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Otaku O'Clock

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Anime aired from around 11 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning, occasionally indicated by the odd-looking "22:00-27:00" notation. They are almost universally watched by older teens and young adults.

This is common in Japan for several reasons, even if it seems like a weird time to broadcast a show that's trying to make money.

  • These shows tend to have a strong (if unusual) Merchandise-Driven bent, which allows them to pay for themselves; this means that production companies can buy these timeslots directly from the networks and sponsor their own shows. The fan base tends to be small, but dedicated, so it's usually worthwhile to do this.
  • Most TV in Japan is provided by the six free-to-air broadcast networksnote  (which, like many other large Japanese corporations, are practically government). If it's not on one of those networks, it's not likely to succeed, and because the landscape is so competitive, very few shows can draw the ratings needed to stay in prime time or on an after-school timeslot. Shows aired on cable or satellite channels account for only 10% of overall anime viewership in Japan.
  • Content concerns are a big deal, as in most other countries. Otaku O'Clock shows tend to be on the more violent and/or sexual side in terms of content. Such shows have been aired in prime time before, but not to universal acclaim; in particular, there was large public outcry in 1995 when Neon Genesis Evangelion aired in the dinner hour. In spite of the post-Watershed timing, though, many of these shows will still be censored or otherwise poorly executed, at least partly to convince the otaku to buy the DVD/Blu-ray.
  • And in this era of DVR technology and streaming services, it doesn't really matter when you air the program anyway; the fans will record it or stream it. Where the show isn't aired, fansubs will provide the show.

The trope name refers to the odd way of noting when the shows start airing; it's common to see a show aired at 1:00 am listed at "25:00". This is largely done to align the schedule with that of the previous day; many Japanese TV networks still sign off in the middle of the night, and those who don't will only switch to "the next day"'s programming at 4 am or so.

See also Watershed, Safe Harbor.


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  • Despite being a Shoujo series, the first season of Maria Watches Over Us's anime adaptation aired at this timeslot, while the second aired on a more intuitive Sunday morning timeslot. Aside from testing series potential, this was probably a safety device to see how far they were allowed to go and because the producers are well aware of the net created by its Periphery Demographic loyalty from adult male Yuri Fans. After a "third season" of OVAs, the fourth season again aired around this time.
  • Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry aired around midnight.
  • Macross Frontier was aired at 1:25 AM (rendered on Japanese TV as as 25:25) in spite of having a ridiculous amount of mainstream promotion. This is just one small part of the Noachian deluge of "25" references the series made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Macross.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha originally showed somewhere around this time, which, considering the otherwise mostly tame content of the show, is the main clue it wasn't originally marketed for little girls.
  • Toumei Shoujo Ea was shown during this timeslot, although it is a live-action series (but based on a game).
  • Code Geass' first season aired at 25:25 (1:25 AM), which apparently allowed them to get away with bloody violence, swearing, a girl masturbating with a table corner, and the massacre of a stadium full of people. The fact that the second season aired at 5 PM on Sunday, a timeslot typically reserved for news programming, required them to drastically alter the plot.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba had its marketing strategist be very adamant in airing the animated adaptation late at night, in order to preserve the levels of violence present in the original manga, for it had become increasingly common for Shonen Jump animated shows to mildly, or severely, tone down violent and other suggestive content over the years; this decision proved to be one of the many reasons the Demon Slayer anime became a gigantic success.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler's first season was on a Sunday morning kids' show time slot, but the second season moved here, perhaps because of all the references and otaku nature of the show.
  • Last Exile was broadcast at around 1:00 AM during its first run in Japan.
  • Lucky Star discusses this trope, as Konata often laments the fact that shows airing in this slot on normal channels often don't air at all when sports broadcasts run long, in addition to shows airing earlier being bumped into it temporarily. The anime itself is also an example, being a very otaku-centric show that first aired late at night.
  • Ranking of Kings' anime adaptation airs after midnight in Japan on Fuji TV during their popular noitaminA block, meant for anime aimed at older audiences; all of that so the audience knows the art style is just a choice, not that it is as child friendly as it may appear.
  • Serial Experiments Lain aired at 1:15 AM, which in 1999 was one of the earliest attempts at broadcasting anime in this timeslot. Coincidentally, much of this anime takes place at night or in otherwise surreal circumstances, so the decision to air it at night may have been to enhance the viewing experience. That and the fact that it Starts with a Suicide.
  • According to the Japanese commercials, GUN×SWORD appeared at 1:30 AM. Despite this, American audiences frequently tag it as a shonen series.
  • The second season of The World God Only Knows aired around 1 AM or so.
  • A Little Snow Fairy Sugar aired at this time despite being G-rated.
  • Umineko: When They Cry got this sort of time slot when it came out.
  • Attack on Titan first aired on at 1:58am on MBS. Toonami aired the dub at 11:30pm, which is close enough to the trope.
  • Some Toku and Dorama programs that are most definitely not for younger audiences also aired during Otaku O'Clock:
    • GARO came on at 1:30 AM, its two-part made-for-TV movie was on at midnight, and its sequel series aired at 1:45 AM. Given that it's a horror series, its late-night timeslot is thematically appropriate too.
    • Cutey Honey The Live had a 1:00 AM broadcast time.
    • Ultra Q Dark Fantasy was aired at 1:00am on TV Tokyo.
    • Ultraseven X was aired at 2:15am on CBC and 2:25am on Tokyo Broadcasting System.
    • Deep Love was shown at "25:30" due to the fact the main character is a prostitute and the audience gets to see her at work.
    • Lion Maru G for the same reasons as Deep Love and it is also aired at 1:30 AM.
    • The Ancient Dogoo Girl was on at 1:25 AM and its Dogoon V sequel was on at 1:35 AM.
    • Both seasons of Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger airs at 1 am and 1:30 am on BS Asahi and TOKYO MX, respectively.
  • In Japan, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is one of the absolute pinnacles of Shounen anime. But due to how violent it is, the 2012 TV anime adaptation is aired at 12:30 AM.
  • Oddly enough, Hunter × Hunter (the 2011 version) started airing at 10:55 AM on Sunday morning, despite being one of the most violent mainstream Shounen manga out there. It was censored, but it was still quite violent for its time slot, hence moving to Tuesday Nights 25:30/Wednesday Mornings 1:30 AM for the last portion.
  • Persona 4: The Golden Animation got amazingly dead time slots after 1:30 AM on both channels it aired on, due to being an expansion on the original Persona 4: The Animation, that only fans of the original show or the games would understand and want to see.
  • Sands of Destruction was originally created to promote the game, but was aired at midnight and 1 AM, casting doubts on how much "promotion" it actually accomplished. The game was only rated B (12+) by CERO, and the show itself is incredibly tame, no more violent than your average afternoon Shounen, with no foul language or sexual content. There is the little matter that the show's "heroine" claims to be out to destroy the world, but half the time they don't even mention that fact...
  • The first season of Haikyuu!! aired on Sundays at 5 PM. The second season, however, moved to the Saturday late-night time slot.
  • Despite being a Shonen Jump series, Food Wars! was determined to be too risque for a daytime slot, therefore aired at 2:30am on MBS.
  • Osomatsu-san aired at the 1:30 AM time slot.
  • Nightwalker was part of the early wave of late-night shows in the late 1990s, and aired at 1:45 AM.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017) aired at 12:00 AM time slots. Many people questioned why due to its kid-friendly content until the second cour from Episode 15 onwards which included more swearing, Heroic BSoD and a living nuke trying to destroy the world. The reason why it was aired at 12:00 AM was that it had no other timeslot to air.
  • Azumanga Daioh originally aired at 1:25 AM on TV Tokyo. The show, however, is kinda family-friendly with the ADV Films DVD's giving it a "TV-PG" rating (aside from Mr. Kimura being a Ephebophile and a few swear words).
  • The original Aggretsuko TBS shorts that aired between 2016 and March 2018 would air late at night alongside other adult-oriented series.
  • Compared to the previous incarnation airing on Saturday mornings, Tokyo Mew Mew New aired at midnight.

  • An early version of Otaku O' Clock relates to different reasons in the years before anime was mainstream in the US. During its initial 1985-1986 runs, Robotech was shown mostly during the early hours of the morning such as 6:30 or 7:00 am, along with many other syndicated import shows. This was believed to be due to the tendency for parents to still be asleep and unaware of the mature content of what was supposed to be "just a cartoon". It should be noted that Robotech was originally broadcast on NBC affiliates before their Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup, which at the time usually began around 8:00 am. At that time, NBC broadcast an annual primetime preview special giving glimpses into the season's soon-to-start Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup, particularly highlighting new cartoons. Robotech was not mentioned in the fall 1985 special.
  • Likewise, Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers also got hit with this, part because it was in syndication, part because it was not backed by a toy company (which was a rarity of the era), and part for the same reason as Robotech - the tone was far closer to Gargoyles than Bravestarr. It was not uncommon for it to air at 4 or 5 am (which was the start of the broadcast day for stations at the time)
  • In Australia, anime is most prevalent on public children's channel ABC3 where it airs in a block at the latest point on the channel's run on Saturday (Astro Boy, Deltora Quest, Fruits Basket, and other kids shows). Being a children's channel, however, ABC3 stops at 9pm. Otherwise, anime airs at either seven in the morning on a commercial channel (Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon: The Series, Digimon and other kids' programs) or around midnight on the multicultural channel SBS (the collected works of Hayao Miyazaki, Ghost in the Shell (1995) and so forth).
  • .hack//Roots on Cartoon Network used to fit this bill, airing pretty close to midnight — though only on one day of the week (Friday), and it eventually got, of course, Screwed by the Network in the middle of the latter half of the anime. It was moved to 4:30 AM EST without any warning or advertisement. It would eventually finish airing in its entirety, but the final few episodes were deliberately put on hiatus for a few weeks to coincide with the release of the first .hack//G.U. game due to spoilers involved in the plot.
  • Near the end of its life, the short-lived UK channel Anime Central consisted of a two-hour block on another channel by the same owners, starting at about 1 AM. On the site for the audience ratings board in the UK (BARB), showings were referred to as "25:00".
  • The Sci-Fi Channel's Ani-Monday block ran from 10 PM to midnight Eastern time. They adjusted it for time zones for the standard channel but not the HD channel, so on the west coast you could see it at 7PM, potentially averting the trope. It was relocated to Tuesdays in January 2011.
  • In 2000-2002 and since 2015, Italian channel Italia 1 has aired anime and cartoons after midnight, usually in the early morning hours and featuring multiple episodes of the same series. This slot included series that couldn't have been broadcast during the day, mostly because the cartoon line-up was already filled with more profitable series and, in one istance, to avoid backlash from Moral Guardians for series aimed at an older demographic.
    • The slot started in July 2000 and initially aired on Fridays at around 1 AMnote . For unknown reasons, the very first series to be broadcast, without proper advertising, was the third season of BeastWars (the first and the second one had aired at lunchtime), with 3 or 4 episodes each Friday.
      After that, Italia 1 aired Wedding Peach, which had been bought years earlier after the great success from Sailor Moon, but despite being announced, it didn't find its place on the schedule and finally aired on the night slot between August and September 2000, again on Fridays at 6 episodes each time, to fulfil the contract obligations as rights were going to expire. Fans who stayed awake or recorded the show on VHS were upset to still find, even in a late-night airing, a heavily censored and Bowdlerised dub. In fact, the series had been edited originally with an afternoon time slot in mind, and received the same treatment of most Mediaset acquisitions at the time.
  • Logo's "Alien Boot Camp". The website helpfully calls it "where LGBT fans of video games, sci-fi, comics, horror and cool techie stuff collide".
  • This is the theory behind [adult swim], which broadcasts nightly from 8 PM to 6 AM and devotes Saturday nights to anime (since May 2012 under the "revived" Toonami brandnote ).
    • [as]'s "DVR Theater" segment showed some older Cult Classic programs around 4:00 AM.
  • During the years when being a Doctor Who fan meant you were an anorak of colossal proportions, the Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas were played on Radio 4 at painful hours of the night (and in the years before iPlayer and Listen Again made this less important) - especially cruel seeing as they were still, essentially, children's programmes. As the revival series started and the show's profile improved, the BBC gave it more sympathetic time slots - in particular, broadcasting the first season of the Fourth Doctor Adventures in the traditional Fourth Doctor-era time slot of 5:15PM on Saturday.
    • In the Pacific Northwest, if you wanted to watch Doctor Who, you had to catch it on KVOS TV 12 out of Bellingham, Washington. For decades, KVOS ran the the omnibus versions of the '63-'89 show on Saturday night starting at around eleven-to-midnight. That's not too late when you're watching a four part Fifth Doctor story, but heaven help you if that week it's a seven part Pertwee episode - or god forbid, the 10 parter The War Games.
  • The children's network Qubo had a block called "Qubo Night-Owl," which played episodes of old Filmation cartoons.
  • Preteen male-oriented cable network Disney XD broadcasts a block simply named "The Anime Block" every Saturday morning which includes shows such as Pokémon: The Series, Beyblade Burst, and Yo-Kai Watch.
  • Toad Patrol was aired by Toon Disney in the wee hours of the morning when its target audience was asleep (one timeslot was 5:00 AM) despite being a kids show (the dark undertones might be why it was put in such a timeslot).
  • This might be the reason for early morning or middle of the night airings of older shows on some TV networks (for example, Nicktoons).
  • HBO made its Spawn adult animated series with the intent of airing it in this kind of time slot, and Todd Mc Farlane ended up using the freedom that the time slot gave him to make the kind of show that could only be shown late at night when kids were asleep.
  • For much of its run, MTV aired its pioneering Alternative Rock block 120 Minutes in the early morning hours. In the late '80s and early '90s, the time slot helped build the hip and inaccessible reputation of the program and the music it played. When MTV2 briefly revived it in 2011, it was slotted at 6 a.m. on Friday mornings. MTV Classic still airs a 120 Minutes block at midnight on Monday mornings.