Lists Are Fun to Make: Questions I’d Like to Attack in 2014

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’re probably aware that one of the things I enjoy doing is going through various available numbers (anime sales, manga sales, myanimelist rankings, and the like) related to the anime and manga industries and trying to use them to gain insights into particular trends in both the industry and the fanbases it serves. It’s not easy work, nor is it flawless. There are a bunch of questions that very quickly became difficult to address in the short term (involving either no apparent path to the answer or a very long, winding path to the answer) and got shelved. Here’s a peek into the short-term reject file of issues/technical concerns still bugging me that I’d love to be able to resolve and analyze now that I’m ditching my weekly by-episode anime blogging.

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Fun With Numbers: Correlation Coefficients for Manga Sales Boosts and the Kickstarter Analogy

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you’re a fan of Attack on Titan. You watched the entire show as it aired and can’t wait for more of it. What if, tomorrow, a Kickstarter went up for a 12-episode second season of the show. How much, without knowing the reward tiers, would you give? $1? $10? $20? $50? $100 (like the U.S. disks for season 1 as a whole will likely cost)?

I’d imagine that, depending on just how much they enjoyed AoT, most people would answer with a number within their price range. Given the popularity of the show, such a project would be a fairly safe bet to break the current record for animation projects on the site (currently Bee and Puppycat’s $872,133).

But let’s make a key change to this project. Let’s suppose that, instead of a give-what-you-can model of pricing, this hypothetical Kickstarter only allowed pledges at or above $500 level. Even for a series with a lot of enthusiastic fans, I’m willing to bet that turns some of them off. Even if that $500 level includes a meet-and-greet with the anime’s entire cast and signed copy of volume 1 of the manga, that’s just more than what many people are willing (or able) to pay. And that is the crux of the matter when it comes to discussing who buys anime.

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Fun With Numbers: Anime as Manga Advertisments in 2012 (and their respective myanimelist ranks)

Update 2 (July 15, 2014): New, more accurate data is here.

Update (Jul 1, 2014): This post doesn’t measure releases in 2-week totals, which turns out to be a huge deal in many, many cases. I’m currently working on an updated version of both this and the 2011 data. Just be aware of that before citing the data from here regarding any one show.

By all rights, a 30-series sample like the one I had for 2011 was enough to get most of the relevant information regarding how anime boosted manga sales. However, during that analysis, I bumped into an incidental correlation, myanimelist ranking versus gain in manga sales, that was far too juicy to ignore. If that correlation is real, it points to a very tangible link between the Japanese mainstream community (who have enough disposable income for manga but not for anime) and the English-speaking online community (who generally pay a comparable pittance, if anything, for the anime they watch). But I couldn’t be sure from just the 2011 data, since that was the sample that gave rise to the theory. So I did what any good researcher would do, and pulled another year worth of data to see how things would match up. The results can be found on this spreadsheet, and are sorted in order of descending myanimelist rank below.

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Fun With Numbers: Thermae Romae, Curious Outlier

One of the interesting tidbits that fell out of my research on manga that got anime in 2011 was the surprising coincidence of high (1500th or better) myanimelist rankings and increased manga sales. At least, it was intriguing enough that I decided to delve into it further, pulling sales figures for the 20 manga which both got anime and charted on the Oricon rankings in 2012. The full analysis is coming, but, short version, there’s a 90-plus percent that that correlation is a very real thing, indicating a strong link between the opinions of myanimelist users and the Japanese manga-buying public, to the extent that I might even be able to plug it in to my sequel probability equation and get the “can’t predict loss-leader effects” monkey partially off the sequel probability equation’s back.

All of which makes Thermae Romae, which presided over a 100k+ increase in week one sales of its manga while posting a piddling rank of 2248th on myanimelist, a case worth a closer look.* Is the jump in average week-one sales from 222,000 volumes for 3 and 4 to 323,000 volumes for 5 and 6 indicative of the effects of the anime, which began and ended between the releases of 4 and 5? Continue reading

Fun With Numbers: How Much Does Promoting Manga Help Anime?

Ever since Inu x Boku SS first drew my attention to the subject in June of this year, I’ve been quite interested in the concept of anime in the context of its broader commercial impact. It’s not exactly counter-intuitive to point out that anime doesn’t get made in a vacuum where disk sales, important as they are, are the only thing that determine the success or failure of a project. There are many factors that play into that equation; licensing cash, character goods sales, TV ratings, etc.

But manga sales are particularly interesting for two reasons. First, we can track them fairly easily; animenewsnetwork keeps English-language versions of the weekly Oricon rankings of manga that date back to 2008, so there’s a lot of baseline data that we can compare with newer series. So when Blue Exorcist did Blue Exorcist things…


…it’s pretty obvious where the cause lies. Second, because the increase in sales per volume can potentially be really high (see above chart), it’s sometimes worth it for manga publishers to take a gamble and partially fund an anime adaptation. While such funding isn’t going to pay for most anime by itself, readers of this blog will be aware of the tangible influence of marginal increases in financial stability.

What follows is an analysis of how manga to get an anime adaptation in 2011 fared overall at the marketplace, with a look at when and why publishers chipping in for an adaptation ala Shonen Sunday in 2013 is a good business move in theory (while still hinging, as everything ultimately does, on competent execution).

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Fun With Numbers: Explaining Yozakura Quartet’s Second Season

A little over a week ago, I wrote about how seemingly improbable this season’s Yozakura Quartet sequel was. It was anomaly, lacking any of the traditional indicators (profitable disc sales, TV ratings in excess of 3%, visible boost in the sales totals of the manga). Or at least it was until you look at the unique way in which the most recent series of OADs was marketed. As it turns out, the Yozakura Quartet OADs, though failing to chart, were very probably profitable. The makers made their dues by exploiting a bit of a backdoor in the niche anime industry: piggybacking on the much larger manga market.

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Fun With Numbers: Anime as Manga Advertisments in 2011 (Part 1: The Solid Baselines)

Update 2 (July 15, 2014): New, more accurate data is here.

Update (Jul 1, 2014): This post doesn’t measure releases in 2-week totals, which turns out to be a huge deal in many, many cases. I’m currently working on an updated version of both this and the other 2011-2012 manga boost posts. Just be aware of that before citing the data from here regarding any one show.

Some time ago, I published an article looking at how anime adaptations produced in early 2012 affected the sales of their source manga. It was interesting data to take a look at, and it was interesting to see which anime really boosted the manga sales. Long story short, there are cases where a manga really jumps from mid-tier to franchise level (Space Brothers, Kuroko’s Basketball, Inu x Boku SS) soon after the anime airs, and cases where the anime doesn’t have much visible effect.

It was very intriguing to look at, but it wasn’t a sample large enough to draw real definitive conclusions from. So I’ve recently been pulling sales records for manga that had an anime adaptation air in 2011, to get a better idea of how the two media are interrelated. This post contains the first half of that data, specifically the data for which I have specific totals from both before and after the anime first aired, and some observations on that data.

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Fun With Numbers: Was Aku no Hana Commercially Successful?

“[…] Nagahama says he’s well aware that a lot of people will go “what the fuck” and “this is gross,” “I hate this, I’m not watching this.” But he’s pretty much okay with that, too, because he thinks it’s fine as long as it leaves an impact on people. Viewers may dismiss it right away, but some may check it out later and find it interesting, or they may come across the manga, recognize the title, and read that.”

-excerpted from this animesuki translation of an interview with Hiroshi Nagahama, director of Aku no Hana.

That may seem provocative, but it’s actually a fairly common philosophy in the business of anime for a publisher to fund a loss leader, in this case an unprofitable anime that stimulates manga sales. There’s quite a bit of evidence that this can work, though anime serving as a commercial for the manga generally has to stand out to drive up manga sales. I believe numbers inform the debate, so it’s worth taking a look at how that gambit played out.

Indeed, the eighth volume of Aku no Hana, the first one out after the anime aired, showed a little over double the sales of the first volume. So there’s a pretty strong case that the anime got the manga more attention. The more interesting question for me is this: in the face of seemingly abysmal sales of the anime’s first volume set to come out in late July, could the increased sales of the manga still make the anime successful? For the purposes of this article, “successful” means that it produced a gross profit equal to its production budget.

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Fun With Numbers: The Evil Genius of Weekly Shonen Jump

If you know anything at all about manga, you’ve probably heard the name Weekly Shonen Jump before. Armed to the teeth with megahits like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, and Toriko, it stands undisputed atop the manga industry. But did you ever wonder how that dominance came to be, or why it’s been largely unchallenged for upwards of 20 years? Here’s a hint: it’s no accident.

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