It’s one of the oldest conundrums in the anime fandom that the shows that get the most attention are often not the best-made shows, the ones that blow people’s minds when they see them. In a vaccum, that’s pretty confusing; shouldn’t we be giving the most attention to the shows we’ll enjoy the most? Why do some shows get high ratings and languish in the proverbial basement popularity-wise while others get abyssmal scores but receive tons of attention? I found a quick and dirty way to dig into this problem using my set of seasonal anime data and got a set of results that was equal parts depressingly predictable and pleasantly surprising.
You know the old saying; “Stats don’t lie, except when they do.” Using stats to argue point son anime is kind of tough, as any individual figure, be it Japanese sales, TV Ratings, merchandising fees paid, or online ranking site figures, only reveals a small part of the overall picture. Since I compiled a rather large database containing multiple stat lines for 95% of the anime to air over the past 8 years, I might as well use it to numerically classify true-blue-chippers.
Allow me to introduce a very exclusive society, the Hit-L-Double-Double (HLDD) Club. It’s the list of anime that have accomplished 4 feats, 3 of which are very difficult individually. Specifically, it’s the list of anime that have sold 10,000+ units per volume in Japan (megahit sales territory), been licensed overseas (international sales viability), and have myanimelist rankings and popularities in the top 100/double digits (esteem and popularity overseas).
This is a list of the unequivocal successes, the things that have amassed not only megahit status in Japan, but also a significant English-speaking fanbase and critical praise. These are numerically irrefutable successes, at least in theory. You could call it the “talk to anyone” list, because you could talk to anyone in the industry and they would agree with you that it was a rock-solid commodity. From 2005-2012, anyway (that’s the era I have all the data for). All the members from that period are listed below, along with their statlines. Sequels are excluded to keep it tidy, and because they’re rarely much different from s1 stats-wise.
This list is not meant to be very surprising. It’s just a slightly different way of thinking about blue-chip anime.
One of the many controversial features of sites like myanimelist and aniDB that allow users to list their anime is their inclusion of toplists. What’s the proper way to weight scores? Should sequels (which have an intrinsic advantage in 10-point averages) be counted normally? Is there a point to having one at all when it invites as much vitriol as it sometimes does?
Though actual discussions over topics like these tend to descend into unglorified hoopla fairly quickly, these toplists and rankings can be very interesting subjects for study. Especially if you dig a layer below the top and start to look at what they really measure.