Hoozuki no Reitetsu Tops Winter Sales – and It’s Not Even Close

I never would have believed it.

I’m trying to think back on the last time a show I had in the final mix for my top series of the season was also the top seller – it would have to go back at least to AnoHana in Spring 2011, and I’m quite certain that actually was the #2 seller that season.  At the very least it’s been a long time and an extreme rarity.

Anyone who’s followed LiA for a while knows that commercial success and my tastes in anime are rarely on speaking terms.  I have a long and august track record of backing commercial losers, with only rare deviations.  Of late one of my favorites, Yowamushi Pedal, has been one of those exceptions, though it never ranked as the top seller for Fall 2013 in any given week.  But Hoozuki no Reitetsu has quite simply blown the competition out of the water.

The numbers are pretty astonishing.  Volume 1 sold 7856 Blu-rays and 7585 DVDs for a grand total of 15,441.  It doesn’t stop there – there actually two more versions of the release that will likely chart on Thursday, driving the numbers up further.  As well, because of the 4-week delay in the V.1 release Volume 2 – without an event ticket – was released at the same time and did 5616/6138 for 11,754, with at least one and probably more versions sure to add to that on Thursday.  For a series with Hoozuki’s demographic mix those are far below normal drop-offs from the first volume with the ticket.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me is that Hoozuki topped Volume 1 sales among all series by more than 2-to-1 over second place Mikakunin.  The Stalker numbers were predicting 5-digit sales, and given Hoozuki’s heavily female demographic mix it was expected to exceed Stalker (most such shows have large in-store sales, which Stalker doesn’t account for).  But to be honest, I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it until the hard numbers came in.  It just didn’t add up – how could this weird little comedy possibly be the overwhelming commercial success of any season, even a weak one such as Winter 2014?

To be honest, I haven’t a clue.  For all the great shows I’ve loved that have bombed, how could quirky, literate Hoozuki no Reitetsu be the one to shatter the precedent?  We know based on surveys, the BD/DVD split being almost even and the strong over-performance of Stalker that the buying audience is mostly female.  But there are many such shows, and very few of them ever go to the head of the class like this – never mind one as unapologetically strange as Hoozuki.  This is without question one of the most mystifying, inexplicable and rewarding things I’ve seen come down the pike as an anime fan. “Oh-gyah!” indeed…

The practical upshot of all this of course is that a second season of the anime is a virtual certainty now, and probably quite soon as well.  Can’t be too soon for me – that, too, has been an extreme rarity for shows I’ve liked this much.



  1. K

    Predicting requires using history but history has a funny way in teaching us all how we could be wrong. I guess this is a good mistake…

  2. R

    I think I understand a little of why it sold so well, from a girl's perspective (no idea how guys view it). Its always been this odd trend that cute girls and fanservice are for the guys, but girls will watch those shows too (quite a few of them surprisingly, I always thought it was just me and my friends XD) but when it comes to shows meant for girls, you'll be hard pressed to find guys who will watch them.

    That and I'm still convinced there are more of us that buy craptons of stuff. Sure otaku buy a lot, but that's a specific demographic of males. Just the average girls can buy as much as them if its something they REALLY like. Shopping madness. I've fallen victim to it before too

  3. S

    Yeah, but what about this show specifically appeals to girls? Why this one, I’m quite curious.

    Anyway, we’re talking here about Japanese sales, right? I think the close to home culture-based humor is the main reason of success. I can’t imagine it would also be a hit in the West.

  4. S

    Yeah, I actually couldn't even follow Hozuki any more due to how culture-specific it was, half of the jokes fell completely flat on me. But it's a curious thing, yeah.

  5. R

    I meant more that girls are a lot more unapologetically open about enjoying shows that really don't market to them, or to anyone in particular in this case. It's actually an interesting social experiment, if you go down to the comments sections in Crunchyroll or one of the anime hosting sites and take a look at the ratio between girls and boys (granted it could just be that guys don't comment as much?) At least for the first 3 episodes (I didn't bother reading comments after that), it was pretty overwhelmingly female. I think it's an odd phenomenon West or East.

    That being said, and this is probably me being relatively biased and maybe sexist, I've always gotten the impression that guys just can't be….er, well bothered, in a lot of cases to get invested in these types of shows. And I'm not saying all guys, but of the people I talk to, if it's a rather esoteric show, whenever I ask my friends, it's usually always the girls who watched it to the end and guys who dropped it relatively early on. That sounds pretty bad after I typed it out, but it's just my own personal experience, so feel free to ignore it XD

  6. S

    Your answer still doesn’t explain why so many women enjoy this show specifically. Look, if it was Free, Kuroko, Haikyu or a shoujo/josei series, I’d understand the underlying reasons, but Hoozuki… not so much. I can see why it’s successful from a cultural perspective, not really from a female perspective.

  7. M

    Being a member of Fujoshi circles I am pretty sure its cause Fujoshis dig Houzuki with his quiet, do-S personality and his rocky chemistry with Hakutaku. Also the two minions.

    Its also interesting that the sales for the manga and associated goods jumped after the anime was announced but BEFORE it actually aired, which is something that's really rare (the manga sale boost usually happen after the anime starts airing). Would really appreciate it if someone can provide an explanation for that.

  8. It's also interesting to see the horrified denial fest from male fans on various boards when the sales were announced, absolutely refusing to believe it was women driving those sales. "But… but… it's a seinen! Mega-hit is not a chick show, dammit!"
    The irony for me is that those male otaku denying the irrefutable evidence that the audience for Hoozuki is overwhelmingly women would for the most part never themselves watch Hoozuki in a million years.

    As to why it's so popular with female fans, I find that part of the mystery too. I can tell you having been to Comiket on the first day that of the myriad doujins for this series (doujin count is still, IMO the most reliable predictor of BD/DVD sales), over 90% of them feature Hoozuki and Hakutaku.

    As to why sales of the manga jumped before the anime started, the only thing I can guess it that people were generally impressed by the look of the series? I know I was – it's both unique and gorgeous. I also think much of the humor here is very universal, not culture-specific at all.

  9. s

    Here are two reasons why i think this series did so well although i could be wrong: 1. the show is riddled with so much traditional japanese culture, subtext, and humor that is pretty relevant in japan today. 2. the show has a sor t of "Androgynous" tone to it that the appeal spread is much larger (specifically pulling in more females into the sales circle)

  10. M

    Yeah, the manga probably got a bump before it aired because they saw the PV and just thought that the series looked interesting in general. Then they saw the ever-sexy Hoozuki on the cover and snatched it up, lol

  11. Z

    First off, well done Hoozuki no Reitetsu!

    While I can understand the appeal for certain kinds of female fanatics, originally, I always thought this was a series that would appeal to the non-otaku 30+ Japanese male group.


    First I've heard of it.

  12. M

    It's probably also because a lot of shows that season just weren't very good. I am surprised, though, that Kill la Kill isn't top. Pleasantly surprised.

    By the way, Enzo, do you have a source for these numbers?

  13. ANN, MAL's news forum, lots of places.

    And KlK is Summer, not Spring. Though Hoozuki is still going to beat it by a wide margin.

  14. r

    It's certainly a welcome surprise. I suspect the manga's relative popularity had something to do with it, but what's even more insane is that Wit Studio (and Production I.G in general) are raking in the cash so aggressively compared to the other studios.

  15. M

    I'm a little surprised that it beat out everything else, but I'm not surprised at all that it did so well. This series has consistently ranked the highest among female audiences. They love Hoozuki. They love his deep masculine voice. They love his edge. They love his banter (and total shipping possibilities) with Hakutaku. They probably find the show funny too.

  16. m

    I'm actually not that surprised it was so popular. When I think purely in terms of "what sort of anime would I like to own in hard copy," I think Hoozuki's seamlessly charming world sells the cake. It's like the Japanese version of Harry Potter in its beauty and quirks.

    As for why females were driving the sales, it's probably a myriad of reasons. Someone mentioned the Hoozuki x Hakutaku pairing, and Hoozuki's appealing "S" personality. But I suspect, considering this is an episodic comedy without a plot arc, the appeal came down to the creativity put into the setting.

  17. m

    Was this show really that good? I can't say it was bad bc I only watched the first ep, but most of the jokes required knowledge of Japan that I don't have. It was like listening to people tell inside jokes for 20+ mins, and I didn't laugh one time. If it had more universal humor later on I'd like to know so I could check it out, but if ep one was indicative of how the rest of the show was I'll prob pass.

  18. Z

    I would say so (but I liked it more than Space Dandy so what do I know?). The characters were all fairly appealing (the only one I didn't care for was that paparazzi cat), and the hell as a bureaucracy setting an interesting one. Cultural literacy aside, a lot of the humour was fairly dry, with quite a bit of deadpan delivery. For non-Japanese audiences a very YMMV kind of series.

  19. The first episode was definitely the most "inside" of all of them. It had me a bit worried too, but most of the humor after that was more universal, though there was always plenty of Japanese cultural humor as well.

  20. m

    I'll have to go back and watch it then. I can deal with not getting every reference if the show is funny.

  21. K

    The manga seemed quite popular but then of course manga sales often don't equal anime sales.

    I ended up not watching this since I was following too many other things but maybe I should rectify that.

  22. b

    It's hard to find an explanation for this phenomena, fujoshis do love to ship characters who aren't on their best terms so I guess Hoozuki and Hakutaku + the humor was what made it for them in the same way they like Gintama.
    It's curious how female tend to be reasons of success for many shows which are supposedly male-oriented but when it comes to shoujo or josei the sales aren't successful.

  23. Yes indeed, which is the reason you aren't seeing very many shoujo or jousei anime these days.

    Demographics has always been an elastic concept in manga and anime – WSJ has understood and exploited this for years. But in terms of sales, the phenomena of "shounen" or "seinen" series being made hits by female buyers has certainly become much more important recently.

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