Blog Archive

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gate is a Great Anime:

After the disappointment of Charlotte, my anime rankings fell from the nice round number of 175 back down to 174.  This problem is resolved, however, by the resurgence of Gate into the spotlight.  Gate lasts 24 episodes, so even if it's half as good as other shows airing right now, it would still end up looking better than them all by the end.  When you combine this length with all of the qualities that go into a Gate show, you rapidly outpace all of the competition.

Gate has so many unique traits to it as a story.  The geopolitics.  The insane mismatch between modern weaponry and ancient weaponry.  The unapologetic scenes of mass slaughter by soldiers.  The honest portrayal of the Japanese self defense force as heroic and virtuous beyond any imaginable standard we could judge troops by.  The great military hardware designs and the effort that went into making them look real.  All of the cute fantasy girl tropes added in a way that doesn't feel gratuitous or irrelevant to the story.  The cooperative respect the men and women display while on the job together as soldiers.  I feel like I could gush about how great the army in Gate is all day, and I love the reactions of the natives as they realize how totally outclassed they are in all fields at all times.  They're so cute in their desperation.

24 episodes at this level of quality is plenty enough to reach the low-hanging fruit of 175th rank.  This gets my rankings back to a good place and washes away the bitter taste of Charlotte's complete failure.  The summer anime season did have a lot of quality shows, they just weren't where I was originally looking.

Meanwhile, a new article is out saying anime costs $150,000 an ep to make on average.  To recoup the costs of production via blu-ray and dvd disk sales alone, you would need to sell 6,250 copies per volume, something only the most outstanding shows manage.  This is somewhat interesting because I see a lot of series cease making sequel seasons after they fall below this 6,000 mark.  Shows that sell above this mark though are pure free money for the industry, so it's scandalous when a show has more source material, sells above 6,000, and still doesn't get a sequel for some odd reason.

Now, there's a lot of ways anime can make money without directly selling blu-ray disks.  They can have added interest in other products, like light novels, manga, music cds featured in the anime, anime themed merchandise, video game spinoffs, you name it.  If these sell well, the anime can certainly be credited for some part of their success, and a profit can be made all the same.

In addition, money can be made broadcasting the show through advertising dollars during commercials.  There's also box office movies based on the original anime that tend to do well.

Even so, even with all of these additional routes to profitability, the article tells us that the majority of shows lose money.  Companies use their winning shows to fund the underperforming shows and overall make a profit by hitting it big every now and then.  This seems strange, because surely they can predict ahead of time which shows are going to be big hits and which will obviously flop, right?  I mean, Shingeki no Kyojin is going to work.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is going to work.  They're famous shows.  So why even release non obvious big hits when odds are they'll just lose you money?  I don't think Sore ga Seiyuu will appeal to anyone but a niche audience, for instance.  Don't they know they're just throwing money away?

This leads me to believe that anime companies really aren't interested in making money in the first place.  They want to make art.  Everyone involved wants to tell the stories they're passionate about.  And they'll gladly take a loss so long as they make a big hit every now and then to keep things running so that they can work on the shows they want to make inbetween.  They actually save up their big hits for a rainy day to bail themselves out with and just play their trump cards only when necessary over the years.  It's a really interesting business model, very different from Hollywood, which demands their movies be blockbusters or doesn't bother even making them anymore.

Anime is not a business, it's a passion, with a few accountants set up to keep the ball rolling.  This is why everyone works for peanuts in the business.  So long as they can eat they're happy.  The work is its own reward.  And we the viewers are blessed to have such a production outlook that keeps feeding us so many quirky and unique shows every season as a result.  We've had the best years in anime rolling in one after the other every year recently, and 2015 doesn't look to be breaking that tradition, all thanks to people making shows that never make them a dime.  Just look at Shinsekai Yori.  One of the best anime ever made and it was just a total, complete loss on the business side.  Nevertheless, they continued to churn out episodes, all 24 of them, until the story was complete, with the exact same high quality as the very first episode, all the way to the end.  What a story of human perseverance played out before our eyes.

No comments: