So we all know about this rule, right? Watching a series for three episodes before deciding whether to continue with a show or not. Usually by that time, a watcher will know the basics of the premise, the characters, and where the story is headed. I usually wait three episodes before making my numerous first impressions posts. Well, if you have noticed in your seasonal anime watching, the creators of these anime have noticed the three-episode rule as well. It has affected a lot of newer series in more ways than you think.
From a production stand point, the three-episode rule has done more than you think it has. Creators use the first three episodes of a series to do as much as they can to bring you into the series. From the best production values that the series is going to offer until the last set of episodes. Afterward, the fourth episode is a resting episode for the creators that is also a big set up episode. In no way, it is going to be very production heavy. You can see this in Izetta: The Last Witch, Yuri on Ice, Drifters, Sound! Euphonium 2, and so many others. Not wanting to lose the first episode grip, some production studios double the length of their first episodes and make them a mini movie as well, but the three-episode rule is still in place. Content wise this doesn’t affect shows at all, but it does structure wise.
Since creators have started using, living, and breathing the three-episode rule as well, an anime series’ structure in the beginning is always going to be predictable. No matter what kind of show an anime is going to be. The first three episodes will set up the characters, premise, and everything, and the fourth episode will be a set up episode for the rest of the series. Uniformity. Of course, this is only structurally speaking. Considering that the content is always going to be different from series to series, this doesn’t mean that the characters, story, or genre of each series are going to be the same.
This post isn’t supposed to be for or against the three episodes in anyway. That is always up to the viewer and the reader. I just wrote this to make you aware that this is a thing that is happening in the anime industry. If anything, this shows that the gap between creator and watcher is incredibly thin. You can decide for yourself whether this is good or not, but I think it is. Since creators have originally started out as watchers and make content based on what has influenced them, it’s only natural that this would happen eventually.