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: Licenses Matter (If You Know Where to Look)

The Summer 2013 has presented rich discussion fodder, giving rise to a number of interesting talking points. My favorite one is still the one on the merits of the core comedy in high-school life series that Free has sparked. This article is about one of those questions, one which is more complicated than some might think; Why did The World God Only Knows get a sequel? Based sheerly on anime sales, it’s a very risky proposition; season 1 literally just hit the profit line with an average 3000 sales per volume, and season 2 was well below that, averaging only 2117 per volume. If it made any contribution to manga sales, it was one of questionable value. Aside from one special-edition release that came with a bundled OAD, the manga sales don’t show a big jump after the anime airs. It’s a late-night anime, too (aired at 3:20 in the morning), so it’s not getting any help from TV ratings/ad revenue. So why are we looking at the third season of an anime whose second was already on shaky ground?

The answer is that that ground is not, in fact, quite so shaky. Once one considers the additional impact of licensing dollars, some sequels that look like iffy business make a lot more sense.

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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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