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An Adventurous Shipper and a Princess Walk into a Hot Topic: The Art of Segmentation

Last month, we focused on the presence of female Anime viewers and identified opportunities to better serve this demographic. Following the strong interest shown in this data, this month’s blog will delve deeper into the needs and motivations of these fans.

Interpret has recently completed a segmentation of the anime market, organizing viewers into eight segments to reveal fundamental needs, attitudes, and behaviors common to the clusters within a diverse array of anime viewers. Of these eight, three possess a strong female-identifying skew, and we have coined shorthand terms for each: Princesses, Adventurous Shippers, and Hot Topics. 

Click image to enlarge

These three segments do not account for all female anime viewers, nor do they fully exclude male-identifying viewers. However, in comparing the viewing habits of these three segments, we realize the extraordinary diversity among female anime viewers who may, on the surface, hold much in common.

For example, all three female-dominated segments report a strong preference for Romance genre anime. When contextualized by their other reported genre preferences, it becomes apparent that the specific driver of this preference may differ dramatically by the segment. 

The tongue-in-cheek ‘Princess’ segment is named for the viewer who sees herself as central to the narrative, embodied by a character or serenaded by the onscreen cast. This segment notably raves over Reverse-Harem series, as well as Female-oriented Idol anime featuring charismatic and attractive male leads.

By contrast, Princesses report a strong aversion to the most preferred genres of Adventurous Shippers: Yaoi (Boys’ Love) and Yuri (Girls’ Love). Though both groups overwhelmingly identify as female, we interpret this divergence as being rooted in more than a rejection or acceptance of homoromantic narratives. The Adventurous Shipper preference may be informed in part by a desire for narratives that highlight the relationships of others, without requiring the viewer to identify themselves as the subject of the characters’ affections. 

Hot Topics bring a bit of edge to our warm and fuzzy dialogue, citing Romance alongside Drama, Comedy, and Horror as their favorite anime offerings. Unintuitive at first glance, we understand this segment of fans as drawn to powerful anime that elicit strong, cathartic feelings in the storied tradition of body genres (a theory from the world of cinema studies, courtesy of Linda Williams.)

As this analysis shows, the anime genres that segments eschew reveal as much as the genres that they prioritize. The Princess and and Hot Topic segments do not care for Yaoi and Yuri anime. Likewise, Reverse-Harem anime inspire similar disdain among Adventurous Shippers and Hot Topics, implying that neither of these segments neatly align with the Princess ideal. Horror is horrifying to the majority of Princess segment viewers, and elicits a lukewarm response from Adventurous Shippers, but Hot Topic segment viewers keep the heartthrobs, sobs, and screams coming in their entertainment queue, carving out a clear third space for female fandom.

Put another way, all three segments might have tuned in for the climactic final season of Fruits Basket— but while Princesses are cheering on Tohru and Kyo, Adventurous Shippers are tuning in for the non-canon pairings you might not have anticipated, and Hot Topic viewers are vibing with the narrative that combines romance, drama, comedy, and even (spoiler alert!) horror elements.

Perhaps you know someone who resembles one of these data-based profiles. What else might we learn from the viewing habits of a given segment? Which, if any, of these segments do you think best aligns with your anime viewing preferences? How do you conceptualize different segments in the anime audience?

To learn more about Interpret’s anime consumer insights offerings like Animeasure, you can visit our website at: 

John McCallum is a Senior Research Manager at Interpret, a global insights firm laser-focused on helping media, entertainment and technology clients make informed decisions through bespoke and syndicated research. John’s work and passion is centered around Japanese video games, anime, and entertainment. He leads Interpret’s Animeasure products (a global tracker and segmentation) and guides clients in bringing their stories and products to life in Japan, making him well-versed in working with stakeholders from both sides of the Pacific. Since joining the Interpret team, John has been key in helping to expand the company’s work in Japan, market segmentation, and brand tracking. John holds a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University.

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