Earlier today, Anime News Network reported that a planned Little Witch Academia event at Shinjuku Wald 9 theater was cancelled due to lack of interest. The event, which required at least half of its 400 available tickets to sell, only managed to move 94 tickets by the time sales closed earlier today. The event would have consisted of a screening of the feature, a making-of-feature, and a talk show with director Yoh Yoshinari, scriptwriter Masahiko Otsuka, and producer Naoko Tsutsumi.
The news comes hot on the heels of a press release from acttil, which stated that Little Witch Academia 2’s Kickstarter campaign blew past all expectations. The title, which is planned to be a 40-minute feature, saw a total of $625,518 in funding.
No matter how one slices it, this is a pretty interesting look at the title’s market. Kickstarter doesn’t release geographic donation data as a manner of policy. So, while Little Witch Academia 2 did incredibly well, it was nearly impossible to know whether the funding was coming from the home market or international investors. We knew that the funding came from a combination of the two, but the overall split was anybody’s guess.
While we still don’t know how the money fell, the results of this ticket drive helps to paint a slightly clearer picture. The failure to sell even half of a capacity crowd is an indicator of a lack of enthusiasm in the home market. It indicates that the enthusiast market, which drives Blu-Ray sales, merchandise sales, and tickets to events such as this is underwhelmed. An underwhelmed core market leads to a decrease in word-of-mouth, which means fewer sneezes, and fewer conversions of non-customers to customers. This creates a bit of a negative feedback loop, as the circles of non-customers grow, and the shrinking core simply retreats on itself.
It will be interesting to see how future installments perform going forward. With the Kickstarter release, customers from numerous countries are now invested in the property. With a monetary investment in the property, it will be most fascinating to see how reactions change, and how much they stay the same. A fairly large and diverse customer-base will determine whether they received a satisfactory value from their investment. Likewise, when the inevitable drive for Volume 3 arrives, they will need to decide whether the investment is worth repeating. Will this new market be excited and delighted? Will they spread the word of the new title to eager listeners? Or will we see the worst-case, where this market falls flat, and shrinks into a small, dedicated core group of customers?
Unfortunately, with delivery of the final product slated for a May 2014 release, we’ll have to wait and see just how the entire situation pans out on both sides of the Pacific.
Editor’s Note: Reader jennifu points out that, while Kickstarter doesn’t make geographic data readily available, backers do often volunteer this information. Using this, it’s possible to extrapolate that the vast majority of donations to the project came from western countries. This is something we did overlook in our initial write-up, and we thank you for pointing this out! -MJF