Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[Colume] Why Infinite Stratos sells? - Analysis for the success of IS


One of the greatest question for Gaijin world that seems to be experiencing is ridiculous popularity of Infinite Stratos.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20110406-00000000-mantan-ent

and, it happened. BD sales of Infinite Stratos sell total 22,000 (godly, even beating Oreno Imouto), marking 6th animation series to be listed 1st place in Oricon chart followed by Bakemonogatari, Macross F, K-On, Code Geass and Angel Beats. Including DVD sales of 7,794, it is almost 30,000 sales.

I saw a lot of people blaming Japan's bad taste. However, if you actually read 2ch, you will find how much Japanese otakus are actually in the same boat as us, questioning 'why this thing sells this much?'. Even for them, 30,000 is a bit over-kill. "IS is absurd, ridiculous, moe-fested, doesn't make any sense, polluted by cliche+forgettable characters, and has absolutely no merit of being unique, interesting series".

The answer is - rather complex.

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1. POWER OF MEDIA MIX
Cover of IS volume 1
Infinite Stratos was not the most popular light novel. It is well known for being...shit. It has even less sense than its adapted animation. However, it was selected as the first star of MF Bunko x TBS animation project line up.

The most interesting thing is that studio '8-bits' was responsible for animating this. It's none other than 'MACROSS ANIMATION TEAM'. They have one of the most advanced CG tool kits and members who are highly experienced in Mecha. This alone improved quality of animation a lot and other moe-factors also increased animation's popularity.

The point is, about making animation 'BETTER THAN ORIGINAL NOVEL'. That's the key of success.

Think about it. It is obvious that among those original light novel readers, there must be pretty decent amount of fans for IS. As Shinbo Akiyuki, the boss main director of Shaft, said, the most important thing when creating animation from the original work, the 1st priority is making it a series that 'every fan of original can satisfy'. This was part of reason why Bakemonogatari could achieve ridiculous success, and it is also case for Infinite Stratos. Animation was better than novel that you are fan of, so there is no reason for them preventing from purchasing BD/DVD. If it can satisfy 'entire' population of original fans, than success is guaranteed.

Proof? Just see how much of sales for IS increased right after the airing of IS. It is now marking one of the most successful Light Novel, and before animation, it wasn't.

2. Epitome of cliche - no other animation can be more generic than this.
MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE
As you know well, IS has no content. Even fans, even those who were crazy enough to buy its CD also know that. It is following every single cliche that traditional Harem series always head, and quality as a readable story is zero, does not exist. What is left is characters that are so forgettable and only works as a matter of self-arouse or moemoe-kyun, and useless + meaningless mecha suit fighting. For me, it was the single most generic animation I've seen this year.

Wait, it actually works. Yes, 'THE MOST GENERIC SERIES IN EXISTENCE'. That's where the second selling point comes from.

IS is something that you throw every single expectation for it to black-hole, and enjoy the series without thinking a single thing. Story doesn't matter, cliche doesn't matter. IS was extremely 'eye-pleasing', supported by unnecessarily brilliant staffs involved, uselessly superb animation and meaninglessly excellent voice actress. IS shows how one series can achieve maximum success without having any content, but solely bases its merits on 'appearance quality'.


3. LUCK and TIMING - read winter season chart again -


Madoka hates Infinite Stratos.

Winter 2010/11 was lacking quality animations. Practically, the single memorable + groundbreaking + quality series that did not relied on cliche and moe was Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, which will be marking on the history of anime for a long time, anyway. All the other animations were shit, including IS.

The last important quality for the success for IS is, the 'Perfect Timing and Luck'.


Infinite Stratos was, extremely lucky, in more than one ways. First, Madoka's popularity actually affected Infinite Stratos in positive ways. People originally wanted Madoka to be good/moemoe cute girl magical girl series, but ended up getting serious eye-rape with endless despair and hopelessness. (kill urobuchi!) People needed something to 'cure' their eyes from shock, and they found, eye-pleasing + well-animated + moe-moe-kyun animation. It was perfect for purifying their eyes from 24 minutes of panic and complete absorption to amazing series called Madoka Magica. Not only that, all the other animations were even more unbearable than IS, there was no-other substitution for fans anyway.

Even more lucky thing for IS is, delay of Madoka Magica BD/DVD release. A lot of people who were eagerly waiting to see their favourite mahou shoujo in HD died in despair again. Thus, (...) it seems that IS became substitution to feel in their empty space of Madoka Magica, and increased sales of IS to even more ridiculous level. If both released CD during the same month, sales of 30,000 never happened.

This might sound stupid, but it is perfectly reasonable knowing how social psychology works for consumers. IS, was definitely lucky.

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It went a bit long, but here are my three key explanation for the success of Infinite stratos;
  1. Superior adaptation that makes all original LN fans to buy
  2. As generic as possible, as eye-pleasing as possible
  3. Luck and timing created by circumstance
Although I'm no expertise with business, success of IS is something I want to call 'irregular'. There is something seriously wrong about it, it definitely has one or more reason other than just being moe, otaku pandering series.

22 comments:

  1. I agree on irregularity of its success. I do think it would've been successful regardless of its circumstances, let's say 8 to 10k units sold, comparable to the likes of Linebarrels of Iron, which is pretty good. I'm also a fan, but can't afford to shell out monie ATM, however what I found pleasing apart from what you've mentioned was that its generic-ness reminded me of the first anime series I watched that were made from 90's or early 00's. So apart from good animation, designs, fluffiness, cute girls, a healthy dose of nostalgia.

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  2. @Anon: I definitely agree abuut nostalgia part. There was definitely some sort of catalyst happened that created IS's unusually huge success, which is even more questionable than Bakemonogatari's case.

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  3. まどか厨必死すぎてワロタ

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  4. I can say that Madoka sells will be higher if IS was just behind it.

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  5. Lol let's wait for Madoka sales.

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  6. Ah, THIS kind of entries are the main reason I love it here (and SHAFT's news).

    Superb article. Very good points. And I'm happy someone else felt the "wait, I think I saw this before" vibe EVERY character gave.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the IS creators that they hit the jackpot, but the WHY they did is/was what bothers me.

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  7. I agree with most of what you said except:

    "People originally wanted Madoka to be good/moemoe cute girl magical girl series, but ended up getting serious eye-rape with endless despair and hopelessness. (kill urobuchi!) People needed something to 'cure' their eyes from shock, and they found, eye-pleasing + well-animated + moe-moe-kyun animation. It was perfect for purifying their eyes from 24 minutes of panic and complete absorption to amazing series called Madoka Magica."

    I seriously doubt this as a reason people rushed out to buy IS. It's simply not logical. Not to mention they aired at the same time in Japan.

    And also:


    "who were eagerly waiting to see their favourite mahou shoujo in HD died in despair again. Thus, (...) it seems that IS became substitution to feel in their empty space of Madoka Magica, and increased sales of IS to even more ridiculous level. If both released CD during the same month, sales of 30,000 never happened."

    IS was already on track to sale this much before Madoka was delayed. :/

    Other than those, your analysis is pretty spot on.

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  8. Agree with Suzuka, you may not believe it but IS is actually possible to have even more audiences than Madoka! In Tokyotosho, IS always has more search than Madoka and also more complete download. In streaming website that I've watched, IS has more viewers too. This is why I'm puzzled with IS popularity. I fully agree that it's even more questionable than Bakemonogatari. Bakemonogatari is truly awesome so it's somehow understanable. But for IS, it's really beyond my understanding. Plus, it has potential to even has higher sale due to the shortage just like the first week of the first Bakemonogatari BD.

    By the way, I'm more interesting about this news.

    http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?p=3560564#post3560564

    WTF! MBS!?!

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  9. Found this twitter from Gen in 4chan

    http://green-oval.net/cgi-board.pl/a/thread/47745087#p47752280

    May be he was talking about MBS didn't want to air Madoka...? But it looks like everything should be fine now, I hope so.

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  10. @Suzuka: Nope, I think that was definitely the case. When Madoka was cancelled and IS was aired without being followed by it, a lot of negative reviews about this series suddenly increased significantly.

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  11. I'll just quote what NovaJinx said on his blog:
    "Light is what describes Infinite Stratos best. But that can be an advantage too. While Madoka Magica and Yumekui Merry are trawling the depths of emo and suffering, and Freezing is busy mutilating poor girls with pointy things, Infinite Stratos just goes “Hey man, why so serious? Here, have some slick CG mechas and a comedy harem. You’re welcome.” It was a weekly breeze of fresh air that I grew to appreciate, even if it did smell a bit like mold. As light entertainment it does its job well, and Ichika’s harem was filled with quite awesome personalities whose jelly-ridden antics were amusing to follow. The CG work was quite good too, looks like Japan has finally graduated from the shitty GONZO-CG, and the final fight was actually rather dynamic instead of Strike Witches-style talking heads hovering on a background with random beam fire. Wouldn’t mind another season."
    http://re-jinx.me/2011/04/03/infinite-stratos-closing-impressions-ichika-of-the-nazareth-and-the-flying-jelly-circus/

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  12. HEHE
    Madoka pwned IS BADLY

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  13. Your whole "analysis" is ridiculous. It simply doesn't make any sense. The LN is far superior to the anime plot-wise, there are tons of "generic" anime in existence and none of them turned out to be bestsellers and the whole luck and timing because of Madoka is simply nonsense. It's one of the most retarded arguments I ever read.

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  14. lol this topic explain a lot...
    I watched a few episode of IS and I can't believe people can stand this kind of script...not just super mundane but irritating too
    it make me question it's popularity and decide to do a little research and i got here lol
    Your epitome of cliche is so true and it's hilarious

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  15. lol i think it because they give some fans service and some mild erotic scene.........

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  16. Wow, what a bunch of nonsense you wrote in this column. You should erase it, since it completely rests any credibility the rest of your articles can have. I came here because of your BD/DVD sales analysis and I found it informative, but now that I've read this nonsense I see that I can no longer believe that, since if a person is capable of this level of stupidity then there must be something seriously wrong in anything they write.

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  17. @Last Anon: Haha, lolol. I say, fuck you and go away. If you are going to say the world, s-tu-pi-di-ty, try to prove why it is stupid instead before making yourself dumb shitting posts like this.

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  18. IS is an easy to understand, easy going, fun to watch(better word would be comforting) anime with those ecchi scenes + HAREM!
    Why the heck are you criticizing it so much?
    It's not necessary that every anime should have a dramatic, serious plot you know~
    If you talk about plot then you must read the light novel. There have been quite a few developments.
    I agree that it doesn't have that good of a plot but its still easy to watch compared to bakemonogatari and all.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that bakemonogatari is bad or anything(It's actually quite good) but you know~ it kind of gives me a headache when I'm watching it while I'm in a bad mood.

    And finally ringOtamegane,
    What's up with you
    I mean what's with you saying fuck you after every comment?

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  19. ill gp ahead and be that guy. (sigh) infinite stratos has everything i could ever want in a show or movie.

    its set in the future: check
    mechs have been invented: check
    story is interesting: check
    ladies: check
    easily relatable protagonist: check
    incredible animation: check
    cool fights: check
    cool dialog in between said fights: check
    girl named Charlotte: check
    Charlotte is incredible: yes
    Charlotte is your true love: yes
    if you had to kill your family to be with Charlotte would you: yes
    why: the above

    that's all i have to say about the series as a whole. hoping for more Charlotte

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