You know the drill. We all know the drill. Every season tons of new shows come out, (Fall 2016 had somewhere around 80). Some are great, some are bad, some are horrible, and some, somehow, lodge themselves into our hearts and we all say the same things. “Man! I wish To Aru Majutsu no Index had another season” or “I would kill for another season of Parasyte!” Even if you don’t say it, you think it. People are holding out and is that being realistic?
Well, we are here to bring you the facts in this Editorial Tuesday, and to be perfectly honest, they are not going to make you super happy. So, without further ado, let’s just jump right into why, no matter how popular it may seem, no matter how many people are out there reading the manga/light novel, no matter how popular it is on social media, your favorite show will most likely not be getting a new season.
No, but really, you’re not getting one unless you are super rich. Let us explain.
How an Anime Is Born
We are going to be discussing a lot of things, so please try to keep up with us. How anime works is like this. Production companies form committees after they have chosen to turn something into an anime. These committees then go out and try to find investors to get them to invest into the committee so that they can, in return, make an anime. Various companies will try to have stakes in the anime. They too are usually from different backgrounds. Some will be from merchandising, some will be from the manga or the light novel publishing companies, and some will be from online media distributors.
A few examples of western companies getting in on this are companies like FUNimation, Geneon USA, and even more recently, Netflix with Ajin! Through these committees, companies like the ones above, work with Japanese companies to try and promote the anime heavily once it is made. Why? Because that is how you make money.
For all we know, the anime that they make could become the next big series. However, this is an incredibly dangerous and risky business, as well as these companies, are most likely looking at not breaking even. Anime is extremely expensive to make. The studio, staff, artists, seiyuu, animators, editors, a PR team, and everything else has to be hired. Then, they have to start to make the anime which can take months to years, depending on the studio and how much money and time the committee has given them at the same time.
Once the anime is done and a season is set, there is almost always a pre-screening party where they will show an episode or two and then hold a live show with, you guessed it, staff and seiyuu. They do charge the average person for these events but appearance fees, as well as, leasing the theater have to be paid. Rarely will they show more. A good example of one is Tales of Zestiria from summer. They showed four episodes at the official pre-screening and Japanese media blew up wondering if the story was not that good and you needed to digest four episodes before it became decent. We digress…
Next, merch has to be ordered and made like DVDs and Blu-rays. If a restaurant or café is going to be doing a collaboration, or if a mobile game company is going to be doing one, those companies have to submit proposals and be accepted. Finally, when the show is over, there is a wrap-up live event. Sometimes they are a success where they announce that a second season is coming, and others… well, let’s just say that whoever chose to do the Kuma Miko final event way out in the countryside of Aomori Prefecture, which took over eight hours to get to from Tokyo and then another 2 hours from the nearest station, probably doesn't have their job anymore. Why? Oh, cause about 20 people showed up maximum. A lot can be taken for granted when it comes to the process and cost itself. Let’s keep moving.
We all know this one too. “Money is what makes the world go ‘round”. This is not an exaggeration. About a year ago, you may have caught this making its way around the web, Marina Sasaki, who is a semi-big name anime producer, she worked on Barakamon and Parasyte, among others, had our favorite thing happen online; she had a meltdown on twitter. This was not at 3am. Don’t worry. Now, while it is always enjoyable to watch someone have a meltdown (popcorn anyone?), she did shed some critical light on to why anime is not getting renewed for new seasons.
She tweeted out:
The source manga is selected to become anime. → The anime becomes popular. → The manga begins to sell→ HOWEVER, anime Blu-ray discs do not sell.
This pain is what anime companies feel when they pay out close to 200 million yen (about two million USD) however, the manga or source novel, which did not shell out any money for the series, begins to sell well. We then begin to think, “did we make an anime so that the novel could sell well?”
(continued) Then, the source begins to sell and suddenly bookstores get excited because “this manga/light novel’s time is now!” So of course, it becomes popular opinion that that anime is going to be picked up for a second season. However, even if the manga/light novel sells well, the anime companies that have paid, don’t see a single dime. → The Blu-ray does not sell. → Naturally there is going to be no such thing as a second season.
(continued) “Well then if that is the case, what if you just sold boatloads of merch?” The royalties for goods only end up being a few percent of the whole picture, so even if 10 million yen (about 100,000 USD) is made, only a few thousand (USD) end up making it back to the anime committee. Since the above is a high-end guess, if you don’t sell a lot, you will not be making a lot in the end. → Therefore, if the Blu-ray do not sell, then it’s really difficult.
(continued) To be perfectly honest, for the anime committee to say “Let’s make a second season,” is something that only happens in the best scenarios. In this world (the anime world), companies do not even talk about making a second season, but rather take a look at the sales of Blu-ray 3 & 4 and determine how much in the red this is going to leave them. Then from there, “how much can we recover?” is normally the topic of conversation. The shining star that was supposed to be streaming anime, does not have enough power to make a difference in sales.
So then, how should we make money and what is the best way to make money? It would be great if anime companies could talk about how they make it happen. Making a real model with explanations and models would be great.
When you think of the customer side:
- Blu-rays are too expensive.
- There are too many anime.
- Consumers do not have the thought or impulse of “buying”.
When you think of the business side:
- There is no way to make money without Blu-ray sales.
- Anime production does not leave a mark on a fad-obsessed society.
These could possibly be some reasons.
We could explain more to you, but we think you get the picture.
But What About One Piece? It Keeps Getting Renewed.
Yes. One Piece has been on the air forever and has outlasted other fads like ninja anime and Shinigami anime. And, it keeps on getting renewed for more and more seasons, movies, merch, and much more. Do you know why? Because One Piece is a success. One piece is an example of what happens when an anime takes off and does so well, that the companies would be stupid not to keep it going. Whether or not you think the story is good, and whether or not you acknowledge that some of the big series, just like One Piece, have fodder and filler episodes, it has been around for a long time, it going to stay around for a long time, and the number one reason is the marketability.
That is not to say that all anime is completely marketable. Try successfully selling To Love-Ru or Queen’s Blade to some shy middle school girls, and we will get someone hooked on Parasyte or Drifters who faints at the sight of blood. It is just not going to happen. But shows like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, etc. have a wide variety of characters and have an appeal as essentially all action anime, to small children.
This, in turn, keeps them reading the source novel/manga as they grow as well as watching the show, playing the video games, and reading news about these series. It is not necessarily that because an anime is not marketable, it does not succeed, but it certainly does not hurt at all.
Rem is Best Girl!! (You Sure About That?)
Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Sekatsu, or whatever the English name is; it’s too long, was a huge hit this past spring and summer. The novel was everywhere. It was constantly at the top of charts like the light novel chart, the streaming chart, and others. It could still be seen peeking in when a newer novel came out a few weeks ago, and on the streaming chart here and there. Countless people all over the internet were fanboying/fangirling/fan-everything over Rem. Everyone loves Rem and “Rem is best girl” became a massive internet thing. We at Honey’s agree as well that Rem is best girl. However, is Rem coming back? Not anytime soon. You can read all about it here if you can read Japanese.
Re:Zero just had its wrap-up event. We talked about these earlier. This time, basically the entire staff said that they wanted to do a second season, there was no live performance of the songs, the author cried, yeah he was there, and then he said at the end: “Let me say this now that we are at the end; I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu all!” The event ended and everyone went home. Did we miss anything? Oh right. There was no announcement for a second season of Re:Zero.
Did you catch that?
There was no announcement for a second season of Re:Zero!!
Japanese otaku went up in arms screaming, online that is, that they needed more of Rem. Emilia could stay they guessed, but if she didn’t come back right away, then that is fine too.
Others said that there was just no stock material left for them to make a show with. More chimed in saying that that was most likely the case, and once there was, a second season would naturally follow. Well… that would be the case until someone brought up the ugly details. BD/DVD Sales. They are abysmal. Disc 1 sold 11,456 copies, Disc 2 sold 10,131 copies, Disc 3 sold 9,935 copies, Disc 4 sold 9,918 copies, and Disc 5 sold 9,582 copies.
How does that add up? Well DVD 1 is 5709 yen (~55 USD). That times 11,456 copies is about 65 million yen which is about 650,000 USD. Times that by five and then that should cover the initial costs projected earlier of about 200 million yen yeah? Wrong. Remember that Re: Zero ran for two cours, so at the very least, it would be double that. That is if it did not cost more. For a series that “was so popular” and it is, why didn’t the DVDs sell well? What happened to the fanbase? Where is the loyalty? We all know, and Japanese otaku all know that Blu-ray/DVD sales are what make second seasons. So, why did no one buy them?
Yeah, we know. The above conversation sucks. The anime market is saturated with so many anime, how do you know which ones to give your hard earned money to and not stream illegally like most everyone does? Don’t lie to us, we know a lot of you do. Even then, those who pay for streaming services are not without blame either as that does not make much revenue for the companies as well. Well… what to do? Think about things carefully. Make rational decisions. Plan out what you want to do. Support the series that you do truly like and get behind by not only getting the bound series, but also the DVDs.
Now, they don’t have to be the ones direct from Japan as the ones from your own country will work, but think about it. If you really want a second or third or whatever season, how bad do you really want it? All the streams on illegal sites, all the streams on legal sites, and all the Reddit comments in the world are not going to make a difference in this industry. The change starts with you. Are you up for the challenge?