Girls und Pander: Complicating Simplicity

not a naked baby

If opinions are figures, then narratives are molds and 4chan is like, I don’t know, Native or something. ANN would be like Kotobukiya where they are steady and yet erratic. There would be no Good Smile Company.

The recent FREE “Swimming Anime” thing (see these posts for an idea) makes me realize a few things about looking at the story about women and JP home video sales. I think it’s safe to say that if you take 1000 units sold of any given anime, you will find at least one unit purchased by a woman, and one purchased by a man.

The best data to refute people who say women don’t buy anime is to just restate that assertion (and it’s not backed up by any facts, mind you) in the form of “So all 310 thousand people who bought Eva Q have neckbeards that would have made Toren Smith proud?” What I’m trying to say is to appeal to people’s native sense to statistics. One in 310,000 is pretty damn small odds. A hundred in 310,000 is still pretty damn small. But how about a hundred thousand in 310,000? Just how many people who bought Eva Q are of the XX chromosome? I don’t know.

And the truth is, anyone making these kind of assertions don’t know. So we can only guess. And if you guess, you’re really just having fun on the internet playing a guessing game. What I find is that if someone has some ulterior agenda besides playing the armchair anime producer game, their inquiries will vary by a lot. For most, even the bros furthering the “girls don’t buy anime” narrative, they don’t deviate from this mold. Maybe that’s okay. It just means they will be off their game because they want to stick a round peg into their preferred holes shaped like “girls don’t buy anime.” Maybe they can get away with enough strength of persuasion, but there will also be a better rebuttal. And invariably their arguments are not completely wrong, just wrong enough that they should know better.

I think there is more to the numbers than that though. For one, it is very difficult to categorize anime in a way that illustrates what is “made for girls” and what isn’t. Let alone what is made for whoever. Truth is far majority of anime out there have crossover demand. I mean duh, anime that panders to both males and females, on paper, will sell more than anime that panders to only male or females, given equal everything else. This is why I don’t watch Gintama, but lots of girls do. That is also why I don’t watch Gintama, but lots of guys do, too. I mean, what is this? Who buys Fate/Zero? And what is Fate/Zero marketed to? Why are there four seasons of Marimite? Even FREE–it might appease the sakuga otaku if it comes across as top-notch animation. And most sakuga otaku are proably guys. Probably. Does this mean this anime sells to girls? Who knows? Who can know? All we know is that the promo material feels very much like fanservice for girls.

And more importantly, what is anime made for girls? How is that different than anime that is made for girls, but guys can also enjoy? And how is that different than, simply, One Piece, Naruto, or most Jump titles? Does the DVD/BD divide matter? Do clock-shows work on a different framework? How about movies and ONA and OAVs? Can we extrapolate from manga or light novel sales figures and breakdowns?

I think that’s the kind of questions I would like answers for. It is the logical next step.

My own narrative on this is more about how the late-night otaku-targeting anime system is still relatively new (circa 1997) and while there has always been anime made primarily for women as the audience (to the exclusion of men of any age), shows like FREE belong to a newer breed that uses the late-night otaku anime format. It might not be a notable difference to the audience but it’s a notable thing when it comes to the business end, and this is partly where it shows in terms of Kyoto Animation doing it as a new type of committee based on an original concept. Thing is, anime of this kind is a growing scene, and we should expect more titles season after season in the near term. Maybe they’re just trying to head off a new trend.

It still doesn’t explain why I like Tsuritama. Or why I don’t think KyoAni’s original titles have really found any real lift.

On the flip side, if I was a producer for FREE I would probably care less if girls or guys buy the show–as long as people buy the show. The information only helps to focus marketing and pitch any subsequent production. Which is why it would be great if 4chan/a/ decide to post pictures of broken Blu-rays as if their Waifu Animation Studio got impure. And also why, in the end, demographic doesn’t really matter. It’s just one more thing to obfuscate the truth (if such thing exist) as to what will sell. Given Kyoto Animation’s track record, everything they makes will sell pretty okay. Even Nichijou.

Only if  Yamakan can set anime FREE.

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