I'm sure by now you've realized the two biggest hurdles anime fans face; where to find your anime, and how to afford it. Hopefully this page can offer some suggestions to aid you in developing this most fun of hobbies. The first half of this page covers information on where to find anime and manga, the second portion discusses being an anime fan on a tight budget.
Before continuing, you may want to take a look at my Moral and Ethical Considerations Note. When you're done perusing that... then read on below!
The first big issue is, of course, how to get access to anime and anime-related materials and resources. The good news is you've already found one great method. The internet! Yep, if you're reading this page, then you can read literally thousands of pages related to anime and manga. These pages range from pages devoted to providing information on anime series to commercial pages with mail order capabilities.
What's that? You want anime music too? There are many sites that offer downloadable MP3 files featuring anime music. I've gotten hours of new music this way. With a sound card and simple cabling, these can be transferred to cassette tape.
How about stories and artwork? When my local supply dried up for a while, fanfics kept me going for quite a while. What's a fanfic? Simply a natural outpouring of fan energy. There are many talented folks out there who have taken their favorite series, and wrote their own stories.
Games? Screensavers and whatnot for your computer? Sure! Many game companies offer demos of their products (for which you can order later) while other sites have home-brewed games and utilities.
One favorite trick of mine is to visit a different gallery site each week, grab a bunch of images, then use them to change my computer's wallpaper every day at work and home.
It's all available on the internet.
I could go on forever about this, but you'll have more fun exploring this yourself. Go to the bottom of the page for a link to my page of links, or go directly to the Anime Web Turnpike and browse from there. (But first, finish reading this page, it's only polite! ^_^ )
Okay, you've cruised the Net and have found a wealth of resources, but now you want something a bit more close to home.
With the widening popularity of anime, expect to find an anime club nearby. The first place to look would be university and college campuses. Usually these organizations are advertised in the student newspaper or around the student union. While club membership might be restricted to students only, showings are usually open to the public and it's a great way to meet fellow fans.
If you don't live in a college town, hit your local comic book store. The owners and employees usually know everything going on among their customers and should be able to tell you who else in the area shares your interests. Also check similar businesses and their bulletin boards.
Other places to check include public libraries, community centers and theaters.
If all else fails, consider starting your own. Being in an anime club means being with people who shares your interests and with whom you can trade both information and favorite anime.
Anime Specialty Stores
These places will not be mentioned in my "Anime on a Budget" section. Still, they are probably the best place to find lots and lots of stuff. Videos, movies, garage kits, CD's, posters, UFO catcher dolls, and more. The big drawback is the huge markup. Okay, in all fairness, they're charging what the market will bear, and they have a number of import expense to cover, but why do the SonMay labels I see in an anime store cost twice as much as the ones at a Chinese import store? Why is the untranslated manga more expensive than the manga available at a Japanese bookstore?
The answer of course is that they're often located in regions without much competition. Also, many folks are intimidated walking into a store where English is not spoken.
Still, they provide a good service to the anime fan community. You can meet fellow anime and manga enthusiasts, and enjoy a wider selection than what you'd find at a regular video store... if you can afford it.
Just about every major chain of video retail store and rental place carry at least a few anime titles. More often than not they're titles that appeal most to mainstream audiences, but it's worth a look anyway. ^_^ Be forewarned however. Anime sometimes gets a bad rap in the U.S. due to various censorship issues. Some stores (I won't mention names) have discontinued carrying anime because of this. Take your business elsewhere.
Comic Book Stores
I've already mentioned comic book stores as being good places to find out about anime clubs in your area, but it's also a good spot to check for tapes and books. Many comic book stores carry a few anime titles either for rent or for sale. Some carry used tapes for sale as well. In addition to anime, you should find a number of translated manga and fan magazines. On rarer occasions, you'll even find a few untranslated manga. Another warning. I have seen some comic book stores renting fansubs. Do not condone this! For more info on fansubs, continue reading.
Okay, this is a longshot, but many public libraries have a video section. You probably won't find Ranma 1/2 or Dragon Half here, but I would not be surprised if that copy of "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" or "Grave of the Fireflies" that you've been looking for is sitting in the Foreign section.
Okay, fansub distributors don't count as local (unless one operates out of your town), but I shouldn't forget to mention and sing the praises of the fansub community. These people more than anyone else, more than any company or any business, bring anime fandom to the people. What's best for someone like me is that the titles covered by fansubbers are often titles that would not normally be taken on by commercial companies. I don't see Marmalade Boy being picked up by a commercial company in the US anytime soon, but thanks to the good folks at Tomodachi, I have the complete collection and am the better for it! More on fansubs further in this document.
Okay, now that we've covered where to find your anime, now let's figure out how to afford it. My most useful suggestion would be to try to get your anime as close to the Japanese source as possible. If you haven't already done so, review the Moral and Ethical Considerations Note.
As a further note, I should mention that most of my suggestions are for folks who can, at least to a limited degree, read or understand spoken Japanese. For more information on learning Japanese, visit Tumbleweed's Guide to Learning Japanese. For a quicker overview, check out my brand-new html-lized version of the Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese or the 100 Most Essential Words in Anime.
Most major cities have a Japanese community large enough to support a Japanese bookstore or two. Upon walking in you'll be pleased to see walls and walls of tankouban-edition manga titles. What Viz would charge for 6 copies of Ranma (about $20) you can get the Shonen Sunday Comics edition in the original Japanese (that means Viz did not get a chance to edit it) for about $6. Big difference! This also means you can read stories that the American companies have not gotten around to printing yet.
Japanese bookstores will also often have a small video section and CD section. The only real drawback with these is the price is often not much cheaper than the American releases (although with the CD's, American anime stores add on a huge markup).
Most cities also have a Chinatown section with many import stores. This is a great place to pick up CD's that, for various reasons, seem to be cheaper than any other source outside of Japan. Available also in these stores are posters, keychains, and other little knickknacks that your local anime store charges double or more on. ^_^
Video rental agencies, comic book stores, libraries, and so on.... I've already mentioned how these places often have tapes available for rent. If you happen to have two VCR's, well, I won't go on from there. You should be able to figure it out.
Friends and Associates
Like the video rental places, a ring of friends with similar tastes can do wonders to increasing the size and breadth of your collection. If you're good enough friends, you can even work out an arrangement of pooling money together for a "common collection." Manga circles are actually quite common in Japan, so it's a tested method.
Yes, believe it or not, yard sales can sometimes yield something. Granted, these are yard sales held by Japanese folks usually (hint: keep your ears open for word of a "Going Home Sale"). I've found very cheap tapes and manga available for the taking. Granted, nothing is subtitled or translated, but the price is too right.
This is a long shot, but it never hurts to pass through a flea market. Some folks get their video selections from bankrupt business buy-outs and may not know the value of what they have.
A bit of a longshot as well, but I've come across the occasional manga in a used bookstore. Sometimes you come across stacks of phonebook manga (usually sold to the store by a returning college student) that are priced way above the cover price. Again it's a case of the proprietor not know the value of what they have, but with some haggling, you might be able to get the price down.
Once again it's time to mention fansubs. Fansub tapes are the best deal around. Usually good quality tapes, about 2 hours of animation per tape at an average price of around $6 or $8. How? Because this is a totally 100% not-for-profit movement. Fansubbers provide the rest of the community with quality titles at there own cost, expense, and time. We can't thank these people enough.
Warning: legal issues aside, fansubs should not be considered a sole source of anime acquisition; only as a source for fine anime ignored by the commercial companies. Go out and buy some commercial tapes so the big boys don't feel threatened by good folks who are motivated for reasons other than profit. The existence of fansubbers help keep the already bloated price of commercial releases down because of the "perceived" competition.
Treat fansubs with respect; never sell or rent them for profit. Share them with fellow fans. When your favorite fansubbed title comes out commercially, see about purchasing the commercial copy (I will admit that commercial copies are usually superior in quality, and in some rare occasions, translation).
For further information regarding fansubs and fansub issues, visit the Anime Web Turnpike for more discussion, information and resources.
Okay, that's it for now! ^_^ If you have any suggestions or comments of your own, feel free to respond to my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail is a good thing!
Thanks again for visiting this page. Here are my other anime/manga-related pages for your viewing and information pleasure, as well as my other links. Click below! ^_^
Tumbleweed's Computer Shack
Tumbleweed's Anime and Manga Page
Tumbleweed's Picture Albums
Tumbleweed's Guide to Learning Japanese
Tumbleweed's Shack / email@example.com / last rev. June 28, 1998, 9:15 p.m. Oh yeah! To send mail, comments, vague threats and whatnot... do so! at John Teehan at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Oh yeah! To send mail, comments, vague threats and whatnot... do so! at John Teehan at email@example.com!