August was a boring month as far as high-powered releases go. September is not, and there are a couple of series (particularly the Steins Gate combo pack hovering around 1500 with 4 weeks to go and the second half of Attack on Titan) which figure to have a pretty decent chance of making the US BD charts and providing really useful data. 4 solid datapoints wouldn’t be much, but it’s a lot better than 2. I could get more pumped about that if one of the release titles due out this month weren’t straight-up false advertising.
First of all, let me open this article with a mea culpa; back when I posted a quick reaction piece to the announcement that Tamako market would be resolving its romance arc vis-a-vis a movie, I mentioned that the late-night anime series with the next-lowest sales average to get an anime announced later was Bodacious Space Pirates at 7337. This was incorrect; Blood-C put up a 1577 average, though its movie, The Last Dark, was announced before the TV series even aired (meaning sales couldn’t have been a part of the decision-making process at that point).
This also represents an opportunity to spot-check one of the key assertions I made in that post – that it would be possible for Tamako Market to tap a larger, less-enthusiastic fanbase that might be more willing to spend 80,000 yen than they were to spend 300,000 yen. When anime is freely available via TV and streaming, it’s easy for people to finish shows, but not 100% of the people who finish a show want to buy it. And setting price points isn’t about making sure 100% of those people buy it, but about balancing the income per sale with total number of sales for maximum profit. However, that does mean that when an installment of a franchise comes out costing significantly less money, more people can often be expected to buy it. The K-on movie sold about 3.5 times as much disks as season 2 averaged.
It turns out this principle can apply to the lower end of the cost spectrum as well. In addition to raking in just over 67 million yen at the box office, Blood-C sold 4521+1362= 5883 total disks, also a little over 3.5 times the series’ average. With DVD and BD MSRPs at 7000 yen and 9000 yen, that means it brought in roughly 4521*4500+1362*3500=25,000,000 yen, after retailer take. Depending on the movie budget, that might have been enough money to make the movie project pretty close to break-even.
Movies of a franchise don’t always sell more than the TV series. Star Driver went from a TV series that sold 9000 disks per volume to a movie that sold about 6500 disks of the movie and made only slightly more than Blood-C (~80 million yen) at the box office. Bodacious Space Pirates’ recent movie failed to make the box office top 10. I’m not trying to say that every series has hidden riches waiting to be unearthed at lower price tiers associated with movies and OVAs. That demand curve is going to look different for every series. Bodacious Space Pirates is an instructive example of a series whose fanbase is almost entirely made up of disk buyers, as the TV anime may well have averaged more than the light novels typically do in their release weeks; volume 10’s July 11 release failed to chart in a week where the threshold was 6260 copies.
Recognizing when a series’ demand curve favors more-affordable shorter-form content is a tricky task that industry people spend a lot of time working on. I certainly don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of how every individual fanbase operates. I just think it’s important to point out that there are some demand curves which favor movie (and OVA) production for anime which are unsuccessful as TV shows, and some that don’t.
Correction: Blood-C had a lower average (1577) than any of the series mentioned below, though its movie was announced in advance of the TV show.
So Tamako Market is getting a movie, and fairly soon (this April), at that. I’m nothing but excited at this news; of the shows that aired last winter, Tamako Market was probably my favorite. It had a colorful cast, a very nice soundtrack, and an adorably chubby, pompous bird. But the fact that it’s getting a continuation is a bit striking, in light of recent history.
The final average for Tamako Market’s per volume sales clocked in at about 3624, above the 3000 pvs benchmark but considerably below the sales levels of other franchises that got movies while averaging TV ratings of less than 3% (i.e. excluding Pretty Cure, One Piece/battle series in general, and Lupin III). From 2005-2012, the next lowest-selling series to get movies were Bodacious Space Pirates (7337), Hanasaku Iroha (8576), and Star Driver (9075). All the others sold in excess of 10,000 copies per volume. That’s a pretty huge gap – the next-lowest series in that group sold roughly twice as much!
So why is it getting a movie? I can think of at least two plausible explanations:
There are few things more frustrating than loving an anime that has room to grow as a story, but never gets beyond one season of material. It’s arguably even more of an irritance when you know the second season would easily pay for itself. Fortunately, it’s very rare for popular anime to not get sequels (happens only about 20% of the time), and there are ways to predict which ones those will be. I like to think knowing softens the heartbreak.
Live from what may or may not be a filing cabinet, we bring you the Animetics Podcast, a (presumably) monthly recording of our panelists jawing over various topics. If the very thought doesn’t scare you, you can download it from the following link:
http://www.mediafire.com/?dtwsd2810g366d0 (94 minutes, 85 MB)
In this inaugural episode, we’ll be talking about the Winter 2013 Anime season. This discussion is a two-pronged assault. First, we cover the shows we’re watching, trying hard but not too hard to stay on topic. Second, we discuss the season in historical context with recent previous Winter seasons, taking on the oft-disseminated “worst season of all time” rumors.
If you’re strapped for time or only want to follow a certain portion of the podcast, you can find each particular segment at the times listed below:
Tamako Market [0:50]
Blast of Tempest [12:13]*
Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman [17:05]
I Don’t Have Very Many Friends Next [20:07]
Cuticle Detective Inaba [32:38]
Problem Children [55:24]
Vividred Operation [60:56]
The Unlimited [63:30]
Comparison with past Winter seasons [72:47]
Seasonal Charts We Used:
Winter 2011 full chart (w/ Madoka)
*Blast of Tempest is technically a Fall 2012 show. It’s in there mostly because Sam and I wanted to hash out a topic we had argued over the past week. One that I proved myself wrong about 2 days after emphatically declaring that studios didn’t really matter.