Every so often, the anime industry goes through a metamorphosis and comes out on the other side looking a bit different. In parts one and two of this series, I covered how late-night TV timeslots altered the landscape of how adult-oriented anime was produced and how the switch to digital painting affected both the abundance of shows made and the predominant artstyle. Unless you believe that we’re in the middle of the beginning of another one right now with Net-only full-season shows or 3DCG shows,* the most recent major sea change to beset industry was the introduction of Blu-Rays, which came into the field in late 2006 and were making up the majority of sales for most adult-oriented anime by 2009.
One bit of seemingly ubiquitous conventional wisdom is that makers of anime often face a choice between making works that sell and works with integrity. However, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s usually worth taking the time to test conventional wisdom against actual numbers, because it can be wrong fairly often. So I took a look at the performance of Ecchi anime relative to the rest of the market over the past 8 years. Sure enough, the picture is a bit more complicated than “otaku only buy boobs”.