Anime & Manga News

Producer of Fullmetal Alchemist Lectures on How To Produce a Successful Anime

by dtshyk
Oct 9, 2009 3:37 AM | 56 Comments
Taguchi Koji, the Square Enix producer (Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Saki, Kuroshitsuji), gave a lecture at Japan International Contents Festival held on October 6th. He revealed backstage information of the anime industry by showing concrete data. He said Square Enix has produced 30 titles for eight years, and none made a deficit at least to Square Enix.

He gave three key steps for the success in the anime production:

1, Find promising genera: eg. Moe, Fujoshi, Surrealism Comedy, Orthodox Shonen manga
2, Choose suitable manga for the genera: Saki (Moe), Kuroshitsuji (Fujoshi), Tentai Senshi Sunred (Comedy), Fullmetal Alchemist (Shonen).
3, Assign fitting production studio: GONZO (Saki), A-1 Pictures (Kuroshitsuji), AIC ASTA (Sunred), BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Taguchi said the publication business utilizing anime is much easier than the game business, which he was working in the past.

Manga publishers have to pay the production costs, the expenses for the advertisement, and the fees for the airing blocks on TV.

Production costs: 10 million - 20 million yen ($110,000 - 220,000) per one episode
Airing block fee: 25 million - 50 million yen ($270,000 - 550,000)
The total investment of Square Enix in Fullmetal Alchemist 1st season was 500 million yen ($5.5million).

Manga publishers earn the profits of TV anime mainly from the increase in the sales of the original manga.

The average sales per volume (number of copies)
Saki
Before airing: 150,000
After airing: 350,000

Kuroshitsuji:
Before: 600,000
After: 1,000,000

Fullmetal Alchemist 1st Season:
Before: 150,000
After: 1,500,000

The amount of profit Square Enix earns by selling one copy of manga is 150 yen.

The Balance of Fullmetal Alchemist 1st Season
Investments: 500 million yen
Profits: 150 yen x (1.5 - 0.15 million copies) x 8 volumes = 1,620 million yen

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:
Before: 1,900,000
After: 2,100,000

Profits: 150 yen x (2.1 - 1.9 million) x 23 volumes = 690 million yen

Tagushi said the manga business outside Japan doesn't make profits. Even in the cases of NARUTO and Fullmetal Alchemist, the numbers of copies sold in US are one tenth - twentieth of those in Japan. He surmised the reasons for the poor sales are:
1. Manga books are expensive in US because printing small number of copies is inefficient.
2. The amount of children's pocket money is relatively small.
3. There are few manga stores within the walking distance from home.
He expects the download service of manga will expand the manga market outside Japan.

Source: Business Makoto

20 of 56 Comments Recent Comments

komplizierter said:
Well, how much is it in the US then?

wth, i thought in Germany they were already expensive, but actually they seem to be quite affordable, around 5-6€ each volume.



EDIT: No shipping cost included. There's only one really good Manga/Anime/J-Music/Lolitaclothes/Japan in general- store in my city, but thankfully it's about three minutes walking from my home. *lucky as shit*


Charliehsv said:

around 500/600 Yen, or at times even 800 yen


*Calculates...*
1 € = 3,98 PLN (at the moment)
5-6 € = about 20 to 24 PLN

100 yen = 3,51 PLN (at the moment)
500-800 yen = about 19 to 28 PLN

Standard price of a volume in Poland:15 to 20 PLN(rarely any over 20 PLN)

I'm lucky!!!
There's only one really good Manga/Anime/J-Music/Lolitaclothes/Japan in general- store in my city, but thankfully it's about three minutes walking from my home. *lucky as shit*

Awww, I have mine about an 5 min tram ride away.

Dec 19, 2010 7:29 AM by asew143rqwrsf

dtshyk said:

Manga publishers have to pay the production costs, the expenses for the advertisement, and the fees for the airing blocks on TV.


Interesting...I didn't realize that it was the manga publishers who funded most animes. They must really have a lot of money at their disposal.

adamantine said:
Yamine said:
So how much is a manga volume in Japan?

Around $4.50 in USD.


Wow...they should totally publish more manga digitally in the US (and elsewhere, of course). I mean, why not? Think of the production costs they could save. I mean, it's nice having the paper volumes, but there's so much digital niceness that you can get on your computer/iPad/Kindle. (I wish I could afford an iPad/Kindle, but at least I have a computer.)

And to buy it hardcopy, if I'm lucky I can find a half-price copy in the limited selection at the used bookstore, or pay $10+ for a new copy at Barnes&Noble. Or if they don't have it, I can buy it off an online store, but with the shipping it usually ends up being $12+.

Nov 24, 2010 5:36 PM by IceAndCream

LolitaDecay said:
Moe never was and never will be a promising genre.


So true

Sep 5, 2010 8:15 PM by AzukiPAN

dtshyk said:
3. There are few manga stores within the walking distance from home.
He expects the download service of manga will expand the manga market outside Japan.


Yeah and it's even worse where I live. I know ONE place where you can buy manga here, it's a 40 minute train ride from my nearest train station and even then they only sell manga that has been out for over three years because that's how long it takes them to translate the manga into our language (lazy bastards) and because of that they are ridiculously over-priced.

Seriously, they are still selling the first chapters of Naruto (not shippuuden) here. My only option of reading manga was by reading it online but now they licensed about every manga out there so I have no chance of reading it anymore.

Aug 16, 2010 4:50 PM by NinthJake

BigSimo said:
2. The amount of children's pocket money is relatively small.

lol really?


This, exactly, what I thought. Haha~

Aug 16, 2010 4:40 PM by Rueby

Wishy said:
The thing is that reading manga via PC is somehow awful, it's way cooler to read the real thing instead of reading manga from a screen, at least I feel really better when having the little book on my hands.


I know what you mean but I can't afford to buy everything i read :(

Aug 16, 2010 4:11 PM by PrincessLove

he sure knows his stuff

Apr 25, 2010 8:32 AM by siahvasch

The thing is that reading manga via PC is somehow awful, it's way cooler to read the real thing instead of reading manga from a screen, at least I feel really better when having the little book on my hands.

Feb 7, 2010 8:29 AM by Wishy

Japanese company's do need to create something where Americans can download anime/manga via credit card. Kinda like itunes for music, tv and movies. Otherwise its way to expensive and its just a lot easier to bootleg instead.

I'd rather pay a fair price per chapter rather then buy those expensive books at the bookstore for the ones i really enjoy.

Feb 4, 2010 1:43 AM by Mattdevils

but how many of you actually buy the manga and dvds after having read their fan subbbed versions. of course there are some people out there who also go legit, but i am curious to see how these numbers and methods will change as more and more people go the way of free (and illegal) media. not just in anime and manga but other types of media.

Oct 11, 2009 7:20 PM by kisami

adamantine said:
Yamine said:
So how much is a manga volume in Japan?

Around $4.50 in USD.


*Drools* Oh my me. What I would give.

Oct 11, 2009 4:29 PM by Sick_Bastard

NoyaChan said:
dtshyk said:
The Balance of Fullmetal Alchemist 1st Season
Investments: 500 million yen
Profits: 150 yen x (1.5 - 0.15 million copies) x 8 volumes = 1,620 million yen

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:
Before: 1,900,000
After: 2,100,000

Profits: 150 yen x (2.1 - 1.9 million) x 23 volumes = 690 million yen

Wait, this doesnt make sense, unless you're missing a zero?


It makes perfect sense. Did you notice that they're also multiplying by 150 yen?

Oct 11, 2009 12:48 PM by YoungVagabond

mitamaking said:
Wait, the Naruto manga doesn't make money in the US. HOW THE HELL?

Probably because most "Naruto fans" just go to Border's and read through all the manga there instead of buying them. I see at least one guy reading Naruto every time I frequent my local Border's.

Oct 11, 2009 9:04 AM by feder

dtshyk said:
The Balance of Fullmetal Alchemist 1st Season
Investments: 500 million yen
Profits: 150 yen x (1.5 - 0.15 million copies) x 8 volumes = 1,620 million yen

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:
Before: 1,900,000
After: 2,100,000

Profits: 150 yen x (2.1 - 1.9 million) x 23 volumes = 690 million yen

Wait, this doesnt make sense, unless you're missing a zero?

Oct 11, 2009 8:34 AM by NoyaChan

Kuroshitsuji is for made for fujoshis lol

Oct 11, 2009 5:08 AM by katzenjammer

Manga books are expensive in US because printing small number of copies is inefficient.
2. The amount of children's pocket money is relatively small.
3. There are few manga stores within the walking distance from home.


We also have a different prospective on what should be "acceptable" in manga. It can look so kiddy, but didn't a child get in trouble for showing Dragonball manga recently? Something along those lines?

And Yeh, there isn't a single comic store close to me. Although local book stores sell manga, but...didn't catch my interest I guess

(I think they go around 11$?)

Oct 10, 2009 11:34 PM by shakeyourpup45

TJR said:
YoungVagabond said:
Interesting talk, although the actual profit of the industry, and his company specifically, is larger than the numbers he presented.

While it's true that increased manga sales are one major source of revenue, he completely ignored corporate sponsors, and money from television, downloads, etc. That being said, it's an excellent article for explaining the extremely poor quality of every anime in 2009.


Since Square Enix invests almost exclusively in late night anime, there's no corporate sponsorship or money from television broadcasts. Square Enix and their partners pay for the slots themselves, and the advertisements are their own.


No corporate sponsors at all? Well, that might very well be accurate. Also, are the late night anime shows subscription based, similar to the PPV model in the US?

TJR said:

OTOH, DVD and merchandise sales would be a source of revenue. However, I suspect that Taguchi ignored this since the profit to his company is miniscule (it's split among all investors, and only the most hardcore otaku actually buy those things. Additionally, Square Enix is rarely the main investor, so they might not even get a particularly large cut) compared to the money they make from increased manga sales.


Yes, this sounds accurate, although it's amusing how different it is from DVD sales of live action films in the US. I think FMA is one of the few series that can make significant money on DVD sales (tens of thousands of units sold), but even that pales in comparison to the revenue from increased manga sales.

dtshyk said:

Perfect answer. I grant you a full mark in Anime Production Management course.


With how many news articles you post and read, you should easily be the professor!

Oct 10, 2009 8:12 PM by YoungVagabond

@TJR
Perfect answer. I grant you a full mark in Anime Production Management course.

Oct 10, 2009 7:47 PM by dtshyk

YoungVagabond said:
Interesting talk, although the actual profit of the industry, and his company specifically, is larger than the numbers he presented.

While it's true that increased manga sales are one major source of revenue, he completely ignored corporate sponsors, and money from television, downloads, etc. That being said, it's an excellent article for explaining the extremely poor quality of every anime in 2009.


Since Square Enix invests almost exclusively in late night anime, there's no corporate sponsorship or money from television broadcasts. Square Enix and their partners pay for the slots themselves, and the advertisements are their own.

OTOH, DVD and merchandise sales would be a source of revenue. However, I suspect that Taguchi ignored this since the profit to his company is miniscule (it's split among all investors, and only the most hardcore otaku actually buy those things. Additionally, Square Enix is rarely the main investor, so they might not even get a particularly large cut) compared to the money they make from increased manga sales.

Oct 10, 2009 5:30 PM by TJR

Too bad they never gave this class in school.

dtshyk said:

Fullmetal Alchemist 1st Season:
Before: 150,000
After: 1,500,000

Dammnn. + 00

adamantine said:
Yamine said:
So how much is a manga volume in Japan?

Around $4.50 in USD.
That must be nice =___=
It's like at least $10 where I am. Usually $18.

Mod edit: Please don't double post.

Oct 10, 2009 5:15 PM by rweqoiu