Animetics sits down to talk about anime before going into our latest manga obsession, Kiss Him, Not Me!
The complexity of an iconic bit of animation, and thoughts on video analysis
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.
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.
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.)
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.
I’m watching a couple things from winter, for anyone curious about stuff like that.
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.
First-look US Amazon anime release data for the upcoming month of February 2015, taken on January 26. Couple of previously-seen titles ranking better than 5000th right now (One Piece, Sailor Moon), while Space Brothers languishes in the dead zone. :(
If you’ve looked at the myanimelist Top Anime list recently, you’ll notice that it contains anything but an even distribution of franchises across time. As of this writing, 14 of the top 30 come from the past 5 years, and 9 of the top 60 were pieces of animation which aired last year. The 2010-2014 period saw a lot of anime being produced, but as impressive as that amount was, it was hardly 45% of the historical total. Obviously, these rankings have a decently strong recency bias, skewing somewhat heavily towards newer anime. That in itself it perfectly fine. These rankings aren’t meant to be a paragon of good taste, but just to accurately represent how the site’s large userbase as a whole feels about them. This recency bias is a product of several factors: the site’s young userbase, the increasing number of anime being produced (and becoming available via simulcast) in recent years, and (possibly) a change in the quality of the on-screen product. In other words, it’s a product of the value accurately representing what it’s built to measure – overall popular consensus.
The same cannot be said for the same rankings’ strong preference for sequels. Not counting the two which are full-on retellings (FMA: Brotherhood and HxH 2011), 14 of the top 30 are either a continuation or a spinoff of a pre-existing franchise. This sequel bias, a product of non-fans tending to drop a show while fans almost always continue, actively interferes with the pure score’s ability to represent what the average viewer likes, as there is not a single sequel that gets watched by an average sample of the anime-viewing population.