The 2008 Year in Anime by the Numbers and Breaking Down Why It’s Hard To Be a Fan of Anime Without Resorting to Fansubs

Bamboo Blade

One of the great resources in anime fandom of late has been this guy. His charts have become almost indispensable when trying to figure out what to watch in the upcoming anime seasons. Recently, he’s started to compile these charts for previous years and the information that can be gleaned from these charts are extremely interesting and a real eye opener.

Last year, 2008, was the first year of this blog and as a result I watched many shows I probably won’t have otherwise and tried to make sure that I discovered all the “good” anime of a season so I could help other people discover these anime shows. So one of the first things I wanted to figure out was how much of the 2008 anime did I watch in the end.

Percentage of Shows Watched

This is the chart in question that I’m using; you can find it and more here. It lists 130 total anime shows that begun airing in 2008 and looking over these shows I realize there is a handful of shows that are aimed at very young viewers and these shows are never fansubbed, talked about, or licensed so the first step I’m going to do is remove these shows from consideration. I then tabulated how many shows I’ve watched, dropped and completed and I’ll summarize them here.

  • 114 total shows (19 from Winter 07/08, 34 from Spring 08, 21 from Summer 08, 37 from Fall 08, 3 from Winter 08/09)
  • 50 shows watched (5, 15, 9, 18, 3)
  • 19 shows dropped (0, 9, 3, 5, 2)
  • 31 shows completed (5, 6, 6, 13, 1)

I should note that the Winter 07/08 season was a season that I essentially took off. I needed the break and the only new show I watched that season while it was airing was Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei s.2. Yes, It is strange that I decided to start a blog during a season I wasn’t actively watching but that just how I like to do things. 🙂 Because of this, the only shows I watched from this season where ones that I really wanted to see at a later time. This skews some of the results I’ll highlight below.

  • Overall watched percentage by season – 26.3% of Winter 07/08, 44.1% of Spring 08, 42.9% of Summer 08, 48.7% of Autumn 08, 100% of Winter 08/09
  • Overall watched percentage of 2008 – 43.8%
  • Percentage of watched shows that were dropped by season – 0.0%, 60.0%, 33.3%, 28.8%, 66.7%)
  • Percentage of watched shows that were dropped in 2008 – 38.0%

While going over the list of shows, I’ve noted that there were a few shows that I still have some interest in catching and could see myself watching at some point in the future, time willing.

  • Possible unwatched shows that may be watched in the future by season – 2 from Winter 07/08, 2 from Spring 08, 0 from Summer 08, 4 from Fall 08, 0 from Winter 08/09
  • Total unwatched but still interested in shows for 2008 – 8
  • 2008 Total of shows watched and possible shows watched in the future – 58 or 50.9% of all 2008 anime shows

This leaves 49.1% of the entire 2008 year of shows as shows that I have not watched nor am I interested in doing so. Just looking at the raw number, it seems like I’m leaving a huge percentage of shows unwatched but looking over the shows the I’ve missed – I don’t think I’m missing much. I wonder how this compares to other anime fans.

Soul Eater

Excellent Shows and Strong Seasons

Next, I compiled a list of shows that I consider being the best of 2008 – the titles that I would recommend to other people and would be worthy series to own on DVDs, if possible. I was curious to see how these shows were distributed and if the general thinking about the spring and fall seasons being the strong seasons seemed justified.

  • Excellent shows from Winter 07/08 – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei S.2 and Spice & Wolf – (2)
  • Excellent shows from Spring 08 – Wagaya no Oinarisama, Library Wars, Kaiba, Soul Eater, Kurenai (5)
  • Excellent shows from Summer 08 – Natsume Yuujin-chou, Birdy the Mighty Decode, Somedays Dreamer’s S.2, Ryouko’s Case Files (4)
  • Excellent shows from Fall 08 – Toradora, Clannad S.2, Shikabane Hime:Aka, Ga-Rei:Zero, Mouryou Hako, Kurozuka, Michiko to Hatchin (7)
  • Excellents shows from 2008 – 18

Looking at the pure number totals, it appears that the fall season was the strongest season and that’s definitely on way to look at it but I wanted to see it from another perspective.

  • Percentage of overall shows that were excellent by season – 10.5% of Winter 07/08, 14.7% of Spring 08, 19.1% of Summer 08, 18.9% of Autumn 08, 0% of Winter 08/09
  • Percentage of overall shows that were excellent for 2008 – 15.8%
  • Percentage of watched shows that were excellent by season – 40.0%, 33.3%, 44.4%, 38.9%, 0.0%
  • Percentage of watched shows that were excellent for 2008 – 36.0%

Looking at the number of excellent shows in the context of the rest of the season shows, it turns out that the Summer season squeaks in front of the fall season as having the highest percentage of excellent shows. If the saying about how only 10% of anything is worth fighting for and the rest is garbage then one can’t complain about the quality of anime from 2008 since it beat that by a bit.


Why It’s Hard To Be a Fan of Anime Without Resorting to Fansubs

I want to say up front that I’m not writing this to defend fansubs per se nor am I trying to pick a fight – it’s been my observation for a while that oftentimes when an anime is announced as being licensed, I’m disappointed because it’s not one that I felt deserved to get licensed and I want to see if this observation is backed up by the data.

The first thing that needed done was to compile a list of what shows where licensed from 2008. I started with the list that animesuki keeps of shows that are licensed and thus they no longer list and then I checked out the various licensing articles from anime news network and finally I checked crunchyroll. I might have missed a couple but they won’t be enough to change the conclusions that I discovered. Onto some data.

  • Total number of anime shows licensed from 2008 – 32
  • Total number of licensed shows that I watched from 2008 – 13
  • Total number of licensed shows that I completed from 2008 – 9
  • Total number of licensed shows that I consider excellent shows from 2008 – 5
  • Total number of excellent licensed shows that will come out on DVD – 3
  • Total number of excellent licensed shows that will be dubbed on DVD – 2

I’ll note here that of the 19 licensed shows that I have not watched, none are on my list of shows that I might be interested in watching so those figures are final. Without running the exact numbers it’s pretty apparent what can be concluded but let’s run the numbers for completeness sake.

  • Percentage of total anime shows that were licensed from 2008 – 28.1%
  • Percentage of total anime shows that were not licensed from 2008 – 71.9%
  • Percentage of licensed shows that I watched – 40.6%
  • Percentage of licensed shows that I completed – 28.1%
  • Percentage of licensed shows that I consider excellent – 15.6%
  • Percentage of excellent licensed shows that will be released on DVD – 9.4%
  • Percentage of excellent licensed shows that will be dubbed and released on DVD – 6.25%

The one glaring conclusion that I have to conclude is that the “anime fan” that the North American companies are going after is not me. If they were, I’d expect to see almost all of my excellent shows as having been licensed. (Afterall they should be picking the best titles to maximize the number of DVDs bought.) That’s not the case, though, and looking over the shows that did get licensed I find a lot of shounen/fighting shows, fan-service shows, and shoujo shows. I can’t help but feel that one of the results of a licensing pattern like this is that once an anime fan has been sated with enough shounen, fan-service, and/or shoujo shows that these fans discover they are no longer anime fans because anime has become either too childish or repetitive.

The reason I took the category down to excellent licensed shows that will dubbed and put on DVD even when I’m not the biggest dub fan is because there’s a segment of anime fandom that are people who like anime but don’t want to read subtitles and also want to watch on a TV. My one sister is like this and in the end she buys almost exclusively manga because she can find so little anime that interests her. When I was starting up my blog she told me that she’d read my site to find shows to buy but she quickly realized that this was not possible. I don’t blame her, of all the shows that I’ve watched and blogged about in 2008 there is a total of two shows – Soul Eater and Spice & Wolf that I could possibly recommend to her to buy and I don’t think she’d like Soul Eater. That leaves Spice & Wolf as the only anime out of the 114 anime that started airing in Japan during 2008 that I could recommend her to buy.

I feel like I should repeat that; for the entire 2008 year of anime, there is only one anime that I could recommend to my sister as being good enough that it’s worth buying on DVD. And these companies complain about the fans – maybe it’s not the fan’s fault.

I realize that 2009 saw a large increase of shows getting quasi-licensed on crunchyroll so by now it’s possible that my title about having to almost having to resort to fansubs may not hold as much water but I’ll leave that to a follow-up article in the future to see how the numbers work out. I want to hold off for a while to see how many of the 2009 shows get physically licensed and which ones will get dubs. Also left for a later article is my thoughts on how exactly to get the North American anime scene going in the right direction; here’s a hint, I don’t think there will be many people who will become fans of anime from having crunchyroll stream subtitled anime.

As an aside, if you happen to be looking to buy a good anime series on DVD (maybe for a Christmas present) and want a quality show that will get rewatched more than once, let me point out that Bamboo Blade is coming out soon. And there’s Spice & Wolf as well but it’s coming out the week of Christmas.


5 thoughts on “The 2008 Year in Anime by the Numbers and Breaking Down Why It’s Hard To Be a Fan of Anime Without Resorting to Fansubs”

  1. Interesting stuff. One problem that I see, though, is that of how many shows are eventually licensed. Shows selected for licensing sometimes don’t get picked up for two or three years and so won’t make it onto your list (though with the apparent shrinkage of western companies licensing, I think the number of late ‘pick-ups’ will decrease as only the potentially biggest shows from now on will be selected until/unless the business climate improves).
    I agree that the type of anime licensed by the US tends to be shounen/fanservice oriented, and continues to give an unbalanced representation of anime as a whole to the west. I think mis-marketing has done a lot of damage to both anime and manga industries and I haven’t seen matters improve over the last couple of years (Soccer-moms still think anime and manga is perverted porn and nothing they see on TV or on store shelves is changing that view).
    As far as crunchyroll is concerned, all I can say as a resident outside of the US is ‘what-roll’? (Actually I do know how to get around the region locks, but after a couple of views left streaming alone as a poor effort).


  2. Oh, that is a very detailed numerical analysis of the shows you watched. My percentage of the shows I watched would be very low, but I tend to enjoy most of the shows that I do decide to watch.


  3. While categorizing “excellent” titles are always up to matters of taste, for example you didn’t mention Aria from Winter ’08 and I’d say that Aria is an excellent series with wide appeal (and cheap DVD sets are out so that might be something your sister wants to look into), the biggest problem with anime DVDs coming overseas is the time delay. From litigation and red tape to production time and marketing, expecting a 1 year turnover from Japan to America might be a bit demanding, considering the size of the market. I think a 2-3 year window to find a DVD release here in the states is more appropriate. We’d probably agree that if you did the same analysis for 2006 and 2007, there’d be better variety available, DVD-wise.


  4. Don’t worry too much. The situation in the US is way better than in my country in which the licensing company still believes that anime are made for children not older than 10 years old (clutching my head in frustration). Right now I solely depend on fan-subs.
    by the way, what an amazing post!


  5. I agree that the type of anime licensed by the US tends to be shounen/fanservice oriented, and continues to give an unbalanced representation of anime as a whole to the west.


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