Fun With Numbers: Myanimelist’s Sequel Problem Should and Can Be Fixed

If you’ve looked at the myanimelist Top Anime list recently, you’ll notice that it contains anything but an even distribution of franchises across time. As of this writing, 14 of the top 30 come from the past 5 years, and 9 of the top 60 were pieces of animation which aired last year. The 2010-2014 period saw a lot of anime being produced, but as impressive as that amount was, it was hardly 45% of the historical total. Obviously, these rankings have a decently strong recency bias, skewing somewhat heavily towards newer anime. That in itself it perfectly fine. These rankings aren’t meant to be a paragon of good taste, but just to accurately represent how the site’s large userbase as a whole feels about them. This recency bias is a product of several factors: the site’s young userbase, the increasing number of anime being produced (and becoming available via simulcast) in recent years, and (possibly) a change in the quality of the on-screen product. In other words, it’s a product of the value accurately representing what it’s built to measure – overall popular consensus.

The same cannot be said for the same rankings’ strong preference for sequels. Not counting the two which are full-on retellings (FMA: Brotherhood and HxH 2011), 14 of the top 30 are either a continuation or a spinoff of a pre-existing franchise. This sequel bias, a product of non-fans tending to drop a show while fans almost always continue, actively interferes with the pure score’s ability to represent what the average viewer likes, as there is not a single sequel that gets watched by an average sample of the anime-viewing population.

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Fun With Numbers: Short-Term Versus Long-Term MAL Rankings

Continuing on from my previous post on the notable changes of series popularity over time, I did some similar work on rankings. The shows analyzed are the same (all those tracked in fantasy anime league from Spring and Fall of 2012 and 2013), only this time I’m looking at the evolution of rankings; how series swap places in the rankings over time and which ones rise and fall most significantly. The data used this time around can be found here.

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Fun With Numbers: Short-Term Versus Long-Term MAL Popularity

Back in late April, I was taking a look at some available numbers which may indicated casual interest in a show, including myanimelist statistics, for the disk sales and print bumps of series aired in the latter half of 2013. In order to get the mal values, I pulled them from the site a couple of days before I posted the relevant articles. One of the comments on this article raised a very legitimate question; how did I know that these values were consistent with the ones a series had in midseason, around the time we would hope to use them to predict print boosts and disk sales before they happened. That was a key assumption – that series’ relative popularity and ratings would remain constant after the end of the season. This turns out to be a bit of an oversimplification, especially for older seasons of anime where things have had more time to change.

Using fantasy anime league data, I was able to go back and look at both the popularity and ratings a show had at the end of a season (i.e. prior to the beginning of the next season). Many seasons of data are available, but I have chosen to focus on 4: Fall 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2012, and Spring 2012. Note that Summer/Winter seasons are not tracked by fal. This post focuses on my analysis of the evolution of the popularity numbers (collected here) as compared with values taken in late July, 2014. Namely, I want to know if series exhibit significant postseason changes relative to their peers and, if so, which series do so most prominently. I’m still playing with ratings data, and will address those in a separate post later.

Note that Kyoukai no Kanata and Kill La Kill were excluded from the Fall 2013 fal season for understandable competitive balance reasons. Their exclusion is nonetheless somewhat frustrating, as they would have been interesting to look at through this context.

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Fun With Numbers: Myanimelist Stats’ Correspondence with the Summer 2013 Disk Over/Unders

Quick recap: I’m taking a look at various no-cost indicators of popularity for anime and their related goods. First, I’m checking how well they correspond to disk sales by checking whether different applications of that statistic beat the null “every v1 will sell less than 4000 disks” accuracy criterion for a given season (66% for Fall, 59% for Summer). Later I’ll check how well these indicators corresponded to boosts in manga/LN source popularity (for works that were originally LN/manga), to contrast their predictive abilities at both high-cost and low-cost levels of interest.

This entry covers the myanimelist rankings and popularity for the 34 Summer 2013 shows I’ve been looking at, with the title tweaked to reflect that these are the series rankings from several months after the series have ended. It shouldn’t be a huge factor; positions don’t shift radically that often, especially after a series is done airing (more research on that forthcoming). The data I gathered can be found here, and the results are shown below.

Summer2013-mal-compCompared to Fall, Summer showed a relatively weak performance by the mal metrics. The popularity component still does alright, but the the rankings consistently underperform the accuracy of the null hypothesis. This is more in line with what I would have expected going in; there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that casual audiences aren’t that different inside and outside of Japan, but there’s a very relevant degree of separation between casual audiences and disk-buying ones. Too, a series’ aggregate score being less important to sales is unsurprising, as the series profile of “publicly lambasted but successfully appealing to its target audience” is exceedingly common in any medium.*

*It’s a principle potentially less applicable with nico rankings because they represent the subset of people watching via nico streams, which can be a qualitatively different audience from one that DVRs episodes and/or stream through other services.

Fun With Numbers: Myanimelist Stats Predicting the Fall 2013 Disk Over/Unders

Edit: Link to source document fixed.

Like those of any other free-access site, or any one set of numbers, statistics from myanimelist should be utilized with caution. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t or can’t be used. In this article, I’m looking the current rank and popularity of 38 shows from the Fall 2013 on myanimelist to determine how they stack up against other methods of doing the same. As before, note that any accuracy below the best null hypothesis of .66 is fairly insignificant.

By the by, the myanimelist stats used in this piece were taken in late April, 2014. Odds are they’ve changed a bit since the outset of the season, though shifts within the season tend not to be particularly cataclysmic. Most can probably be viewed as in a similar boat to December Torne/eps 9-12 Nico ranks, in that they’re made when the audience has more information about the show (i.e. has seen more episodes). I used both rank/score and popularity/total number of users to order the shows, and then checked how many v1 sales using the top 5/10/15 shows on those lists correctly pegs as over or under 4000 disks. Data can be found on this doc, and the results are below (indicators greater than the null hypothesis in green):

mal-compTurns out, both indicators do about the same, both beating out the null hypothesis for all 3 list sizes. Out of the metrics I’ve examined so far, that’s the best overall performance. Of course, keep in mind that this is a fairly small sample, and there are other ways (notably source material sales) that these indicators may be telling. It’s still fairly early in the project to say much, beyond the fact that mal stats are at least a little more indicative than random chance.

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: Potential Narratives from February US Amazon Data

The month of February is over, and that means I’m done with something I started back in December – an experiment tracking the amazon rankings of several R1 February releases. It should be noted that the original sample these ideas are drawn from is a very tiny one (11 total releases), so using the word “conclusions” to refer to any of this would be serious hyperbole. But there are a number of interesting threads that popped out of the data, that will hopefully inform my observations in the coming months and be either validated or falsified by a larger sample of data for March.

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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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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: 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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