Answerman What Is Golden Week?
by Justin Sevakis,
Hey, it's Golden Week! What effect does the holiday have on anime production, if everyone's taking a week off? On the flip side, do ratings go up from people having more free time to watch?
Golden Week is a cluster of holidays that all land on the same week, which was basically intentionally arranged to give everybody a week off of work. It starts April 29th with Showa Day (as it was the birthday of Showa period Emperor Hirohito), then continues on May 3rd (Constitution Memorial Day), 4th (Greenery Day) and 5th (Children's Day).
All of those holidays are fairly minor. Showa Day is officially for public reflection on the turbulent Showa Period (1926-1989). Constitution Memorial Day is the anniversary of the signing of Japan's post-war constitution in 1947, and is officially for public reflection on democracy. Greenery Day is a day to acknowledge nature. Only Children's Day has any real tradition behind it: families display carp flags and Kintaro dolls, and serve mochi in oak leaves.
Most people get May 1 and 2 off as well, which adds up to a whole week. Some businesses can close for as long as ten days. And so, people use Golden Week to go on vacation, visit family, or do other fun stuff. Schools and most businesses close; open businesses mostly just include places like shops and restaurants, hotels, resorts -- you know, fun stuff. Traveling is often a congested nightmare at this time. Hotels are fully booked. Airports and trains are packed to the gills.
As for anime, it's a mixed bag. Some longer series (typically the non-late night shows) take the week off. But most of them soldier on as normal. Late night anime aren't particularly concerned with immediate viewership, since they're mostly just there to sell merchandise, the original work, or the eventual home video release. Most fans who care about the shows are time-delaying the show anyway with a DVR, set-top DVD or Blu-ray recorders, or streaming services. Golden Week can offer other otaku delights, however. Since everyone has the week off, it's a popular time to stage special events such as musicals, voice actor meet-and-greets, special screenings, and concerts.
To be honest, I can't find much info on how all of this affects the animators. With no break in the air dates for most series, I can't imagine many of them are getting time off. Other departments within anime companies (licensing, for example) definitely close, but I have a feeling that much of the production staff is quietly working through this holiday. If anyone has first-hand information on this, please post in the comments!
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Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for over 20 years. He's the original founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.
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