Welcome to the first Cafe Talk of 2019! It’s been a while, has it not?
As I mentioned in my December OWLS post, “Unhauling” for the Holidays, the year 2019 was too good for the collection. From a size standpoint, I was definitely packing some full shelves. However, it got to a point where, in the last couple weeks of 2019, I went from receiving packages daily to hating everything in my collection. All of it. It made me sick. It was unexpected, and hit very, very hard.
What had happened was that, at some point in my mindless buying ventures, I stopped collecting what I truly love. Don’t get me wrong, I love anime, manga, figures, and everything else associated with them. Still do, too. But, in exchange for buying shows that I thoroughly enjoyed and would continue to enjoy over and over again, I started collecting, well, “stuff.”
I had no personal connection to approximately 30% of my collection, and so in the grand spirit of the holidays, I ousted much of these titles to my siblings (whom cheerfully accepted my hand-me-down books and Blu-rays).
Going forward in 2020—and the rest of my life if I can help it—I’ll still be collecting (once a collector, always a collector), but in a different way than I did before. 2019 was a very telling year, and although parts of it were painful, I realized a lot about who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to put on my shelf—because a bookshelf can represent one’s entire personality, and I would never want to clutter up my soul the way I did in 2019.
Thus I present to you five things I learned about collecting anime in 2019. Take these as cautionary pieces of advice, my friends, for I wouldn’t want to wish upon any of you that which happened to me: to feel burdened with having a collection.
5. Use Bookends
Sounds simple, but MAN would you believe how unnatural it feels to buy black metal bookends from Amazon in bulk. Your room may literally start feeling like library, but wow what a difference these simple little wedges make. Although I encourage you to use your LTD ED anime releases, box sets, picture frames, and the like when you can as bookends (see next tip), you should definitely consider investing in a set of 10 or 20 of these guys, especially if your collection is of substantial size (or foresees growth in the near future).
4. Alternate Your Display
The first thing that made me despise my own collection was seeing the rows upon rows of book and movie spines. It actually made me nauseous. If bookends are not an option for you (even though they are quite affordable), you can use other objects to vary up the look of your shelves. Place DVDs or manga volumes in vertical stacks; add some greenery with plants; mix in some picture frames or coffee mugs; take some of the figures from your figure cases and place them among your Blu-rays. The possibilities are endless.
I encourage you to get artsy with your collection. I’ll post pics of my own shelves here in a couple days, but my go-to for instantly aesthetically pleasing shelves are fake succulents!
3. Do NOT Blind Buy
Ever. Or, at least if you can help it. With online streaming and reading seeming like the popular option these days, the point of buying physical releases anymore is to put something you already know you like into your possession IMO. Even if it’s just the first couple episodes of a show, it’s much better to stream something as a sample than dive straight into the physical if you know it’s something you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of strangers in your home taking space on your precious shelves, and that’s no way to do it.
Plus, unopened/unwatched/unread movies and books tend to pile up over time, much like your own anime backlog—you’ll definitely NOT want to throw money away at something you probably won’t get to for YEARS (trust me, it happens) when you could be spending it on stuff you enjoy now. Or, you know, groceries and stuff.
2. ONLY Buy What You Will Rewatch
Like all of these tips, this one sounds like a no-brainer. But trust me, it’s much harder to think in the long-term than it seems. I often find myself on a feel-good “high” after finishing an anime, whether I actually enjoyed the show or not. This leads me to inadvertently searching for the title in sales just so I can have a physical copy of my watch history on my shelves.
DON’T. DO. THIS. We buy DVDs so that we can one day rewatch them (and for books, reread them). If we never end up putting the disc in the player, we might as well have just thrown money down the river. So, next time you finish a show, wait a little while before deciding to pick it up. You may realize that, hey, it was a great show—but perhaps not something I plan on rewatching, let alone need a physical copy of.
1. ONLY Buy What Will Bring You Happiness
In other words, only buy what you truly love. This last tip pretty much sums up all the others, but can also be the hardest one to practice. Try this: Take a look at your own anime/manga collection right now. Skim each title with your eyes one by one. For each title, ask yourself, “Does owning this title bring me happiness?” We’re essentially applying basic Marie Kondo tips here, but with the added caveat that it must also be a title we plan to someday rewatch/reread (and trust me, it’s pretty damn hard to say you “love” something that you haven’t even seen yet).
So what do we do with the items we decide to take down from our shelves? Well, just unhaul them! Sell them to willing buyers, or perhaps give them to an interested friend. Remember, at this point, getting your money back is second to achieving happiness. We all want to make up for what we spent, but if it ends up taking you years to sell off that which you wish to unhaul, you might as well have left it on the shelf.
Whatever you decide, just remember going forward with any future purchases that you truly dig down and ask yourself, “Will this thing make me as happy as it should?” If not, consider that money saved on your part that you can now use toward something even nicer than that which you just passed up!
Well, I hope you came for the lecture but stayed for the life advice, cause if you follow all of these tips with your own collection, you can only expect it to continue bringing you happiness in the future. And hey, isn’t collecting because it makes one happy what this whole thing’s all about?
By learning these critical things through my own failures, my collecting habits have taken an entire 360 within just the past couple weeks. I’m a new man, I tell ya! And you have no idea how incredible it feels to be able to say, “Yes, I love absolutely every single thing that I own.” After applying these tips to other areas of my life, from eliminating old papers and personal belongings to reassessing what music I listen to and what foods I put in my body, I feel more confident about myself by the day. Buying stuff is fun, but unhauling can be even greater self-care.
Give these suggestions a try if you are seeking to maximize the satisfaction and joy out of your own collection. Because honestly, if there’s one thing that I learned, it’s “Why wait to be happy?” You can quote me on that. Anyway, how do you collect your anime, manga, or figures? Do you have any advice for fellow collectors out there that you’ve stumbled upon? Your wisdom would be most appreciated by us all! Thanks for joining me on this little cafe talk, and until next time, this has been
– Takuto, your host