Fun With Numbers: Blood-C and Malleable Movie Price Points

First of all, let me open this article with a mea culpa; back when I posted a quick reaction piece to the announcement that Tamako market would be resolving its romance arc vis-a-vis a movie, I mentioned that the late-night anime series with the next-lowest sales average to get an anime announced later was Bodacious Space Pirates at 7337. This was incorrect; Blood-C put up a 1577 average, though its movie, The Last Dark, was announced before the TV series even aired (meaning sales couldn’t have been a part of the decision-making process at that point).

This also represents an opportunity to spot-check one of the key assertions I made in that post – that it would be possible for Tamako Market to tap a larger, less-enthusiastic fanbase that might be more willing to spend 80,000 yen than they were to spend 300,000 yen. When anime is freely available via TV and streaming, it’s easy for people to finish shows, but not 100% of the people who finish a show want to buy it. And setting price points isn’t about making sure 100% of those people buy it, but about balancing the income per sale with total number of sales for maximum profit. However, that does mean that when an installment of a franchise comes out costing significantly less money, more people can often be expected to buy it. The K-on movie sold about 3.5 times as much disks as season 2 averaged.

It turns out this principle can apply to the lower end of the cost spectrum as well. In addition to raking in just over 67 million yen at the box office, Blood-C sold 4521+1362= 5883 total disks, also a little over 3.5 times the series’ average. With DVD and BD MSRPs at 7000 yen and 9000 yen, that means it brought in roughly 4521*4500+1362*3500=25,000,000 yen, after retailer take. Depending on the movie budget, that might have been enough money to make the movie project pretty close to break-even.

Movies of a franchise don’t always sell more than the TV series. Star Driver went from a TV series that sold 9000 disks per volume to a movie that sold about 6500 disks of the movie and made only slightly more than Blood-C (~80 million yen) at the box office. Bodacious Space Pirates’ recent movie failed to make the box office top 10. I’m not trying to say that every series has hidden riches waiting to be unearthed at lower price tiers associated with movies and OVAs. That demand curve is going to look different for every series. Bodacious Space Pirates is an instructive example of a series whose fanbase is almost entirely made up of disk buyers, as the TV anime may well have averaged more than the light novels typically do in their release weeks; volume 10’s July 11 release failed to chart in a week where the threshold was 6260 copies.

Recognizing when a series’ demand curve favors more-affordable shorter-form content is a tricky task that industry people spend a lot of time working on. I certainly don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of how every individual fanbase operates. I just think it’s important to point out that there are some demand curves which favor movie (and OVA) production for anime which are unsuccessful as TV shows, and some that don’t.

Breif Reaction to Tiger and Bunny’s Fire Emblem Movie-Episode

I just got back from a screening of Tiger and Bunny: The Rising. I don’t have the articulation to review it in full, but there is a point I’d like to get off my chest. While it was generally about the caliber of an average episode of the series (the fight choreography was a little sloppy, and it never felt like the villains were particularly threatening) it shined for two key reasons. First of all, that cast, with all their quirks and human aspects, is still extremely likeable. Tiger and Kaede’s father-daughter tension, Rock Bison’s fruitless struggles with unpopularity, and newcomer Golden Lion’s best Gilgamesh impersonation all made for some prime-time viewing outside of the action bits.

Second of all, the significant portions of the movie where Fire Emblem was in a coma confronting his personal demons were heavy, complicated, and absolutely engrossing. The nightmares he was having, aside from being effectively creepy, also doubled as a way of delving into his (perhaps unsurprisingly) harsh past, doing so in a non-obnoxious yet very direct way. Too, his character had both the best dialogue and best one-liners in the movie (a brilliant translation pun and an ass-kicking mini-speech). As the only hero not to get an episode devoted to him in the TV series proper, he was due for some attention. The Rising isn’t the crown jewel of the franchise, but it did his character justice; I didn’t expect that to be my main takeaway, it just ended up that way.

Fun With Numbers: Thoughts On the Tamako Market Movie

Correction: Blood-C had a lower average (1577) than any of the series mentioned below, though its movie was announced in advance of the TV show.

So Tamako Market is getting a movie, and fairly soon (this April), at that. I’m nothing but excited at this news; of the shows that aired last winter, Tamako Market was probably my favorite. It had a colorful cast, a very nice soundtrack, and an adorably chubby, pompous bird. But the fact that it’s getting a continuation is a bit striking, in light of recent history.

The final average for Tamako Market’s per volume sales clocked in at about 3624, above the 3000 pvs benchmark but considerably below the sales levels of other franchises that got movies while averaging TV ratings of less than 3% (i.e. excluding Pretty Cure, One Piece/battle series in general, and Lupin III). From 2005-2012, the next lowest-selling series to get movies were Bodacious Space Pirates (7337), Hanasaku Iroha (8576), and Star Driver (9075). All the others sold in excess of 10,000 copies per volume. That’s a pretty huge gap – the next-lowest series in that group sold roughly twice as much!

So why is it getting a movie? I can think of at least two plausible explanations:

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Anime Movie Slaparound: Project A-ko

In our ongoing maximum freestyle segment, Drew and Sam tackle one of the most zeitgeisty anime movies of the eighties, the nuclear-high-energy Project A-ko.


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