Looking to start an anime collection? You’ve come to the right place.
Between the booming interest in anime throughout the last decade and the continued proliferation of online shopping venues, there has never been a better time to become an anime collector. However, knowing how to find exactly what you want isn’t always easy. Whether you’re an anime newbie or a seasoned otaku, here are six rules to keep in mind when building your collection.
1: Watch out for bootlegs
As a rule of thumb, if a deal online seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Also known as pirated or unlicensed goods, bootleg anime DVDs are illegally produced and often cheaply made. At worst, you’ll get an incomplete or dysfunctional product, and at best, the money you spend won’t be going to the original creators. Though some obscure titles may only be available as bootlegs, we recommend officially licensed products whenever possible.
2: Pay attention to the seller’s description
For those who don’t want to exclusively shop for new products, buying used can be a great way to save cash while getting your hands on some excellent anime. That said, make sure you know exactly what the seller is offering.
Whether it’s missing special promotional material or the sale is for the disc only, make sure you don’t fall prey to a disappointing purchase.
3: Check if there’s a more complete release
If you’re looking to get every season of a specific anime, you may have to do some homework to ensure you get the best product(s).
Even if a show is cheaper to obtain per season, special edition releases or box sets can contain improved animation, extended episodes, and even extra episodes that never aired on television (usually called “OVA,” or “Original Video Animation”). Not all shows feature this kind of discrepancy between releases, but verifying your options before a purchase is better than regretting your choice afterwards.
4: Watch your wallet and wait for sales
The truth of the matter is, high quality releases of anime can get expensive. We’re talking anywhere between $50 and $100 per season on blu-ray here. Even if you get what you pay for, you can’t keep building your collection with an empty wallet!
Fortunately, it’s not uncommon for reputable sellers of anime to participate in online holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Christmas season is also a popular time for sales, and some sellers may offer discounts during Japanese holidays such as Golden Week (which usually begins near the end of April). In other words, be willing to wait if you’re able, and keep your eyes peeled!
5: Be mindful of international shipping
Because East Asia and North America use the same region code for Blu Ray DVDs, you may be tempted to import certain anime (though remember, always verify minor details!). If you decide to go this route, make sure you account for international shipping.
Not only is internationally shipping generally more expensive, it also adds on some extra days before your package hits your doorstep. These variables may not be a big deal in many cases, but you’ll have to plan accordingly if you’re shopping overseas.
6: Make sure you’re getting the dub/sub you’re looking for
The world of localized anime can be a confusing place, as it is sometimes needlessly difficult just to watch anime the way you want in a language you understand.
Particularly in the case of older anime, it’s possible that multiple companies could have had their hand at producing an English dub for a given show or movie. For example, My Neighbor Totoro actually received an English dub under the name My Friend Totoro before Disney produced their well-known localization. Yet even if an anime was only officially dubbed once, it’s still important to check if a DVD features Japanese and/or English audio. For reasons ranging from licensing issues to simply saving disk space, releases may either be exclusively dubbed into English or feature Japanese audio with subtitles, which obviously can make or break certain DVDs depending on the preferences of the collector.
If you’re not sure whether you prefer dubs or subs, we recommend watching shows both ways to determine your preference. Otherwise, feel free to peruse the average internet message board where you’ll find pages upon pages of debates on this issue.