What Are Cours, Seasons, and Arcs?

What are Cours, Seasons, and Arcs? Another common question asked by anime fans, otakus, and pretty much anyone into TV series.

These three terms can be used for any TV shows or series, but since this is the Otaku Encyclopedia I will be referring to anime throughout the post.

The first term is Cours. This is actually a french word that translates to course. Basically, it refers to a quarter of the year in which a show is aired on TV (or streamed online). Some anime fans may say the “summer season” or something like a “fall anime series.” In reality, this is a cours. January-March is one cours, commonly referred to as the winter season for anime; April-June is another cours, commonly referred to as the spring season for anime; July-September is another cours, commonly referred to as the summer season; and October-December is another cours, commonly referred to as the fall season.

Some anime series are incredibly short and can run throughout a single cours. Some shows last a long time and can run through several cours and have several seasons, which is the next term. Season refers to a set of episodes that air on TV within a single year. Some shows have 13 episodes per season and might run throughout a single cours, while other shows may have 25 episodes per season and run throughout two cours.

The final term is Arc. An arc is best described as a storyline. Some shows have a single storyline throughout their entire show without any deviations, but are often really short shows. Other shows might have one story arc per season. Then there are shows which can have multiple arcs per season.

A great example to explain all three terms is the anime Sword Art Online. The first season of Sword Art Online had 25 episodes and aired in the summer and fall anime season. Their season aired through two cours. Additionally, the first season had two completely different story arcs: Aincrad and Alfheim. The second season of Sword Art Online had 24 episodes in its season, aired over two cours, and had three different story arcs: Phantom Bullet, Calibur, and Mother’s Rosario.

And that’s all you need to know about Cours, Seasons, and Arcs! You can find more information on Japanese subculture terms just like this in my growing Otaku Encyclopedia.