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

July is a month with 2 maybe-interesting releases; Noragami with 2 editions, No Game No Life with 3 editions (2 of which are already in 4-digit rank territory 4 weeks out from release). Also has some standard ongoing popular series; Sailor Moon, One Piece, Naruto.

Annoyingly, 5 of the June 30 releases (Hack GU, 3 Soul Eater sets, BlazBlue) got pushed back to July 21, meaning I still have to track them and last month’s insanely long list was somewhat redundant.

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Composers/Writers/Directors With Blockbuster Chops (Updated Through 2014)

A while back I compiled lists of anime staffers who had had the combination of skill and luck required to serve in key staff positions of franchises that came out of the gate as 10k+ sellers. At the time, there had only been a total of 101 such shows confirmed, so they turned out to be both exclusive and interesting.

Since then, 2014 happened and another 8 franchises joined the 10k+ party. Additionally, the anime sales community discovered a fun exploit and demonstrated that 7 other season 1s from years past qualified. With 15 fresh groups of to accredit, it’s worth updating those lists. This time we’re keeping the lists short and together in one post, noting which names are new and which ones took a step up.

Quick rule refresher – a series counts for this list if it sold 10k+ starting with the first season, and the credit for that success goes to the staff of the first season. Also, shared credits for a position counts so long as the split is between a maximum of two people. Macross and Gundam series aside from the first installment of each don’t count.

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

So far, this amazon tracking project has been nominally about finding a way to benchmark the success of various US releases. In practice, it’s been mostly about being wrong.

But I am learning, bit by bit. Each mistake in prediction teaches me about why my current understanding of the rankings falls short, and putting them all together begins to get you something that looks kinda like a complete picture. I’ll only have more datapoints the longer this keeps up.

What datapoints do I have as of now? Aside from the several releases I tracked that actually charted, I’ve learned a couple things from those that haven’t. The following aren’t rock-solid patterns, but they are suggested by how things have gone. Here’s a quick summary of the most important points:

1. Space Dandy didn’t chart against a 6461 BD threshold despite 2 alternate editions, both of which ranked significantly above what I previously suspected the “no sales” line to be.

-This suggests that the non-main editions, which averaged around the 20,000 and 5000 ranks, may not have sold very many copies. To follow up on this suspicion, I tracked 2 post-release disks (Gingitsune on DVD and Devils and Realist on BD) with under-20 stock totals displayed on an irregular basis, getting a total of 43 datapoints for each release over 6 days. Multiple times in that period, the releases made it to ~20,000 in the rankings while selling two or fewer copies per day, more or less confirming my suspicions.

2. Steins Gate Classic didn’t make the charts against a 4761 BD threshold despite outdoing a confirmed seller at 8109 copies (DBZ s3) basically all of its corresponding 8 preorder days and half of its 6 post-release days.

-Add in data on other confirmed sellers, and it’s impossible to take all 14 datapoints for each and produce a result favoring DBZ s3 even a little. It is possible the time of year may be a factor in determining how many copies sold a rank actually means, Attack on Titan’s 2 parts came out in very different parts of the year and notched very similar ranks and sales numbers, making that explanation less likely to account for the observed discrepancy.

However, the Steins Gate release fell off in rank much faster after its release date than DBZ s3 did. This led me to a thought; we know that US anime releases can have fairly large long tails, much more significant than the factor-of-2 amount their Japanese counterparts seem to get from the same sorts of tails. If the US market relies more on tail sales, then it’s not unreasonable to wonder if preorders are less important, since lower costs mean less incentive to go for the early discount. By removing the 8 preorder days from the dataset, I was able to fit a formula that did a better job putting the sales of both closer to the real results (it’s still not a perfect fit) and nailed Attack on Titan and One Piece Film Z’s numbers to boot. Except…

3. DBZ: Battle of Gods shattered everything else’s numbers.

Battle of Gods sold 80k copies, which is a lot. Far more than any formula accounting for the existing ranks and sales of the other 4 releases with known sales could have predicted. The top 100 this film spent its release week rocking has to be worth significantly more than the rest of the rankings. My best guess here is an x^-0.7 power law from mainstream top-20 BD fits, with small-scale adjustments based on Battle of Gods’ own ranks over its first week.

Incorporating all of these observations plus the rank-sales data I know I have, here’s my current best-guess attempt at determining how much a given amazon rank R is worth in terms of on-chart sales S. This formula fits only the 6 days post-release, disregarding pre-orders.

If R is between 1-99: S=252000*R^-0.7

If R is between 100-999: S=10000*R^-0.4

If R is between 1000-9999: S=630-(R-1000)*(620/9000)

If R is between 10000-40000: S=10-(R-10000)*(9/30000)

If R is greater than 40000: S=40000/R

It’s super-ugly, I know, but making it piecewise is the only way to fit all the existing datapoints. We’ll see how good a job it does predicting things over the next 2-3 months. To kick that testing period off, Freezing: Vibration, April’s most likely high-seller, is predicted to total 10,338 copies across regular and limited editions, so that’s got a decent chance of charting if the thresholds are generous and the formula is less wrong this time.

Anyway, here’s the May 2015 releases I’ll be tracking, data for which was first pulled on April 27.

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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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