There are more than just a few industry pundit, insiders and academians touting this notion, that there are only so many “core otaku” out there. I put quotes on those terms because I mean something specific: In Japan, there are only so many people who are going to buy limited edition Blu-ray of some moe/mecha/gag/retro/battle/One Piece anime every single season, and this group is what I’m referring to by the term “core otaku.” There are roughly anywhere from 10 to 200 thousand (that’s the highest I’ve seen stated by someone else) of these people, give or take some vague volume of margin. I haven’t really analyzed the numbers but I think you can get a good idea just by seeing what sells out and where it happens. Just look at some sales charts.
Now I think the term can include a certain fixed number of non-Japanese otaku. Especially for English-speaking oversea group.
That’s the approach I use to tackle this analytical work (GJ RP) that describes the rise and fall of anime blogs in the total. In essence, I’m holding the novelty of blogging as a constant, in that it too has reached a point in which it is no different than any other medium of expression when we choose to express ourselves, as a way to represent the size of a population. This is particularly true when RP noted that the 2010 trend is “the real normal” as the core otaku demographics is one that is not entirely constant–some people cease to participate and withdraw, and new people participate for the first time–but at the center there’s a consistent, core group of bloggers who’ve been doing it for a long time.
In other words, we’ve hit a plateau in that group of core bloggers, probably somewhere in 2007-2008. This is particularly convincing because I think by 2008 we’ve already gotten over the whole “woah so this is social networking” thing or the “woah this is a blog” thing, so what’s left is people getting to a point in their lives that they want to blog about anime.
If I had any critiques, it would be that Anime Nano is probably slowly losing relevance as a tracker of blogs. There must be a lot more blogs not tracked by it today than ever before. I know I’ve seen more anime blogs on twitter not listed on Nano than ever before. It would be nice to see the same work RP has done but in a way that captures that potential difference.
As English-language anime fans from the 90s and early 00s age and move up in their position in life over time, I think we will probably see a shrinking demographic similar to Japan’s economically-empowered, otaku buyer market. Big ticket BD box sets may become a viable way to make a pretty penny. It’s not a recommended kind of approach (since it’s a finicky market and too much of an all-egg-in-one-basket approach IMO), but it isn’t one that we can count out.
PS. I was playing Cathrine demo over the weekend. Wow did that game hits home LOL. Now that’s a very smart little game, daringly so. Targeting exactly the right demographic, so to speak.