Answers to 2014’s Five Big Questions

At the beginning of this year, I tried to figure out what the most important issues would be. Today, we look at how I did.

Can Kuroko’s Basketball fans ever have fun?

2014 Prediction: Turnout for events may be smaller than expected, but there will be no shortage of Kuroko fans, either.

2014 Actuality: The unfortunate real-life saga surrounding Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga came to an effective end in March when Hirofumi Watanabe admitted to threatening the author and his events. No rough patches occurred afterwards, with the 2nd season of the Kuroko anime wrapping up and a 3rd season scheduled for next year.  Comiket even announced a special event for next March as a way to help the healing process.

It does seem like the case is now behind everyone, which is good. Now the only “issue” is whether Kuroko can reclaim its rank in the current sports pantheon from Haikyuu! or Yowamushi Pedal.

Has GAINAX finally changed the game?

2014 Prediction: An Attack on Titan movie can’t not happen; film-based rewrites become more normative.

2014 Actuality: An Attack on Titan movie did happen, with a second one coming out next year, to go with a live-action version also coming out in 2015.

In other adaptation news, the first 3D Doraemon was the 2nd-highest grossing film of the year in Japan, behind only Frozen (which grossed more than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th-highest films combined). Adaptations of Tiger & Bunny and iDOLM@STER each earned over $6 million domestically, and the CG Saint Seiya’s worldwide take topped a billion yen, and these are just films that aren’t annual franchises or live-action. Indeed, anime movies are alive and well, and does seem to be an outlet for stories that ran its course on the small screen.

Is there still a market for Japanese games outside of Japan?

2014 Prediction: WiiU and 3DS sales remain steady while PS4 and XB1 sales start to taper later in 2014.  The Japanese game market remains where it is while Sony and Microsoft continue to try and wage war on the iPhone.

2014 Actuality: The PS4 and XB1 recently picked up the sales pace and in their first year, have combined to sell over 8 million more consoles than their previous generation versions did in their first 12 months. Meanwhile, the WiiU is being outsold by the PS3 and while it will experience year-over-year growth, the consensus is that Nintendo’s 8th generation console is a bit of a flop.

In terms of software, Japan’s titles are still doing all right in the global marketplace. Five out of the top 15 are Japanese, but within Japan, the overall story is so much different. The 3DS is king, selling more than every console combined (maybe Nvidia has a point) and owning six of the country’s top 8 software titles. No other game system, console OR handheld has sold over a million units. Nintendo owns the top 9 software spots in the country, and this all excludes the data on the WiiU version of Smash Bros.

It’s very possible that Nintendo’s business strategies don’t work on a global scale, but at this point, does it really matter? The home of Pokemon, Mario, Yokai Watch, and Monster Hunter rules their homeland, and with some smart thinking, they can probably just live on that. Although…

Will merchandise in the Dealers Room get cheaper?

2014 Prediction: If there’s any general change in price, it will be a minor decrease.

2014 Actuality: Just look at this chart. At the end of January, there seemed to be an equilibrium reached at slightly over 100 ¥/$, but in August, after news of Japan’s economic contraction and after rumors about delaying a sales tax increase came to pass, the exchange soared to well over 115 ¥/$. The dollar can now buy more than 1.5 times what it could in February of 2012, which is great news for us, but this may be a short-term plus for a long-term minus.  Japan has serious economic issues, and if there isn’t something in place soon that works to ease the pressure, well, pardon the editorializing, but there’s a reason Congress likes to put off important decisions.

On the other hand, does anyone still care about Japan anymore?

2014 Prediction: Convention failure rate creeps up as more try to start up, but the smart cons will adapt and remain successful. The total North American attendee count won’t be negatively affected.

2014 Actuality: In 2012, more conventions failed (i.e. either tried to get off the ground and couldn’t, or ran in 2011, but didn’t the next year) than there were conventions that ran in 2002, 41 to 40. That was in the middle of a now four-year trend of increased con attrition, which I talk about in these two articles. That being said, there were still 230 uniquely-named anime events in North America (240 events in total), which is still enough to have at least 4 every weekend. I wait until animecons’ top rankings to figure out if attendance has changed at all, but I honestly don’t think it has. If anything, everyone probably decided to go to Anime Expo this year.