If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’re probably aware that one of the things I enjoy doing is going through various available numbers (anime sales, manga sales, myanimelist rankings, and the like) related to the anime and manga industries and trying to use them to gain insights into particular trends in both the industry and the fanbases it serves. It’s not easy work, nor is it flawless. There are a bunch of questions that very quickly became difficult to address in the short term (involving either no apparent path to the answer or a very long, winding path to the answer) and got shelved. Here’s a peek into the short-term reject file of issues/technical concerns still bugging me that I’d love to be able to resolve and analyze now that I’m ditching my weekly by-episode anime blogging.
1. Why aren’t there more OAD bundles/3-episode TV anime slots/Promotional ONAs being made?
-Yozakura Quartet sells roughly ten times as many manga-bundled OVAs as disks of TV anime. It’s not the only manga to sell in the 60k tier. Daily Live of High School Boys picked up a good 20,000 additional sales before the TV series aired on ONA boosts alone. There’s some straight-up exploitable jazz that could, possibly, usher in a second OVA/ONA boom if no mitigating factors are preventing it. Of course, that’s a big if, requiring no small amount of investigation.
2. Is there a reasonable classifier for genres that can be used to determine which shows are which genre (and thus track the growth and decline of certain genres over time)?
-Crowdsourced systems like mal/anidb tagging aren’t generally great at this, as they tend to vastly underrepresent things not popular on a given site’s userbase in any particular genre. I used the relatively accurate mal genretags for Ecchi series in one article, but most are not so helpful as that one. To draw salient conclusions and make meaningful statements, we need to look at the movement of the medium as a whole, not just of popular things. Or selective memories of people who don’t watch anime on a regular basis; I freely admit my first article using a viable genre classification system would be on the ridiculous breed of “Thing x is the cancer that is killing anime” myths.*
3. What is the approximate cost of producing 200 pages/1 volume of manga? How much does it vary by author pay grade/number of editors+assistants?
-An important question to consider when weighing the “true” economic worth of various successful manga. A $100,000 per volume take for a $20,000 per volume cost would obviously be worth more than a $150,000 per volume take for a $120,000 per volume cost. I’d really like to do a Bill Simmons-style Trade Value column about manga, but there’s just too much we (or at least I) don’t know.
4. What, if any revenue, does airing on satellite TV bring anime?
-I’ve taken a look at TV ratings data, but since the majority of modern TV anime airs on satellite TV, the main networks’ information isn’t worth a whole lot by itself. And TV ratings (like MAL rankings and DVR statistics) are a valuable window into interest in a show that’s less explosive than disk sales, but still economically relevant. I eventually want to get beyond measuring economic impact in terms of disk sales alone, especially for the purposes of making the predictions of the sequel probability equation more robust.
5. Is there a good database of weekly Light Novel sales?
-I know myanimelist collects the weekly rankings, but it’s really hard to browse their info catalog going back 5 or more years. I’d like to give LNs for 2011 and 2012 the full manga chart treatment for two reasons. One, the top half of LN adaptations have markedly different success records than the top half of manga adaptations, and why is a somewhat open question (though the guess is that they happen to have more of a natural overlap with typical anime buyers). Two, after that’s done, it’ll be easy to split up the anime from those years into Manga/LN/Other+Original source bins and (hopefully) yield some meaningful, quantitative distinctions between the three.
This is one of those articles where I’d really welcome people’s comments. I really don’t do a good job of keeping my ear to the ground for whatever the popular discourse happens to be, so it’d be useful for me to hear the perceptions people have in regards to the modern history of anime. Many of them might be addressed with a careful look at available data.
*Never mind the fact that it’s not dying.