Fun With Numbers: Precedent for Long Tails in US Anime Sales Totals

Though there are plenty of sources out there from which one can learn about it, the inner workings of the US anime market are often characterized by what we don’t know. I track US anime releases on amazon because I’m curious about said market. That curiosity has several points of origin, but I chasing after one primary question; do fans buy the titles one would think they buy, to the extent one would think, from their presence on social media?

But tracking US amazon rankings is only useful insofar as these rankings have the potential to correspond to real sales data. And even that’s not particularly useful if the “real” data has the potential to be off by a factor of 100 due to unpredictable factors. One obvious potential contributor to the potential for underestimations are long tails, the combined contribution of totals from all weeks the release doesn’t make the threshold on a given set of charts. These are a very familiar foe when it comes to trying to compare sales figures, and are definitely worth addressing. There’s plenty of reason to believe long tails might be a factor in the US home video market – per-episode prices are much lower than they are in Japan, and thresholds are much higher.

I previously used a trial account to access the lifetime home-video sales totals of various anime movies in Nash Information Services’ OpusData database. Recently, I found out that the companion website to the service TheNumbers, stores years worth of back-data on its weekly charts, though its thresholds are, by design, severely limited compared to those measured on OpusData. Using those charts, it was a trivial task to go back to each movie’s release date and check how much of its lifetime total was accumulated while it was on the BD20/DVD30 toplists. Note that 2 of the 12 movies in the original sample never made said toplists and thus cannot be compared. Results are shown after the break.

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Fun With Numbers: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Sold 17,247 Copies in Week 4

This is the fourth week of Battle of Gods’ ranking, and the first week it fell off the combined DVD/BD charts. It still adds ~17,000 BD copies to the running total (DVDs could have accounted for at most ~6000 additional copies this week), which is now 162,228 total copies. That’s about half of Wrath of the Dragon’s lifetime total (332,730 copies), and it could get closer to that figure as time goes by. Sales drop off by a bit every week, so I doubt we’ll see exactly how close it ends up getting.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Hellsing Ultimate did not chart in the same week. This week, ending in November 2nd, contained its release date, and it fell short of the 15,544 copy BD threshold. Possibly well short – my model predicted a much lower figure:

Anyway, here’s the chart* if you care to look: Source Link

*I realized just recently where TheNumbers’ chart archives are stored, so there’s no reason to screencap stuff anymore.

Fun With Numbers: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Sold 24,689 Copies in Week 3

More sales data, as is kind of expected at this point. DBZ: BoG sold a total of 24,689 copies (18,296 BDs+BDDVD combo packs, with the remainder being DVD versions) on the week of October 20-26, bringing its cumulative total to 144,981 copies sold. As with the previous week, these numbers handily surpass what would be expected from amazon ranks alone, as the best ranks its amazon versions had over that span were 121st and 988th.

Next week’s data should also be interesting, as the final volume of Hellsing Ultimate ranked well enough to be a likely candidate to make the charts, spending all of the weeks before and during its release in (mostly low) triple digits.

Data is currently available here, and is screencapped after the jump.

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Fun With Numbers: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Sold 29,558 Copies in Week 2

Pretty much what the headline says. Following a first-week total of 86,735 total sales, the movie added an additional 29,558 units to its US sales total (now 118,280) in the week of October 13-19. These second week sales consisted of 21519 BDs (including BD/DVD combo packs) and 8039 DVDs. It’s already interesting enough to mention how non-frontloaded these sales were, though DBZ is possibly an exception to the norm for anime releases; it remained in the Amazon top 200 for 5 days of its second week out, while most other anime releases are lucky to keep out of 5-digit rank territory.

The strength despite the lack of preorders also points to a possible heavy non-amazon bias for DBZ – its amazon versions were, at best, 86th and 677th in rank during the relevant week, yet it was 14th in actual total video sales overall. It’s very possible a large fraction of those copies were moved via b+m retailers.

Screencaps of the relevant charts (which can also be found here while they’re available) are included after the jump.

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Fun With Numbers: Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods Sold 86,735 Copies on Week One

So yeah, the most recent Dragonball movie sold a healthy amount in the US: 24,589 DVDs and 62,146 BDs (including BD/DVD combo packs), for a total of 86,735 copies. Even if it doesn’t immediately top the US totals of the series’ older movies, that’s quite a lot. For example, it’s over ten times that of One Piece Film Z’s first week total.

To reiterate, that’s a huge number there, possibly large enough to have a second week and definitely large enough to sandblast parts of my still-in-development formula (which pegged it as closer to 20,000 in likely first-week sales). Best guess at this point is that some combination of being a movie, ranking extremely highly for an anime release, and being from the most popular anime franchise the US has ever seen pushed it closer to the storefront-heavy curve for mainstream movies, as opposed to the amazon-heavy curve other anime releases have seemed to follow.

At any rate, screencap after the jump (original chart here while it lasts).

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Fun With Numbers: Updated US Amazon Formulae

Since late February of this year, I’ve been tracking the daily ranks of various anime releases on US Amazon to see if they could be used to get an idea of how releases were selling in the US, since that data is sparsely available for modern titles (especially unpopular ones). In March, I made my first stab at a formula which might tie thos edaily ranks to sales totals. In May, I realized that first model was based primarily on Holiday season sales charts and thus severely overestimated the market, and introduced a simpler one making use of more data. That model seemed for a time like it would be serviceable, pegging the sales of DBZ’s season 3 BDs to within 20%, but then it overestimated Attack on Titan part 1 by a factor of 3. Since I had no other test cases for my model available for the next few months, I was able to put off refining that model, but with data for the second part of Attack on Titan, the surprisingly successful Steins Gate rerelease, and DBZ Battle of Gods set to come out over the next few weeks, it’s a good time to use the data I’ve gathered to try and test a different model.

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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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Fun With Numbers: Scarce Demand for Simulmanga

This past year, viz media pulled off a first for the non-Japan manga industry. I’m referring to Shonen Jump Alpha, a digital “magazine” offering same-week release of the chapters of some 11 Weekly Shonen Jump manga. It’s pretty cool, and at 26$/year for 48 issues (and a buck per back issue), it’s not a totally unreasonable subscription fee. But that specific business model, one of same-week releases for official translations, is unfortunately not something that’s likely to be transferable to the majority of manga. Especially seinen and josei series with smaller fanbases. If you’ve ever wondered if the manga translation industry will catch up to where the anime industry is now with simulcasts, this article discusses the depressing reality of the situation and why such an outcome is relatively unlikely.

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Manga Olympics for Bloggers (Shonen/Seinen Round 1): Shonen Manga and Redefining Manliness

This post represents the first of three entries our blog is submitting to the Manga Olympics for Bloggers. Voting begins in a few days on June 16th, so just enjoy the article for now. Or check out our illustrious competition.

Shonen manga, as literally defined, are manga marketed towards young boys. There are several implications of this definition, but I’m going to zero in on one in particular for the moment. Because shonen manga is popular with and being marketed towards younger boys, it must to some degree adhere to their notions of manliness, but still holds a unique opportunity to redefine what they see as cool, manly traits to aspire to. Let’s dive right in and take a look at some of the many shonen manga that subtly teach kids life lessons.

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