I may have mentioned this before, but nailing down the impact of anime on video games (released on irregular timetables and with less baseline-dependent variance in stats) is much harder than ballparking the same effect for manga or light novels (where volumes are released at regular intervals and can generally be seen to follow a pattern in the absence of strong outside stimuli). Too, while sales tools exist for measuring the success of console video games in Japan, those tools are much less viable when it comes to measuring the effects of typically PC-based visual novels. Still, roughly 10 anime are adapted from games every year, and it’s a very important part of the market to understand.
In order to get some idea of how existent and/or strong the video game franchise popularity -> anime popularity -> added video game franchise popularity chain is, I pulled a pair of stats for each of the 9 video game adaptation anime made in 2011 that I have data for. The 2 stats I chose to measure video game popularity were maximum yearly rank of the franchise on popular VN retailer getchu (mildly NSFW) and total console game sales for games released within one year of the anime’s initial airdate, via vgchartz. While it should be noted that this was a small sample taken in a year with slightly fewer new shows, the results are potent fuel for speculation. Data is archived here, and summarized on the chart below.
After finishing up an individual analysis of manga and light novel adaptation markets, I had originally planned to toss the remainder of shows not covered in those analyses in one bin and call them “other”. It took about 5 minutes into assembling that sample to realize how incomplete that analysis would have been. There are at least 3 additional distinct categories that anime adaptations fall into: Game Adaptations, Spinoff/Franchise/Merchandise Series based around a larger product line, and True Originals.
Why games should be treated beyond simple disk sales is pretty obvious, but here’s one example. Persona 4: The Golden, released several months after the end of the anime and before the true final episode, sold a reported 248,242 copies in 2012 at an MSRP of over 7000 yen. If its anime was spending 10,000,000 yen per episode, on the low end of what’s been reported to be typical, then the total anime budget was on the order of (10000000*26)/(248242*7000)=.15, or fifteen percent of gross profits from those sales.* So Persona 4 only really needed to bump the game’s sales total up by about 10-20 percent to be worth it before even counting the 30k+ average it posted. Now, the Persona 4 anime hardly needed that money, but this does underscore that for anime series like, say, Starry Sky or Mashiroiro Symphony, being coupled to a PSP re-release of their source title is a pretty potentially big deal. I’ll be using vgchartz or something over the next several weeks to determine just how much, but it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at along with disk sales in determining how successful titles at all tiers of sales were.
The reason why spinoffs and original anime are not lumped together is a bit more nuanced. Though the distinction between the two is a tad fuzzy, the notion that truly original anime have stronger marketing pushes behind them that may prompt better disk sales is worth strong consideration. Not to mention that there’s at least some element of merchandise (however unquantifiable) being marketed beyond the disks. All of the 10k+ series in the non-Game/Manga/LN heap are true originals, so there may be more to that idea than a pipe dream. I can tell you right now that the list of originals makes for a fairly stacked chart; including things whose main goals were TV ratings (noitaminA, Phi Brain) and excluding Madoka Magica, the average original TV anime in this period sold over 8000 disks per volume.
It’s one of the oldest conundrums in the anime fandom that the shows that get the most attention are often not the best-made shows, the ones that blow people’s minds when they see them. In a vaccum, that’s pretty confusing; shouldn’t we be giving the most attention to the shows we’ll enjoy the most? Why do some shows get high ratings and languish in the proverbial basement popularity-wise while others get abyssmal scores but receive tons of attention? I found a quick and dirty way to dig into this problem using my set of seasonal anime data and got a set of results that was equal parts depressingly predictable and pleasantly surprising.