Since the apocalypse of the industry is neigh.
Every so often I see posts or comments come by that are the harbinger of the collapsing anime and manga industry. Which I’ve covered in multiple posts such as this one, or this one and this one. I’m getting tired of this narrative and want to give some more objective, partially subjective, background information. Most of the posts or comments are based on declining sales of psychical copies which drive a certain sentiment. Be real, this has been going on for ages. The DVD-rental shop is gone, get over it.
Time for the numbers. Let’s take a look at the manga industry, which seems to be doing pretty fine apparently when breaking down the top 10 most successful series during the period of November 17, 2014 to November 22, 2015. One Piece has sold over 14000000 copies, Attack on Titan more than 8 million and Prison School more than 4 million copies. Doesn’t look awfully bleak to me. It’s really interesting to see that One Piece remains so ever more popular to this date. Of course this series has a strong merchandise that contributes to its overall success. It stays on the radar of potential consumers.
Light novels seem to do pretty good as well. Sword Art Online is still very popular long after its first release. Same goes for Naruto. Hundreds of thousands of copies are being sold during the year 2015. Notably DanMachi that exceeds the one million copies mark. That’s quite interesting since I didn’t consider the series itself to be very innovative, making me dropout after a few episodes. I guess that mostly has to do with my dislike for the voice actor of the main character.
In the graphic below I’ve selected Raw Yen revenue generated by franchise. These numbers span the following period December 8, 2014 to December 13, 2015. For clarification the approximate currency exchange rate is 1 Billion Yen is about 8,559,628 US Dollars.
A quick scan tells us that Attack on Titan generated about 60 million US Dollars. That’s not blockbuster money and doesn’t take into account all costs involved in to generating this amount of money. As I’ve stated in a previous article, there are many parties involved that take a share of the pie, but shows that certain franchises still generate many millions of dollars. The shares in this graph aren’t divided by source and highly fluctuate by franchise. Some get a good amount of revenue from music sales, home video, manga or light novels.
In the following graphic you’ll see animation disc sales in Japan during the period December 8, 2014 to December 13, 2015. When you break it down Disney movies are still high on demand, even long after their release. Disney has a very strong marketing strategy and the name alone keeps the buzz alive. Gundam is still very popular and Fate/Stay Night as well. Not included in this list, but noteworthy, are Tsukimonogatari Vol I with 30,371 copies, the Psycho-Pass movie with 28,267 estimated sales, Kan Colle Vol. 1 Blu-ray Limited Edition 20,888 copies and The IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 4, with 17,242 copies.
Undoubtedly you must have been thinking, but there are so many other series that came out over the course of the year, where are those? Probably because they didn’t make the cut in the top lists, suggesting they have underperformed. This probably drives the sentiment for the dying industry, but as we’ve seen in previous graphs, a franchise can drive revenue from multiple sources and not disc sales alone. We’ve also not taken into account the amount of streaming subscribers on Crunchyroll, which has reached 750,000 paid subscribers in November 2015 and has over 20 million registered users, with about 80% of the subscribers coming from the United States. This means there is more money pouring back into the anime industry.
The industry is in a transition period towards newer media outlets. It’s still searching for the right medium. The medium itself is scattered over too many parties just giving a selection of the full offering. A bit at Funimation, a little at Daisuke and a chunk at Crunchyroll. The better alternative would be if those parties merged into one, creating a platform that truly embodies the new wave the industry is going towards.