Compared to 2011, 2012 represents an upswing year for the industry; more overall TV anime was being made. In addition to simply seeing more light novel adaptations, we saw several adaptations of finished series (Kotenbu/Hyouka and Chuu2koi) and single novels (Another, Shinsekai Yori). Those four are notable, but not within the LN data I’ve been using for my sample.* Perhaps because of the minor resurgence in the industry, we do see a bit of an increase in the number of series that performed in unexpected ways. The performance of light novels which were adapted in 2012 in relation to the time frame their adaptation aired is charted below. The raw data is on this doc, and can be compared with the 2012 sample for manga.
Dakara Boku wa H ga Dekinai
Hagure Yuusha no Esthetica
High School DxD
Humanity Has Declined
Kono Naka Ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru
Oda Nobunaga no Yabou
Oniichan Dakedo, Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai Yo Ne
Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
Sword Art Online
As before, some observations:
-OniAi, Sakurasou, Humanity Has Declined, and Mouretsu Pirates/Miniskirt Uchuu Kaizoku (never charted above thresholds that were generally around 8000 copies) are all varying degrees of exception to the rule of thumb that popular light novels tend to produce popular anime; the former two because they were selling well prior to a lackluster anime performance, and the latter two because they were selling relatively poorly prior to very comfortably successful anime performances.
-The above doesn’t invalidate the rule of thumb (Sword Art Online was the most popular LN going into the year and the most popular non-sequel anime going out) itself so much as it shows that there are exceptions to every general rule. When making predictions on anything as complex of hundreds of thousands of people deciding how to spend their money, the most important thing to do is to second-guess what you think you know.
-It’s something of a reiterated point, but Mouretsu Pirates’ 7000+ disks per volume performance as an anime was better than it had any right to be. Credit Tatsuo Sato for doing a fantastic job on the adaptation, taking extra time in production to make it work. I’m a big sucker for that kind of success story.
-Kokoro Connect did a good job of making the light novels popular, and the original tier of light novel popularity suggests that it would have been hard for the show to average over 5000 copies per volume. It’s possible that the actual financial impact of the hazing scandal was overstated. Though that doesn’t change the fact that it basically amounted to lighting a pile of money on fire. Endless Eight and Aku no Hana can be argued to have been design choices that didn’t pan out, while the “widespread discomfort and misunderstanding” business was just a stupid mistake.
-OniAi represents a cautionary tale in regards to using an anime to promote a light novel series that has started to fall off in popularity; the LNs got a transient boost from the anime, which failed to break even. Without having run all the numbers, I’d say the data here does suggest that you’re better off trying to boost a series on the upswing, like High School DxD. More on that in a few days, when I actually have run all the numbers.
*Except as rereleases in Hyouka and Another’s case. In both cases, the anime seemed to sell in excess of 100,000 extra copies of the series. Though I don’t have full totals, I can tell you that volume one of the Kotenbu series had sold less than 70,000 copies prior to the anime, and sold over 220,000 before it stopped charting. If even a third of the people who bought volume 1 because of the anime bought the rest of the series, that’d be a total of 350,000 copies for around 175 million yen in gross profits from novel sales alone. Volume 2 started out at about 45,000 copies sold, and eventually sold over 135,000, so that’s probably an understatement. Not like Hyouka needed that with its disk sales, but it’s a nice bonus for Kadokawa.
The two-volume rerelease of Another eventually sold over 180,000 copies, and the second volume sold at least 80,000. At 700 yen each, that’s over 180 million yen in total gross just from what we can see. Which is more than enough to make up for Another’s ~2500 disks per volume average. If Shinsekai Yori is a point against future anime adaptations of finished novels, Another is a point solidly in favor.