So, GONZO is dying. That’s sad but they haven’t been good in a while so I’ll keep you in my memories for making some great shows 10 years ago.
But more importantly, over at Canned Dogs, they posted up a list of GONZO DVD sales. See, this is significant because it provides a lot of information, mainly what went right and what went wrong for the company, as well as consumer tastes.
Sales of the first volume DVD for Gonzo anime:
12,318 Strike Witches LE vol.1
11,906 Vandread vol.1
*8,486 Last Exile vol.1
*8,029 Vandread the second stage vol.1
*7,456 Rosario to Vampire vol.1
*7,403 Gatekeepers vol.1
*6,996 Saki vol.1
*6,992 Kiddy Grade vol.1
*6,376 Hellsing vol.1
*5,990 Saishuu heiki kanojo vol.1
*5,558 Fullmetal Panic! vol.1
*4,332 Crono Crusade vol.1
*3,998 Black Cat vol.1
*3,821 Seto no hanayome vol.1
*3,773 Tower of Druaga ~the Aegis of URUK~ vol.1
*3,074 Choujyuushin Gravion Zwei vol.1
*2,732 Gankutsuou vol.1
*2,722 GANTZ vol.1
*1,978 Kaze no Stigma vol.1
*1,802 Gad Guard vol.1
*1,668 Choujyuushin Gravion vol.1
*1,542 SAMURAI7 vol.1
*1,508 Samurai Girl Real Bout Highschool vol.1
*1,374 Getsumentoheiki Mina
*1,278 Blassreiter vol.1
Look carefully at the two pieces of data I’ve provided here. What trend do you notice? I’m pretty puzzled by how only the really new (past 1 or 2 years) and the really old (first 2 years of GONZO) shows are on the top list. Why? It’s not like shows where they collaborated with other studios aren’t listed, cos I see FMP season 1 up there. So the numerous AIC partnered shows should be eligible as well.
The most obvious observation is that otaku-pandering fanservice shows, even if they are horrible, do a lot better than any other type of show. This is because only otakus buy DVDs! In Japan, nobody buys expensive anime DVDs except otakus. And even otakus are limited by financial constraints so they can’t be getting everything. The list of unpopular anime contains only one arguably pandering show, that is Kurogane no Linebarrel, and it was pretty bad too. On the other hand, looking at the popular anime list, Strike Witches is the top seller in GDH history, followed closely by Rosario and Saki. The rest of the shows are populated by the great shows made before the age of Moe, or just random shows that I don’t see why people would buy DVDs for, like Black Cat, Gad Guard, Blassreiter etc. In other words, this explains why so many studios choose to make anime with harem or fanservice, because these are a lot cheaper to make than an epic scifi and provide much greater returns. I think the main reason why Last Exile, Vandread and Gatekeepers rank so high is because they were really good, animation and story-wise, for that time period, which was a transitional phase to the use of CGI over cel, and people were wowed by the graphics.
GONZO realised too late that people no longer care about good anime, they just want moving anime girls with their particular fetish attached. GONZO’s dead not only from that of course, it’s also because they themselves don’t know what’s good anime and made lots of rubbish (for the American market, they claim). But beyond this, I find it a huge problem when the anime industry’s business model relies almost solely on DVD sales for income, supplemented by merchandise sales and negligible TV (most are shown late night anyway). Obviously the Japanese DVD-buying crowd’s preferences are going to be prioritised, as they provide the largest source of income, and this is dangerous for anime itself because many of these people only like shows that are fanservice or anime girl-oriented!
Miyazaki’s Ghibli movies always make huge amounts of money, that is because they have a market including the whole of Japan, and the world. Modern anime mainly has a market of only otakus. Argue however you want, but that is the truth and the impression of many Japanese. For them, once beyond a certain age, mainly high school, even Jump is considered childish, and most anime are just way too otaku to be caught watching. But it doesn’t have to be this way, does it? We have had plenty of great anime over the years, which if marketed well should be or have already been well-received by mainstream crowds. Examples include Planetes, GitS, Honey and Clover etc.And then we have the polar opposite, something so otaku that it unites the various diverse otaku legions into one consumeristic horde, and that sells well too. I’m obviously referring to Haruhi.
PS ever since I came back from Japan, I’ve not watched a single episode of any anime besides Cross Game, Inazuma 11 and Gintama. It’s not like I’m quitting, I actually found Canaan, Tokyomag, GA and few others quite good but just didn’t have the motivation to follow them weekly. I’ll probably marathon them at a shot someday.
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