Ask John: Why Buy Anime DVDs That I Don’t Even Like?
A few weeks ago you posted a blurb entitled “WTF.” In it you said that you were “handful [of DVDs] away from completing my collection of every anime title released on commercial American DVD.” This got me thinking. While this goal is admirable, why would you want to spend hard earned money on an anime series that you do not like?
I can answer this question with one simple word: fanaticism. During the heyday of the American anime boom when the American economy strong (and I have to honestly admit, my income was more substantial than it is now), I collected the anime DVDs that I wanted to own, which was probably half or more of all new releases. Following the 2008 industry contraction numerous domestic anime DVD titles went out-of-print and the volume of new American releases decreased significantly. That drastic change shocked my perspective and encouraged me to begin collecting domestic DVD releases for posterity, with the knowledge that now out-of-print titles might never be available in America again. Furthermore, realizing that the total number of anime titles available on American DVD appeared to be a finite number, I slowly developed a philosophy that if I was already collecting 60% or 70% of all American anime DVD releases anyway, why not just try to accumulate everything? At the present time, excluding a number of titles released roughly within the past year, my collection of American anime discs is relatively complete with the notable absence of releases including all of Bandai Visual’s Super Robot Wars & Haruka DVDs, the rare Zegapain discs, most of Hikaru no Go, Maison Ikkoku sets 5-8, Gatchaman sets 4-9, and the first Blood+ collection.
I’ve long considered myself an anime fan in the most wholistic sense, meaning that I love the very art form of contemporary Japanese animation, so while I may not enjoy watching particular titles, I still respect and adore their medium. So I don’t like anime titles including Narutaru ~ Shadow Star, Trinity Blood, Gilgamesh, Genma Wars, and Deadman Wonderland, and if I was strictly collecting only shows that I particularly liked, I would never have purchased Mars Daybreak, Space Travelers, Star Ocean EX, Arc the Lad, Nazca, and Dragon Drive, among others. But if I’m collecting most domestic anime DVD titles, why not just try to get the relatively small number of additional titles just to fill out my library and give me access to a complete archive of America’s official anime releases? While I do try as much as I can to purchase new discs and new releases, I do find myself just as often relying on pre-owned releases. Certain older titles are now only available on the second-hand and aftermarket, precluding the possibility of purchasing new copies that will contribute to the distributor or original producer. And the vast majority of older, now out-of-print anime DVDs are now available second-hand for less than the cost of a cheeseburger. So when so many anime DVDs that I don’t own are available so inexpensively, I’m compulsively motivated to buy them by both hoarding instinct and sheer affection for the anime medium. I don’t particularly like the Cybuster television series, but I do like anime, and when it’s an anime series on DVD that I can own for less than the cost of one night’s dinner, I’m inclined to purchase it for the sake of completion. I find myself pursuing more expensive releases with a similar philosophy. I didn’t think that the SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers movie was especially good, and its American DVD and Blu-ray releases are fairly expensive, but when I already own 85% of all American released anime titles, I feel an irrepressible urge to track down and acquire the remaining 15% regardless of whether or not I actually like the shows. (I still need to pick that one up before it completely disappears.)