Most of us love manga. If you’re over the age of 20 though, chances are you were introduced to manga not through your local Barnes & Noble, but by an anime that you bought on DVD. Before manga made it big in America, anime was a booming business on VHS and eventually grew to unexpected success with the advent of DVD’s, which made multiple versions of your favorite show affordable and portable. Now that everything’s going digital though many anime DVD’s are out of print and getting hard to find. And if an anime is hard to find that usually means it’s going to be expensive (unless you happen to see it used at F.Y.E. or Dimple Records, who usually have no idea of the gold nuggets they’re sitting on).
When the business was booming anime companies would release most of their series in single disk releases, followed by a box set that was usually priced much cheaper for latecomers. The irony is that these box sets, once made available to milk a few more dollars out of a property and thus priced cheaply, are now insanely expensive. Which are the box sets that make fans of those series cry that they didn’t buy them when they were first made available? Let’s take a look!
10. Marmalade Boy: Ultimate Scrapbook 3
Though Tokyopop made their mark in America by helping manga gain mainstream popularity, there was a point where they dabbled in the anime market with mixed results. “Marmalade Boy” was an obvious series for them to release because their release of the manga was a pretty good seller in America, and the opportunity for cross promotion was too great to pass up. However, rather than release the series in three to four episode DVD’s, they jumped right in with box sets of an average of twenty-six episodes a set. These sets retailed for $99.99 when they first came out, and promptly bombed because most people did not want to risk almost $100 on a series they could potentially hate.
Yeah, some of you young kids laugh now, but before digital fansubs took off the only way for a fan to sample an anime series was to buy a DVD sight unseen. That’s why many anime fans have one or two disks of an anime series and not the rest: because they spent somewhere between $30-$60 to try the series out and ultimately didn’t like what they saw, so they moved onto other series. In retrospect the “Marmalade Boy” DVD’s provided a great deal for fans, because if Tokyopop went the single disk route, this series would have initially cost WAY more money than all these box sets combined! Ultimately though so many of these sets were released to so little demand that all of them can be found for around $10-$25 used.
Well…all but the third box set. Yes folks, while getting the first, second, and forth/final “Marmalade Boy” box sets will probably cost you around $75 combined (if you aren’t frugal with your money), for some reason the third box set is so rare, this one set alone can cost someone between $250-$300 depending on the condition of the set. All of a sudden the “high” $99.99 price point looks like a bargain now.
9. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clow Box
“Cardcaptor Sakura” is an important anime in American’s history because at this point in time the series had been picked up by a Canadian company called Nelvana, severely edited and rewritten, and put on Kids’ WB under the title of “Cardcaptors.” It was one of the most butchered anime dubs of all time, and it remains one of the biggest examples of just how bad a dub can truly be. What makes this release important is that anime fans bought so many DVD’s at this point, that Nelvana KNEW there was going to be a market for the uncut version of the series!
So they teamed up with Pioneer Entertainment (later Geneon) to release a subtitled only release of “Cardcaptor Sakura.” That these DVD’s were more successful than the “Cardcaptor” TV and DVD release COMBINED was lost on no one! It was ultimate proof that tampering with a proven hit could do far more damage than good. At $29.99 a disk though, a fan of the series would ultimately have to pay over $500 to collect the whole series. So once the release had been finished Geneon released two box set of the series priced at $149 each, to help make the series more affordable for those who came in late.
Now those days are over though. The first set will now set you back somewhere between $229-$350. The second set is worse. Being released so shortly before Geneon went bankrupt, this set is so rare it will set you back between $449-$499. Combined you’re looking at a potential $900 for the whole series! It might be cheaper to hunt down the individual DVD’s, which aren’t nearly as expensive (though a few of those will set you back as well, as we’ll discuss in a separate article).
7. Sailor Moon
Ah Sailor Moon…where have you been? A lot of people find it ironic that a show that helped popularize anime in America and continues to do so today has not been legally available for purchase in over a decade because Toei Animation decided to let the licenses lapse. I don’t know if that’s going to change soon, but with a new anime in production, chances are it will still be awhile before the original series is made available to license again. So what will this series cost you to see now? Between $149-$499 per season. Well, three of them really. What is the odd season? Well…stay tuned for future installments and you’ll find out.
Stay tuned for part two (subscribe to my channel to insure you are one of the first to be notified of the next installment)!