Anime & Manga News

2.2% of Consumers Purchase 81% of Blu-ray in Japan

by dtshyk
May 24, 2011 1:38 AM | 58 Comments
According to a survey conducted by Japan Video Software Association, very small number of consumers support the DVD and Blu-ray market in Japan. 4.1% of the consumers spent >30,000 yen ($370) on DVD and Blu-ray software in 2010 and their consumption made up 67.4% of the whole disc media sales. Within the Blu-ray market, the tendency gets even stronger: 80.9% of the Blu-rays were purchased by 2.2% heavy users, who spend >30,000 yen on Blu-ray softwares a year. The biased distribution of consumers reflected the fact that anime videos account for 63.2% of the Blu-ray market in Japan.

In 2010, the percentage of DVD & Blu-ray buyers was 21.2%, down 10% from the previous year. However, the average expenditure on DVD & Blu-ray has increased by 30%: $289 in 2010 and $221 in 2009. These data show that the disc software market has been losing general customers and the heavy users have been getting even "heavier".

Source: Anime!Anime!

20 of 58 Comments Recent Comments

jmal said:
Not much different from other markets/countries actually. What's the best selling DVD/BD in America? It's going to be a movie. Not... whatever television shows are popular here nowadays.

Maybe so, but how much are you willing to bet that between TV broadcasting, box set releases of primetime TV shows, and pay for film rekleases based on high profile studios and names, the average number of people who consume any of this stuff is generally higher than in Japan?

jmal said:
The best-selling anime since 2000 is Bakemonogatari at 78k average in one release. Evangelion TV in all its various releases is about 174k and I think the closest anything else comes is 1st Gundam which in all its forms is about 80k... Evangelion isn't a good example because it kind of transcends the usual rules of the market.


I'll be frank here, I don't know where you got those numbers from, but over here Eva 1.0 sold 219,000 DVDs on its first week (look on the top of the top-selling DVD of 2008 article and it says Eva 1.0 sold over 297,000 copies total). And in that 2009 chart I linked earlier, Eva 2.0 sold over 373,000 copies. And as far as what anime sells well, Spirited Away is the highest grossing animated film in Japan alone by $229,607,878. So again, no clue where you got your numbers, but as well as Bakemongatari sells, I can't imagine stacking up well compared the amount of money Spirited Away made in general.

jmal said:
Anyway, I don't think moving away from a television model will really help. Some things about the television model do need to change (like high broadcasting fees) but the basic idea seems to be sound. Films will sell more units usually, yes, but they also take much longer to make and require much bigger budgets. That means risk too.

Here's the thing. At that point, you need to switch over to where the problem lies not from an economic perspective, but from a storytelling perspective. That's part of what I was arguing here. Most anime fans don't bother to realize that storytelling in anime TV shows are often not only too quaint and profound for the average audience (forget about otaku or anime fans for one moment), but also really slow.

When I took my storytelling course and then my storyboarding for animators course in my art college, I learned that your stories have to make some sense with how you transition from scene-to-scene and more importantly, need to be clear and to the point. Don't just drag a scene using every limited animation trick in the book where characters stay still. Don't confuse the audience with a character in a situation just so you have to back-track at how they got there. Immediately give the audience a reason why they should care for a character because they don't understand why they should pay attention to the main characters or what he/she wants, why it drives the story, and what conflicts that character from what he/she wants until episode 5 or something.

Anime studios need to tell and make stories that can give people an immediate reason to be engaged in the story. It's so easy for hardcore fans to look into a TV show and not be phased by the fact the story doesn't make its point until later on because those hardcore fans are already drawn in to whatever unique ideas the show has even if they're not presented well. I'll admit, even I as a hardcore fan think the same exact way with certain shows, like Sekirei. I like the concept of big-tittied chicks act silly and kick ass at the same time in a twisted game of life and death. But at the same time, I can understand why no one else would be sold on the first episode if it felt to them too perverted, misogynistic and pointless for anyone else who's not some hadcore fan of the "nature" of the show to care.

As an fan of not just anime but animation in general, it just bothers me that most anime anything is really niche and hardly appeals to anyone outside of that niche fanbase. I don't understand why animation in Japan can NEVER bother to appeal appeal outside of a small consumer crowd when I see American animation usually aiming to do the opposite and be successful at it. I want anime to appeal to more people and not be this stupid notion of you have to think differently in order to get it. It's just stupid to me to have to alienate a medium from so many people like that. I get why taking higher budget projects is risky to do, but guess what? If anyone in the anime industry wants to make significant numbers, then at some point they have to take a risk. And not just one risk, but multiple risks. There's no way around that. The only thing is that if people in the industry are going to take risks, then they need to strategize and know the tools and tips to properly making that risks. In other words, think smart and not just hard, otherwise, nothing will change and the industry will just be stuck appealing to the same limited crowd over and over again.

jmal said:
Personally, I'm just not a fan of the narrative style of movies (or OVAs).

Okay, but the key word your using is "personally." This isn't about what you think as one individual. I'm trying to look at this under a much, much wider umbrella than what one, die-hard fan of Japanese animation would vocally prefer on the internet because let's face it, there are probably a lot more non-anime fans out there than we would assume. Besides the problem with OVAs from my understanding is that they're a straight-to-DVD format which you still have to buy to keep without even knowing whether what you're watching will appeal to you. OVA title honestly appeal to fans that already know what they want out of that show and not anyone else, which is what I'm being concerned. Again, not just the hardcore otaku crowd, but also the mainstream consumers in general who many of which might also be movie-goers for all we know.

May 31, 2011 1:37 PM by Hypeathon

@ jmal:

For the record, I do happen to agree with a lot of your points. I'm at the point where in news articles and reports of the industry such as this, anime fans are spewing so much of the same vague nonsense if it's not rocket science and that the anime companies are for whatever reason too stupid to realize and that thei marketing degrees are a sham. Most people don't seem to bother trying to look at what is likely a bigger picture in all this and merely think "lower prices, license stuff faster, have better quality, etc.". Anyway, I don't want to dwell too much into that because it would just be delicately regurgitating trying to avoid EXACTLY what has been said THOUSANDS of time in anime piracy/industry debates EVERYWHERE on the internet. And that would just give me a headache.

Anyway, I do want to just refer to one of your posts and then go on to making a certain point since it's difficult for me to respond all of them.

jmal said:
And the majority of people just are not willing to put up any money for what they say they love, whether it's $60 or $600.

Let me just say in advance that I agree whole-heartedly in how anime on home video in the American market is just fine as is, price-wise and release-wise. I also agree in that not as many fans value products as much as they say they do (not saying no one does, some people do value anime enough to buy it and some while they value and want to buy it, can't buy for whatever the reason). Now while I think that Japanese DVDs are STUPIDLY expensive from my understanding, even if Japanese DVD distributors in Japan could somehow just slash prices of DVD releases as they first release them, I don't think that's necessarily the where the problem lies.

This is something that I've been thinking about for a bit and thought of doing some reasearch. And by research, I basically just searched on Anime News Network for the top-selling DVDs in the past few years, anime or otherwise. And I think it's important for anime fans to look outside of the scope of best-selling anime series on blu-ray because to me honestly, it's a given at this point that whatever sells well on blu-ray is some Kyoto Animation show, some Akiyuki Shinbo title, or some "girls in flying mecha-suits" show. When I looked at the higest selling anything on DVD in the past couple of years alone, I noticed that in 2008 it was the Transformers Special collectors edition. In 2009 the best selling DVD was Ponyo. And in 2010, the best selling DVD was the Deluxe collectors edition of Michael Jackson's This is It.

The thing about those best-selling DVDs is that they're all films. They're not 13-episode series, 26-episode series or 50+ episode series. 2 of those 3 films aren't even animated and the only animated film is a Ghibli title. I feel that with the anime industry and the way studios make shows, it makes it hard for most shows to be profittable when it comes to home video sales. It's hard for your average consumer to want to commit to a TV series where they have to pay for a few episodes at a time, especially if the show itself may entertaining to watch, but not entertaining enough to own and watch over and over again.

I feel that directors and script writers need to change how they tell stories in anime in a few ways. The stories need to be told at a faster ace to make an audience interested in. Less shortcuts and pauses in the timing, facial expressions and gestures in animation need to be put out there so you don't risk boring a general audience. Just basically give anyone who first watches an anime in that one sitting a reason to care about the story and the characters in it. And I think films are the best approach to doing that creatively. That's why I think the Evangelion Rebuild films sell so well in Japan. I don't know if the franchise was always this popular outside of the otaku crowd in Japan since the TV series premiered. But I think they're a good re-telling of a TV series and it makes it easier for a general audience to watch a story in 90 minute parts at a time and even buy on DVD. Whether it's accessible or entertaining enough to anyone outside of the Japanese and harcore fans is something I'm not entirely sure of, but displaying it as a movie makes it easier to try.

I think until the whole price issue with Japanese home video can be "lowered" somehow, studios need to try to make more stories in the form of animated films. They could be either original projects or adaptations or "careful" re-adaptations of short-running/long-running manga or light novels. Of course adapting long-running manga into movies are conceptually tricky because there's so much content to adapt. But if you focus on having that film introduce the audience and get to the point with the story and cherry-pick important parts in the begining of the manga to adapt to a film, then it wouldn't be a bad adaptation. I'm not saying it's easy to do that, but I think stuff like that is necessary at this point.

May 31, 2011 11:23 AM by Hypeathon

VyseLegend said:
The majority of people can't afford it.


Oh, since when?

you are giving incentives for the industry to not come up with their own on-demand blu-ray quality streams or downloads. Or something.


You can't just magically create something like that. A majority of the planet doesn't have access to a networking infrastructure able to support such a high quality streaming and/or IPTV service (no, 720p/1080p on Youtube isn't the same as actual Blu-Ray quality), and the amount of people with access to such a network infrastructure is most likely far less than the 2.2% of consumers buying Blu-Ray media in Japan.

May 28, 2011 3:20 AM by no-thanks

The majority of people can't afford it. While you might think you're doing a humanitarian service by purchasing these outrageously expensive discs of generally not-as good as-the past shows, you are giving incentives for the industry to not come up with their own on-demand blu-ray quality streams or downloads. Or something. There is no special reason why we should go to extreme measures to keep an industry afloat.

May 28, 2011 12:51 AM by VyseLegendaire

I prefer watching animes on my laptop instead, why waste your money when you do already own every anime considering it is possible to watch every single one on your computer, thats a sensible logic. But of course, some animes that holds a prime class, take Death Note for instance are worth having on DVD.

May 27, 2011 2:20 AM by Aiyele_Ahiru

jmal said:

Don't those VISA debit cards (do you mean a card tied to your checking account?) work like credit cards too? I ordered online with my all the time when I had one, years back.


They certainly do.

May 26, 2011 6:18 AM by no-thanks

jmal said:

Don't those VISA debit cards (do you mean a card tied to your checking account?) work like credit cards too? I ordered online with my all the time when I had one, years back.


As I'm finding out it does but one of my first orders was from Amazon with my VISA Debit and it wouldn't go through forcing me to go to other places. One of the reasons why I was williing to try HMV with my card this time was b/c of a recent addition to their FAQ regarding the use of VISA debits. Also since my orders are small I usually buy instock items which is another plus at HMV.

May 26, 2011 6:14 AM by Deleted6938

QysteiN said:
Start selling anime in Norway already. Mooooo~


This :|

May 26, 2011 12:31 AM by Ekvi

@jmal Thanks for the tip on Amazon and how it prices the items. I've wanted to try out Amazon for some time now but I don't have a credit card yet, just VISA debit and PayPal, so I was looking into services like Tenso to use until I do. Unfortunatly from what I read their services can be expensive.

About your question, I am currently buying merchandise from CDJapan, usually one to two items per order, which is retail price and have been getting small discounts with their points system. I also recently placed an order from HMV to test it out which has a pretty good deal on most items if you purchase two at once.

May 25, 2011 11:01 PM by Deleted6938

FOE-tan said:

You could always import a Blu-ray player from the US or Japan, of course. The US and Japan use the same region code, so you can play Blu-rays from both countries with a player from either country.


Or, he could simply purchase a cheap region-free DVD player (for about 40-99 pounds). If he's prepared to spend 100 pounds more, he can go for a region-free Blu-Ray player.

Region encoding is hardly a limitation these days.

May 25, 2011 4:38 AM by no-thanks

jmal said:
Oi, in this thread, people apply very North American market logic to a market that could not be more dissimilar.

But anime in R1 isn't terribly different in one respect - most English-speaking fandom consumers just buy the latest big movie or umpteenth DBZ rerelease boxset and call it good; it's a small, small core audience of collectors that will buy 10+ R1s a month. I used to be one of them (200+ R1 discs a year) before I switched exclusively to importing JP releases.

What is extremely different is how much "hardcore" fans are willing to pay. Over here in the States, many people who consider themselves very serious otaku will rant and rave and flail about hysterically if you ask $60 for an entire cour of anime, and oh god don't even get into the righteous indignation when it's sub-only. It's a "ripoff", to have to pay $4.60 an episode, nevermind that discounts online routinely run around 40% if you know where to look.

While in Japan, collectors will put out upwards of ten times that: $600 for a cour of anime (let's say ¥7000 a disc * 7 discs, pretty close to typical), or $46 an episode and about the best discount you can get is 27% at Amazon Japan.

Guess which market is doing better, and which has been going completely to shit? Hint, the anime market in Japan isn't going to shit, and sales are up.

When you get down to it, these numbers aren't too shocking. Owning physical media is a minority choice in today's world. I don't debate that Japan illustrates a somewhat extreme example (I buy thousands of dollars of R2s a year, so I'm certainly not going to complain if prices go down!), but it's hard to knock what works. (Also, aren't these numbers the whole JP home video market, not just anime?)

Also remember that there's much more to the otaku market in Japan than physical media. In Japan, the BDs can be a bit of a loss-leader to push manga, novel, game, music, or visual novel sales. That is rarely the case elsewhere, where little of the larger otaku market exists, or is poorly integrated with the home video market.

Everyone complaining (from half a world away, for the most part) that R2 anime is too expensive is missing the point somewhat - the market isn't for people like you. And I don't even mean that in a condescending way, it's just how it is. If you live in Japan but are not a hardcore physical media collector, then they don't even expect you to buy BDs. You'll buy the novels, the t-shirts, the CDs, the posters, the toys, etc.

So, reign in the smug predictions that the Japanese anime home video industry is going to crash because it's not catering *to you*, people who are not their target audience and never have been. Not liking, even not understanding a business model is fine, but acting like you know it's going to fall apart because you don't like it, when the data indicates nothing of the sort, is a bit foolish.

(P.S., the arrival of BD has only *raised* prices, and yet anime sales are up. Something to think about.)


Great post, I was itching to post something similar but you've spared me from the effort. Too bad that it will most likely go under in a storm of "omg lol too expensive!!!!" posts...

May 25, 2011 3:57 AM by yakisobapan

Onibokusu said:
Sabinlerose said:

Or you didn't read the persons post through enough and missed the fact they live in norway.....
And last I checked Norway didn't have the US dollar nor US prices.


Last time I checked, Norway wasn't exempt from importing.
Last time I checked, Norway's DVD region code was different from the one used in the US.

However, it IS the same as the region code used in Japan (assuming that the television used for playback supports NTSC-J) and other European countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy etc. Meaning you can import from those countries.

For Blu-ray, Norway is stuck with European (and Australian) licences to import if you actually want to watch what you buy on a Norweigian Blu-ray player.

You could always import a Blu-ray player from the US or Japan, of course. The US and Japan use the same region code, so you can play Blu-rays from both countries with a player from either country.

May 25, 2011 2:35 AM by Rosa_FOEtida

Sabinlerose said:

Or you didn't read the persons post through enough and missed the fact they live in norway.....
And last I checked Norway didn't have the US dollar nor US prices.


Last time I checked, Norway wasn't exempt from importing.

May 25, 2011 12:35 AM by no-thanks

I would buy those Blu-rays if not because of their heavenly prices. I mean, who wouldn't want to watch your show in Blu-ray quality? But for now.. I just can't. :o

May 25, 2011 12:29 AM by kiosy

I'm one of those guys that buy Japanese Blu-Rays and it's not easy. One of the current shows I'm buying, Panty and Stocking, is around $100 a piece for around 50min of animation but it does come with extras like a CD or DVD. I'm not rich by the way not by a long shot, I just manage my money in a way to support my hobby.

May 24, 2011 10:16 PM by Deleted6938

It's a tough world for the anime Bluray/DVD industry. I think the biggest problem is that their targeted audience is too small. The vast majority of the anime we watch here on MAL are not broadcasted during prime time; instead, they are broadcasted well after midnight. This means that most viewers in Japan would have never even heard of such anime. To make matters worse, sponsorship for these anime are also pretty crappy. If you ever pay attention to the brief ten seconds of sponsors between the OP song and the actual episode, you'd realized that most of time, the anime's only sponsor is the very company that's producing it. Anime needs to be more well-known in order for its economy to get better, at least that's what I think (not an economics expert).

May 24, 2011 10:02 PM by guyklc

retail is overpriced! that is why I buy pre-owned, it's far more cheaper!
2 weeks ago i purchased GTO Complete collection in perfect condition for $40! which in store is priced at $90 - $120. Last week i purchased Fafner Complete Collection & Gun X Sword Complete collection also in mint condition for $20 each! which in store is priced at $60 - $80. need i say more...

May 24, 2011 9:00 PM by Kazeshini

I'm glad they are able to make some money off this but obviously the blu-rays are too expensive. I think a smarter business approach would be lower the price and have a wider license distribution in many countries.

May 24, 2011 8:06 PM by Rezurrekt

Expected. $40-60 for 2 episodes on BD? Yeah, that's realistic.

May 24, 2011 8:03 PM by Soundtrack

It likely won't get much better in Japan, as a portion of the country is recovering from natural disasters... emotionally and financially.

May 24, 2011 7:29 PM by doodleplaid