Poor Pacing – Is this a story killer?

bleach episode 01 screenshot 0171

Poor pacing isn’t a new problem by any means; ask anyone who has watched Dragon Ball Z or Bleach about battles that just don’t ever seem to end. However, both the Spring and Summer seasons in 2016 have given us new examples of shows that manage to kill interest with pacing issues so I thought I’d touch on it briefly this week.

Bleach - long running anime that suffers from poor pacing

That said, pacing is as subjective as every other element in entertainment. Slow can be really good when done well and fast paced doesn’t always equal exciting. So what am I defining as poor pacing? Essentially anytime you are watching the clock instead of the episode and wondering when it’s all going to wrap up or when you feel like you just got whip lash from trying to follow all the plot changes that just got thrown at you.


Let’s start with Flying Witch. This is supposed to a slow, slice of life. It’s character driven rather than plot driven (which is probably a good thing given in the episodes I watched other than a witch moves in with relatives who aren’t witches I didn’t really pick up much of a plot). So, slow paced is fine, right? And for some people, Flying Witch was a relaxing and enjoyable watch. For me it was fingers tapping, pausing to go get something to eat or drink, clicking over to other websites, and generally getting frustrated because none of the characters ever seemed to do anything.

I get that pacing is subjective but Flying Witch was like trying to admire the formation of mountains in real time (okay, probably not the best analogy ever but I really didn’t want to go with paint drying because underneath the slowness of it there was something actually quite wonderful in Flying Witch).


Secondly, The Asterisk War and Food Wars. Let’s take them both simultaneously because they both did more or less the same thing and both of them nearly threw me from their audience in the process. They set up a school situation with our protagonist being the underdog/fish-out-of-water and yet super strong at their respective trade. We spend most of season one in minor challenges, making friends and meeting potential rivals and it’s all kind of enjoyable fun. Then a tournament is announced and our protagonist will just happen to end up in it. Season 1 ends with the tournament just getting underway. Annoying, but sure.

Season 2 picks up with the tournament in full swing and then continues to make us watch match after match with very little diversion in between. Gone are the cute encounters between characters, a sense of a world outside of the arena, a sense of time period. Episode after episode of repetitive battles. Then the tournament ends, before the end of season 2. And instead of offering any kind of resolution to season 2, both felt the need to introduce a new challenge and then stop (although Food Wars kind of gave the second challenge an ending).

It’s aggravating to the audience and you constantly wonder why you are still bothering to watch. Sure there are great characters in both and both protagonists have an ultimate goal and perhaps what they are doing will help them get there, but in the meantime we’re all just watching them go through the motions. Have we never heard of a montage to compress a period of time? Sure, the animators get to show off some impressive battle effects (either with weapons or food depending on the show) but the plot and characters stall. For most of an entire season.


Last ones I want to touch on (but not the last to have pacing issues) are Big Order and Taboo Tattoo. These don’t know what they are doing in terms of pace. They rush over essential plot points (the few plot point there are) and then dwell on totally unnecessary things (fan service, sadistic characterisation, moping). It’s frankly a mess and neither the plot nor the characters come out of it unscathed. The sad thing is that both shows could have been reasonable even without major plot or character changes just by pacing them appropriately (they still wouldn’t have been good but they could have been far more watchable than they were).

Other shows in Spring and Summer that made me wonder about their pacing include Days, Orange, Bungou Stray Dogs, Kiznaiver and Super Lovers.

So far we’ve only seen the first half of most of the Autumn shows but I dropped Occult;Nine in episode 1 because of the pacing (and just being unable to care about where any of the introduced characters were going) and I’ve found Izetta increasingly frustrating in the way it is rushing forward over what feels like should be far more important plot points.

So now over to you. Which shows do you think suffer from pacing issues?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

13 thoughts on “Poor Pacing – Is this a story killer?

  1. I was glad to see this post! Clearly it isn’t just me dealing with a lack of attention span or some such.
    There have been so many shows that I’ve seen that had such potential but left me craving skipping the slow parts to get to the good stuff, as it were. Don’t get me wrong; they were still often decent shows–even good shows–but they would have been much better if I didn’t have to skip episodes and go back…
    ItaKiss was one such title!

  2. I’m amazed you didn’t mention, Bloodivores. That show takes the simple act of walking to a room and stretches it out to an entire episode.

    Jokes aside. I feel as if the show has such little material to work with its doing everything in its power to justify 12 episodes. I’m positive if you cut out the filler you’ll be left with three whole epsiodes.

    1. Well let’s see… In seven episodes they’ve robbed a bank, been arrested, attacked while being transferred to prison (sorry, that was just two episodes), then we work up in some weird place, got attacked and have since run around completely clueless. Yeah, weird. The first two episodes could have actually been stretched out and given us some details or reason to care about anything else. Everything else that’s happened could probably have fit in a single episode. Agreed – the pacing in Bloodivores is kind of dreadful.

    1. Kiznaiver was weird because it was telling one story and then it kind of took a turn about three quaters of the way through and it seemed to realise it didn’t have time to tell the new story so it just kind of dumped it all together. Or at least that’s how it felt to me.

  3. Great post, and another very interesting subject 😀 Pacing is definitely important. It can make or break a series. Honestly I really like it when a series pretty much grabs my attention right from the start. But I do usually give a series a chance, even if that first episode doesn’t immediately does it for me. A thing that I at times can find annoying is when a series starts brilliantly but at the halfway point begins to drop the ball. Case in point: Attack on Titan. The first half of the series was absolutely amazing…the 2nd half definitely was slower, still interesting, but not as good as the first half (though still better than most a lot of other shows lol).
    A show were I thought the pacing was very good was Another. Nearly every episode had at least something shocking happening, even in the slower episodes 😀
    Still, it all comes down to what you personally like. Some people like a slower pace, and others can find that same pace just too slow. That is why there always different opinions on shows, which makes for interesting conversations 😀

    1. I agree about Another. There were slow moments but they punctuated them with just enough creepy or shocking events to keep it interesting and then really ramped things up in the final couple of episodes. I know Another isn’t everyones cup of tea but I found it a really interesting horror (a bit cliche, but interesting).

      1. It has so far been the best Anime I have watched this year, next to Neon Genesis Evangelion (with the last one probably not being too much of a surprise lol 😂) and Orange. Still, the year is not over, maybe I will still come across something even better 😀

          1. I just looked at a trailer on YouTube for the last one you mentioned, looks excellent. Thanks for mentioning it, looks like a show I definitely would enjoy watching 😀

          2. It’s a little bit odd in that in between the bursts of horror its really slice of slice nothing, but the contrast makes it quite entertaining.

  4. I was one of those that enjoyed Flying Witch XD But, I’ll admit there were little instances when I did feel a bit bored.

    I currently have a serious issue with Ping Pong Girl. So much is happening but I’m super bored with it. Was going to drop it when a rather creepy/yandere-like character showed up giving the annoying protag the look I often feel appropriate for the situation. So I’ll see how far that character can keep me entertained.

    Aside from that the only show I currently see having a pacing problem is Occultic;Nine. They upped the mystery factor but honestly, that’s all I could care for. I’m still trying to care for Sarai and the editor but not enough info on them for me to truly care (yet?). They’re still speed running through both important and unimportant discussions.

    1. Episode 1 of Occult;Nine drove me crazy. I really wanted to like that show and then… and it was all pacing issues. It kept looking like there was going to be something interesting but I was either lost as to where they were or bored because every character was talking like they were tryingto call a horse race.

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