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Friday, January 2, 2015

What do Sales Figures tell us about 2014?:

Sword Art Online is the best selling light novel franchise of the year.  If you add the SAO Progressive novel, which is indubitably also SAO, to the sales figures of the mainline SAO storyline, its sales top the market yet again.  This is because SAO is the best story being written in Japan, so of course it would be at the top, which is proper.

Every other light novel series in this ranking chart either has an anime, or has announced plans for an anime in the future.  Except Ero Manga Sensei, which just so happens to be the best story remaining without an anime adaption yet.  Ero Manga Sensei is written by the same author as Oreimo, and it's about the same topic, imouto love, and it's just as good as his previous version of this story, if not better.  I have Oreimo ranked as my #21 favorite work, so if Ero Manga Sensei were to get an anime adaption, it would really shake up my rankings by skyrocketing all the way to the top in no time.  It's odd that only Ero Manga Sensei, even though it's selling so well as a light novel, hasn't gotten an anime adaption yet.  I can only assume they're waiting for more volumes to come out first, and it will come in due time.  The only other explanation is that the story has been blacklisted and censored by the government, which would be a victory for anti-stepsister-incest bigotry but a painful loss for art.

The fact that most every light novel series already has an anime adaption proves the need for anime to stop adapting new works and instead just provide sequels to shows we already like.  How about another season of Index?  Or Hataraku Maou?  Or No Game No Life?  We know what the popular light novel series are.  There's no point wandering around in search of more good material -- we've still got plenty remaining in the gold veins we've already found.  SAO has plenty of Alicization novels, a third season could start immediately if the anime gods only so desired.

Only two best selling manga series don't have an anime yet, One Punch Man and Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu.  It makes sense to go ahead and adapt these two series as well, but again, the world would be much better served if they went back to making sequels of popular works instead -- like Bleach, still one of the best selling mangas years after its anime was discontinued.  Or more Ao Haru Ride, Kimi ni Todoke, or Chihayafuru, because girls have good manga deserving of sequels too?  Like usual, One Piece dominates.  #1 is in its rightful spot as #1.  No complaints here.

Meanwhile, Shirobako's first blu-ray volume had great sales of around 6k.  This is because Shirobako's 11th episode featuring the story of the Russian Match Girl in a surreal Christmas apocalypse for the fictional animation studio our main character works at swept the viewers off their feet and showed what this story can really do even when restrained to a comedic format.  Everything Shirobako does is funny, but it's also thoughtful and compelling material as well.  Like the haunted life of a CG animator told only to make more wheels, there's a hilarious element to it, but there's also a good expose of the drudgery of work which makes leisure such a superior lifestyle, something very infrequently addressed in our work = high status world.

My ranking of Shirobako has shot up to #50, making it the best new work of 2014.  This is because it has a proper beginning and end (as an original work, it can tell its whole story from start to finish with no filler), is of sufficient length (it will be 24 episodes by the time its over, which is basically the minimum length for a story to be fully fleshed out), and is delivering completely novel material that no other anime has ever been based around before.  The trial and tribulations of making an anime and being an animation studio on one hand, and on the other hand, the more meta conversation on what makes work worthwhile for the individual.  Shirobako is such an educational series.  Everybody needs to tune in to this show and learn from it just how exactly we should choose our own jobs before it's too late.

Speaking of sales, the next installment in the highest selling anime franchise of all time, Bakemonogatari, came out on New Year's Eve.  Tsukimonogatari was 100 times better than Hanamonogatari, because it was no longer a side story about people we didn't care about and had never met before.  Instead it was dead set in the center of the narrative, with Koyomi as the main character, dealing with his nemesis Ougi and the fallout of his pact with the devil (or in this case Shinobu, but is there really much of a difference?)  It also brought back the underutilized Kagenui as this chapter's ghost buster, really fleshing out her story, and the underutilized imouto Tsukihi, who now gets just as mesmerizing a scene as imouto Karen did in Nisemonogatari.  I totally did not see that coming, but boy does it feel right when it happens.  Stories involving imoutos are always the best, but somehow it feels like stories involving nisemono-imouto Tsukihi are platinum good.  It's just a whole nother story when she's front and center.  The art and animation in this section of the franchise was stellar.  Rich and full of color, putting beautiful girls into all sorts of positions and poses.  You just have to love what Shaft does with Bakemonogatari, there's nothing like it in the world.  This is how the show stays at #10, ahead of the likes of Dragon Ball, Bleach, Railgun and Little Busters.  Artistic innovation, insightful dialogue, and plot twists that leave your head spinning but all make sense in retrospect.  This show is very, very difficult to beat.

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