Fun With Numbers: Recency Bias and Boom-Bust Cycles in Anime Fandom

In a previous post made approximately forever ago, I tackled the idea of “churn”; that anime fandom was constantly gaining new fans and losing old ones, at a rate high enough to cause significant institutional memory loss. Long story short, it turned out there was a distinct, cliff-like loss of popularity corresponding pretty closely with the introduction of Blu-Ray to the market in 2007-08, but not a constant one over time.

Here’s another angle on the idea, though: there may not be a constant change in popularity, but what about rating? Are people giving newer anime higher scores in general? That’s what I’m going to examine here.

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Fun With Numbers: The Churning English-speaking Anime Fandom

I recently finished a mission that’s taken me combing through mountains of data grains and getting them all lined up in neat sacks. After writing this article, I’ve wanted to do more large-scale data/stats work with anime. But pulling up the stats I need for each anime every time I need it is a huge pain. So, over the past couple of days, I took the data I needed for all (closer to 85-90%, in actuality) of the anime that aired over the past eight years. If you want more details, or a look at the spreadsheets, they’re available in the relevant tab. Suffice to say that, for me, this database is more valuable than a giant toybox full of gold.

The first thing I want to use this data to address is the idea of “churn” in the English-speaking anime fandom; the idea that most anime fans are fairly young, old fans tend to be less involved in the community, and some old classics can get lost as a result. A more thorough expression of the idea can be found on this podcast, the major impetuous for this article.

So what’s my take on the idea that English-speaking fandom is mercilessly churning out the old and frail? Read on to find out.

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