Fun With Numbers: Dragonball, Naruto, Love Live, and the Importance of Second-Tier Hits

Weekly Shonen Jump is Japan’s most successful manga magazine, something that’s been true, excluding a brief early-aughts blip, for upwards of 20 years. But the brand didn’t get there by some fluke – it earned notability by harnessing a number of talented artists in many eras; Go Nagai in the late 60s, Buichi Terasawa and Osamu Akimoto in the 70s, Hirohiko Araki, Masami Kurumada, and countless others in the 80s.

But that doesn’t mean the past 2 decades were free of uncertainty or bad luck for Shueisha. In actuality, in between the early-nineties peak where the magazine’s circulation topped 6 million copies and the modern era of Oda Eiichiro breaking his own volumes’ records on a regular basis, they experienced one of the biggest misfortunes that can befall a publishing empire: two franchise cornerstone series ending withing 13 months of each other.

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noitminA Has Nothing on the Nihon TV Tuesday 24:50 Slot

One of the fruits of digging into the adaptations of manga produced in 2011 has been a treasure trove of TV anime ratings data. Which, in turn, holds heaping helpings of unrelated but utterly fascinating information.

My favorite tidbit so far? Timeslots that get designated to run a certain kind of show are much more prevalent than I, at least, had thought. People may deify noitaminA for its stellar pre-Fractale record, but if you want to talk anime-focused timeslots with godly 7-year runs, there’s at least one very prominent contender. The Nihon TV 24:50 timeslot (plus/minus 10 minutes, depending on the quarter) hosted the following shows from 2000 to 2011:

Show Title (Airdates) (Ratings for First Episode)

Hidamari no Ki (2000-04) (3.2)
Hajime no Ippo (2000-10) (4.8)
Tenchi Muyo GXP (2002-04) (4.3)
Hanada Shounen-shi (2002-10) (3.1)
Air Master (2003-04) (4.4)
Captain Harlock [TV Airing of Endless Odyssey OVA] (2003-10) (3.4)
Gokusen (2004-01) (3.8)
Monster (2004-04) (3.2)
Akagi (2005-10) (2.4)
Ouran High School Host Club (2006-04) (2.1)
Death Note (2006-10) (3.4)
Buzzer Beater (2007-07) (2.5)
Kaiji (2007-10) (3.2)
Real Drive (2008-04) (2.0)
One Outs (2008-10) (2.5)
Souten Kouro (2009-04) (2.6)
Kimi ni Todoke (2009-10) (2.8)
Rainbow (2010-04) (2.2)
Kimi ni Todoke [cut reair] (2010-10) (2.1)
Kimi ni Todoke Season 2 (2011-01) (2.1)
Kaiji Season 2 (2011-04) (2.3)
Chihayafuru (2011-10) (2.4)

Note in particular the period from 2004 to 2011. That’s some serious all-around ass-kicking, a double whammy of ratings that aren’t bad (especially for 12:50 in the morning) and maximal critic-pleasing potential. By all accounts, this timeslot is currently plugged; Chihayafuru’s second season aired at 25:59, and I can’t find anything currently airing in it. But still, phenomenal run. I guess I’m adding timeslots to the list of industry-related things that really ought to be looked into.

Edit: Corrected the title to reflect the actual day of the timeslot.

Fun With Numbers: Explaining Why Popular Anime Don’t Get Sequels

There are few things more frustrating than loving an anime that has room to grow as a story, but never gets beyond one season of material. It’s arguably even more of an irritance when you know the second season would easily pay for itself. Fortunately, it’s very rare for popular anime to not get sequels (happens only about 20% of the time), and there are ways to predict which ones those will be. I like to think knowing softens the heartbreak.

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Fun With Numbers: Adaptations of Award-Winning Manga and the Myth of Madhouse

It’s fairly frequent among people who have started to get interested in anime enough to start knowing things about the people who make it find themselves encountering the names of certain directors and studios over and over. Kasai Kenichi excels at college life stories. Hiroshi Nagahama was the bold visionary who directed Mushishi. Perhaps one of the more preeminent studios in that regard are Madhouse and Gonzo, the studios behind Death Note and Gankutsou, respectively. They can flash those series names on “from the studio that brought you” title cards of the trailer for anything else they make, despite the fact that Madhouse made the Marvel anime and Gonzo hasn’t been run by the people who made Gankutsuou since 2008. I’m here to make the case for why Madhouse’s reputation, along with a number of others, may be a bit overblown. It’s not that they’re not making awesome anime, but they are picking source material that gives them a lot of help.

This situation with directors can sometimes be a bit like that of the quarterback in American football; they get too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when things go wrong. In reality, lots of factors beyond the men at the top contribute to an anime’s success. I’m here today to take a look at one in particular; the pre-production choice of high-quality of source material. What follows is a look at anime adaptations of Shogakukan/Kodansha Award-Winning manga, including observations based on both their relative frequency over the years, their strength as a function of which studio makes them, and their performance in the marketplace.

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Fun With Numbers: A Numbers-Based Way of Picking Out the Best Anime of the Past 8 Years

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.

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