Just a few weeks ago, Froggykun shared some interesting thoughts about figures, which got me thinking why many fans tend to buy a lot of merchandise? While one can argue that Anime is being used to market related merchandise besides promoting the source material, people might be wondering what kind of merchandise I’m interested in since there are so many to choose from. Also, is this truly necessary to be a true fan? (Image Source)
Why do people collect merchandise?
While Anime has been popular outside from Japan for a long time, the collecting aspect has always been a big part of the industry, especially in Japan. I think this is the case since the industry mainly targets the Otaku audience who tend to buy and collect a lot of merchandise associated with their favorite series such as figures of their favorite characters, cups, keychains, dakimakura, etc. Basically, by buying and collecting Anime related merchandise, its one of the ways to show your enthusiasm, support, interest or love for a certain franchise or character.
Back in the mid 1990s, this was my first instance of collecting Anime related merchandise thanks to Pokémon. During that time, my sister and I got various merchandise related to Pokémon, especially the trading cards. Just like most Pokémon fans, I own pages of Pokémon cards with some Japanese cards mixed in and even played the actual trading card game a few times during my childhood. Of course, I stopped collecting them after a while and focused mainly on the games since I am not an avid Pokémon trading-card player. Still, this shows that I was a big fan of Pokémon back then and I continue to do so up to this day.
What kinds of merchandise do you collect? Also, what are you opinions on figures?
Like most Anime bloggers and fans around my age, I don’t necessarily have a lot of money until I finish my master’s degree, which is when I can get a good job. I agree that figures are something nice to have since some of them look cool or pretty. I admit that I would like to own to own some figures of some of my favorite idols from The Idolmaster such as Kisaragi Chihaya and Shijou Takane, but they are very expensive (without factoring expensive shipping so they won’t get damaged). Even if I have a job, I would rather buy plushies of some of my favorite Pokémon such as Espeon and Sylveon or other merchandise that are affordable or have some kind of use. Besides, I do spend a good amount of money on video games.
While figures being be too expensive for my blood, it doesn’t mean that I don’t collect anything anime related at all. I’m going to explain some of the stuff I actually collect.
In the past, I used to buy DVDs of some of the shows I usually want to watch and own. However, with streaming becoming a norm, I don’t buy that many DVDs except for some of my favorite shows that I want to own such as all the Key adaptations made by Kyoto Animation. While most of these localized releases are basic as they ship in regular DVD cases with nothing extra, Aria the Animation is probably the only boxset that came with an extra booklet that I own. Of course, there are limited edition localize release boxsets, but I don’t bother buying them since they are expensive even though they look nice.
On the other hand, the Japanese releases in comparison have nicer boxes, but each release only has two to three episodes and they are treated more like collector items. The upside of this is that more Anime is being released Blu-ray since the late 2000s. Because the US is in the same region coding as Japan, some Japanese Blu-ray releases now have English subtitles in some of their releases. I do want to own some of these releases such as the Nanoha movies once I have enough money to do so.
While I no longer buy DVDs, I started to import music CDs in the fall of 2011 because it’s a more affordable alternative rather than buying merchandise or licensed DVDs and that I listen nothing but Japanese music. There are many voice actresses and music from certain shows that I enjoy quite a lot. In particular, aside from the Idolmaster CDs I bought in the past, I also bought CDs featuring certain artists that are my favorite such as Mizuki Nana, Sphere and Imai Asami. While I don’t actually use CDs since I rip them on my computer so I can have them on my iPhone, it’s just nice to have them in my collection.
Since I preorder video games and sometime CDs, most of these Japanese import sites will in most cases give a bonus for doing so. Because of this, I accumulated a small collection of these preorder bonuses such as postcards, posters, cleaning cloths, etc. Although I don’t have the space to show them off, it’s a nice compensation for the fact that one is taking the risk of buying a certain item without knowing how good it is.
Depending on the show, there is a chance that one might become interested in the source material to experience more of the story. Depending on the medium, it can be very expensive, especially video games and visual novels. There are many instances where I bought the source material after watching the show. Most notably, I did this with The Idolmaster and Hyperdimension Neptunia since I enjoyed the story and the characters a lot.
Do you have to collect merchandise in order to be a “true fan” of Anime?
There have been many debates and disagreements in the fandom over people not being true fan for not supporting the industry because he/she does not buy the DVDs or (insert any type of merchandise here) for a certain show and/or are only watching fansubs and not legally streaming. To me, I don’t necessarily agree completely and I think Froggykun says it perfectly that this is not necessarily the case:
“I’d personally consider fanart, fanfics, role-playing, blogging and, yes, even fansubbing to an extent as forms of “giving back” to the industry. In fact, since they’re creative outlets, they’re productive in ways that simply collecting can never be.”
While one can say that Anime is basically a form of marketing to promote the source material and related merchandise, the industry should never rule out the word of mouth. Sure, not all fans have the money to buy DVDs, figurines, etc. and can only afford a monthly subscription of Crunchyroll. However, this does not make them any less of a fan just because he/she doesn’t have a big collection. I feel that something like blogging about Anime contributes more to the fandom compared to collecting stuff for the fact that I am basically giving them free advertising. Perhaps someone might read a review I wrote on a certain series and check the show out. If he/she happens to like it, they might buy the DVDs, source material or merchandise to support that franchise. This is one of the aspects others and I feel that contributes to Anime being very popular rather than collecting alone. Without the fans’s involvement, we wouldn’t have Anime conventions, fanart, fanfics, cosplay or any discussion.
With that, what are your feelings about collecting merchandise? Are they necessary in order to be considered a true fan? Feel free to share what Anime related things do you collect.