Beginners Guide to Blowing Money On Anime Merch

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Text version of this post:


/a/’s Guide to Becoming a Buyfag (RECOMMENDED):

If you missed my last video, check out Why Good Anime Is Hard To Make:

More in-depth reading on The Anime Economy:

My Figure Collection account; this site is an excellent database for finding anything you want to buy:


(because this is a beginner’s guide, I’m only linking English sites) – the reason I recommend this for beginners is that it’s really easy, and you can easily get good shipping rates on non-imports. If you’re deep-diving into buying stuff, you won’t use this long, but it’s a start:
Animate USA:
Figure Haven:
Kid Nemo:
Crunchyroll store:
Kirin Hobby:
Anime Corner Store:


iTunes (not worth linking to their anime tab as it’s weird)

I Hate Bee Train blog:

Why Would You Buy SimCity Anyways?
Prepare to Comply; speak with your wallet:

Digi’s Crib:

All the manga panels shown are from Genshiken chapter 3.
All the music is from the Hidamari Sketch OST.

Check out my channel Digi Does Anime if you’re keeping up with current-season shows:

My Anime List:
My twitter:
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So you may have seen my recent video calling for anime fans to support the shows that they love by spending money on them. It’s unfortunate that for the most part, we can’t directly support anime creators by just sending them money, as that kind of patronage is still largely limited to independent internet content creators like myself. However, there are countless ways to show your support for the shows you love to whatever extent you see fit by buying tons of anime crap, so today I’m going to teach you all of it. Want to support the industry but don’t want crap littering your house? You can always buy this stuff and then give it to your friends. Remember, the point here is less about buying the items for the sake of owning them, and more about buying them to show support, although both are acceptable reasons to buy stuff.

As for where to find all the things I’ll talk about, there are countless resources, but the best and easiest on is simply They’ve been stocking a surprising amount of anime related goods even with amazon prime support–but besides them, I’ll put links to a bunch of import sites down in the description. A lot of these tend to have pretty high shipping rates though, so I recommend digging into all of this stuff yourself to figure out how it all works if you really want to get into the bones of paying for anime merch.

The first and most obvious method is to pay for the material itself. A lot of anime is sponsored by the publishers of the source material as a way of promoting it, so buying manga and light novels that the anime is based on can help. Then of course, you can buy the actual anime.

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of series available for digital purchase. Itunes has a very limited selection of mostly anime movies, while Amazon has a bunch of random shows up for download or streaming through Amazon Instant Video. Paid subscriptions to streaming sites like Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix are incredibly small ways to try and help, so they can’t really be thought of supporting a particular show.

American DVDs and blu-rays are very fairly priced these days, although it really comes down to a matter of perspective and personal opinion of whether you’d consider them affordable. When I got into anime growing up, buying shows on DVD was the only legal way of watching them besides the few shows that were on TV, and you’d pay 30 bucks on average for four episodes, so as far as I’m concerned, thirteen episodes for fifty bucks is practically a steal, and plenty of shows run even cheaper than that.

Ultimately, the question of how much you should be willing to pay for anime DVDs and blu-rays comes down to the intentions of your purchase. Are you buying it because you want to own it, or are you buying it because you want to support the show? If you’re buying it just to own it, anime can be found in bargain bins or on sale all used all over the place. However, if you’re buying it to support the show, then it’s more a question of how much money you want to put up in support. If you’re motivated both by a show of support AND a desire to own the product, then you’ll probably be willing to spend even more, which is why I typically go for other products these days instead of DVDs and blu-rays. A lot of US releases are really lackluster, with worse quality audio and video than the Japanese versions and fewer extras. If the fansubbed episodes are not only free, but higher quality than the US blu-rays, it seems daft to pay for the inferior product.

This brings us to the Japanese DVDs and blu-rays. If you still haven’t read the ANN article that I’ve linked in like 5 different videos now about the anime economy, it explains the cultural differences that have led Japanese DVDs and blu-rays to be exponentially more expensive than they are here. It’s not unusual for a thirteen-episode series to be released across seven blu-rays at fifty to seventy bucks apiece, though they are usually in top-notch quality and come with better extras. It’s precisely because Japanese fans are willing to pay so much more for anime that most Japanese companies still don’t see the Western market as viable for profit. It would take ten American fans spending fifty bucks apiece on a show to exceed the amount that one Japanese fan might spend on that show alone.

In an effort to make the Western market more viable, though, some blu-rays have started coming out with English subtitles on the Japanese release, and companies like Aniplex have started marking up their US releases with prices closer to what the Japanese audience is used to paying. In terms of good consumer practice, it might seem senseless to pay more for a product that you can get cheaper on US DVD, but again, it comes down to your intentions. If you’re basing your purchase on voting with your wallet and trying to support people who make the things that you like, then it makes sense to actually spend more on something if you like it.

Now staying inside the realm of media purchases, there’s often a lot of tie-in products involved. Some shows receive additional tie-in manga or novelizations after the show is successful. Many shows receive artbooks and series guidebooks, the latter of which really seem to serve no purpose other than giving you something to buy that’s related to the show. Artbooks and series guides run the gamut of prices–the cheapest ones I own ran between twenty and thirty bucks, while the most expensive artbook I have costed me eighty. This is definitely a case where your desire to own the material itself will likely be a huge influence on your willingness to spend.

On the audio front, most anime soundtracks come out on CD, and there are usually single releases for all of the opening, endings, and insert songs; plus a lot of shows have “character singles” and albums on which each character has a song or two dedicated to them, usually performed by their voice actor. Some shows like Haruhi get really crazy with their music releases. For a while, a good number of anime soundtracks were being released in the US, mostly by Geneon Entertainment, but ever since Geneon went out of business it’s rare to see soundtrack releases unless they’re bundled with a DVD release. It’s also worth noting that singles average about ten to fifteen bucks in Japan, and CDs and soundtracks average about thirty, so definitely more than you’d pay in the US, but this varies a lot by country. Sadly, almost no Japanese music comes out on vinyl.

While I’m on the subject, I should also mention that a lot of popular anime and manga receive tie-in video games. Most of these are never translated, which makes them nearly impossible to play unless you can read Japanese, and they take all kinds of forms–but usually they’re visual novels, and almost always for the PSP or Vita. (The PSP was altogether a much bigger system in Japan than it ever was elsewhere.) Also there are plenty of anime adapted from video games, so buying the video game probably supports the anime, and is almost always the better version of the story anyways.

Moving away from media now, let’s talk about another way to spend a ton of money which has grown a lot in popularity over the last decade–that being: figures! There’s a few basic types of figures out there with very different pricing behind them, so I’ll run you through them all.

The top tier of figures are the pre-painted scale models. Depending on how complex these are, they run a huge price range–the most expensive one in my collection ran me about one $140, while the cheaper ones ran me about thirty. They can get way more expensive than what I have as they get rarer and bigger, but this is the upper limit of what I’ve ever been willing to pay for one figure. Once again, this is a case where a huge part of how much you’re willing to spend comes down to how much you actually want the figure itself, perhaps more so than how badly you want to support the series it comes from.

Next up, we have the poseable toys, be they action figures or dolls. There aren’t a whole lot of anime dolls out there and I don’t own any, but they run for obscenely high prices, so unless you’re a big-time collector and really into dolls, they’re probably going to be prohibitively expensive for you. Poseable toys on the other hand usually run anywhere from thirty to sixty bucks depending on the brand. The most popular action figure brands are Figma, which mostly tends to involve cute girls from action-y shows, and revoltech, which usually makes robots or characters from robot shows and stuff like them. These are usually highly poseable and come with tons of accessories, and you’ll probably buy them intending to make a stop-motion video with them which you will never, ever get around to making.

Another type of poseable toy which has gotten really popular are Nendoroids, which are crazy adorable and my personal favorite collectors toys. They’re perfect for making your own little 4-koma style comics and animations with as well.

Next up, we have trading figures! These come in all different shapes, sometimes super-deformed and tiny, sometimes a little taller and more normal looking, but in general they’re pretty small and not that detailed. Depending on where you buy them from, these will run anywhere from five to fifteen bucks, and a lot of them are sold in vending machines in Japan. Typically these are released in a set, and when you buy one of them it’s in a little box and you don’t know which character you’re going to get. It’s usually easy to find people selling the unboxed toys at conventions or online, but at a marked-up price. I don’t buy many of these because I almost always get my least favorite character in the set unless I buy them individually.

The next kind of figures are Garage Kits, which I must admit I don’t know much about. Basically, these are figures where you’ll receive a rough mold of the statue on the cheap and you have to paint it and perfect it yourself, which is way more of a pain in the ass than I have any desire to get into, and they aren’t really sold outside Japan, so I recommend doing your own research if that interests you.

Up next are model kits, which are action figures that you assemble yourself! These also sometimes require painting in order to make them look totally legit, but a lot of them at least come pre-colored and with a bunch of stickers to put on them, depending on the quality level. Model kits are mostly made for robot toys, and are fairly common in the US as well depending on where you look. My brother owns a metric fuckton of these as he was a big-time robot guy, but I don’t have any myself.

Before I move on, I want to stress how important it is that you buy figures of all kinds from legitimate sources, because there are tons of fake ones out there. I’ve bought several fakes at conventions and at stores in the Philippines because I wasn’t as good at spotting them, but there are usually some calling signs. For one, if the figures are cheaper than they have any right to be, look shoddily made or weirdly shiny, or don’t have writing on the bottom of the box where most figures have writing, these are usually signs of a fake. Nendoroid and Figmas especially have a lot of fakes now because they’re so popular, so it’s better to order them online from sites that you trust than to buy them at cons or in shady stores in the Philippines.

Now, lastly, we’re going to dip our toes into perhaps the broadest and most insane area of anime-related merchandise, which is character goods. Character goods consist of virtually anything you can print a character’s face onto at a higher price than what you’d ordinarily pay for that thing. You could pretty easily furnish your entire house with character goods, including all of your dishes, pillow covers, towels, etc. Character goods exist for exactly two reasons–to make tons of cash for the merch producers, who are often also the producers of the shows, and for fans to prove their insane devotion to the characters and shows that they love.

The world of character goods is so broad, deep, and multi-faceted that I can’t possibly get into much detail about it here. The best I can do is to show you some of the goods that I own so you can get a sense of the variety of products and prices.

So anyways, that about wraps up the wonderful and wacky world of anime merchandise which you can buy to support the shows you love, or even just to have it. If you want to see more of my collection, I recently made an account on, which has an extensive database of virtually every anime-related product in existence as long as it comes from Japan, and on which you can see all the stuff I own besides manga and DVDs. You can also watch these Digi’s Crib videos that I did on my other channel where I talked about all of the things in my room, though the videos are pretty old now so they don’t feature everything I own. I’m gonna put links to some good resources for you to get deeper into this world on your own down in the description, and with that, I’ll see you in the next one!

2 thoughts on “Beginners Guide to Blowing Money On Anime Merch

  1. Funny but true copyright laws: You’re not legally allowed to share/give away books or DVDs.

    £20-£30 for DVD/Blue-ray is extortionate.

    “Anime fans in the west” don’t you mean anime fans in the usa?
    If you’re not from the states anime DVD/merchandise is like trying to get hold of rocking horse poop.

    Clannad after story full collection £25
    Buy it in parts and all the separate DVD cost £25 each
    How does that make any sense?

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