What has happened to the next episode preview? Growing up on anime in the 90’s and early 2000’s every show had a roughly 30 second preview after the end credits made of clips from the next week’s episode often accompanied by voice over narration. Now it seems most shows end without a preview for next time. What happened? I miss them.
Episode previews are not as gone as you think! In the social media age, it is becoming more common to post the previews online—usually one day after the TV broadcast. This, along with publishing a summary and selection of still images from the next episode several days in advance, is intended to generate more buzz around the series throughout the week.
If you’re willing to go a little out of your way to watch them on YouTube, you’ll find that the previews themselves have not changed much since the days of yore. Some are straightforward explanations of the next episode’s main plot points, while others are silly skits that break the fourth wall. Even if they’re not essential viewing, they’ve always offered a bit of extra time with the characters, and that hasn’t changed today.
Nowadays, online videos can give the marketing team a bit more leeway in terms of length and presentation. For example, The Eminence in Shadow anime posts two different versions of the episode preview: a “normal” version that straightforwardly tells you what will happen and a “special” version that shows off the narrating character’s quirky personality. This is in keeping with the anime’s “chuunibyou” humor and double life theme.
Finally, web previews allow viewers to opt out of seeing spoilers without missing a second of the broadcast. The downside is that you need to be in the loop to watch them regularly, and only some distributors translate their previews into other languages. That’s why it’s easy to assume that they have been phased out even when they’re still alive and well.
Although they are still the minority, there are some anime which don’t release next episode previews in any format. While every anime’s approach to marketing will differ on a case-by-case basis and you shouldn’t immediately assume the worst, there are some titles that end up in such dire straits production-wise that they do not have enough completed footage to assemble an episode preview in time. When things are that bad, a delay is usually not far off in the horizon.
Much of this answer applies to late night anime, which are typically aimed at older audiences who are plugged into social media. Anime in primetime slots like One Piece, Detective Conan, and Precure still do the old-school previews at the end of each episode because children make up a large part of their target audience. The bottom line is that episode previews are—and will continue to be—an important part of the anime experience.
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