect the actual day of the timeslot.