One of the greatest question for Gaijin world that seems to be experiencing is ridiculous popularity of Infinite Stratos.
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.
1. POWER OF MEDIA MIX
|Cover of IS volume 1|
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
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.
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. (
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.
It went a bit long, but here are my three key explanation for the success of Infinite stratos;
- Superior adaptation that makes all original LN fans to buy
- As generic as possible, as eye-pleasing as possible
- Luck and timing created by circumstance