Quantifying the tradeoff between two key flavors of anime aesthetics
The Animetics podcast is back! Albiet with apologies for our primative recording software and about 200% more duwang. This week, Drew and Sam spitball on some moderately interesting news, one piece of really interesting news, and Hirohiko Araki’s favorite installment of his all-time-top-ten manga franchise.
Ever wonder what anime get sequels and what don’t? The simple answer to this fairly simple question is “sales, plus a few mitigating lesser factors”. We know this, beyond the obvious intuition, because over the years, we see those with robust sales totals get continued much more often than those with lackluster ones:
A more interesting question is perhaps this; which anime this year have the best chances of getting continued? After some delving into the subject, I can finally answer this question to a respectable degree of confidence. Based on data from 615 shows airing from from 2005-2012, the first season of an anime which sells x units per volume has P odds of getting a sequel, meaning either a second season or a movie.
P(x, t, L)=.01+θ(x-2250)*(.7-1650/(x+L*750))*e^(-((t-1)*θ(t-1))/.7)
Where t is the time in years passed since the first season aired, and L=1 corresponds to the series having been licensed. θ is the step function, 0 when the number inside the brackets is less than 0, and 1 when the number inside is greater than 0.
If there’s an inverse situation to not seeing a sequel to something you liked that you know was really popular, it’s getting a sequel when you in no way expected one. Disc sales are a pretty good indicator of when something is commercially viable enough to get a second season, but they aren’t the only factor playing in. There are a couple of consistent ways that anime with non-profitable sales wind up with more than one season, and that’s what I’m looking at today. Examination of the ones that did sequel reveals a rather unsurprisingly grim prognosis for fans of old, poorly-selling shows hoping that they’ll get more.
A little over a week ago, I wrote about how seemingly improbable this season’s Yozakura Quartet sequel was. It was anomaly, lacking any of the traditional indicators (profitable disc sales, TV ratings in excess of 3%, visible boost in the sales totals of the manga). Or at least it was until you look at the unique way in which the most recent series of OADs was marketed. As it turns out, the Yozakura Quartet OADs, though failing to chart, were very probably profitable. The makers made their dues by exploiting a bit of a backdoor in the niche anime industry: piggybacking on the much larger manga market.
In contrast to a sports-packed Saturday, Sunday’s lineup consisted mainly of more laid-back fare. Which in no way necessitates a drop in quality. At least, I believe all genres are created equal before they get executed by a particular staff. Today’s slate ended up being fairly satisfying.
I’m pretty ok with Yozakura Quartet getting its second crack at TV anime this season. It’s a series with a lot of potential; if nothing else, the power to produce machine guns out of thin air that fire when you say bang-bang is a unique one. But the manga is a repetitive criminally slow-paced monthly, the first anime was a hopelessly melodramatic show that failed to top 1000 in average volume sales, and the second, OVA-based anime was a thinly-veiled sakuga showcase. It’s a series that definitely could get over the hump, and clearly people care enough to keep trying.
But why? I’ve got no financial explanation. Given that its season 1 sales were less than borderline and the OVA failed to chart, the fact that it’s still getting anime is impressive and puts it in a very small circle. It’s not that the new series has been promoting the manga like a Blue Exorcist or an Inu x Boku SS either; the 7th volume in 2009 and the 13th volume in 2013 logged near-identical 70,000 volume sales totals. The most popular installment on myanimelist is only about 800th in popularity, so I doubt it’s even a max-money license show. It’s probably one of the 5 or 10 least explicable sequels to be made in the past 10 years. If I ever find out an definitive answer to this question, even if that answer is “passion project funded by the mangaka or the studio”, expect that to be its own article. But right now, there really isn’t one.