Fun With Numbers: Print Sales Bumps and Poking at the Demand Curve

It’s fairly common for manga or light novels getting an anime adaptation to receive some sort of boost in sales after the anime airs. However, both the presence or size of those bumps varies widely. These bumps represent an interesting opportunity for study, since they represent (potentially) an alternative indicator of both the financial impact of anime, as well as a look at the broader-scale demand curve for franchise-related goods. Not everybody can or will easily pay 30,000 yen for a full special-feature-laden set of disks, but such casual fans could still have a big impact on a series if the manga is within their price range.

The real fascinating part of this, though, is that casual fans need not support at all. While one almost certainly has to watch a show to be willing to buy the disks or even the manga, the reverse need not apply. The fact that the relation between disk averages and print boosts is so fragmentary implies a potentially similar disconnect between print bumps and total interest generated by a show.

In theory, sales should be better represented by casual indicators of popularity as costs get lower. In practice, the statistics are pretty garbled, though they do offer a hint as to which sorts of series may end up with bumps at the end of the day. To attempt to better understand the junk described above, I broke down 4 categories potentially indicating no-cost and low-cost popularity, and compared their ratings with the print-bump successes of series which got anime adaptations in Summer and Fall of 2013. Note that while I originally used Torne rankings in the earlier analyses, I discarded the data because of how incomplete they were.

For the purposes of this article, a “significant boost” is one where a series experiences a 20% jump in sales or charts for the first time after the anime. All figures are for a volume’s first 2 weeks of sales, calculated with the average of the 2 most immediate before and after volumes, if 2 volumes of data are available in each case. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive measure of which series got boosts, just one intended to at least catch the biggest ones. 1/3 of all series got such a visible bump, meaning the null-hypothesis accuracy rate these indicators need to beat is 66.6%~67%.

In addition to the previous top 5/10/15 tests used for v1 disk sales, I’ve also included histograms of how successful series were scattered across the indicator. Ideally, they would all be 60th percentile or better, but reality isn’t quite that nice.

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Fun With Numbers: Anime as Light Novel Advertisments in 2013

While light novels work a bit differently from manga in several key ways (stronger second-week showings, lower thresholds, etc.), they similarly often see big boosts after and presumably due to from anime adaptations. I collected the light novel sales history of the series to get anime adaptations in 2013 on this doc, and plotted them on the charts below, to illustrate which series did and didn’t get visible boosts.

This post doesn’t cover series with no post-airing releases (Maoyu, Uchoten Kazoku) or no pre-airing releases (Free/High Speed).

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Fun With Numbers: (Admittedly Arbitrary) Qualifications for Significant Print Sales Boosts

I’m about to dive headfirst into the manga/LN print data I’ve gathered and check how much the series that got adaptations benefited from them. It’ll take a week or so, but when I’m done, I’ll have charts like the 20112012 ones and a wealth of organized first-two-weeks data to cross-reference with the casual-indicators checks I’ve been doing, and I should be able to more or less finish that project. Before I do that, though, I just want to outline some guidelines I’ll be using for said project before actually gathering the 2013 print data.

One of the key problems I bumped into early on was how to classify boosts as big/small/significant/what have you. It’s a complicated issue that in practice goes far beyond the Oricon charts, but for the purposes of this project, I’m going to focus primarily on chart-visible boosts. These get split into two categories; one, the type where a series makes the charts for the first time post anime, and two, the type where a series sees a sharp uptick in post-release sales. After looking into the previous year’s record, I decided on different criteria for each.

I’m going to consider first-time charting significant if a previous volume was released under a threshold that would not have prevented the first-time-on-charts total from charting. In other words, most series charting for the first time will make this cut, but it’ll disqualify series like Freezing that charted under these ridiculously friendly circumstances:

Freezing-manga2I’ll consider boosts for series consistently on the charts significant if a series sees a 20% uptick in first two weeks of release sales from the immediate pre-anime period to the immediate post-anime period (averaged over 2 volumes, if possible). Even if the effects of anime adaptations extend well beyond this limited scope, I hope this will at least be indicative of which series made the very best of their source material boosts.

Also, I’m going to avoid analyzing series that lack post-anime releases (Servant x Service) or pre-anime releases (High Speed). For obvious reasons, both before and after data are necessary to identify a boost.

Weekly Light Novel Sales Charts for 2014

These are the weekly light novel sales charts for the first four months in 2014, via myanimelist news, continued from the 2013 post. I’ll be doing one of these updates every 4 months; if you want more recent data, there’s plenty of places where charts are available (eg. ann, the mal news forum I get them from).

Edit: Added data through August 2014.

Edit 2: Added data through December 2014.

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Via Newtype USA: NISIOISIN (July 2003)

I’m going back through the issues I already scanned some articles from, and it turns out that just about every issue has an interview with a novelist, some of them now extremely prestigious. This issue includes one with NISIOISIN a good two years before the Monogatari series, where he mentions about his personal writing speed record – 170 pages in a day.

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Fun With Numbers: The West-Side All Stars

Something I stumbled onto a while a go that made me curious was a seemingly non-trivial connection between myanimelist popularity in the sales boosts of both novels and manga attached to a given anime, which led me to some speculation as to how different Western and Japanese fanbases’ preferences really are.

This time, I’m taking a look at a similar question; how many shows with high levels of Western popularity truly bomb in Japan? To answer this, I took the TV shows in the top 200 most popular on myanimelist, and excluded the ones attached to any series that averaged over 4000 in disk sales, or had a novel or manga chart in its first two release weeks at 20,000 copies or more. What remains is, theoretically, a list of the series which failed to catch on in Japan despite catching on in the West.* Data via myanimelist, someanithing, and the Japanese BD/DVD sales wiki. Note that I count the box releases as part of the disk average for pre-millenial series.

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Fun With Numbers: Quick Context for Inou-Battle

It turns out Studio Trigger’s got the next slot on their future CV decided recently, as GA Bunko announced that they would be animating romantic comedy Inou Battle. First of all, that sounds like a premise that could be a ton of fun.* Second of all, this offers a good opportunity to spot-check the stats for the series as it stands. While Inou Battle has a snappy-sounding premise, it’s not a very popular light novel, which means it could also be an interesting test case for the importance of source material popularity.

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Fun With Numbers: The (Relatively) Predictable Light Novel Adaptation Market

In the past several weeks, Ohayocon-induced hiatus aside,* I’ve been compiling the sales data of light novels that became anime in 2011 and 2012. Put bluntly, the ecosystem of initial print sales->anime sales->additional print sales is very, very different from manga. With manga, it was very often the case that a comparatively unpopular manga like Blue Exorcist could produce the anime sales of a superhit while a way more popular manga like Sukitte Ii Nayo could produce anime sales all too close to nonexistent. Additionally, poor-selling anime like Kamisama Dolls and Zetsuen no Tempest often led to big surges in manga sales while popular anime like Yuruyuri produced negligible manga gains.

With light novels, that sort of thing can still happen, but it’s far rarer. In general, there are two dominant trends in the light novel market. One, better-selling light novels produce better-selling anime. Two, better-selling anime produce bigger increases in light novel sales. Though it should be noted, as always, that the extent to which this effect carries does vary somewhat.

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