Naming conventions are key for fans of a franchise to easily know what’s related to what, especially from the same content creator. However this topic isn’t going to touch upon whether or not a name is good for a series, but whether it's good for subsequent seasons to a series.
This isn’t something solely relegated to the anime fandom, hell movies and video games are guilty of it all the time. It’s something that helps fans that are new to a franchise know the order of when things are released. Sure you can cry and moan that a quick Wiki search will do the work for them, but it does get silly after awhile. Especially when the companies are doing a terrible job with sequel names.
One could argue that with some anime, you’d be fine with not watching subsequent seasons in order, especially when it's a plotless comedy, but when you start having a convoluted, or just plain goofy naming convention for a plot-driven series, it’s quite annoying. This isn’t an issue when it comes to a long-running series, where the episodes were released back to back until the conclusion. Though some anime studios release several shows throughout the year. So their focus is split between multiple shows, thus seasons of the same show are released months or even years after each other.
This is where the companies start being stupid. It’s really assuring when a studio is nice and just adds numbers for the subsequent series. Bakuman was completed in only three seasons. There’s Bakuman, Bakuman 2, and Bakuman 3. Perfect. Beautiful. The second season of Sword Art Online is called Sword Art Online 2? I think we’re getting somewhere.
Sadly not all studios are like that. What’s more common than having numbers, is when studios try coming up with additions to the name of a series. Someone probably thought that it was too tacky to simply number the second or whatever season of a show, they thought they were being clever with this. JC Staff was being smart when it came to calling the second season of A Certain Magical Index as just A Certain Magical Index II. Though when it came to the second season of the spinoff, A Certain Scientific Railgun, they probably thought “we can’t call it A Certain Scientific Railgun II, that’s too cliche. I know! Let’s call it A Certain Scientific Railgun S. That’s it!”. What? Why?
It’s one thing if we’re talking about a series, like say Gundam or Yugioh, where the different names indicate different series within a franchise. This is just a subsequent season of a series. Even when you look at the manga, the content in the source material isn’t different from season 1 to season 2, it just goes to the next chapter. This gets confusing, and downright stupid when there are multiple seasons of a show.
Take the example of a series like Minami-Ke. Season 2 is called Minami Ke Okawari, then season 3 is Minami-Ke Okaeri, and season 4 is Minami-Ke Tadaima. Why is this a thing? Is all of that necessary? Best yet is when they add the “subtitle” of the season to the beginning of the show. Kinmoza is season 1, and Hello Kinmoza as season 2? To Love Ru then Motto To Love Ru? Why?
Despite being a big fan of the Monogatari series, the subsequent seasons of varying names makes it look really convoluted, and also a pain in the ass to refer to friends. A lot of people aren’t exactly fond of having to do research to figure out the chronological order, especially if it’s story driven. When people are making a damn chart depicting the order of the series, it’s kind of a turn-off.
Okay, so Studio Shaft is trying to match it with the names of the novel series, but really now, is that necessary? Season 1: Bakemonogatari, cool. Season 2: Nisemonogatari, alright whatever. Season 3: Monogatari Series Second Season. Okay, what's going on here? It’s pretty stupid when you have to explain to someone that “it’s named that because it entails the second season of the novel series, but it’s not the second season of the show”. It makes it seem like Shaft messed up and realized “wait, we can’t release a full season based off of those individual novels, so we’ll release them all together”. Then there’s the whole nonsense with the mini-seasons thrown in the mix. Though the release order is a whole different rant in and of itself.
The real bottom of the creativity pool is when studios think they’re being clever with differentiating between different seasons with punctuation marks. You have the Wagnaria!! series (aka Working!! for 95% of the fans) for example. The seasons go Wagnaria!!, Wagnaria’!!, and Wagnaria!!!. Who thought this was a great idea? Especially the genius behind the apostrophe for the second season. Hell, maybe starting season 1 with one exclamation point, and adding subsequent ones was too clever, but that at least makes more sense than the goddamn apostrophe. Kind of like how K-on!‘s second season is called K-on!!. It’s still stupid, but good God.
Then there are shows with shoehorned in punctuation marks. Oreimo and Oreimo.. No, that’s not a typo regarding the period, that’s actually how they differentiate the two seasons, a period. More examples will be like the second season of Seitokai Yakuindomo is Seitokai Yakuindomo*, and Nisekoi with Nisekoi:. Uggggh
It’s fascinating to find out the mindset of the people in the studios who come up with these names. Why confuse your fans with this? Whatever happened to the convenience of numbers? You would assume that it’d be like some series, where the different name meant it was a different series in the franchise. Nobody is confusing Mobile Suit Gundam Wing as a season of Mobile Suit Gundam, the franchise is telling the consumer that it’s a different show. So why can’t other franchises do that?
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