The Difference Between Success and Failure is Small – A Reflection on MAL’s Fantasy Anime League so Far This Season

An ill-timed decision to try out the computer game Civilization V and the subsequent major loss of free time has left The Null Set very quiet this month of October. To be fair to Civ 5, it’s only about 85% to blame. I put off the final look to the Summer season after starting Haikyuu!! and realizing it would be incomplete without accounting for Haikyuu!!’s performance. I intend to get to an impressions post for this season up already but I keep finding titles worth watching – the latest, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru. Looking around for something to write about before we slip into November I remembered the calculations I did for the current fall season of MAL’s Fantasy Anime League and thought someone would be interested in them.

After participating in a few competitions of the Fantasy Anime League there are a few general rules one picks up if finishing near the top is desired. One is to account for the start dates of the various anime and another is to use the ‘plan to watch’ numbers in picking your team. For this competition I had the thought that tracking how fast the ‘plan to watch’ raise before the season starts could tell me which series would have the buzz to do well in the season.

Below is a graph of the top 11 series before the season started. I filtered out the sequels because, though they have strong ‘plan to watch’ numbers, there’s little growth over that amount and none of the allowed sequels had a built-in fan base big enough to finish anywhere close to the top.

FAL_Fall2014_a

Needing a total of seven anime I first looked at the top seven series. The first three were lock-ins, though the late start would mean Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso would begin the season on the bench. I eventually decided to include Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji because, even though it looked like a shoujo shoujo series which would limit it’s appeal, there’s normally at least one high ranking female demographic series each season. I eventually passed on Grisaia no Kajitsu because the trailer featured a fair dose of fan service – and heavy fan service series never do good – and because the growth it showed on the graph was just a bit too sluggish for me. I rounded out my team by taking the next three titles because nothing below them, down to 20th, looked any better. I wanted to pick Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis for my bench because it’s trailer so wowed me but using my personal likes is not a smart move when trying to figure out the tastes of the users of MAL.

And this is a list of the top 11 anime series as of week 4 with the number of points earned so far:

  1. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 146994
  2. Grisaia no Kajitsu – 121972
  3. Amagi Brilliant Park – 121830
  4. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 103964
  5. Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 100866
  6. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 96772
  7. Shirobako – 95647
  8. Trinity Seven – 95169
  9. Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – 92545
  10. Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 92133
  11. Terra Formars – 91062

Along with a graph of number of viewers, by week, of each series.

FAL_Fall2014_02

The obvious thing to note is that I was completely wrong about how Grisaia no Kajitsu would perform and my current ranking in the Fantasy Anime League reflects that. The next thing to note is past the top four series (which placed within the top five in the preseason counts) the next four series were series that did not place highly before the season started. Madan no Ou to Vanadis is not on the first graph but had placed 13th. The other three – Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, Shirobako, Trinity Seven – did not place in the top 20. These two items of note show on one hand that it is important to follow which series have the highest ‘plan to watch’ numbers and on the other to disregard this number 🙂 .

Looking at the graph of the top shows so far there are a few other interesting tidbits. As opposed to prior seasons there is only a single series in the top 11 who is there due to receiving double viewing points because it’s on so few teams; that anime is Shirobako. I’m rather surprised that an anime about making anime wasn’t picked by a sufficient slice of the competitors which would have stopped it from getting double points. Grisaia no Kajitsu has been able to sneak into second overall, even though Amagi Brilliant Park has ~5000 more viewers, because of the sheer volume of forum posts. I’m not sure what they’re talking about; there doesn’t seem like much to Grisaia no Kajitsu so far and the girls are pretty bland.

By this fourth week there are already series that look like they’re approaching their maximum viewers. The most obvious is Terra Formars and that’s due largely to the horrendous censoring limiting it’s potential. Another would be Madan no Ou to Vanadis; it’s starting to fall behind the clump of series that won’t be able to catch Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu. I haven’t heard much unreserved positive talk around Madan no Ou to Vanadis so this might portend a slow decline in the ranking through the rest of the season. On the flip side, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso looks like it will be still significantly growing for several more weeks and it won’t be a surprise when it eventually becomes the number 2 overall anime.

After starting out at number 17 after the first week, I’ve steadily fallen to 114 by week 4. Since I had the numbers handy, I wanted to see how badly the decision to not have Grisaia no Kajitsu on my team turned out to be. I ran the numbers and, assuming I had Grisaia no Kajitsu on my Fantasy Anime League team instead of World Trigger right now I’d be in a tie for ninth place. *Grumble* *Grumble*

Oh, well. There’s always next time and maybe, just maybe, I can still finish in the top 50 for this season.

I almost forgot the reason why I used 11 shows for my graphs; the 11th ranked show in the preseason was Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – the CG series from Studio Ghibli. I knew it was going to do badly because CG anime still looks horrible and here’s a graph to show how badly it’s done.

FAL_Fall2014_01aIt’s not a bad series but if Studio Ghibli had used normal animation – yes, I realize I’m making a value judgment by using “normal” – Sanzoku no Musume Ronja would have been a much better received anime.

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