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.
Every so often, the anime industry goes through a period of transition that alters how and for whom anime is made and distributed. Call them paradigm shifts or whatever; I call them sea changes. There are at least 4 major sea changes that I know of that have significantly altered the industry: the OVA boom of the late 80s/early 90s, the transition of TV anime from daytime to late-night from 1996-1998, the transition from cels to digital art in the early 2000s, and the Blu-Ray Era starting sometime between 2006 (when they were officially introduced) and 2009 (when they made up a majority of the market). Each one of these transitions had a unique and lasting impact on the industry. Unfortunately, I lack the knowledge to write with any real authority on the OVA boom. This article is the first in a 3-part series covering the latter 3 sea changes and how they influenced the production of anime over the past two decades.