Fun With Numbers: Crunchyroll Manga’s Uncertain Future

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.

Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: Myanimelist’s Sequel Problem Should and Can Be Fixed

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.

Continue reading

Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: GJ-bu

Studio Dogakobo’s GJ-bu was a cute 2013 comedy show centered around a c-list high-school club. The production team did a good job at pouring in a little bit of extra juice while putting the show together, pulling out a lot of zingy final-act punchlines to polish off its preferred brand of character-skit comedy. I personally found the on-screen product to be a hoot, and was interested enough in the broader audience reaction to pull himado comments and do some basic analysis.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: January 2015 Amazon Data (Initial Numbers)

First-look US Amazon anime release data for the upcoming month of January 2015. Nothing interesting in the high-ranking titles right now, but for the first time in a while there’s a release (the A-Channel BD) that’s starting out at 66% off. All initial rank data was taken on December 29th, 2014.

Also, a rarity, I had no releases to track for the final Tuesday in December, so that rank data is done and available here. Cowboy Bebop spent a long time in double digits, and would have a good chance of charting against normal 10k-ish thresholds. It’s up against 40k-80k thresholds, so we’ll see how it does.

Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: The Wind Rises Week 1 Sales (Plus Princess Mononoke BDs)

Small update for 2 relevant releases, which naturally went untracked and thus can’t be fitted to my amazon formula. The first week of sales data for the US release of The Wind Rises is out, clocking in at 53,698 units (40,818 BD/12,880 DVD). A BD release of Princess Mononoke also sold 29,913 BDs (also moving 30,169-29,913=256 DVDs) in the same week.

For some points of comparison, Laputa’s BD rerelease sold 12,611 week 1 copies, From Up on Poppy Hill sold 33,102 week 1 copies, Arietty sold 264,252 week 1 copies, and Howl’s Moving Castle sold 193,006 week 1 copies.

Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: Arpeggio of Blue Steel

Arpeggio of Blue Steel was a very nice anime, a naval-themed series with throwbacks to space-based anime of the 1980s, a light-hearted gear that popped up at all the right times, and loads of ambitious 3DCG animation. And it didn’t go unnoticed in Japan – the series itself was a huge success which moved disks and manga volumes alike. Too, just about an hour after this post is scheduled to go up the 19th annual Animation Kobe Award ceremony will be held, honoring, among others, Arpeggio of Blue Steel’s Director.

All of the above are macro indicators of how Arpeggio went over with audiences, but not so much on micro level ones. It’s kind of natural to wonder which parts of the series were the ones that won the largest fractions of the audience over – was it the bear-suit gags, the tense battle scenes, the quotable quotes, or the plentiful new-school takes on the Itano circus? Those questions are exactly the sort of thing a time-sensitive method of anime analysis is built to shed light on, which is why we’re about to take a moderately deep dive into Arpeggio’s scrolling comment history.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: Precedent for Long Tails in US Anime Sales Totals

Though there are plenty of sources out there from which one can learn about it, the inner workings of the US anime market are often characterized by what we don’t know. I track US anime releases on amazon because I’m curious about said market. That curiosity has several points of origin, but I chasing after one primary question; do fans buy the titles one would think they buy, to the extent one would think, from their presence on social media?

But tracking US amazon rankings is only useful insofar as these rankings have the potential to correspond to real sales data. And even that’s not particularly useful if the “real” data has the potential to be off by a factor of 100 due to unpredictable factors. One obvious potential contributor to the potential for underestimations are long tails, the combined contribution of totals from all weeks the release doesn’t make the threshold on a given set of charts. These are a very familiar foe when it comes to trying to compare sales figures, and are definitely worth addressing. There’s plenty of reason to believe long tails might be a factor in the US home video market – per-episode prices are much lower than they are in Japan, and thresholds are much higher.

I previously used a trial account to access the lifetime home-video sales totals of various anime movies in Nash Information Services’ OpusData database. Recently, I found out that the companion website to the service TheNumbers, stores years worth of back-data on its weekly charts, though its thresholds are, by design, severely limited compared to those measured on OpusData. Using those charts, it was a trivial task to go back to each movie’s release date and check how much of its lifetime total was accumulated while it was on the BD20/DVD30 toplists. Note that 2 of the 12 movies in the original sample never made said toplists and thus cannot be compared. Results are shown after the break.

Continue reading