Friday’s Feature – Recap Episodes (Or Why I Came Close to Dropping 91 Days)

If you’ve been following my reviews this season, you will know that I have now had not one, but two recap episodes thrown at me. The first came from Cheer Boys (episode 5.5) and the second came from 91 Days (episode 7.5). In both reviews I made it pretty clear that I don’t like recap episodes in general and that these ones were particularly hideous. But then, I realised just recently I watched the recap episode of Twin Star Exorcists and it didn’t really bother me so I began thinking about why these two recap episodes annoyed me so much.

91 Days - Promotional Image

It came down to two main points.These series haven’t even had 12 episodes so why are we recapping? I know 91 Days kind of threw me with some of the family relations and characters but the recap did nothing to alleviate that, instead focussing on Avilio’s interactions which were already pretty prominent.

Firstly, Linked to the first issue – no new material or insight given. Now Cheer Boys attempted some narration over the top of their wonderful reconfiguration of seen footage to let us know that next episode the whole squad would show up so at least they kind of got us interested in what was about to happen next episode. They also tagged the recap on after they achieved their first goal or performing at the festival so at least they found a natural spot in the story to pause. 91 Days didn’t do either of those things. Avilio did orchestrate Nero killing his brother quite well but this has never been stated as a primary goal so there hasn’t been any real break through on the revenge he seems to be craving and there was really nothing new revealed.

Recaps make sense when you have a long series (or you’ve taken a break and are coming back). They make sense when the recap is given a purpose (other than to fill air time). Personally, I prefer it when whole episodes aren’t dedicated to recap and the story finds a better way to remind you of key plot points but if you have to do a recap episode at least do it in an entertaining fashion.

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Which brings me to Twin Star Exorcists episode 14. Notice it isn’t a X.5 episode title. Episode 14 Yukatas, Stars and Wishes is an episode in its own right, admittedly a fairly weak one. If you remove all the flash backs, it’s an episode about out main group of exorcists sitting in the back yard and contemplating their wish for Tanabata. There is little new revealed but the interactions are on occasion fun. What it really becomes is a framing device for each character to reflect on the journey to where they are. The contrasts between the characters in episode 14, and who they were in each of the flashbacks, gives the audience something to reflect upon as well, while it reminds us about key plot points. So Twin Star Exoricists managed to do a recap in a way that didn’t make it feel like they just gave up for the week.

Recapping: It had already had more than 12 episodes which means the story had been running for over 3 months which is a long time to remember some of the finer details and it provided us with new material while it made us reconsider the characters.

Was it a brilliant episode? Not really. But it was watchable and enjoyable enough.

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Another example of a recap episode that was done well comes from Kimi ni Todoke. Season 1 goes for 25 episodes without a recap (which given how slow the story is moving is probably a good thing). Then there is a gap before season 2. Enter season 2’s episode 00 which is a recap of season 1. At this point, a recap is warranted to remind us where we are in the story and how things have progressed. But Kimi ni Todoke does one better than just timing their recap appropriately. They have the recap from the view of Kurumi (Sawako’s rival during season 1 for Kazehaya). With this we get insight into a character who before was really played up as an antagonist but is moving into a new role during season 2. It’s a great way to recap and make things feel purposeful.

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So back to the title of my blog. 91 Days started slowly but interesting. It was a really well done opening episode and in honesty, every episode after has been well put together. The story however has been stagnating. Despite lots of things happening, none of it has really been explained in context to the stated goal of our protagonist and while we can see connections, it hasn’t started bringing anything together. That would be fine (save the reveal for the end) except that we haven’t been given anything else to care about. I don’t care about the in-fighting of the family’s because I haven’t been asked to by the story, and yet that is all we’ve seen for several episodes. Then we are recapping. Reminding us that yes, Avilio’s family were killed and it was horrible. Reminding us that since then, he made some progress on his revenge (taking out one of his 3 targets) before realising there was another target and since then he has stalled. All recapping at this time did was remind me how little progress has seemingly been made.

I get that some people are going to disagree with me, but 91 Days has not been holding my interest well for awhile and the recap episode nearly did it in. Episode 8 is going to need to be amazing for me to re-engage.

What are your thoughts about recaps? Or 91 Days?


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Karandi James



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26 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature – Recap Episodes (Or Why I Came Close to Dropping 91 Days)

  1. I came here through your Arifureta post, and missed this feature (ofcourse because it was written during my hiatus). But having read this I totally agree with you. I have never been a fan of recap episodes myself either. That doesn’t only extend to anime, but also to live action series. Granted sometimes it’s nice to have a recap after a series has been on hold for a long period. But overall I really don’t enjoy them very much. To have a recap after only 12 episodes seems to be a little overkill in my opinion. I haven’t seen 91 Days, so I can’t comment on that one I’m afraid! Great post! Glad I was able to catch it! 😊

    1. Thanks. And yeah, I don’t mind a recap pre-season when it has been a long time since the previous season, or even a recap at episode 50 or similar as it might be needed at that point. But recapping 5 episodes in is a little ridiculous particular for a story like Arifureta that really didn’t do much in those 5 episodes.

      1. Lol…yeah, that does seem a little bit too excessive, you are so right! 😂😂 I sometimes wonder why they would do something like this…other than the obvious reason, saving costs 😊

        1. I’m assuming that despite the delayed release of Arifureta they are still having major issues in production. Otherwise, I cannot think why they would need to do this.

          1. Yeah, that is probably the reason. Still very annoying though…ugh. Well, from the sound of things I wasn’t missing much on that show anyway so there is that lol 😂

  2. I’m most definitely with you on this one. Recap episodes are annoying, even if they’re used as a tool because the studio/staff ran out of time and needed to fill a gap in the TV slot (as remyfool stated).

    I like it when series do something cool with the recap episodes though. Kimi ni Todoke S2 Episode 00 is a great example you brought up. That’s probably a best-case scenario for recaps to be handled too. Sadly, the reality is that the studio/staff most likely doesn’t have time for that, as there’s a good chance they’re doing the recap episode because they have too much work to do already.

    However, you’d still have the problem of it being seen as just a less interesting part of the story then, like a “filler” episode. I’m more likely to skip a recap episode since it still would be a “filler” episode to me, but also depends on presentation and series length.

    It’s a dual issue of having a boring episode presented interestingly, which may take more time/effort by the staff, or just having a complete recap episode which the viewer can just skip over and miss nothing. I highly prefer the former if there is no way to avoid it, but if the latter happens, then I at least understand why it happened. I’d personally rather them just delay the show for a week, but that brings in a whole set of different issues.

    Never really thought about recap episodes too much as they usually don’t appear often, but are still a relevant part of TV anime. Presentation is everything for recaps. Good thought for sure!

    1. True enough that if the studio is behind why waste time making a half-decent filler when you could just slap something together. The audience will complain regardless and just as many people will skip the episode.

  3. Ugh, recaps! I guess they happen when the studio runs out of money, I really can’t think of any reason why there would be one whole episode that is a recap. Just 5-15 minutes of recap is good enough if it’s a long series.

  4. i mean, sure, i dislike recap episodes because they’re a waste of time, but I would honestly hesitate to pass judgment. the recaps happen for a reason, right? if there was a good reason the next episode wasnt ready, i cant really get too upset at a more obvious recap episode like 91 days. at least it means i can skip it and move on with my life. as a blogger, it’s annoying i have to work around the gap in my schedule, but id much rather have an obvious recap episode that i can just skip than a filler episode that makes me watch the entire episode for nothing

    1. I don’t mind filler when it is done well. However, a random side trip to the pool or beach that gives us nothing but fan-service definitely drives me crazy.

  5. I think in an ideal world there isn’t a need for recap episodes at all. If I do come across one, I’ll probably only watch the whole thing if there’s new commentary over it. If not, I’ll scroll through and see if there’s any original scenes interspersed and skip straight to those.

  6. Ah recap episodes, the dirge of all anime great and small. It’s seems so few are immune. I must admit I’m behind on 91 Days, so I’ve not experienced as much with this series in particular, but near enough everything else I’m watching suffers from recap. Interesting piece.

  7. Hate recap episodes. I think the only one I ever liked was the Sailor moon one, but I attribute that to it being aired when I was young and not knowing fully what a recap episode was. They framed it cutely, too, so there’s that. The ones in HunterXHunter however are really unnecessary and I skipped them both missing nothing. Both of them were in the exact same season too so…no clue why that happened.

    I agree with the above comment: I loved the Kill la Kill one! Because it wasn’t one at all XD I was ready to skip that episode when I heard “Hey this is the recap episode!” but then it was done in 30 seconds, and I got a great chuckle out of it. But the humor in that show overall is fantastic, so yeah~

  8. I dislike recap episodes, too. But maybe they were used as a last resort, like the studio fell behind schedule or there wasn’t enough content to make a full-fledged anime series (which, if true, raises the question why it was even adapted into an anime but I digress).

    I mean, schedule slip ups happen. I remember when I was watching Girls Und Panzer and the last episode (or two, it has been a while) was delayed into the next season because some dude really, really messed up.

    That being said, it sounds like I’m defending the studios. However, when I see a show I’m following features a recap episode, I usually roll my eyes and skip the show for that week, so there’s that.

    1. I get that sometimes things happen with the schedule, but then couldn’t they at least do a scene or two or a voice over or something to offer something different? Throw the audience a bone if they are recapping for that reason.
      That said, I’d still probably prefer they just announed a week delay then put out a total recap episode when they are less than 12 episodes in.

      1. Some recaps at least do that, at least, but yeah it’s pretty terrible if it doesn’t even have that.

        I think most people would prefer to have the one week delay, too.

  9. Another great recap was in the second half season of Kill la Kill. I you haven’t seen it (go watch it), it teases a recap episode and then completely covers the first half in 30 seconds, leaving you with a full new episode to enjoy.

I'd love to know what you think.

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