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Understanding Anime DVD/BD Sales Data

The following FAQ is intended as a guide to understanding anime DVD/BD sales numbers, where they come from, what they do and don’t mean, how we predict and track them, and various pitfalls to avoid.

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Section 1, Why (or why not) video sales?

1.1 How important are DVD/BD sales?

It depends! Great disc sales can make a show, but low sales won’t necessarily break it. A detailed explanation of “how the business works” requires a lot more detail but for now it’s sufficient to know that DVD/BD purchases are only one revenue stream sharing the burden with potentially many others, such as:
– Mobile games/video games/visual novels
– International licensing
– Manga and novels
– Live events
– Figures and toys
– Character merchandise
– Music and drama CDs
– Rentals
– Ratings (advertising)
– Retailer collaborations (e.g. Famima, Lawson)
…and more. You even have situations where factors like government funding, the promotion of tourism, or cultural diplomacy matter.

I’m also sidestepping the byzantine world of revenue distribution among animation production committee members for the moment. Most anime is financed by multiple investors (for example, publishers, video distributors, music labels, figure and toy manufacturers, television stations, animation studios, etc), each of which may take differently-sized cuts of the various revenue streams. Video sales alone will not define “hit” or “flop” for every investor. If your only cut of the pie is figure sales, video sales are, at least directly, irrelevant to you. In Section 2, you’ll get more information on these production committees from Ultimatemegax.

What’s attractive about video disc sales is that we’re presumably here because we like to watch anime, and the video discs containing said anime are the most direct manifestation of the anime in purchasable form. It’s understandable the numbers interest us and it’s fairly obvious I’m no exception to that – but keep in mind their many, many limitations. For better or worse, video discs are simply not the primary way that most of fandom commercially expresses its interest in a franchise.

This is especially true with the meteoric rise of mobile gaming. The mobage market encompasses much more than just games related to anime franchises of course, but many major games do have such a direct or indirect connection, including some of the largest games at the time on writing (2018-08 update, so Monster Strike, FGO, Magia Record, Pokemon GO, various idol franchises, Bandori, etc) and the overall market for mobage in Japan is many times larger than the entire late night anime video disc market. A particularly successful mobage can make more in a month than an entire run of BDs for a 1 cour show averaging 10k over the course of half a year.

1.2 What's the break-even point for anime?

There is no such thing as a single break-even point. If the implication of 1.1 is that disc sales are of unequal importance from one show to the next, it follows that shows can’t all have the same break-even point.

Budgets also vary. Animation is not the only cost. You would expect a Hollywood blockbuster or “AAA” game release to set much higher sales targets than independent or niche films or games. Anime is no different – the marketing budget alone for Shingeki or Madoka likely dwarfs the entire production cost of shorts like Teekyuu or Morita-san.

There is also no assumption that video sales alone will recoup the entire budget. This is not remotely true for the vast majority of series. Even 10k sellers may well not recoup all costs through video sales. This makes the concept of “break even” problematic.

  1.2.1 What about the Manabi Line?
  The Manabi Line is a reference to the sales (2,899 vol. 1 / 2,319 average) of Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight, a 2007 series by ufotable. It’s gained notoriety as a “break-even” line, but is outdated and overly broad and unproven. It only continues to exist due to inertia – I even used to mention it in my old vol. 1 posts many years ago. While all “lines” are just arbitrarily selected numbers and 2,899 is equally as arbitrary as 3,000 or 10,000, the “break-even” baggage of the Manabi Line suggests that a rounder number may be less misleading.

1.3 Where does the sales data come from?

Every number you see here or anywhere that reports anime sales is compiled and published by Oricon Inc (株式会社オリコン). They’re the definitive source, but by no means perfect, as we’ll discuss later. There used to be an alternative called Soundscan, but it’s no longer around in any form that matters to us, and was always of very limited usefulness.

1.4 Where do the pre-release sales predictions come from?

Just as sales reports are dominated by Oricon, pre-release sales predictions are dominated by Amazon Ranking Stalker. The idea behind Stalker is simple: assign “points” to every anime DVD or BD registered on Amazon Japan, every day, dependent primarily upon its sales ranking, with some modifiers for video format, price, and Nico Nico Douga marketplace preorders.

Edit 2018-08: Sadly, Stalker is dead now, so there is no longer a great way of tracking performance before release. There is a limited Chinese replacement of sorts, but the algorithm is different and it being in Chinese means it’s a lot less accessible, at least to people like me who would need Japanese or English.

1.5 Why all the focus on Amazon Japan?

Because they’re the biggest internet retailer in the world, they have the widest selection of anime, and they publish the most comprehensive and frequently updated sales rankings. If a show is ranking incredibly well or dismally badly at Amazon, it is likely the official sales totals will bear that out, broadly speaking. They are not the only retailer that matters but circumstances make them the most useful and most readily usable.

Section 2, Production Committees

Edit 2017-05-02: For a more recent article by Ultimatemegax on production commmittees, see this post on Sakuga Blog: https://blog.sakugabooru.com/2017/05/02/what-is-an-animes-production-committee/
Introduction (by Ultimatemegax)

Greetings and welcome to the production committee portion of the Anime Sales FAQ. This section will detail about the mysterious beings known as anime production committees and give a little insight as to how sales relate to different series. As something started off with in the very first question “How does disc sales relate to success for an anime?” Production committees let us know how important those sales are to the production as a whole. I’ll start by answering the 5Ws and 1 H about them.

2.1 What is a production committee?

A production committee is a group of companies that have pooled financial resources together to produce an animated show. The way these committees are formed are through producers. For example, if the Dengeki Bunko light novel division of Ascii Media Works (a Kadokawa Group company) wants to make an anime adaptation of one of their light novels, a producer that’s experienced in anime production will contact their colleagues mentioning “we’re planning to adapt this novel into anime form” and solicit feedback from other companies. They’ll decide on the form of the committee and then determine main staff/animation studio (if not part of the committee) once everyone is on board. The committee is ranked based off of financial input into the production; higher ranks=higher financial interests.

2.2 Why are production committees important? / When did they start?

In the early 2000s, anime started to shift from the film/OVA/TV station produced format to the committee format as TV stations began to produce their own live-action shows instead of anime. This meant that the financial brunt of the show was from these companies instead of on the TV stations. Instead of shows recouping costs by advertising money, the shows began advertising for other goods (novels, video discs, manga, music, merchandise, etc). This led to fandoms checking out numbers as best they could for any way to see how shows performed (and thus these threads). Revenue from video disc sales go to the distributor and then back to the committee to help offset these costs of productions.

2.3 Who is involved in production committees?

You’ll see a variety of companies in different committees. Publishers tend to either lead the committee (if they have a video distributing arm like Kadokawa/Media Factory) or place second to a video distributor. As mentioned, the video distributor tends to be highest on the list as they get the most income from video disc sales, but this isn’t always the case. Often you may see a TV station listed at the top like Fuji Television, TV Tokyo, NTV, or TBS. Music companies like Flying Dog, Lantis, and avex are also listed here. Finally you may see some advertising companies like Dentsu or Soutsu listed. Other companies also include video game manufactures, towns, and there’s even a theatre listed in one in 2013!

  2.3.1 Are animation studios involved in production committees?
  Studios have been parts of committees. In fact we had 4 studios in 2013 lead their respective committees (KyoAni, Sunrise, Toei, and Gonzo). If a studio isn’t part of the committee, they’re just contracted to do the animation work and get paid from that (I imagine they could get royalty payments if the show is exceptionally successful, but I can’t say for sure).

  As for how they’re selected, that’s part of the pre-production process where the producers use their connections at the respective studios to see who would have time or who they want to use. For example, Genco has TONS of works that’s been animated by JC Staff, so they tend to put a lot of works there, but it’s not always the case as they gave SAO to Aniplex/A-1 Pictures. If the studio wants to invest in the show, this is where that decision is made and they put a producer on the team as well.

2.4 How can I tell who’s involved in a show’s production committee? / Where are they found?

The simplest ones tell you in the opening/ending credits. At the final moments of those credits, you’ll see “製作” (Production). This is where your committee is listed. Nice shows list the members, but some hide them under a name. For those shows, we look at who’s listed as producers and start from there in order. (ie. Pony Canyon’s producer would be listed first if they were the top company for that show’s committee). It takes time and some producers are hard to identify.

I’ve made a long spreadsheet detailing who’s involved in the anime we track on this forum. Sheet 1 is a simple “Here’s your committee by show” while Sheet 2 breaks down the shows each company was involved in.
2013 Anime Production Committees Spreadsheet

2.5 How are sequels determined?

There are many factors that go into deciding if a show will get a sequel. These relate to the original intention of the show. For example, if Kadokawa makes a series to promote a light novel title, and they feel there’s still room for growth of the novels, a sequel can be greenlit. If the editorial board of the label feel the title has reached its peak and no additional seasons would raise enough additional sales of the novels, there’s no reason to greenlight another season in favor of another title that would see growth of its sales. Aniplex and King Records are in charge of promoting their disc sales first and foremost, so titles led by them depend more on those than associated print material.

However, anime itself is not always merely a promotion. As noted in the spreadsheet, there are several series with a TV station at its helm. If they make an original show (or mostly original), then there may be additional seasons if ratings are high enough to justify the costs (eg. Log Horizon and Phi Brain being funded by NHK or Gatchaman Crowds from NTV). Thus the answer to “Is (blank) able to get a second season?” is nearly always “look at the committee and see if the first couple of companies got their investment back and see stabilization or growth possible with a second season.”

2013 Anime Production Committees Spreadsheet
New 2017-05-02: 2017 Anime Production Committees Spreadsheet

Section 3, Sales and Prediction Data Sources

3.1 Oricon Inc

The following Oricon publications are relevant to our discussions:
Tuesday: Top 50 all-genre DVD, Top 30 animation-only DVD, Top 20 all-genre BD, Top 10 animation-only BD
Thursday: Top 100 all-genre DVD, Top 100 all-genre BD (Note: as of mid 2018, we no longer get these in a reliable manner. They tend to be multiple weeks behind, and with a few holes.)
Monthly: Top 50 all-genre DVD, Top 50 all-genre BD
Yearly: Mid-year YTD rankings, Full-year annual rankings (various thresholds)

The following describes the changes in ranking coverage over the years. The first number is the threshold after which Oricon stops counting sales towards the total. The latter is the threshold after which we don’t have access to the data:
DVD Weekly Ranking
– 2002/10/07: Top 100
– 2003/07/07: Top 300 / 100
BD Weekly Ranking
– 2008/07/07: Top 50 / 30
– 2011/03/14: Top 100 / 50
– 2012/12/24: Top 200 / 100

The list of retailers Oricon receives data from can be found here: http://www.oricon.co.jp/rank/about/

When posting the sales data, the following format is used:

Anime Rank,All Rank,Last Rank,Week Sales,Total Sales,#Wks,Title
2,3,,”15,596″,”15,596″,1,”Uma Musume: Pretty Derby v1
7,11,2,”2,991″,”32,847″,2,”Kidou Senshi Gundam The Origin v6″
From left to right, the numbers are:
– Ranking in Tuesday animation-only list
– Ranking in Tuesday or Thursday all-genre list
– Ranking in last week’s all-genre list, if applicable
– Sales this week
– Cumulative sales to date
– Number of weeks ranked
– Title of release

  3.1.1 Oricon’s Pros
  - Industry leader, trustworthy, timely, a long (enough) history (back to 2000), and above all available.
  - The most level playing field we can get. Relying on distributor numbers would be highly problematic, as they rarely report sales and often do so imprecisely and without much context. With Oricon, a third party is reporting sales direct from retailers. While distributor numbers are what truly matter, they aren’t consistent.

  3.1.2 Oricon’s Cons
  - Not everything is reported. As seen in 3.1, if a disc ranks outside the first threshold it’s never counted, outside the second threshold we don’t (directly) see it.
  - Thresholds can be high enough to prevent low sellers from ranking at all, or ranking past the first week.
  - Due to the above (and other factors), sales reporting is heavily front-loaded, with very few discs ranking beyond their first 2 weeks.
  - Because coverage methods and video formats have changed over time, comparing sales of recent series to those from even 5 years ago is difficult.
  - While they cover many retailers, by no means do they cover all. KyoAni Shop, for example, does not report sales to Oricon.
  - There can be very large gaps between what Oricon reports and what distributors report. See this post for examples.

  3.1.3 Oricon’s Biases
  - Because Oricon reports on a finite number of releases each week, the best way to make the rankings is to have sales compressed in the first 1-2 weeks. This ensures you make the rankings at least once. This is exactly how late night anime operates, which is why Oricon works so well for our purposes.
  - This does mean that Oricon is less useful for “slow burn” series that accumulate sales over a long period. Kids’ shows, for example, are less likely to rack up large preorder sales. Their sales would presumably come over a longer period of time in smaller doses, usually falling short of Oricon thresholds, and therefore not being reported. Particularly as many are DVD only, where thresholds are higher.
  - Shows with a broader mainstream appeal can also be underrepresented on Oricon. Nodame Cantabile might be an extreme example but during an interview a producer for noitaminA stated that over time, Nodame Cantabile has actually sold three times what has been reported through Oricon (or through 2ch as he puts it). For a series that has gone on for three seasons over a period of years, airs on the more mainstream noitaminA block, plays out like a soap opera, and has a successful live action adaptation, this seems believable.
  - Another example given in the same interview is noitaminA show Hakaba Kitarou, which saw a bump in orders after the original mangaka’s wife published the autobiography “Hakaba no Nyoubou”.
  - This situation would apply to few of the anime we report on here but should be understood anyway.
  - Oricon does not count international orders! See this post for more details. It’s unknown when they stopped counting international orders, but it was some time before June 2014.

3.2 Amazon Japan

Hourly, Amazon Japan publishes ranking information for nearly every item on their site, including every anime DVD and BD. There are both “all DVD/BD” rankings and category rankings, such as anime-specific. For the purposes of anime sales predictions, the “all” rankings should always be used. Amazon also publishes continually updated monthly and yearly rankings.

  3.2.1 Amazon’s Pros
  - Huge retail market share, comprehensive listings, readily extractable data, frequent updates.
  - Thousands of non-anime releases compete for rankings, which helps mitigate systematic bias. I.e. if the whole anime market is slowing, this shift will not be reflected in the rankings of an anime-only retailer as there’s no control group to measure against.

  3.2.2 Amazon’s Cons
  - Ranking methodology is complex and not fully understood. Pure unit sales count is not the only consideration (price matters, for example).
  - Despite their size, they are only one retailer, and if their share of the market for a release is unrepresentative, predictions using them will be either high or low.

Section 4, Amazon Ranking Stalker

Amazon Ranking Stalker is dead, this section left for historical purposes.
4.1 What is Stalker?

Amazon Ranking Stalker, normally referred to simply as Stalker, is a fan-run sales prediction site. It has no relationship with Amazon or the home video industry and has no access to data other than that which is available publicly. It’s run by some person or persons with an interest in predicting sales and some simple but clever algorithms for converting Amazon ranking into sales predictions.

  4.1.1 Stalker’s Pros
  - Tracks and databases enormous amounts of data – virtually every anime DVD and BD from about 2010 onward, with rankings updated every hour. It is first and foremost a data collection tool. Without data collection, data analysis cannot occur, let alone predictions. This is far and away the single most important service Stalker provides.
  - Freely available on the web, reliable uptime, and at least to the trained eye, reasonably simple navigation.
  - Makes a best effort to track rankings at stores other than Amazon as well: Animate, HMV, Rakuten, Gamers, and Softmap. These rankings do not factor into its estimates, for various reasons.
  - Very successful at predicting sales with at least ballpark accuracy for most releases. If Stalker has a title predicted at 20,000 you can be all but certain it will be a major hit regardless of the exact number. Likewise, a title predicted at 200 is going to sell horribly.
  - Most of the time the final release day estimate will get you within ±30%, and the exceptions are usually easy to predict ahead of time once you know the market well enough.

  4.1.2 Stalker’s Cons
  - The final estimate is susceptible to wild, clearly nonsensical swings when a title has recently plunged or soared in rank.
  - The final estimate is overly simplistic, and conflates two very different concepts (long term prediction, and short term trends) into one number. These functions should be split out for clarity and precision.
  - Titles selling disproportionately well or poorly outside of Amazon may be heavily under or overestimated, respectively.
  - Extracting data for more than one release at a time for analysis is difficult. Navigation options in general could be more sophisticated, ideally.
  - To new users, the vast array of numbers and dates can be very confusing. This leads to seeking easy answers, which leads to the final estimate statistic, which leads to a lot of misinformation if not given proper context. This ends up being the greatest drawback to Stalker – not so much its own performance, really, but the lack of understanding in the fandom generally about how to interpret it.

  4.1.3 What exactly is Stalker trying to predict?
  - Stalker predicts first week sales as we will see them reported by Oricon.
  - Because Stalker predicts Oricon, it is not predicting Amazon sales only. It is instead trying to predict overall sales, using an assumption about how large Amazon’s market share is for the average release.
  - Stalker does not predict the total sales of a release because the preorders Stalker tracks are reported in the first week, and Stalker does not award points after release day. Anything and everything that happens after the first week of sales are announced has no connection to Stalker’s estimates whatsoever.

  4.1.4 What causes Stalker to get it wrong?
  - The point about over- and underestimations warrants additional comment. Stalker’s accuracy is almost wholly dependent on Amazon being representative. What happens when this isn’t the case?
  - I’ll explain these more later, but Stalker doesn’t ignore this entirely. It applies three corrections: 1. DVDs get modestly increased estimates per rank, 2. expensive items like boxsets get massively decreased estimates, and 3. items with a lot of Niconico Marketplace preorders at Amazon get a very small decrease to their estimates. The assumption is that releases meeting these criteria tend to rank higher or lower at Amazon than the average release.
  - What Stalker can’t do is account for series-specific consumer retailer biases. Unlike price points, affiliate link clickthroughs and disc formats, this is not something you can extract from a product listing or API. DVDs get more points per rank than BDs, yes, but the correction is identical across all releases. There’s no (obvious) way to factor in a show’s audience preferring to buy in person from a physical store, or for Gamers and HMV getting a coveted exclusive bonus that Amazon doesn’t (or, rarely, the reverse), but those can significantly skew the predictions. Examples of the “storefront effect”
    - Titles with a female target audience that prefers shopping at stores like Animate (all first week sales below)
      - Free! Vol. 1 predicted at 15,131 but sells 25,726 (70% higher)
      - UtaPri s2 Vol. 1 predicted at 27,016 but sells 54,460 (101% higher)
      - Arcana Famiglia Vol. 1 predicted at 1,083 but sells 3,462 (220% higher)
    - Titles that had extras not available at Amazon (also true of many category one shows as well)
      - Chuunibyou Vol. 1 predicted at 10,185 but sells 14,458 (42% higher)
      - Yuyushiki Vol. 1 predicted at 1,333 but sells 2,230 (67% higher)
      - Love Live Vol. 1 predicted at 10,601 but sells 18,429 (78% higher) Examples of the reverse
    - Titles that sell more (or at least rank more highly) at Amazon than other stores are less common, but here are some examples
      - Shingeki Vol. 1 predicted at 77,445 but sells 56,793 (27% lower)
      - Eureka AO Vol. 1 predicted at 6,292 but sells 4,138 (34% lower)
      - Tari Tari Vol. 1 predicted at 14,298 but sells 7,758 (46% lower)
    - Over-estimations used to be much more common, but I’m only taking examples from 2012-2013, and Stalker is much more likely to underestimate than overestimate in the past two years. Even Shingeki switched to being underestimated by the third volume.

  4.1.5 Points to consider when watching the rankings
  - Include DVDs. Often we just look at the raw rankings where BDs dominate. You can get away with ignoring DVDs much of the time, but if a series is roughly split in both formats, your perspective skews. A title ranking both DVD and BD around 200 will likely crush a title ranking BD at 100 with insignificant DVD sales. Kuroko no Basuke is a very good, if extreme, example.
  - Include multiple versions. Usually an RE is not worth a moment’s thought, but sometimes the LE is an extra special edition and the “RE” is like a more standard limited edition. HenNeko is a recent example, and for major films this is quite common. Amazon-exclusive versions also sometimes split rankings with regular editions enough that it matters to the prediction, for example Tamayura ~more aggressive~ or Date A Live.
  - Consider the overall ranking number, not just the position among anime. Rank in the animation category only is meaningless, so if the show topping Stalker’s seasonal Vol. 1 chart right now is ranked 150, that’s a very different situation than if five titles are battling in the top 50.
  - Glance at the non-Amazon lists from time to time (see the last section of this post). The other retailers are smaller and provide much less information than Amazon, so drawing firm conclusions is hard. But if you see a title doing “okay” at Amazon and amazingly at HMV or Animate, take note.

4.2 The data points - important details

In this section I’ll go over the most important and/or most confusing data points on Stalker and what they mean.

  4.2.1 最新累積ポイント = accumulated Stalker points to date since solicitation
  - Every day, Stalker looks at a release’s performance in the last 24 hours, and assigns a point value that is intended to estimate the number of sales a typical release would make in one day at that ranking position.
  - Stalker also applies a small hourly adjustment to the daily number, based on whether the title is trending up or down.
  - Since this is a cumulative data point, it starts at zero and increases from there. At any given point during release, this should not be mistaken for a final sales estimate.
  - Because we do not know the actual sales by day at Amazon or anywhere else, the values are calculated backwards from looking at Amazon performance, comparing to Oricon totals, and doing this for a sufficiently massive data set to draw conclusions. The exact math would be beyond me.
  - The exact points awarded vary by type of release.
    - DVDs get the most points for a given rank, under the assumption that Amazon is less representative of the DVD market (at least for anime) than they are for BD, so a DVD ranking high means comparatively more sales.
    - BDs get the second most points for a given rank, with a current cap of 2,400 in a day for ranking #1. I don’t know the point cap for DVD as I can’t remember the last time an anime DVD ranked #1.
    - High Price items over ~¥10,000 MSRP receive a heavy penalty, accumulating only about 1/3rd as many points for a given rank as DVDs or BDs. This is due to one or both of the following: boxed sets may be disproportionately ordered through Amazon (because Amazon’s higher discounts get more attractive as MSRP rises) and/or Amazon factors item price into their hourly rankings, meaning an expensive item like the Gurren Lagann BD Box can rank more highly than other items that may move more units in absolute terms.
  - It bears repeating: these are estimates, they are not official sales numbers. Nothing on Stalker is, or is intended to be, official.

  4.2.2 最終予測累積ポイント = prediction of final points on release day
  - This number is calculated as follows: (avg points per day over past 7 days) * (number of days until release). Predictions start about a week after release – simple as that. Weaknesses of the final prediction
    - This simplicity results in two significant weaknesses:
      - First, titles that are strong enough to rank top 5 every day their first week will start with truly outrageous estimates. Monogatari Second Season Vol. 7 (Onimonogatari Part 1) had an initial prediction was well over 320,000. For a show whose first volume sold 35,304 opening week, meaning the estimate was probably 1000% high. The same weakness holds on smaller scales as well. Strike the Blood Vol. 1 had an initial estimate of ~10k, but it was a very late solicitation with a pre-existing novel fanbase and therefore orders were heavily concentrated in the period right after solicitation. Within another week the estimate was slashed in half and the title was ranking below #300.
      - Second, the estimate is influenced to an unrealistic degree by sudden swings in ranking.
    - It’s worth noting that the shortcomings of the final estimate affect a minority of releases, and are usually temporary. The main problem therefore is perception – unless you already know the gist of what I’ve said here, you’re likely to draw very wrong conclusions from the prediction. And when things change back just as suddenly, that shakes confidence in Stalker’s overall performance. I’ve seen this play out time and time again in discussions online. While a minority of releases are affected, they are exactly the releases that get the most casual attention – major hits, and titles undergoing sudden shifts, particularly in the first half of the season. Potential adjustments to mitigate the issues
      - These proposals that could mitigate the issues:
      - First, postpone publishing the initial estimates until much later (perhaps a 3-4 weeks after release), which would give new solicitations like Onimonogatari or Strike the Blood more time to settle down and decrease the initial shock estimates. After just 15 days, Strike the Blood was at a more realistic 4,248. Onimonogatari shed over 180,000 from its initial estimate by day 16, down to a still high but less outrageous 140,000, which will be closer to 50,000 within a few more weeks.
      - Second, calculate the final estimate using a longer period of time, such as 3-4 weeks again. This will greatly smooth out the effect of temporary distortions such as the announcement of an event ticket/coveted bonus item or a particularly well-received episode.
      - Third, while smoothing out shifts in ranking is desirable, we still want to retain the ability to visualize sharp shifts in ranking. That function should not be part of a final estimate, it should be split into another number. There are many ways to do this (Stalker’s ranking graphs already serve this purpose to an extent), like quantifying the shift as a percentage increase, or using a “hot/cold” indicator, and so on.
    - Whether Stalker will do any of these, I have no idea. I include them here as a way of clarifying the issues. In the end, by far the easiest adjustment is one you can perform yourself: pay very little heed to the final estimates until a few weeks before release, or at least take them with a very large grain of salt.

  4.2.3 ニコ予約 = niconico marketplace preorders
  - The number of preorders made at Amazon via Nico Nico Douga Marketplace affiliate links.
  - This is a curious statistic with very little direct correlation to actual sales. What it’s actually used for is to potentially identify titles with an Amazon bias.
  - In terms of the sales prediction, this statistic is used to apply a 3 point penalty per NND preorder. The assumption is that titles with a lot of NND preorders are often titles streaming on NND, therefore sales make be skewed by viewers buying at the Amazon affiliate links rather than at other stores.
  - I am not aware of anyone checking into the usefulness of this calculation in any systematic way. I’ve poked at it a bit but it seems to help and hurt predictions equally. But it rarely has a very significant impact on estimates.

  4.2.4 平均順位 – median hourly ranking
  - The median is the middle number in a set of numbers if you were to line them all up in order.
  - Rather than using averages, which are skewed by extremes, medians provide a better measure of how the release is doing typically.
  - Considering many releases rank very poorly right after solicitation, early ranks in the thousands or tens of thousands would linger in an average for much longer than they would in a median, which would purge them quickly as better hourly rankings accumulate.

4.3 The data points - page by page overview

In this section I’ll list out all the data points on pages that are relevant to our DVD/BD sales discussions. Note these aren’t intended to be literal translations in all cases, just descriptions of what they mean.

  4.3.1 Amazon Anime DVD/BD Data Page (アニメDVD/BDデータページ)
  - Top: Three search options, タイトル絞込 (free text search), 日付絞込 (date search), and ASIN検索 (Amazon ID number search)
  - Middle: Two sections listing releases at 100 per page, 更新中データ(#件) (upcoming releases), and 更新停止データ(#件) (past releases)
  - Bottom: If you select past releases, the table here just shows release date and release name. If you select future releases, you’ll see the following:
    - 最新順位 = latest hourly ranking on Amazon Japan
    - 累積pt = accumulated Stalker points to date since solicitation
    - ニコ予約 = niconico marketplace preorders
    - 発売日 = release date
    - タイトル = product listing name on Amazon Japan

  4.3.2 Amazon Anime DVD/BD Top 100 and Vol. 1 Page (注目作品と速報)
  - Top: A listing of all anime (plus western animation and some seiyuu/anime concerts/live events) currently ranking in the Top 100 among all DVDs and BDs on Amazon, in all categories.
    - 更新時間 = Above the table, latest date and time the list was updated
    - 最新/前回 = current hourly ranking / previous hourly ranking on Amazon Japan
    - 種別 = video format; ★ for BD, ○ for DVD, ◎ for a high priced item like a box set
    - 累積pt = accumulated Stalker points to date since solicitation
    - ニコ予約 = niconico marketplace preorders
    - 発売日 = release date
    - タイトル = product listing name on Amazon Japan
  - Bottom: A listing of all solicited but not yet released Vol. 1s, with one table per season with a qualifying release.
    - 更新時間 = Above the table, latest date and time the list was updated
    - 最新順位/前回順位 = current hourly ranking / previous hourly ranking on Amazon Japan
    - The rest of the table uses the same column names as the top table

  4.3.3 Individual Release Details (Non Non Biyori Vol. 1 BD for an example)
  - Top: Summary information from Amazon about the release:
    - 発売日 = release date
    - 定価 = MSRP in yen
    - 販売価格 = current price in yen with discounts
    - 中古価格 = used price, if applicable
    - 販売元 = video distribution company
    - 収録時間 = run time
    - 枚数 = number of discs
    - 商品リンク = link to the product page on Amazon
    - データ取得日時 = last date and time of data update
  - Bottom: Further details, broken into 4 tabs
    1. 最新情報まとめ = Summary of latest information, including:
      - 発売日 = release date
      - 登録日 = date solicited on Amazon
      - 最新順位 = current hourly ranking
      - 最高順位 = best ever hourly ranking
      - 最低順位 = worst ever hourly ranking
      - 平均順位 = median hourly ranking
      - ニコ市場予約数 = niconico marketplace preorders
      - 最新累積ポイント = accumulated Stalker points to date since solicitation
      - 最終予測累積ポイント = prediction of final points on release day
    2. ランキング推移データ = Hourly ranking data
      - #日前 (CSV) = ranking period, and an option to render the data table in CSV-friendly format. This sets the threshold for the X-axis of the graph.
      - グラフの最低順位を設定する = ranking threshold to show. This sets the threshold for the Y axis of the graph. 下限無し will set the lower bound at whatever the release’s worst rank has been.
      - Ranking data table on left side below X/Y selections, updated hourly. 【2013年 11月 06日 06時(水)】 ***,*58位 means on November 6, 2013, at 6AM JST, this release ranked #58
      - Ranking graph on right side, top, updated hourly. Line graph of the ranking based on the X/Y selections made.
      - Ranking graph on right side, bottom, updated hourly. Line graph plotting up to four weeks back, each week a different line, allowing visualization of short term trends, like sales rising heavily one week compared to the next.
    3. 累積ポイント推移データ = Daily accumulated point data
      - Point data table on left side, updated daily with cumulative point total. 【2013年 11月 06日(水)】 **1,425 means that on November 6, 2013, this release reached 1,425 points to date.
      - Point graph on right side, updated daily. Line graph of the point accumulation seen in the table.
    4. ニコニコ市場予約推移データ = Daily accumulated Amazon Japan preorders made through Nico Nico Douga Marketplace links.
      - Preorder data table on left side, updated daily with cumulative preorder total. 【2013年 11月 06日(水)】 *,*37(+3) means that on November 6, 2013, this release added 3 marketplace preorders for 37 total.
      - Preorder graph on right side, updated daily. Line graph of the preorder accumulation seen in the table.

4.4 Rankings for non-Amazon retailers

  4.4.1 Animate Top 10 (animate10位)
  - Top: Links to previous rankings, with links to each day and then to each month.
  - Bottom: Current Top 10 ranking with ranking number and product title, updated daily.
  - It’s not entirely clear, but it’s believed this is the ranking at their web store.
  - Also keep in mind the cumulative monthly rankings: http://www.animate-onlineshop.jp/ranking/detail.php?i=2&s=3&r=0
  - Animate is very important for titles aimed at female otaku; shows doing very well here (e.g. KuroBas, Free!, Utapri, Hetalia) can sell 50-300% more than Stalker predicts, because Animate controls a significant portion of that market share.

  4.4.2 HMV Daily Top 100 (HMV最新100位) and Weekly Top 100 (HMV週間100位)
  - Top: Links to previous rankings, with links to each day and then to each month.
  - Bottom: Current Top 100 ranking with ranking number and product title, updated daily or weekly, depending on the list.
  - Likely second-most used list after Animate. HMV is less focused on a specific demographic than Animate but it’s also much smaller than Amazon so ranking top 100 in anime on HMV is not remotely as valuable as ranking top 100 in all releases on Amazon.
  - Shows dominating Amazon tend to be the same ones near the top at HMV, though HMV store exclusives can change that.

  4.4.3 Gamers Top 10 (gamers10位)
  - Top: Links to previous rankings, with links to each day and then to each month.
  - Bottom: Current Top 10 ranking with ranking number and product title, updated daily.
  - Much smaller than Amazon but a release dominating here can be a strong sign that sales will be storefront biased (e.g. Symphogear and Little Busters recently)

  4.4.4 Softmap Top 10 (softmap10位)
  - Top: Links to previous rankings, with links to each day and then to each month.
  - Bottom: Current Top 10 ranking with ranking number and product title, updated daily.
  - Similar to Gamers, it can be an indicator of storefront bias but the ranking is not cited often.

Section 5, Miscellaneous Questions

5.1 A show shot up in the rankings, why?

While it’s possible a jump in the rankings reflects very positive feedback on an episode, a number of other things could have happened instead. The most common example is some bonus has been announced, like an art box, event ticket, figure, disc-only bonus episode, etc. Preorder trolling is another possibility, albeit uncommon. Never draw a conclusion from a single data point – always stop and take a moment to find out what the context is first. And remember that a release can fall as quickly as it jumps.

5.2 What are event tickets?

Many anime hold real life events that fans can attend to meet the staff and/or cast of the series, or to engage with other fans who also love the show. These events take many forms, from simple meet-and-greets, to staged games and interactions among the seiyuu, to full blown concerts. The nature of the event is often at least as important as the show it’s for. Popular musicians and seiyuu create a bigger draw, as expected. The two biggest event tickets in 2013 by absolute size were both for extremely popular idol groups putting on full concerts: STARISH for Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 2000% (largest boost ever) and μ’s for Love Live.

Event tickets are typically not physical tickets, but codes that can be used when purchasing a ticket to the event. Some events are only open to people with these codes, while others may allow general admission, but give increased odds to DVD/BD purchasers, particularly if interest is going to outstrip venue size.

Some events still require you to buy an actual ticket even if you buy the disc and get the code, so these can be very lucrative with the right event. Shows with a female target audience generally get bigger sales boosts from event tickets. This may [speculation warning] reflect proportionally greater interest in seiyuu than is normal among male audiences, but it’s hard to generalize.

5.3 First week/First volume sales weren't great, will it rise later?

Probably not. People often claim that a popular character or story arc later in the series will increase sales down the line, but the data does not support this. With very few exceptions (usually multi-route romance stories with self-contained arcs), the only way a volume outsells the volumes before it is if it contains a bonus item – not because the episodes are better-received. Boosts in interest from later episodes are already accounted for in the Vol. 1 numbers, because most people start buying from Vol. 1 even if they prefer the later episodes.

To put some data to it, for all series from 2010 to 2012 where we have the data points needed for calculation (n=243), only 12.7% (31) had average sales greater than their first volume sales. In most of these cases, Vol. 1 only ranked on one format (generally BD) while one or more later volumes ranked in both formats – if Vol. 1 had ranked on both, it would have beat the average. These shows also tend to be <3k sellers. In a few other cases (e.g. Mouretsu, Girlpan, Tiger & Bunny) Vol. 1 was understocked so it could not sell to full potential, while later volumes were better stocked and thus sold more. And in most of the rest of the cases, either some popular bonus item drove sales up in a later volume, or the average and Vol. 1 sales are extremely close due to consistent sales performance, making the difference negligible. In short, sales increasing in later volumes purely due to a more positive reception to those episodes - rather than bonuses or understocking or quirks of reporting thresholds - almost never happens.

5.4 What's with all the fujoshi anime?

First, “fujoshi” probably is not the word you mean. Fujoshi is not a catch-all term for all female otaku, despite how people use it. It refers to women who are into boys’ love/yaoi, so calling all shows aimed at women “fujoshi” anime is like calling all shows aimed at males yuri anime. Female otaku are as diverse a group as male otaku, and boys’ love is only one part of the broader female otaku fandom.

Terminology aside, it’s true that shows aimed at women seem to be on the rise in the past 4-5 years. In 2013 to date, two of the top four by average sales (Utapri, Free) specifically target female audiences while another (Shingeki) has a mixed-gender audience and only one (Monogatari) is thought of as being an overwhelmingly male audience. Most late night anime arguably targets male audiences still, but this imbalance may [speculation warning] be why shows for women seem to be on the rise. The fanbase exists and is willing to spend, but their choices are relatively limited, so their yen are concentrated in smaller spaces.

It’s also partly a matter of perception. Interest in sales tracking peaks with first volume sales, when event ticket effects gain outsized prominence. Shows aimed at women have stronger ticket boosts on average and thus place more highly in Vol. 1 rankings (see K, Brothers Conflict, Karneval, etc), even though their averages may drop later.

5.5 The source material sold so much more, why are anime sales so low?

First, cost. Anime is extremely expensive, usually in excess of ¥35,000 ($350 USD) for a one-cour series. Manga and novels on the other hand cost a fraction of that, and even video games and visual novels cost much less when you compare one or two games to six or seven BDs. Secondly, anime is usually an advertisement for those other goods. If you are a fan of the show, buying the BDs is never going to be the only option for satisfying your desires. Combine vast cost differences with the variety of options and buying DVDs and BDs is something only a small fraction of a franchise’s fans will even consider doing.

The one exception is when the DVD/BD is an OAD (episodes bundled with manga, novels, games). Often these will sell considerably more than the TV series’ volumes. But this is likely [speculation warning] due to the much larger consumer base of source material readers, who see OADs as a one-off extra cost, added to an item they were going to buy anyway. It’s a smaller commitment than a whole series, which they probably saw on TV already.

5.6 How have buying habits changed over time?

This could be an FAQ in itself, so I’m going to focus on a few significant points to consider when comparing sales of the past few years (2010-now) to earlier years. In addition to changes in buying behavior itself, changes in Oricon coverage (see section 3.1) exert great influence on our perception of how things sell. This is irrelevant to actual buying behavior, but it does restrict what we’re able to see of that behavior.

  5.6.1 Video formats and demographics
  - Shows aimed at kids are mostly DVD still, with a shift to BD in its infancy at best. Recent Precure series have received BD boxes along with the DVD singles for example. But it may be years before there is significant movement here.
  - Shows aimed at women were much slower to shift to BD, and DVD-only releases still happen occasionally (even as I write this in Fall 2013, Diabolik Lovers is getting a DVD-only release). But the move to BD has picked up speed recently, shrinking the gender gap in the process.
  - Shows aimed at men switched almost entirely to BD within a few years of the format’s introduction to anime, and now your average decent-selling show is doing 80% or more of its sales on BD. Some major hits like Kyoukaisenjou no Horizon, Love Live!, and Fate/Zero have eschewed DVD completely.

  5.6.2 Front-loaded sales
  - A large percentage – upwards of 90% – of sales in recent years come in the first week. Even with much lower thresholds than in the past, releases rarely rank for more than 1-3 weeks and the second and third weeks tend to be very small.
  - But in the past, it was more common for second weeks to be larger in proportion to the first week than now. There are 93 releases from 2005-2009 that sold less than 5k week one but over 1k week two, compared to 33 from 2010-2013. When you consider high thresholds and the difficultly of ranking twice in the pre-BD era, the pre-2010 number is likely quite a lot higher than 93 in reality.
  - This importance of big second weeks can have a large impact on recorded averages. Full Metal Panic, for example, has an LE DVD average of 3,312 in the first week, and 2,356 in the second week (3 volumes). This would be virtually unheard of today. It also means that some volumes without second weeks are recorded at 3-4k, but with a second week would have sold 5-6k. These volumes without second weeks drag the average down. Average of all LEs as recorded by Oricon is 3,901 while a wk1 average + wk2 average would calculate it as 5,668. FMP also has RE versions that ranked for three volumes, further complicating the picture. In the end, depending on how much you assume the averages of the REs and wk2s hold steady, you could calculate its average anywhere from 4,250 to 7,064.
  - In short, it is very hard to take a series from 2013 and a series from 2005 and meaningfully compare their sales. There are advantages and disadvantages for both series, depending on a variety of factors.

  5.6.3 Ranking threshold changes
  - In 2005, only 2 series had ranked averages under 1,000. In 2012 it was 16. This looks bad for 2012 until you realize that in addition to the two 2005 series ranked under 1,000, there were 7 more that never ranked formally but have estimates under 1,000 and 25 more that never ranked or got estimates at all. In 2012, only 5 series went completely unranked and three of those were short-format series.
  - 2012 also had a lot more anime in total than 2005 which means, percentage-wise, 2005 looks much worse in terms of low-end sales.
  - The take-away here is that both situations are heavily influenced by Oricon’s data collection scope and practices. 2012 had many more titles that sold less than 1,000 but still ranked because thresholds on the BD Top 50 list in 2012 were much lower than thresholds for the DVD Top 100 list in 2005. 2013 is amplifying this effect even more, with a BD Top 100 list driving thresholds as low as sub-200 some weeks. Many of the lowest-selling (but still ranked) Vol. 1s ever recorded are from this year because of it.

  5.6.4 DVD/BD format split, and coverage changes
  - Prior to mid-2008, all anime from the Oricon period was released on DVD only, with some lingering VHS at the start of the period around 2000.
  - This means that despite smaller numbers of releases, thresholds were quite high as every release was competing in the same chart with 100% of its sales.
  - From the first anime BD release tracked by Oricon (Macross Frontier Vol. 1 on July 25, 2008) to the first weekly BD list with actual sales data available to us (the week of July 20, 2009, release week for the first volume of K-ON!) all BDs that were released have no data disclosed unless they ranked in the Mid-Year and Yearly lists, which excluded anything under about 4.4k.
  - Because very few shows were released on BD before mid-2009, or sold very little on the format (not many buyers yet), we are not missing data on all that many series. But some were heavily affected. For example, ef – a tale of melodies is recorded as selling much less than its predecessor, but most of that’s because we have no idea how much it sold on BD. Only three series were released in their entirety on BD during this blackout period without charting on the yearly list: ef melodies, Kemeko Deluxe, and Casshern Sins.
  - As BD releases increased disproportionately quickly for anime compared to other media, the relatively low thresholds on the BD lists allowed titles that sold very little to rank much more frequently than in the past. It also took some pressure off the DVD lists, so thresholds fell there too, though they’re still somewhat higher than BD.
  - The downside of this is that while DVD is now a smaller percentage of sales, it is potentially still significant, around 20% of sales for late night shows aimed at males, higher for shows aimed at females or gender-neutral shows. If DVDs fail to rank at all (due to their shrinking share), a series’ average could suffer by 5-20% compared to if DVDs did rank.

5.7 Only/All (vaguely defined category) anime sells because (stereotype/generalization)!

If someone uses this sentence construction in a sales discussion, odds are they have never looked seriously at the data, if they even understand how to do so.

The most popular (and most ridiculous) statement you’ll see in English-speaking fan communities is “Only moe/fanservice anime sells because otaku have shitty taste.” These people generally either do not define what they mean by moe or fanservice, or define it so broadly that it describes almost any show. Sometimes people try to make the claim based on animation studio as well, equally incorrectly.

Anyone who says anything like this can be disregarded as both ignorant of the data and probably deeply biased. While there are obviously genres and studios that sell better than others on average (not every show can be equally popular), no genre, and no studio, is successful all the time, and no one category completely dominates the rankings.

As with any statistics, people will cherry-pick the headlines that support their biases and ignore the ones that don’t. We all do it to some extent, but this is why you should always return to the original data before making a claim. If you boil it down to its essence, that is why I track this data in the first place.

88 Responses to “Sales FAQ/Guide”

  1. Kuuderes_Shadow says:

    Just to let you know, the links to all the non-Amazon stalker ranking pages are broken.

    • something says:

      Ah yes, thanks, Stalker recently reworked that section, and changed the links too I guess. Rakuten was dropped, not that anyone used it. HMV now has Weekly charts in addition to Daily. Softmap has a Top 200 but I’m not sure what it is since it doesn’t exactly match the Top 10’s order.

  2. dan says:

    Just saying thanks for the amazing website!
    I’ve been longing for such a website with all the data properly organized for a long time. In between different forums (bloody mess with thousands of posts) and other anime websites, I’ve suffered trying to get data in a practical and organized manner.

    As for a few small suggestions: an About and/or Contact page.
    Regarding statistics: I remember reading a post on mania with Average Sales numbers by studios (the top ones) over all (recorded) recorded sales, which was very interesting to compare how well studios does generally (which is different from total Hits they make). I’d get the link but the site seems to be under maintance.

    I hope you keep up the great work! If you need some sort of help sometime, feel free to contact me through email.

    • something says:

      “As for a few small suggestions: an About and/or Contact page.”
      While it’s rather lengthy, I consider this FAQ to more or less be my About page. As for Contact info, just leaving a comment is the best way. I have an email from the hosting service but I’d rather just leave it for administrative emails from them, publishing it would invite the spambots (who already love spamming the comments, hence why I leave first post moderation on).

      “I remember reading a post on mania with Average Sales numbers by studios (the top ones) over all (recorded) recorded sales, which was very interesting to compare how well studios does generally (which is different from total Hits they make). I’d get the link but the site seems to be under maintance.”
      Mania forums won’t be coming back, which is part of what motivated me to make this site. As for the list by studio, I’d translated a 2ch post once for that but it’s really old now. My suggestion would be to use the Quick view chart, sort by Studio, then shift-click sort by average, and you’ll have an alphabetical list of all studios and their shows ordered by average sales.

  3. Qwertee says:

    >5.6 The source material sold so much more, why are anime sales so low?
    >First, cost. Anime is extremely expensive, usually in excess of ¥35,000 ($350 USD) for a one-cour series.
    Are there some zeros missing here?

    • something says:

      Buying Japanese anime BDs is expensive but not THAT expensive! Note I’m talking about the cost to the consumer to buy the DVD/BD, not the cost to the production committee to finance and produce the show, which may be what you’re referring to.

      • xal says:

        I think Qwertee is saying your missing a zero on ¥35,000.

        Anyway, thanks for the wonderful site. Has much improved my understanding of the workings of the anime industry.
        Leaves me curious as to how the anime production model compares to other American media industries (film, TV airings, cartoons, gaming, etc) and how the such idea’s from anime production can improve the works produced of those industries. I find myself continuously impressed by the anime industry.

  4. something says:

    Added a point to 3.1.3 in light of the recent discovery that Oricon does not count orders shipped outside of Japan in its reports. it collects the data, but does not report on it. (details)

    Your sale still matters, of course! A sale is a sale, regardless of what Oricon’s number says. I don’t want anyone to interpret this to mean they shouldn’t continue to support the anime and musicians and artists they love. It just means we have one more caveat to take into consideration when evaluating Oricon’s sales data.

  5. Howard says:

    For shows like Aoki Hagane no Arpegio and Kill la Kill where Ultra Super Pictures is on the production committee and the studios are a member of Ultra Super Pictures does it count as an instance of a studio being on a production committee?

    • something says:

      Without knowing much about USP’s exact internal structure, I’d still have to say yes. Studios being on the committee is quite common. What’s uncommon is studios leading a committee though. That only happens in very rare cases, most of which involve the studio being a wholly owned subsidiary of a larger parent. KyoAni is a very rare exception.

  6. Justin says:

    Hi something. I was just wondering if you could help me out here. With the newly airing shows and upcoming BD/DVD releases, I have a question regarding purchasing limited edition/first press releases from Amazon Japan. Let’s say this item (http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00O49JY7S/) comes out. On a site like CDJapan, first press edition would typically sell out within the day (and CDJapan don’t really restock first press editions). I’ve noticed however, for shows like Psycho-Pass and Kill La Kill, that there are still limited edition/first press releases still available, even after more than a year, but not available on CDJapan. Is this just an Amazon Japan thing? The school holidays are coming up soon in Australia so I won’t be getting paid. I would really like this vol.1 release of Amagi Brilliant Park but unfortunately I can’t pay for it until a few more months. Will the edition still be available by then? I also heard that the “Amazon editions” have less bonuses. Is this something I need to worry about? Thanks in advance bro.

    • something says:

      Unlike CDJapan where you’ll often see a single product listing with “first press” extras mentioned for the initial buyers, the Amazon exclusives are completely separate listings with their own stock indicators. Therefore, there’s no danger of ordering the item and not knowing if you’ll get the extra or not, because you are explicitly ordering the exclusive or the non-exclusive and they can’t downgrade your exclusive order to the non-exclusive item.

      It is possible for the Amazon editions to sell out, but as you saw it’s not too common. Amaburi could be an exception due to the extra actually being really good for once, but there’s no way to be sure. If I had to guess I’d say you’ll be fine for at least a month after release (they may need to restock in there if it sells really well), but I cannot guarantee that in this particular case.

      Regarding Amazon’s extras, guess I’d sum it up this way:
      1. Most releases are solicited with a “base” version that’s going to be sold by all the stores. Note that this base edition is called the limited edition in basically every case, “regular editions” are stripped down versions and nobody buys them and you can pretend they don’t exist.
      2. Some stores offer, via agreements with the distributor, exclusive bonuses on top of that to lure customers their way.
      3. Amazon almost never joined in in the past; their “bonus” was a 27% discount, compared to much smaller or non-existent discounts at other shops. This is because volume, volume, volume is Amazon’s business model, not niche targeting of core fans who will pay full MSRP for a poster.
      4. So in that respect, Amazon’s switch to offering exclusive extras (at full MSRP) means they have *more* than they used to. But compared to other retailers their extras usually suck and aren’t worth giving up the discount for. Bookmarks, postcard, ¥300 gift cards, tin bagdes, stuff like that nobody cares about. If you’re going to pay full MSRP, why not get that nice tapestry from Animate or box from Gamers or whatever instead? (At least if you’re in Japan, it’s an expensive hassle for international buyers.)

      But in a case like Amaburi where Amazon has a great extra, you have nothing to worry about. As long as you’re willing to pay more (effectively, given the exclusive isn’t discounted), go for it. if I import Amaburi, it’s what I’ll be doing.

      • Justin says:

        Thanks for your great reply. In some cases, is it true that Amazon will offer the same first press releases as other retailers but just at a lower price? For example, I ordered Kill La Kill Vol. 1 (http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B00FXIBJVS/) a few days ago (it’s almost arrived) and it has the same first press bonuses as the listing on CDJapan. Is it still a different version or is it the same thing?

        • hpulley says:

          CDJapan has a couple of things going on. One, they are a smaller shop. They decide how many pre-orders they are going to get and when those run out, they do NOT get more pre-orders. But you can still get a first press after that, and the standard things like list as the first press bonus never go away, never run out as long as the limited edition is for sale. So it looks like in some cases you may not even get the digipak or picture label if you don’t pre-order but that isn’t true, all that stuff is standard. Some things will actually go away but usually just stuff we can’t use like event tickets, game codes, stuff like that, maybe even bonus cards especially in CDs. At CDJapan, getting a first press order in means you get it mailed out before release day, that’s the main difference. If you miss the pre-order you will get the same copy really but it may not ship until after days after release as they will have to order it. Amazon is much bigger so they order a gazillion pre-order copies so you can get it sent out usually on pre-release day even if you order it very close to pre-release day; not so for CDJapan.

          Next, CDJapan does have external bonuses and they DO go away and often are even less in number than the number of ‘first press’ copies. Their external bonuses are not often as great as the ones at Animate or Gamers but they are something, posters, tapestries, iPad cases, mouse pads, desk mats. CDJapan is easier for international ordering than Animate or Gamers but is full price so not as cheap as Amazon or HMV.

          In both cases, you don’t need to worry about the advertised pre-order cutoff date as both stores have already put their pre-orders in before that date. As long as they say it is available for pre-order, you are getting a copy from before the cut-off.

      • Justin says:

        Nevermind that. Just realised Kill La Kill doesn’t have first press releases, but instead just limited edition volumes..

  7. Nick Peterson says:

    Hello. I was directed here from Reddit, I heard you’re a pretty smart person when it comes to Japanese blu-rays and stuff like that. I hope you don’t mind, but I have a question. It is a bit relevant to the question Justin asked actually. Is there a difference between these 2 links?

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%80%90Amazon-co-jp%E9%99%90%E5%AE%9A%E3%80%91%E3%83%88%E3%83%AA%E3%83%8B%E3%83%86%E3%82%A3%E3%82%BB%E3%83%96%E3%83%B3-BD-%E5%88%9D%E5%9B%9E%E9%99%90%E5%AE%9A%E7%89%88-%E3%82%AA%E3%83%AA%E3%82%B8%E3%83%8A%E3%83%AB%E3%82%B8%E3%83%A3%E3%82%B1%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E3%82%B5%E3%82%A4%E3%82%BA%E3%82%AB%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89%E4%BB%98-Blu-ray/dp/B00O7D64C4/ and http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B00O1RKDAA/

    It seems like the other one says “original jacket sized card”, but is that really it for $23 extra? Both products seem to have the same pictures for the first picture listed, so am I missing out on anything if I just buy the non-Amazon edition one? I won’t be missing out on those pictures at the bottom will I? It looks like some sort of gatefold thing. Thanks so much, sorry for asking many questions.

  8. Nick Peterson says:

    Regarding my last question, on the Trinity Seven website purchase page here: http://trinity-7.com/discography/detail.php?id=1008924

    It seems that the purchase link redirects to the Amazon edition. Any reasoning for this?

    • something says:

      I guess it’s just in their and Amazon’s interests to link to the more expensive version! Plus all the other stores will have store-exclusive tokuten, so linking to Amazon’s version of that is more consistent.

      • hpulley says:

        It really is in their best interest because that 27% discount isn’t just out of Amazon’s profit, the wholesale price that Trinity-7 gets from the sale is lower too I bet. How much of the discount is split between the two I’m not sure.

  9. Christopher Chao says:

    I Don`t understand when this FAQ has said: Other reasons can make up the revenue to a project before considering something is a flop through BD/DVD sales. But, I don`t completely understand that. You have to take into consideration of projects that are not in relation to the anime. Let`s say for example the game to Jojo`s Bizarre Adventure has no tie in at all to the animation. And the animation happens to flop, why would investors and the animation studio want to go forward and continue making the series if it`s not getting them any money?

    I Do understand that the “animation” can be tied to other revenue methods such as figures, promotions and etc. But, there are times where the anime has no connection to other projects being spawned from the series. Isn`t this the case with many anime? I Understands certain financiers and producers such as someone from the publishing company does get a cut out of the series total revenue. But, when speaking just primarily on the anime, I notice their market doesn`t look so good, most of the time.

    Please, elaborate on this and their methods of making money, because I`ve noticed many shows are financial failures in terms of disc sales but the anime industry continues to put our many more series, even though it seems they make little or Red (The act of failing financially) profit.

    ( I had ask this question at AnimeNewsNetwork`s Answer Man, but he has yet to respond.)

    • Christopher Chao says:

      Oh a good example would be
      “Harry Potter” the revenue drived from the film has no-tie in to the books sales. What if the film were to fail, but the merchandise and book sales were high in connection to the original owner and publisher. Why continue on the “film” and in anime`s case the “animation”. Unless their is some-form of contract tying the production cost of the anime to the overall profit in general?

    • something says:

      It all comes down to production committees. Anime is never funded by one company, it’s always funded by a collection of companies that work out complicated contracts where each pitches in a certain percentage of investment money based on what they expect to get out of their investment. For some (like video distributors), it’s tied closely to the anime’s performance (i.e. disc sales). For others, it has nothing to do with DVD/BDs, they may instead be making licensed figures, or selling the music, or broadcasting the show and getting ad revenue (if it’s a mainstream series), or they’re the publisher of the original novel/manga/game. And yet more companies may handle rights to distribute the show internationally, or to license out rights to produce merchandise, or it could be a tie-in to a live action film.

      So when you asked about “isn’t this (having no connections to other revenue streams) the case with many anime”, I’d say nope! Most anime *does* mix multiple revenue streams together. Disc sales may be one of the most immediately obvious and sometimes most important revenue streams, but it’s never the only.

      Every show is different, with different investors contributing different amounts based on their belief about how they may profit from the awareness raised by the anime. So there’s no one answer unfortunately. But I think the vast majority of shows *are indeed* funded under the assumption that disc sales alone will not recoup production costs.

      • Christopher Chao says:

        Thank you for your reply! This has really been getting to me lately, if a question of mine isn`t answered I just get stuck with it.

        So, essentially you are saying everyone is tied to contracts that are profiting in different markets under the same IP.
        Such as a TV Network, funding X Amount in return for X% Of AD Revenue.

        When you say “mix” revenue are you sure? Because you spoke about how each contract is tied to different people, that are profiting in different markets. Like the company who funds the show for L.N Sales, aren`t going to profit in the figure market, am I right?

        Or are you proposing that they take the overall revenue, split it amongst everyone, for their X amount of investment and they get back X%.

        What about the producer/director/original creator, where is most of their revenue going to come from?

        I Appreciate you answering my questions.

        – Chris

  10. something says:

    “Like the company who funds the show for L.N Sales, aren`t going to profit in the figure market, am I right?”

    They could get a cut, it all depends on how the contracts are written. I’m guessing they don’t get *much* of a cut, and many times it’s probably none. So generally speaking, good figure sales won’t help a publisher who sees no novel sales boost.

    There are definitely “winners” and “losers” in any production committee. There may even be winners who aren’t on the committee. It’s not rare for a publisher to give rights to other companies to do an anime, but not to invest in it themselves. This in essence gives them a free ride on any manga/novel boost (but at the cost of potentially having made even more money if they’d invested in the committee). The companies that are funding the anime therefore believe it has enough potential in other areas that they don’t need the publisher to chip in a big chunk of the budget. Something they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.

    “Or are you proposing that they take the overall revenue, split it amongst everyone, for their X amount of investment and they get back X%.”
    Nah, I don’t think it’s this neatly divided either. It’s somewhere in the middle most of the time, but by and large you really want the particular stuff you sell to be successful, and aren’t going to be relying on other members of the committee to pass their success your way. Again, there may be revenue sharing, but you’re really going into a committee investing at a level that you think you’ll make back with your own sales.

    “What about the producer/director/original creator, where is most of their revenue going to come from? ”
    From what I understand certain key staff members get a set percentage of the overall profits, plus whatever they’re paid for their normal day to day work.

  11. Christopher Chao says:

    You, answered many of my questions.
    These all were on my mind for a long time.

    Thank you for your patience, input and your great website.

    • Christopher Chao says:

      One last question.

      You said for example “They could get a cut, it all depends on how the contracts are written. I’m guessing they don’t get *much* of a cut, and many times it’s probably none. So generally speaking, good figure sales won’t help a publisher who sees no novel sales boost.”

      But, then you said “This in essence gives them a free ride on any manga/novel boost (but at the cost of potentially having made even more money if they’d invested in the committee).”

      So, do you actually mean everyone does get a % Cut from the overall profits, depending on their investments and that includes the sales they are getting from whatever “dominant” market they work in such as L.N And merchandise?

      Or are they just investing in the case that whatever they are selling increases in sales but they don`t make money from the overall profits because they aren`t “usually” tied to overall revenue, all they care about making profit back from whatever they are selling?

      • something says:

        Those two quotes you referenced were in relation to different things, so it’s more your latter scenario.

        The first comment was a general point about members of a committee potentially having some revenue sharing with each other, but there’s no firm rule about this, it’s all decided project by project and we’re not privy to how it all works.

        The second comment was pointing out that sometimes the original publisher is not on the committee at all, and thus has not invested in it, nor are they directly benefiting from anything the other committee members are selling. They can however benefit from interested fans going out and buying the novel.

        If you’re on the committee:
        1. You are investing money in the production of the anime.
        2. You make money from related goods you produce and sell.
        3. You may make money from related goods other committee members produce and sell, but it’s not guaranteed. Determined by the contract.

        If you’re not on the committee:
        1. You are not investing money in the production of the anime.
        2. You may nonetheless benefit if you produce and sell items that fans desire after having seen the anime.

        It all comes down to whether a company believes that funding an anime will justify the investment, either by making their stuff sell better, or by securing a cut of the stuff other people sell, with an emphasis on the former.

  12. Christopher Chao says:


    Yes, finally I can sleep in peace. Thanks for answering my questions and very frequently that is.

    Thanks for everything, and I hope you continue to do your great work for people like me!

  13. Christopher Chao says:

    Hey, sorry to bother once again. But, I am once again bothered by a question.

    I understand that there is non-disclosure rights but there has to be a “general” payment these investors are getting and giving.

    What I mean is (E.G: Figure maker and distributor of Nisekoi, gets how much of the profits from selling their figures and how much must be contributed the production committee.) Please elaborate on the investors you know, on how much they profit from their products of a “series” they are contracted to and “if” how much must they give to the production committee.

    • something says:

      This kind of breakdown isn’t made public, and could be different for every show, so I don’t know unfortunately.

  14. Christopher Chao says:

    Alright, that`s okay. Thanks for everything!

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