I rather like the lucid description of the home video business. It’s clear that this was Justin’s area of concentration in his feature describing the “Anime Industry.” Quotes, because it’s more about finance than industry.
I have a no-longer-hidden agenda about this: if people can learn and be equipped with how the finance end and the way money moves between parties in this industry, they would at least try to only whine about intelligible things and say things that makes sense. Or so I hope. Actually any improvement from the status quo is desirable, and I was hoping a home videos guy like him can at least answer this question:
Why didn’t anyone buy Kaiba?
It’s oh-so-easy to believe that the success of an anime project is based on how well it sells on DVD or BD or what have you. After all, it’s true. But it’s also not true in a bunch of cases. There are a lot of nuances and it’s not always the same thing even if we narrow things down to only late night anime bankrolled by the typical production committee. It’s not even always the same thing if we narrow it to just, say, noitamina shows (maybe a topic for another day). The break-even factor is also a big deal; by default a production committee show doesn’t need to make all its money back from home video (with exceptions). Anything that is an adaptation already is going to have the original material being pushed by some marketing person trying to sell it.
Anyway, the point is, this is not so simple! It may not even make the kind of logical sense you think it makes (or I think it makes).
So when I’m reading this pretty neat essay about the home video business (kind of wished he went into BD vs DVD a bit, but oh well) and you see this chart:
I’m like, great, now everyone is going to think somehow home video sales to break even equals the cost of the production equal a production that doesn’t lose money. It’s not even what Justin was referring to at that point.
Which is, actually, okay. Because people who don’t know much about the finances of all this wouldn’t know what the Manabi line is. But those who do would be like, wait, why is it so high?
Actually it is always good to be critical of stuff you read on the internet. And Manabi line was born on the internet. So let’s go to the best write-up we have so far about that.
Many titles fall in this category. Marginally performing shows, many of which didn’t sell as much as their popularity would make you think they would.
Ex: Manabi Straight!, true tears #1, Sketchbook, Gun X Sword, Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito
The line of profitability. Also the line at which one could say a title is doing okay, but some may call some titles that sell this many a failure, so it’s quite hard to judge.
Ex: Denno Coil, Soul Eater, School Days, Linebarrels of Iron, Super Robot Swars OG, etc
First thing, easy low-hanging fruit: the Manabi line is the oricon first-week figure. Note that in Justin’s write up there is a big point about how even some poorly sold show can break even in the long run, and that’s really at play here. To that end, some numbers I read suggests that for the typical late-night anime we’re looking about maybe 10-15% additional Oricon-recorded sell-through until it gets lost in the noise. So the 3000 or 2900 figure for the Manabi line is ballpark enough.
Second, it is quite hard to judge, even for 2ch types in general. That kind of accounting is just off limits to outsiders. And it would be expected that different productions break even at different points, even if they may be within the proverbial ball park. So given that I am not the 2ch type, I am not going to make a guess here. Or rather, should you?
Man, she really is a problem child.
So when it comes down to it, it’s not extremely difficult to break even. I think that is the whole point behind late night TV anime. There are a lot of juicy stuff that supports this in detail that is left out of Justin’s first part write-up, so maybe one of these days we can talk about it. For now, please just don’t get the wrong idea about something something BD/DVD sales something profit. It is not so simple.
I know I know I just linked to a simple ranking where BD/DVD sales something something …wait, just what does it mean? It’s kind of a trick question isn’t it? Significance, I think, is the metric. Which may not be the same thing as profitable or success. Something to think about.
I’ll leave you with one more thing to think about: Manabi Straight is getting a Blu-ray box. It joins the rest of the cast of digitally-created anime from before Macross Frontier. I mean, most shows break even is a pretty safe bet I’d say.