Slowing Things Down Until June

I really like the writing and analysis this blog gives me the platform to work on. But in the past 2-3 months, my life situation has been fairly overwhelming, in spite of some legitimately great things happening, stuff has overwhelmed me and I haven’t really had time to gather the data or sit down and write stuff up (as you can probably tell if you check in here semi-regularly). I still occasionally play with spreadsheets or bits of code on weekends, but stringing a coherent project together is beyond me. I keep sneaking looks at the dozen-or-so posts I have drafts of in my dash, but I just never have time to actually work on them. This situation seems like it’ll continue to be the way it is for at least the next month and a half. Basically, my available recreation time has shrunk and can only really support a half-dozen seasonal anime and the core group of manga* I import.

I’ll continue to do the monthly US amazon posts and data tracking, and I’ll update the manga/LN chart archives sometime after the end of April. Beyond that, there’s only one thing (a translation of an interview I found kinda fun) that I might end up posting prior to the end of May 2015. Long-term, though, I should be back in June with some real spare time and new stuff to write about.

*Amanchu, Billy Bat, Ace of the Diamond, Kaiji, Akagi, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, Giant Killing, and Yesterday wo Utatte if v11 ever comes out.

Fun With Numbers: April 2015 US Amazon Data (Initial Numbers)

To get it out of the way before anyone asks: no, Space Dandy did not make the US charts. Threshold for the BD chart on its release week (March 2-8) was 7277 copies. That pegs it at considerably less in its first week than either Attack on Titan release. This may indicate that amazon rankings in the 5-digit territory (what the RE and Amazon editions had for most of their solicitation) are less valuable than October’s power law would suggest; that formula predicted splits of 732 (RE), 7500 (LE), and 1918 (AE) copies sold, for a total of 10,150 copies. If, say, being #10,000 only accounted for 10 copies being sold in a day, and #5000 only gave you ~20, that drops the non-LE editions from contributing about 2500 copies to contributing roughly 500. A total estimate of 8000 is still an overestimate, but not nearly as much of one. Of course, it’d be pretty dismal for the rest of the sales projections if that were true; it’s by no means a given a smaller-market Sentai release will make it out of 5-digit purgatory on release day.

The way to test this theory would be to monitor items with limited amazon stocks (typically the # of stock copies gets revealed when it’s under 20) on an hourly basis, tracking micro change in stocked copies versus rank over several days. I’ll probably get around to that eventually, but it seems like it’d be a real pain to do without automating the process. Tried that before to no avail.

Anyway, on to April. Couple of things that have a >1% chance of charting: Free s1, Freezing s2, the usual One Piece and Naruto volumes. The May 1 (Friday) release of Time of Eve is included in this dataset, given that the week it comes out in is the same as the one for the April 28 (Tuesday) releases. Data below was taken on March 30, 2015.

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Fun With Numbers: Licensed Content in Monthly Shonen Sirius

If you’re an involved fan of anime or manga, you just might have heard of Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Sirius. It’s a small-time magazine as manga mags go, with a circulation total last reported in 2013 at 12,684 copies, but it currently hosts several titles with anime adaptations (Yozakura Quartet, Majimoji Rurumo, the current incarnation of EAT-MAN) as well as multiple titles which have recently been added to crunchyroll manga’s library (Maga-Tsuki, P4Q), so it’s at least moderately noteworthy.

In recent years, this particular magazine has seen a shift in content, away from mangaka-generated series away towards spin-offs of existing franchises, which mirrors a larger trend in the modern manga industry. I’ll be taking a look at how visible that present trend is in this mag and what it means for both the lifetime of individual series and the outlook for magazine a whole.

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Fun With Numbers: March 2015 US Amazon Data (Initial Numbers)

I’ve actually been keeping these logs for a year now, somehow.

Notable releases with odds of charting this month are releases of Space Dandy and Unbreakable Machine Doll, with multiple BD editions and their best-ranked versions in the 1000s. All data displayed here was taken on February 23rd, 2015.

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Timed Comment Breakdowns: Cinderella Girls Through 6

The 2011 Idolm@ster anime was kind of a big deal. It was a work made with heart, effort, and finesse, with boom-spectacular dance sequences, cute comedy, and soulful drama (sometimes onscreen simultaneously). It enjoyed nigh-unprecedented success for an anime adaptation of a non-VN video game – aside from slightly-bigger P4A, no other game adaptation comes within 15000 copies per volume of Im@s’s 28,892 copy average. No matter how you slice it, that’s a tough act to follow.

Follow, though, is exactly what the staff of Cinderella Girls, were tasked with doing. This crack team, led by director Noriko Takao (a deputy on the original series) have come out of the gate swinging, offering a different flavor of the franchise that may surpass the original in terms of inner shine. Unlike the original, Cinderella Girls has to this point largely eschewed full episodes focused on individual characters, instead dedicating the bulk of the time to shoving the cast into situations together and letting the organic chemistry go blam like a room stuffed with methane and lit matches. This approach to composition is par for the course for the series’ head writer, Takahashi Tatsuya, who, in addition to heavy involvement with the first anime series, pioneered a revolutionary character-centric method of visual novel design while creating To Heart. This process has two key steps; first, characters are designed and fleshed out by the creative types. Then, once the characters have been fully shaped, the individual scenes and overarching stories are made to evolve out of the cast continually interacting with another in various combinations and contexts. By all accounts, this adaptation has been well-received by fans so far, and a steep uptick in dramatic tension at the end of the series’ 6th episode represents a good opportunity to take a timed-comment look at how viewers have been responding to bits and pieces of the show.

(Spoiler Alert: Episode 6 was a kind of a big deal. I’ll be talking about moments from the first couple of episodes here, obviously.)

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Fun With Numbers: Evolving Oricon Totals and Delayed-Impact Manga Boosts

Those who follow manga sales are probably aware of the not-at-all-uncommon phenomenon where, following an anime that successfully catches people’s attention, every volume of the series, old and new, gets back on the Oricon weekly charts, and sometimes stays there for an extended period of time. The resulting re-chart numbers for the series can be broken down in a number of ways. I’m going to be looking on a particular test case (Nanatsu no Taizai’s performance over last Fall) which shows how those numbers can be interpreted.

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Fun With Numbers: Crunchyroll Manga’s Uncertain Future

Roughly one week ago, on January 23rd, Crunchyroll announced it was licensing a Shonen Sirius-run manga adaptation of the Persona Q game. Beyond the series itself, this announcement was significant for a pair of reasons. First, it broke what was a near-record dry streak for the company’s service since it announced the Maga-Tsuki license on November 25th of last year. This dry streak is the second longest in the history of the service, short only of the 71-day gap between its launch on October 26, 2013 and the addition of three Futabasha titles on January 6, 2014, a period presumably taken up by serious negotiations on the business side. Since that first additional partnership, the service has expanded to include titles from Shonen Gahosha, Leed Publishing, and Cork, and new licenses had steadily rolled in through the first three-quarters of 2014 as a result (you can check which series were announced when here). However, since then, the service has cooled down a bit; only 3 titles (Maga-Tsuki, Days of the Dam, and PQ) have been added in the past 4 months, and the gaps between those licenses were 56 and 41 days. Without Maga-Tsuki in the middle, it’s CR Manga’s longest dead interval by about 20 days.

The second item of interest that can be found in this announcement is that it comes on the heels of Crunchyroll restructuring how the subscription model for manga would work. Instead of being a separate service costing $40/year or a $40/yr upgrade from a $60 anime membership to a $100 to all-access membership, it became a complimentary feature of the anime membership. This was followed by another announcement that the service would be losing all of its K-dramas, cutting its drama offering down to a third of what it was.* There are a lot of ways to spin these moves, but one definite effect is a sharp decline in the value of a CR all-access membership, one that will likely see the majority of those who have all-access dropping down to less-costly anime subscriptions. That doesn’t necessarily mean less money for CR as a business; theoretically, the added value of manga *could* result in additional subscriptions from people on the fence about subscribing who needed a little extra motivation to make the decision to buy in. The more worrying thing is that this could be something of a desperation/stopgap maneuver, which could be a bad thing both for CR and, more importantly, for the future of simulpub manga.

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