It turns out Studio Trigger’s got the next slot on their future CV decided recently, as GA Bunko announced that they would be animating romantic comedy Inou Battle. First of all, that sounds like a premise that could be a ton of fun.* Second of all, this offers a good opportunity to spot-check the stats for the series as it stands. While Inou Battle has a snappy-sounding premise, it’s not a very popular light novel, which means it could also be an interesting test case for the importance of source material popularity.
The 5th and latest volume of Inou Battle came out on November 15th of last year. It did not chart after 3 days, in a week when the threshold was 4625 volumes. Having 7 days the second week didn’t help much, and it again failed to chart when the threshold was 5574 volumes. Those combined thresholds cap the two-week sales totals at a little over 10,000. Series with those kinds of sales totals don’t typically perform favorably once adapted.
Volume 6 of the series comes out on the 17th of March; those results in the wake of the anime announcement will be interesting. I hope it at least charts, so we can see where it stands as hard figure rather than a rudimentary cap. The anime could air over a number of timeframes; it took 6 months for Mahouka to get from announcement to its Spring 2014 airdate, 15 months for Orare to do the same, and 21 months for Miniskirt Pirates. This July makes sense as an airdate – it syncs up very well with said release schedule, given the series’ typical 1 per 4 months rate of release. I would expect to see somewhere between zero (if the anime airs July 2014) and three more chances (if it airs in Spring 2015) to benchmark the series based on typical announcement-airing timelines.
Beyond the above geeky minutiae, there’s another reason why this announcement strikes me as intriguing. While Trigger’s current project, Kill La Kill, is currently averaging over 10k disks per volume and will probably wind up with an average between 7k-11k range, it’s doing so as an original anime. It’s easier to get people to buy an expensive product when there’s no cheaper alternative available, a principle especially evident with manga. The 10k+ manga adaptations in 2011-2013 were Kuroko/Blue Exorcist/Arpeggio/SnK/JJBA/IxB SS. The first four animated some very snazzy action sequences, providing a big plus that the manga couldn’t provide solely with still panels, and the second two were tied to a cast of very popular voice actors (Tomokazu Sugita played a fairly notable role in both) giving great performances.
Preliminary glancing at the subject shows that that 6k-10k range is a fairly typical number for original anime TV series not made for morning timeslots or noitminA. Based on previous data on LN adapations, though, it would be a very impressive feat to pull off that same range of sales with a light novel putting up sub-10k averages, a feat only Bodacious Space Pirates achieved over the period between Winter 2011 and Fall 2012. Trigger can animate like nobody’s business, and if they can’t get a good disk sales return out of this adaptation, it’d be an (admittedly non-conclusive) point in favor of just how important source material popularity is for LN adaptations.** And if it does well, it might lead to Trigger taking up more low-popularity source material from publishers looking for a high-risk, high-reward investment. Either way, it’s fuel for some fun discussion. And, cosmos willing, a fun show.
*Superpowers but no battle component? I’m definitely listening.
**Along with Amagi Brilliant Park (sub-17k volume 3), potentially. It’s interestingly the second low-selling LN adaptation by a studio known for its animation quality to be announced in the past couple of months. My dream scenario is both of these series coming out at the same time and steamrolling the competition to the tune of 20k in disk sales apiece. The precedents to date make both FGCU-tier underdogs, but that in turn makes them super-easy to root for.
Weird (and dispiriting) that this is the next Trigger project. I thought they were all about original productions? Going from their first three projects, regardless of their quality, to a LN adaptation is pretty crazy. As long as Yoh Yoshinari can keep doing his thing…
I’m not sure where their supposed original production preference came from. It’s true that they’ve started out on anime original productions, but it’d be a mistake to assume it’s the sum total of the Ultra Super Pictures business plan to just move in that direction just from 2 years and 3 works (2 OVAs + 1 TV) worth of data. Animating originals gives animators more freedom to work with than manga, which comes pre-storyboarded. But light novels leave a lot of room for visual artists to work with.
As to why they took it, it’s probably mostly to do with the fact that it’s very low-risk/high-reward financially. LN adaptation anime are typically pitched and funded by the book publisher (GA Bunko/Softbank, in this case), and the animation studios don’t need to worry about the disks themselves being successful. If they manage to make an adaptation that either moves 6k disks or boosts the LN up to the 40k-tier, for example, it could mean them getting their pick of 10 or so similar LN proposals the next time around, ala KyoAni’s novel award farming system. That would combine a practical degree of freedom to choose what they’re working on plus effective separation from the greater risk inherent in a failed anime original project.
That said, knowing what I know about LN adaptations in this tier, I would have fired the GA Bunko guy who spearheaded this pitch. If it does poorly, as I expect it to, they stand to bleed some serious budget, and they’re a smaller label than, say, Kadokawa. Trigger won’t be effected in the long term if the project bombs; print industry people thinking about future projects know the odds they’re up against on this one and Trigger’s shown they can make original hits.
The next volume does get 7 days in which to rank. On the other hand this means that there’s a chance that preorders will be counted in the previous week. Preorders aren’t important for LN sales in the same way that they are for anime, but that could still be a chunk of sales ad thus a determining factor in whether or not it ranks. I haven’t checked how much else is coming out that week yet either, although that’s not necessarily a good indication of how hard it will be to rank anyway.
It’s worth noting, though, that Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de already has a Drama CD and manga adaptation.