Why Doesn't Anime Have Deleted Scenes?

by Justin Sevakis,

Adam asks:

For several American TV shows and movies, the home video releases tend to come with deleted scenes, which were edited out of the final version. Family Guy and Robot Chicken do this all the time. But I next to never see any deleted scenes for anime. And it's not just the American releases, either. Even releases in their native Japan lack any sort of deleted scenes, making exceptions like Neon Genesis Evangelion all the more noticeable. Why is this?

There are two reasons why anime seldom has deleted scenes. The first is that anime is so slow and painstaking to make (and is so low-budget compared to American animation) that it would be a tremendous waste to go through all the work of drawing it out, coloring it, compositing it, scoring it and acting to it, only to just cut it out before it ever saw the light of day. Anime is already so skin-of-its-teeth barely-on-time that there simply isn't time to be that inefficient.

The second reason is that the way anime is made, the director and editor would figure out if a scene isn't working or is running too long way before it got anywhere near finished. First, the entire thing is storyboarded, and the animation director sits down with a stop-watch and mentally times out every single shot. Then a rough animatic is produced, and each shot is edited together into the final order and running time WHILE the actual drawings for animation are still being made.

That animatic is what gets musically scored and acted to. Finally, as each cut of finished animation is completed, it replaces the animatic version of the same cut on the editor's timeline. So you see, those finished bits of animation aren't done until well after the final "cut" of the show is made.

Anime can and occasionally does have extra scenes that exceed the allotted running time, but they aren't that common and can be hard to detect. They usually arrive in the home video version of the show, and become obvious when you notice that one episode is a minute or so longer than the others, or when they appeared on television. There's little fanfare about it, and most people never notice. Unless someone sat down and compared the two versions, nobody would even realize that there's an additional scene in there. Sometimes, the extra scene even makes it to broadcast, because late-night anime airs as an infomercial anyway, so if the production committee is cool with it, removing a couple of commercials for their product so the director can add in an extra scene isn't a huge deal. In that case, nothing needs to get deleted.

So, where DO the additional scenes come from, when they do exist? When the director decides that he really wants to add an extra scene or something, but simply doesn't have time within the allotted running time of the show, he'll have the editor make a second version of the show, and simply cut in that extra bit of animation where he wanted it in the first place. That's the version that will end up on home video (after any retakes get added to it). And if he's lucky, maybe that version will get broadcast as well.

Got questions for me? Send them in! The e-mail address, as always, is answerman (at!)

Justin Sevakis is the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap, and check out his bi-weekly column on real, strange stories from the anime business, Tales of the Industry.

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