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Nichijou didn't sell so well, KyoAni's a sad panda

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No one can hit home runs all the time, and it seems the universal rule applies to Kyoto Animation as well. The house that wrought Haruhi, the luck behind Lucky Star, and the composers of K-ON! have failed at everyday life, at least when it comes to sales.

Shunji Suzuki, an industry pro fresh from the Kadokawa crisis room, tweeted that Nichijou (among others) has been a "sales failure". Unofficial sources place figures at the sub-1000 mark for early sales of Nichijou DVDs and Blu-rays, well below Kyoto Animation's post-Haruhi average and very far short of the sales needed to break even on production costs. Suzuki commented that the show's dismal numbers have "destroyed the myth of Kyoto Animation's invincibility."

Some have interpreted this news as the doom of KyoAni, a victory in the war against moe, a sign that the show really is terrible (Marcus Speer would disagree), the death knell of the industry, or various other dire claims.

While those numbers are indeed surprisingly low, I think that the reaction has been overly negative. Click on to read why.

Now, I'm no insider myself. Much of what I know, both about Nichijou and the process of producing and marketing anime like it, comes second-hand (sometimes third-hand), with a healthy dose of speculation. But still, the implications are somewhat overblown, I'd posit.

First off, Nichijou, by its very nature as a bizarre comedy in the vein of Azumanga Daioh (but even weirder), didn't make itself the most marketable anime in the world, even to otaku who'd buy almost anything. Despite its initial prime time-slot (which it was later moved out of), the audience was without a doubt quite niche, and some suggest that the humor simply sailed over the heads of many viewers (though I doubt even otaku are that simple-minded).

Further, the everyday lives of Yukko, Nano and the rest don't lend themselves as easily to the commodification that supports so many late-night anime. As far as I'm aware Nichijou was not based in any real-life school or tourist spot to be visited by fans, and featured few (if any) real-life brands to be exploited for sweet merchandising cash. 

Though cute, Nichijou's character designs didn't seem cute enough to sell hug pillows or blankets or bath towels. The show's skit-to-skit structure doesn't make for an easy video game adaptation (though a mini-game collection might work), and KyoAni's emphasis on gloriously overproduced visuals don't adapt well to drama CDs or stage plays. 

Sure, there are all manner of hilarious gag items I'd buy, if they were released. Wood cubes, a shogi-piece cake-topper, a screw backpack, or a cat-sized scarf. But they'd only make sense to me, and, all things considered, I could probably make them myself.

Nichijou's DVDs and Blu-rays hit shelves in the middle of two crowded, competitive seasons, at the tail end of monster hits like Madoka Magica, and in the midst of practically pre-sold productions like Denpa Onna, Steins;Gate, Ano Hana, and...er, Hyouge Mono*. Add to that the fact that Kadokawa maintains some of the highest retail DVD prices in the industry. Current estimates suggest that it would cost over $1000 to complete the whole set.

And, ultimately, I personally find that Nichijou is not the kind of show one would buy the DVDs of, especially not in the face of competition. I loved the show, make no mistake, but in the offing, the average episode of Nichijou offered only one or two gags that floored me. And the series' structure naturally prevents me from buying just the discs that I want (in comparison to simply avoiding the Haruhi Season 2 discs with Endless Eight episodes on them). 

Nichijou is, like Azumanga Daioh before it and, to an extent, Lucky Star, not the kind of series I'd sit down and just watch. I'd load up an episode and let it play in the background while I work or check my email, then bring to the top when the gag I like pops up. Maybe I'd buy the discs in a "support the industry" sentiment, perhaps, but not out of a genuine desire to keep it around as a key part of my collection.

All in all, Nichijou smacks of a vanity project. Something KyoAni did because they could, and wanted to mess around with. It feels like it was never meant to sell gangbusters (though that would be a nice side effect).

And, to get all defensive, when were sales numbers ever the measure of quality for an anime?

*Boy, I wish Hyouge Mono would sell as much as Madoka.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #anime #Despair! #industry affairs #KyoAni

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