How To Make A Successful Anime (The 5 Golden Rules)

Following the events of Welcome To The NHK the dynamic duo of Sato and Yamazaki would go on to publish the best selling anime of all time based off of the failure of their self-published eroge

Man moe series sure are popular eh?  It sometimes can seem like it’s all that really sells these days and you know what, I kind of want in on this now.  Japanese Otaku culture really is pretty easy to read and manipulate and I figure as long as you know how to follow just a few golden rules that you can stand to make a lot money in this industry.

1.  Give the otaku what they want no questions asked.  If loli is popular give them more loli.  If quiet girls are popular then give them that.  Know the moe trends of the now.  Oh and don’t give your moe moe girls too many character traits either unless it’s something like them behaving like a cat in their spare time.  If the otaku community gets the idea that these girls might actually be able to think too much for themselves or by god if it could give way to a dreaded second of screen time that isn’t dominated by moe and cute then you’ll lose their interest fast.

2.  Never under any circumstances pair a character off in a way that would prove unpopular.  Better yet, don’t even have any male characters in your show at all, it’s just too damn risky.  You don’t want the otaku community getting the wrong idea that they might have rivals for the affection of your moe moe girls.

3.  Make sure you pay a magazine to have glowing reviews and spots for your new moe series.  This will generate hype and make otaku want to buy your show.  If you own a magazine then you don’t need to worry about this.  Awesome break isn’t it?

4.  Make sure you make as many references to things that the otaku community will recognize and that already has a high name recognition index.  Don’t worry if it has absolutely nothing to do with the narrative of your show whatsoever because you are not concerned about that.  This is because by cramming in references to popular names it will in turn help up your own name recognition index merely by association and probably lead to increased sales for your product.  Some good ideas to consider are Mobile Suit Gundam, Hatsune Miku and Macross.  You might also consider a voice actor joke for the ease of association with both other popular characters AND the anime they were in.  Be imaginative, but not too much.

5.  Hire seiyuu that will be willing to sing a song for the show and who will record extra character singles.  You’ve gotta figure, your series is going to be a hit in the DVD/BR division, why not also make some money in the audio CD division as well.  You’re going to want songs that sound cute, but aren’t necessarily too technical, this will save you money in the long run that you don’t need to spend.  Your lyrics should probably reflect this as well and should give of an innocent feel that will also be reflected back onto the character and the core product.  Pick a frivolous topic to centre on as well.  Love is still in, so you might want to consider that, but don’t under any circumstances try to sell it under any tone that isn’t 100% idealized.  Let the invisible hand of otaku casual association do the rest in increasing sales for both the anime DVD/BRvolumes and the CD singles. 

As far as I can tell that’s it, and you know what, I think I could do it.  I just need funding, a studio and some people to draw the pictures for me.  The only bump in the road is how exactly I am going to get my name recognition up the level where I can autowin the Oricon top 10 every time.  Maybe I’m looking at a pairing with some entity that is already popular who I can then stab in the back once I get my name recognized myself.  In any case I am also currently working out what exactly makes eroge and visuals sell on the top 10 monthly chart level.  I think it comes down a lot to the same kind of name recognition that pushes anime series.  Hmmm…well that was easy…..perhaps a more worthy cause would be to find out just how the Otaku community got to the point where it will lunge at the opportunity to buy whatever is the newest hot moe anime.


38 Responses to “How To Make A Successful Anime (The 5 Golden Rules)”

  1. 1 Epi August 5, 2009 at 5:56 am

    I think we’re almost reaching a saturation point of the ‘moe’ anime. Maybe in a few years I’ll be proven crazily wrong, but I predict that the long trend into creating the super formulaic super moe~~ anime is getting really old. It will probably take a few hits to change this, but I can see a huge backlash as more ‘traditional’ animes will get a fair showing.

    I mean really, how many ‘slice of life group of 4-5 cute girls’ shows do we really need until it becomes stupid? Same with almost identical shows in many other genres.

    To parallel with say Hollywood, this is similar to the huge ‘realistic action movie’ trend that was happening after the release of Saving Private Ryan. Now we’re reverting back to the ‘completely unrealistic’ shows with movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen making huge amounts of money.

  2. 2 ghostlightning August 5, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Here’s a good read that I think is relevant to the subject at hand c/o The Schoolgirl Milky Crisis Blog:

    I also think that it is instructive to read a manga like Bakuman, to have a view of what goes into formulaic work of no apparent merit:

  3. 3 Kaioshin Sama August 5, 2009 at 6:22 am

    @Epi: We’re living the backlash right now actually. Haruhi Season 2, the reaction to K-On’s (I think it was this show that eventually did it in by breeching the saturation point of moe) DVD sales, just the general attitude towards moe has become very negative. It’s actually kind of right on time for here in the west. It’s not going to change any time soon in the very traditional and conservative Japanese demographic, but here trends tend to act like a pendulum swinging in an arc. Whatever becomes immensely popular will cause the pendulum to swing in that direction until it reaches the absolute highest point in the arc where we see saturation of that popular element. As we know though, the pull of gravity (counter-culture) and time must eventually lead the pendulum to come back down and eventually head in the other other direction until it reaches the opposite side end of the arc and we see the counter-culture become the new popular culture and the previous culture becomes the counter-culture. It seems to operate on about a 3:3:3 year scale (Culture:culture become unpopular:counter-culture becomes the new culture). Right now we are at the absolute limits of the moe trend and just at the part where we are seeing the culture become unpopular in terms of moe in anime.

    It doesn’t always work quite that way though, and an a mainstream example of this is reality TV. When Survivor came out in 2000 reality TV game shows started to become immensely popular and we saw a huge rush of copy cats try to cash in on the buzz. Very soon the market was saturated with reality TV game shows. The sitcom which had previously dominated prime time ratings all but disappeared and television soon become flooded with reality TV until it reached the saturation point. Soon reality TV started to become reviled and only the most popular of reality TV shows managed to survive. Then shows like Two and a Half Men came along and we started to see a resurgence of the sitcom. There’s tons of them coming out again now. I’d say we are at about the point where the pendulum is right in the middle of it’s arc and it looks like it’s probably going to be stuck their for a while.

    I think that’s why I’m starting to turn back to American Television and Cinema more and more recently (yes I actually don’t see a parallel, but instead a contrast between American and Japanese enterainment industry trends. I think you might be confusing brainless action as a defining trend with the fact that it’s summer blockbuster season), whereas I had turned to anime during the glut of reality TV shows. We’re at the point where American entertainment has become more of a place for variety and new ideas then anime, which has stagnated over the past decade.

  4. 4 Niles August 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    While technically I agree with your point that pandering is the way to successful sales, I don’t see that as a negative. People spend their days paying for stuff they don’t want, being lied to by salesmen, getting squeezed by frivolous fees and taxes, so why not give them what they want? And yet marketers waste their time marketing products people don’t want just because that’s what rolled off the assembly line.

    I think your theory has a problem with survivor’s bias. You’re looking at instances of pandering successes, but not pandering failures (which are of course harder to notice unless they fail spectacularly). You did note the chicken-and-egg problem with how to get well-known enough to live off one’s reputation. Isn’t that problem solved if there is some spark of merit that sets one’s work apart and makes it something more than assembly line pandering?

    Also, I’ve seen the “not too technical” thing in regards to music in other places, which confuses me. What is “technical enough” or “highly technical” or “sorta technical”? I don’t expect to ever figure this one out, as I don’t seem to agree with anyone’s musical tastes.

    As for what makes eroge sell, I think it’s the artwork.

  5. 5 TheBigN August 6, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    You should write a “How To Make A Successful Anime for Kaioshin Sama” post in the future.

  6. 6 Epi August 7, 2009 at 12:04 am

    My ‘brainless action movie’ thing was just an example. It’s not my well-thought out analysis of the situation. Regardless, even in anime we’ve seen a huge shift as you’ve so well put it.

    I agree that the pendulum has reached a breaking point in terms of moe and is definitely swinging the other way fast.

    I would say that we reached the pinnacle somewhere about two years ago with shows like the Kanon remake and Minami-Ke first season, just as the whole fanservice thing was a done deal a few years ago with shows like Sekirei and Queen’s Blade really signifying the tail end of it all.

  7. 7 TheBigN August 7, 2009 at 5:47 am

    “the reaction to K-On’s (I think it was this show that eventually did it in by breeching the saturation point of moe) DVD sales”

    I’m confused. Aren’t the DVD’s doing well, or at least Blu-ray sales?

  8. 8 Kaioshin Sama August 7, 2009 at 7:57 am

    @TheBigN: I should do something like that for sure. As for the DVD’s, I was talking about the freakout over K-On’s DVD sales on some forums and how it’s the death of anime because every show will try to be moe now. I remember saying something like that years ago when I was more ignorant and angry, but then what happened….I got more Gundam, more Macross, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Code Geass, the list just goes on. With Gundam Unicorn on the way I don’t see how I could be anything but excited about the future of anime.

    What people don’t realize is that as much as moe sells to otaku in a huge way, that is still just a slice of the total Japanese fanbase. A big slice, but not a majority. We’re talking 40,000+ out of a population of several million people who consume anime and anime related products. If people want something else to chew on, Dragon Quest IX has sold over 3.4 million copies in Japan in just over a couple of weeks. Dragon Quest is pretty much the best selling media title period across all forms of media there, nothing can touch it in that regard or even come close (except maybe Monster Hunter, which is a totally different style of game), but in the 20+ years it’s been dominating have all Japanese games become exactly like it? I don’t think I need to answer that question.

    Also what other people are not taking into account that puts the final nail in the coffin of the “moe is the death of anime” theory……people buy more than one thing.

  9. 9 Masrule Hamid August 7, 2009 at 9:12 am

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  10. 10 anon August 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Hey…. isn’t that K-on?

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