Kimetsu no Yaiba’s 1 Trillion ¥ “Economy”

This is based on a report by Toyo Keizai which extracted most of the information found on their article from Atsuo Nakayama’s (Bushiroad Head of International Development) book “Oshi Economy Kasou Ittochi“.

The Kimetsu no Yaiba‘s economy is estimated to be made up of the followings:

As of the end of November 2018, cumulative sales for the title prior to the broadcast of its Anime was only at 3 million copies sold. The number catapulted to 25 million copies at the end of November 2019 after the broadcast of its Anime had come to end, allowing it to accumulate an estimated 10 billion yen (~88 million USD) worth of revenue. When Japan started to feel the impact of the pandemic in 2020, the copies sold for its Manga ballooned to 100 million copies sold at the end of November 2020, five times the number it had in 2019 with revenue estimated to have hit 44 billion yen (~388 million yen) at the time.

Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Manga catalogue, all of its volumes are also out in the west published via Viz Media

Light Novels have also reached a new high in 2020, climbing from just 800,000 copies sold at the end of 2019 to 4 million copies sold at the end of 2020, generating 2.8 billion yen (~25 million USD) in sales at the time.

Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Light Novel catalogue

The theme song, sung by LiSA titled “Gurenge” was released in July 2019, and at the end of the year, it went on to sell 270,000 copies with sales amounting to 300 million yen (~2.6 million USD). As of 2020, the cumulative sales of the album reached 760,000 copies sold, meaning in the year alone, around 500,000 copies of the album were sold allowing sales to hit 500 million yen (~4.4 million USD).

Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Music Album catalogue

As for its Blu-rays and DVDs, up to its 6th volume which was released in 2019, a total of 125,000 copies were sold with revenue worth 800 million yen (~7 million USD) generated. In 2020, Volumes 7 to 11 sold a total of 87,000 copies, adding another 500 million yen (~4.4 million USD) to its total videogram revenue.

The film’s box office revenue hit 51.5 billion yen (~452 million USD) including from the overseas market as of 2021, and the sales of its Blu-rays and DVDs which amounts to above 1.5 million copies sold are estimated to have added 10 billion yen (~88 million USD) of sales, of which 1 billion yen (~8.8 million USD) have gone to the film’s production committee.

Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Anime Blu-ray catalogue. The film’s Blu-ray release came out in June 2020 which features English subtitles

Merchandise is estimated to hit a whopping 900 billion yen (~8 billion USD) in sales thanks to the commercialization and licensing of its characters through foods and figurines, and this segment alone accounts to around 90% of the title’s overall economy.

As a result of all this, the market size for Kimetsu no Yaiba in 2020 is estimated to be worth 1 trillion yen (~8.8 billion USD). The production committee involves these three companies: Aniplex (a subsidiary of Sony), ufotable and Shueisha are estimated to have received a considerable amount of royalties of around 400 million yen (~3.5 million USD) to 500 million yen (~4.4 million USD) in 2020.

A visualisation of Kimetsu no Yaiba’s economy

The book and report went on further. According to the two, nearly all Anime works you see broadcasted on Japanese televisions are jointly funded by the “Anime Production Committee”. Several to nearly 10 companies would join in to invest around 200 million yen (~1.8 million USD) to 300 million yen (~2.6 million USD) for a single project. It is estimated that a single episode of 30 minutes long would cost roughly 15 million yen (~132 thousand USD) to 25 million yen (~220 thousand USD) to produce. About 300 Animation works are produced annually, and these committees are said to invest 75 billion yen (~661 million USD) in total for these works to take off.

These investments of course do not just encapsulate the production cost, in fact the amount will be spread out to cover other businesses such as 500 million yen (~4.4 million USD) to 2 billion yen (~18 million USD) on game development, 50 million yen (~441 thousand USD) for Blu-ray packages. Some are spent in making other forms of goods using characters and music from the Anime such as the development of pachinko slot machines and figurines. Hence, why the total investment tends to be 20 times the cost of production. The complexity of this investment system is done so that the investors and production committees can turn in profit.

Unfortunately, reality is harsh. Around 80% to 90% of the 300 works produced each year end up in “loss”. The reason is attributable to the market’s environment at the time, plus a handful of titles which are often oligopolistic in nature. As such, these investments that are made by the production committee are very risky, and if it does not work, the committee can end up with no return on investment at all.

The stellar success of Kimetsu no Yaiba is such that it happens every once in every few years. Because the production of Anime is shared by multiple companies, if it does end up becoming a hit, the positive spillover effect will be extremely welcoming as the wealth can be shared amongst themselves. While 80% to 90% will end up in a bust, that 10% is crucial and that it can erase all of the losses made. It is thanks to that one or few successes that these companies continue on to carry such risk.

Toyo Keizai

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