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Post Reply What is the best predictor of an anime's popularity?
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Posted 2/21/15 , edited 2/21/15
One Piece, Naruto, Attack of Titan, Sword Art Online... All big hits, yes?

They all pretty much flew out of the gates and have never looked back. If you even have a passing fancy of anime you are familiar with those names, regardless of whether or not you watch them. That is easy to see.

Whats not so clear is what the next big hit will be.

When an anime of a popular manga, light novel or game comes around you could say it's destined to be a hit, or is it? When Toei Animation banked on Toriko it seemed to never catch on with the mainstream. It's never in those "Big 3" lists people talk about. Same can be said with Microsoft and Studio Perriot's Blue Dragon, except that was a bomb on every level.

So popular source material isn't always going to lead to a popular anime. How about who animates it? Bones, A-1, ufotable, and Gainax are considered some of the best names in the business of making TV anime. Evangelion, Eureka Seven, Fate/Zero, Fairy Tail are some of their works. They are known throughout the fan community as temples of quality. But if you look at all the anime that comes out of just those four studios you'll see they make more duds than hits. Unlike Hollywood, you can't just spend a bunch of money and "plan" a hit.

How about exposure then? In the past we watched what came on TV and because our appetite was insatiable everything that managed to make it to the airwaves became an instant hit, watched by millions. Those days are over for anime not called Pokemon. Today we have competing streaming services trying to get our attention and ultimately our money.

That brings me to the point of my thread. When you are in that meeting room with a list of upcoming anime in your hand and a budget, what would you look for in your search for the next big hit?
Posted 2/21/15 , edited 2/22/15
I don't search for big hits, I merely look for anime which I think I will enjoy, regardless of popularity.
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Posted 2/21/15

PeripheralVisionary wrote:

I don't search for big hits, I merely look for anime which I think I will enjoy, regardless of popularity.


How about if you ran your own anime licensing company, and wanted to bring in viewers?
Posted 2/21/15 , edited 2/21/15

MysticGon wrote:


PeripheralVisionary wrote:

I don't search for big hits, I merely look for anime which I think I will enjoy, regardless of popularity.


How about if you ran your own anime licensing company, and wanted to bring in viewers?


Sales number is usually a good indicator. Just adapt popular material. Then there's how much it appeals to the audience. NGNL was a gamer's wet dream, as well as SAO, while Fairy Tail, Bleach, and Naruto were typical shonens. A lot of it is wish fulfillment.


P.S. I honestly don't know. There's a reason I'm not in the industry.
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Posted 2/21/15
Despite failures, (as there will be in any of the "predictors"), typically shonen series are wildly popular. Tie ins to products also give a lot of popularity.

Transformers was made to sell the toys, card games like wixoss, pokemon, yugioh, all were popular and based on merch. (wixoss may not be the most popular but it had two seasons), same with the .hack series. Fate is based off of a successful eroge.

by the same token, basing something off of previous successes is a good bet too. Evangelion still has a following. GITS still has new iterations coming out nearly 20 years after the first iteration. Some series, like Magic Kaito (which is still a little early to tell as to how big it will really end up being... it strikes me as a sleeper hit) are based on other properties as well, but take a side character and develop them.

hitting upon trends can, with less accuracy dictate success as well. Right now, a harem or moe series will probably do moderately well compared to something more risky and new. (but, with risk, often comes BIG wins when it does succeed).

Some names and studios DO carry weight, as you point out, (more so the names of the writers/directors) but they do so based off of their previous successes (Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon are two names that come to mind that had a lot of clout for a while, till they stopped producing)

But really, these are only ways to gamble on the probability of something being successful. What really needs to happen is a combination of good storytelling (at least starting off until the popularity can sustain multiple seasons of filler and shit writing as the fans are addicts and no longer care about quality), relatable (or archetypical) characters, and enough action (because action/plot holds our interest more immediately than developing characters, which takes TIIIIIIIIME and nobody has any sort of attention span anymore), and enough promotion (either by the producers or by the initial fans) to make a wedge into the marketplace.
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Posted 2/21/15

MysticGon wrote:


PeripheralVisionary wrote:

I don't search for big hits, I merely look for anime which I think I will enjoy, regardless of popularity.


How about if you ran your own anime licensing company, and wanted to bring in viewers?


probably what Peripheral said, though to be honest, I'd rather run one that had enough of a "nest egg" to handle several flops,and focus on really good storytelling with a combination of good action and good character development and tried to do things that were focused towards a more adult (mature) audience, as many of the non-japanese fans have been asking for. (things like GITS, Time of EVE, etc, Paranoia Agent...)

I'd bank on the quality of storytelling and the fact that I'd be aiming for a side market that's not being tapped would generate enough interest and support that I could create what I want, personally, and reignite a desire for something that's been slowly lost. It would be a huge risk, but that's why I suggest having a huge nest egg. I would try to avoid doing too many series of licensed popular material, and try to capture more of the lesser known works, probably focus on 1 shots or short runs, (and focus on the independent artists who self publish) and hope that I can get the properties' rights dirt cheap, while being incredibly selective of which properties I choose to gamble on what I believe will be successful.

I'd also try to bring back hand drawn animation cells and ditch the digital on the occasional project to 1. give a unique style and look that would distinguish my studio and 2. help to preserve the old methods of animation. (I also wonder if CGI is really all that cost effective considering budgets seem to be a bigger concern now than before), and personally, I think the old style animation had far greater detail in the backgrounds and cels than modern animation does.

So.... my studio would probably be one of the ones with testicles the size of coconuts and as hard as diamonds that bucks the trend to find out what is popular and aims to MAKE things popular instead.
Posted 2/21/15
Good manga or popular manga.
xxJing 
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Posted 2/21/15
I think what gains the most popularity though is polishing an established idea. An idea that everyone is familiar with. You take that and then you make it the best it can be without radically changing it.

Dragon Ball Z is basically Superman vs Superman. It takes the idea of Superman (Flying, Super Strength, Laser Eyes) makes it even flashier, and then pits supermen against supermen.

Naruto is Harry Potter just replaces wizards with ninjas. As to why Harry Potter is popular, it's because it takes the idea of the underdog boy, and pushes a whole bunch of ideas that are relatable to kids (and thus adults). Magic, Mystical Creatures, School, Friendship, Bullies, Family. Think about how many of those ideas apply to Naruto as well.

Attack on Titan. It's a zombie movie with giant zombies. It's basically the walking dead.

Now why might One Piece not be popular in America but Naruto is? Because one piece has some really really weird ideas. It has an old man dressed like a baby who talks like a hard-boiled detective as one villain and a super powered transvestite as another. It's too creative for a lot of people.

Finally take SAO. Just think about how cliche and conventional SAO actually is, how many relatable elements does it incorporate? SAO is the ultimate piece of fan fiction that pretty much everyone can relate to, and thus it is popular.


That said it's really hard to get into something new, even if you try by telling yourself "Hey, it's new. Give it a chance." There is a high probability that it will just leave you scratching your head confused and thus bored.

For example take this anime:


That is a really smart anime despite what it may look like. A little too smart to keep me entertained in fact. There were 2 or 3 episodes with two girls literally discussing a hacking war that was going around. I had no idea what was going on, I had no way to relate anything they were saying to my personal experiences, it was just hypothetical hacking strategies filled with technical jargon flying back and forth. It's almost impossible for something that enigmatic to become extremely popular, no matter how well written it might be.
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Posted 2/21/15
I'd look for something with its own identity and that has a strong grasp of what it wants to be. Tropes and fanservice are fine if they fit with the story and characters. What's most important is how well the vision comes through and how aware the work is. There needs to be a certain degree of originality and novelty or people will be bored, but it also needs to be relatable to the common folk. A work that balances those things well can become a big hit. You also need passionate people working on the project who put their heart and soul into the performances and art. It requires both skill and passion to pull it off.
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Posted 2/21/15


So you will develop your own hits by license saving legacy titles and scoping out anime that embody your tastes, all while trying to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Okay, so you go do your fund raising rounds, get your capital and now have a vision you want to go after. How do you go about transforming niche to hit? Who are you going to advertise to and how? How do you ensure it becomes a large buzzing community of fans pining for your title announcements and not a small club of classic car enthusiasts?

I like the idea of only giving the time of day to studios that put in the effort. That's a great start.
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Posted 2/21/15
As a writer, I think about this a lot, although more in the sense of books. Harry Potter became popular because of the new and fantastical world built around the story, even though the plot at first was rather cliche. 50 Shades became popular because it was like a porno accessible to all ages, even if the writing and plot were lackluster.

With anime and manga, I could look at it much the same way. There has to be some major pull, a uniqueness prevalent throughout that makes a reader/viewer feel intense and fulfilling emotion. Durarara takes place in a real, unassuming location, so it makes up for its generic setting by masterful storytelling with complicatedly unique characters and relationships. One piece draws on every young boy's love of pirates by throwing them into an oceanic world where piracy is the norm, and every character has a bizarre personality quirk and/or superpower. What boy is not going to love that? Naruto is the exact same thing in every aspect except it trades pirates for ninjas. The Bakemonogatari series has often shallow plotlines and uni-dimensional characters but is still insanely popular. It's pull is its brilliant cinematography, crisp art direction (so much symbolism), and introspective dialogue that is often caked with satire on human emotion or thought. Now take that and sprinkle it with a healthy dose of fan service, but not overdone, and it attracts people.

I'm working on a quintet (5 book series) right now, and am nearly done with the second installment with continual revisions on the first. How could I tell if it will be a hit or not? Truth is, I can't, and if statistics say anything, I'll likely never find a publisher until my skill as a writer improves. Even then you can never tell. My story's setting is the Pacific Northwest and in modern day. It's no wizarding world of Harry Potter. The underlining theme, time travel. If I were in a conference room and had this on paper with money on hand to either publish it or make it into anime, there is no way in hell I would choose it, not unless there was that uniqueness. Time travel has been done a million times before. What makes this writer's interpretation different? Sure Portland and Vancouver are real locations. The question becomes how does the writer use these places and people to best tell a compelling story. What is the target fanbase? Does the writer appeal sufficiently to it? How about characters? Do they feel real? If not, is there a reason they don't? These are all questions I ask myself as I write.

I'm glad that I don't have the job of selecting something to throw money at, but I do have to appeal to those that are throwing the money, and it's rough.
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Posted 2/21/15
Popularity of source as well as the anime's budget/studio. But you are right anime is much harder to predict than hollywood. Some stories just make good anime. Also, I would like to mention certain shows are massive hits here and are big misses in japan, vice versa too. But yeah it is mainly popularity of source material and studio. However.... it seems to be very hard to predict all of those things.... well one of the things sticks out the most, that is adaptability. Some shows are just very hard to convert into an anime, also if you are coming from a different media, the audiences are different. Somebody mentioned fate was popular because it was a popular vn, that is true, but vns are probably the worse off coming to anime, even fate got lowballed at first with studio deen, and only until recent times came to get a good adaption. There are just tons of factors, half the time even after release I have no idea why what is popular and what isn't. If anybody truly understood how to make an anime popular there would be studios making cheap big hits one after another.

I don't follow pretty much any manga or light novels, but from what I hear LNs are on a rise right now. Like I knew kantai collection was going to be big, it has an absurdly huge fanbase not only that but very dedicated fans that like to spread it around, make fan works and the such. Right out of the gate it got a huge budget, not only that, but kantai doesn't really have true source material. That being said, it doesn't to have seem to hit here very hard at all. You wanna know why? nobody plays the game here, it is region locked and untranslated so yeah... well some people play it here but very few.

Naruto on the other hand? you type anime in English into google and bam it is just everywhere... for English sites like crunchy shounen action seem to be the biggest hits of all. The pool of people here seem to be mid to late teens that like action shows with some drama. Naruto wasn't popular at all in japan, it had a very large sudden spike early November (anybody know why?) but other than that, it hasn't been big really...

kinda wrote that in a rush if you are confused about something let me know.
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Posted 2/21/15
Not having hyper-sexualized loli's is a good predictor of an anime's popularity.
Posted 2/21/15
if I were the ones brainstorming on how to get instant hits, these are the ideas I would present:

- weak victimized self-pitying hero, redeems himself somehow through strength/courage... this is popular amongst young nerds/geeks because it makes them feel empowered when they imagine themselves in the shoes of the hero in their fantasised life

- stupid, unintelligent, robotic (not literal robots) female leads that act according to gender roles... again this is popular amongst most male viewers (in japan and worldwide) because this is what most men want to see, stupid obedient women. You often hear the otakus complain about female characters swearing, it's important for the female leads not to swear

- even though they don't like females swearing, it's good to see a few panties shot and breasts shot... objectifying women is perfectly OK, but them swearing is out of the question. the more objectification, the more success... bring in the tentacles to rape the female characters

- simple, straightforward stories that are easy to digest. everything is spelled out for you. linearity, no complexities or philosophical inputs from the dialogues

- lots of fighting scenes

- don't make the protagonists do things that are "immoral" or "wrong"... this would make the audience hate the show... e.g. School Days. The protagonists must be perfect and a saint in every way.

- cheesy dialogues that otaku can relate with or cry themselves over, "I will protect you", "I love you", "Friendship is more important than ____".

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Posted 2/21/15

xxJing wrote:

I think what gains the most popularity though is polishing an established idea. An idea that everyone is familiar with. You take that and then you make it the best it can be without radically changing it.

Dragon Ball Z is basically Superman vs Superman. It takes the idea of Superman (Flying, Super Strength, Laser Eyes) makes it even flashier, and then pits supermen against supermen.

Naruto is Harry Potter just replaces wizards with ninjas. As to why Harry Potter is popular, it's because it takes the idea of the underdog boy, and pushes a whole bunch of ideas that are relatable to kids (and thus adults). Magic, Mystical Creatures, School, Friendship, Bullies, Family. Think about how many of those ideas apply to Naruto as well.

Attack on Titan. It's a zombie movie with giant zombies. It's basically the walking dead.

Now why might One Piece not be popular in America but Naruto is? Because one piece has some really really weird ideas. It has an old man dressed like a baby who talks like a hard-boiled detective as one villain and a super powered transvestite as another. It's too creative for a lot of people.

Finally take SAO. Just think about how cliche and conventional SAO actually is, how many relatable elements does it incorporate? SAO is the ultimate piece of fan fiction that pretty much everyone can relate to, and thus it is popular.


That said it's really hard to get into something new, even if you try by telling yourself "Hey, it's new. Give it a chance." There is a high probability that it will just leave you scratching your head confused and thus bored.

For example take this anime:


That is a really smart anime despite what it may look like. A little too smart to keep me entertained in fact. There were 2 or 3 episodes with two girls literally discussing a hacking war that was going around. I had no idea what was going on, I had no way to relate anything they were saying to my personal experiences, it was just hypothetical hacking strategies filled with technical jargon flying back and forth. It's almost impossible for something that enigmatic to become extremely popular, no matter how well written it might be.


this guy is a mega Genius. Preach especially about the pirates
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