A Note on Classifying the Non-Manga/LN Sources of 2011/2012’s Anime

After finishing up an individual analysis of manga and light novel adaptation markets, I had originally planned to toss the remainder of shows not covered in those analyses in one bin and call them “other”. It took about 5 minutes into assembling that sample to realize how incomplete that analysis would have been. There are at least 3 additional distinct categories that anime adaptations fall into: Game Adaptations, Spinoff/Franchise/Merchandise Series based around a larger product line, and True Originals.

Why games should be treated beyond simple disk sales is pretty obvious, but here’s one example. Persona 4: The Golden, released several months after the end of the anime and before the true final episode, sold a reported 248,242 copies in 2012 at an MSRP of over 7000 yen. If its anime was spending 10,000,000 yen per episode, on the low end of what’s been reported to be typical, then the total anime budget was on the order of (10000000*26)/(248242*7000)=.15, or fifteen percent of gross profits from those sales.* So Persona 4 only really needed to bump the game’s sales total up by about 10-20 percent to be worth it before even counting the 30k+ average it posted. Now, the Persona 4 anime hardly needed that money, but this does underscore that for anime series like, say, Starry Sky or Mashiroiro Symphony, being coupled to a PSP re-release of their source title is a pretty potentially big deal. I’ll be using vgchartz or something over the next several weeks to determine just how much, but it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at along with disk sales in determining how successful titles at all tiers of sales were.

The reason why spinoffs and original anime are not lumped together is a bit more nuanced. Though the distinction between the two is a tad fuzzy, the notion that truly original anime have stronger marketing pushes behind them that may prompt better disk sales is worth strong consideration. Not to mention that there’s at least some element of merchandise (however unquantifiable) being marketed beyond the disks. All of the 10k+ series in the non-Game/Manga/LN heap are true originals, so there may be more to that idea than a pipe dream. I can tell you right now that the list of originals makes for a fairly stacked chart; including things whose main goals were TV ratings (noitaminA, Phi Brain) and excluding Madoka Magica, the average original TV anime in this period sold over 8000 disks per volume.

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Where Might Future Changes in Anime Lie?

I just spent the past week and a half or so writing about how the anime industry responded to various changes in technology over the years. While I was writing those articles, I noticed that the changes occurred roughly every five years or so, and, going by that observation, we were “due” for another change soon. While the notion of things being “due” in general is a fairly foolish one, it did serve as the spark for a brainstorm about where that change might eventually come from. Eventually, I came across two possibilities that I felt were worth talking about: Web Anime and 3DCG anime.

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New Directors: What’s In A Resume?

Aside from perhaps the hair episode of Yami Shibai, the 5-minute preview for Go Nagai’s Robot Girls Z was the most impressive, repeatable five minutes of animation I watched last month. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s over here. Short version: it’s a 5-minute comedy which, but for the more modern cutesy character designs, could totally have been written by Go Nagai. Its style of humor, featuring excessive violence and heroes doing more damage than the monsters they fight, is what he’s always been all about.

Being that I was excited about the project (this was only the 0th episode), I flew over to ann to check the profiles of the freaks involved. As it turns out, the director, Hiroshi Ikehata, has only ever handled one TV series before (Ring ni Kakero), which isn’t a very good sample size to judge a director on. But he has held the position of episode director numerous times, on all manner of series (from A-Channel to Yuyushiki).

There are no less than 8 new directors making their debut in this Summer 2013 season with similar information about their early careers available.* One of them is Hiroko Utsumi, the director of Free! Others run the quality gamut, from C3-Bu’s Masayoshi Kawajiri to Neptunia’s Masahiro Mukai. And, lest I forget, Shishiou Igarashi made a smashing debut with The Unlimited this winter. It’s definitely possible for first-timers to post veteran-esque performances, but far from guaranteed.

This observation led me to a question; what, if anything, can we glean from a first-time director’s experience in the bullpen? If it that experience is important, what part of it is? Is it better to have worked as an understudy to a great creator on a memorable show, or to build up tons of experience grinding out lots of support roles? To attempt to answer these questions, I pulled up resumes for the 11 directors who first got their hands on a serial anime project in 2012 and combed them over to see if anything in particular was a good indicator of their respective performances. This article outlines a number of the potential performance I examined, some better than others.

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