Friday’s Feature – Anime For Advertising

We all know anime that was produced entirely to get people to buy something. Whether it be cards, the manga, particular products, an idea, or games, these kind of productions have been around for a long time. Let’s be honest, a lot of this is actually the reason anime gets funded. Like with any kind of commercial art, someone is trying to make a profit from it and the show itself may not be enough to cut it.

Usually, I don’t really care whether an anime is trying to advertise something provided it follows a few simple rules.

  1. Tell a complete story. Even if you want me to buy the manga to see other parts of the story and further developments, your anime series should come to some sort of resolution. This is just storytelling basics. Don’t start something unless you intend to end it.
  2. Your advertising should not intrude on the story. This one is an issue for all those card battle anime. Some of them manage to integrate the card systems into their narrative without too much contrivance but others it just feels awkward.
  3. Be up front about your purpose. People more or less accept advertising and product placement. Most fans also accept that something has to fund the entertainment industry. Nobody really cares except for a few idealists who think art should exist in some commercialess (okay, positive that isn’t actually a word) vacuum. What viewers tend to dislike is being sold something (hey, great anime here!) and then finding out that rule 1 and 2 are completely broken and all we have is a vehicle for selling something.
  4. Be good. You bothered to fund an anime to advertise. At least do a solid job and entertain us. This one really should be self-explanatory and yet seems to be the one that gets dropped most often.

The reason I’m thinking of this at the moment is because of Tales of Zestiria/Tales of Berseria. While I am enjoying the anime, the last two episodes have really been pure advertising. I didn’t hate it (in fact I quite enjoyed both episodes) but I haven’t been given a complete story here. What I’ve been given is something that actually was really good and enjoyable to watch, didn’t feel like advertising (for most of the episodes) and I was pretty clear on what I was getting in the first place. But I haven’t been given a complete story.

As someone who hasn’t played Tales of Zestiria and is fairly unlikely to go looking for a spin off/prequel game, this is a bit disappointing. I also know that makes me not the intended audience so I should probably just not whine and enjoy what is available.

I don’t see making an anime for advertising as a cash grab necessarily. A lot of the time these anime do provide fans with a lot of entertainment. These anime can also draw in new fans (not in a sleezy cash driven way but just by exposing a new audience to the characters and merchandise they may not have seen otherwise). Basically, for me it comes down to transparency of purpose and whether or not what is made is worth watching on its own merit. And that is a really important point. Telling me that the visual novel, the manga, the game or whatever else is awesome does not make the anime any better than what it can deliver as a stand alone piece of entertainment.

Where-ever you sit, I’m curious as to what you think about using anime for advertising.

Or failing that, what are some of the anime you’ve watched that have existed to advertise that you’ve enjoyed/found really irritating?


15 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature – Anime For Advertising

  1. I like this article. At first I thought it was going to be about product placement in anime like how Pizza Hut was in your face in Code Geass, or Dr. Pepper was the only drink in Stein’s Gate.

    There are good examples as you said. The Lego Movie was a shameless commercial to get people to buy Legos, but it had heart and was genuinely fun. I guess it can also be argued the entire Gundam series exists to sell toys and PlaMos to children and adults.

    1. See, Gundam is advertising but it produces great shows (even if I personally only liked a few of them because they aren’t really my thing). So, no complaints about Gundam.
      Actually, I will have to do a post on product placement at some point because that’s something else that is becoming a bit more prevalent in anime. I absolutely love the number of variations of McDonalds that exist in anime worlds.

      1. I agree, Gundam series are great!

        And I would love to see a post on product placement! There are huge variations of Starbucks and KFCs in anime as well.

        Bakuman, a manga/anime about manga and anime talks about Weekly Shonen Jump and One Piece freely. They are actually referring to those uinlike how Gintama parodies them.

        There is also show, Tiger & Bunny. The heroes from that series literally have sponsors plastered all over their suits. If I remember correctly, some of the included Pepsi, Bandai, and Softbank.

        Not sure if these help, but I hope they do!

  2. Definitely agree with all the points you brought up!
    I actually don’t mind adaptations and spin-offs, as long as they’re actually good and do a decent job instead of being “this stuff happened but if you wanna see more, play the game/read the manga” type of deal.
    One of the biggest offenders of this are anime from ongoing manga, like Ouran and Loveless &others, that never have any resolution, despite being great, because there isn’t/wasn’t one in the manga.
    A good adaptation was of X/1999, they gave all the information and actually an ending, that CLAMP has said is an alternative to the true ending of the manga but since the manga never finished, it might as well be the true one lol
    I really like when games get adapted to anime, but somehow something gets lost in translation and they tend to crumble down a lot of the time.
    I wish we could send your post to companies so they could know what to do, and not to do :’D

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      You are so right about Loveless. That needs an ending so badly. Ouran I didn’t really mind the lack of ending because it kind of felt emotionally like the characters had gone far enough.

      1. I’d love a Loveless remake, but since even the manga hasn’t finished, it won’t ever happen ;_;
        Ouran felt good as it finished, but I also wanted more. It’s the curse of the good animes, I never want them to finish (༎ຶ⌑༎ຶ)

  3. Agree with your points, but I loooove car game anime. Yu-gi-oh! the first series and GX, all be it both very cheesy do a great job of integrating the cards into both the lore of the shows, and the story line. I think the best card game anime I’ve seen do this the most organically is Cardfight Vanguard: First season, is legit just a ton of kids who have normal lives, got into a card game, and hang out at their local card shop. In later seasons they went off the rails imo, but first season was nice haha.

    On the flip side: I’ve seen a few shows that were based off of card games, that I didn’t even know was one – Aquarian Age, all be it a bit odd, was a really good self contained story and I had to google the fact that it was a card game. Bad example of this though, I watched the Star Ocean 2 anime and 100 percent ended on a cliffhanger and drove me crazy! I feel like that happens a lot more in anime based on video games because they are like “Play the game play the game”.
    So yeah basically, agree with ya XD

    1. There are definitely some great anime that exist to advertise and I don’t mind that at all. I agree that video games tend to be the worst offenders for cliffhanger anime.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. Funnily enough, my partner and I were having a similar conversation just the other day and came to more or less the same conclusion. Great minds really do think alike ^^

  5. i agree with what you’re saying about anime advertising card games, but berseria is a weird case. if you’re shamelessly promoting a game that still hasn’t been released, the more story you tell in the anime, the more the story gets undermined in the game. arguably, this makes more sense to do in an ova rather than randomly sticking it in the running of zestiria, but im assuming they did that so they could run it on TV?

    1. I feel like what you are saying is what is happening with Danganronpa 3. I am currently playing Danganronpa 2 and was so excited that the 3rd game was coming out. Then the anime is on now…. and I am very confused. Is the anime prequel to the game? Are they going to have the same story? If so, why would I buy the game and not the other? And If not, do I have to watch the anime AND play the game to understand everything? I feel like this is very confusing way to advertise….

      1. it works in berseria’s case because it was just a blurb…too short to be anything meaningful. plus, this was done before with zestiria with an ova. but yeah…with danganronpa 3, i dunno. if i were to guess, id say it’s probably the same story in anime form, though. that’s typically how these things work.

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