Bargain Bin Anime

Central Park Media is long dead, but its DVD releases are waiting for you to give them a good home.

My love of anime means I spend a great deal of time watching it and a great deal of money buying it. But the price of anime can make buying it new difficult.  My budget wouldn’t last long if I bought discs with 5 episodes for $30. Happily, the industry model shifted to a wallet friendly model where I can buy a season set for less than $50. Still, buying my favorite series or an anime classic used is more satisfying to me than picking up the same title new at Best Buy.

Central Park Media is long dead, but its DVD releases are waiting for you to give them a good home.

Ebay is a good first stop for a fan of used anime. In-print anime is available for 20-40% less than retail.  But the site’s best use is for out of print series. Owning out-of-print anime is the coolest part of collecting. Its tough, after all, to lust after something that anyone can buy. And you can buy out of print discs on ebay for cheap. Patience is the key; don’t get too invested in your first auction. Instead, pick how much a series is worth in advance and do not bid higher. If you “lose” an auction, bid on another. When you have bid on 3-4 auctions you can decide whether to increase your bids. With luck you’ll nab your white elephant without blowing your anime allowance.

Another convenient anime source is amazon’s used section. Sometimes you can buy even new shows from a third party for less than amazon’s price. Another similar site is GoHastings.com. The company runs college bookstores but it also has an online outpost that sells used anime. I don’t know how the store sets its used prices; all I know is that I like them. You can find individual discs used for as low as $3 to $5.

My favorite used store in Boston. (Picture by LGagnon licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 license, taken from the Newbury Comics wikipedia page)

My favorite source of used anime isn’t Ebay or Amazon, it’s not online at all.  Sometimes the lowest price and largest selection is at a brick and mortar shop. Newbury Comics, Second Spin, Amoeba Music and your local used shop have impressive selections. I scoured the internet for a copy of Grave of the Fireflies before finding it for the reasonable price of $15 at Newbury Comics this past week.

If you have searched ebay, amazon and brick and mortar stores and still can’t find the show you want don’t forget the import market. I’m not talking about Japanese imports, unless you have $465 and cannot live without that Big O blu-ray box set. Instead look to other English speaking regions. After looking for Paranoia Agent online and off I picked up a Region 2 version from amazon.co.uk for $30 shipped. Don’t forget your English speaking neighbors, sometimes a show that’s out of print and expensive in your country is still licensed and available elsewhere.

A couple pieces of the anime economy are still a mystery to me. For example, I do not think that the $5 I paid the Royal Post in shipping covered my package’s transatlantic trip. I assume that bateszi’s tax dollars subsidized my purchase. Similarly, I do not know who sold their anime collection to GoHastings and Amoeba Music for pennies on the dollar.  Whoever these former anime junkies are, I applaud them. Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain: buy your anime used. Your wallet will thank you.

4 thoughts on “Bargain Bin Anime”

  1. I went through a phase of buying anime through Ebay, with the inevitable early mistakes with bootlegs (which, at the time of buying, I thought were genuine,) and it’s definitely a good option provided you’re willing to make slightly more the bare minimum effort to buy something (which is to say, I applaud you for still going to shops! It’s a rare day that I find myself shopping in the flesh these days.) Interestingly, I’ve often heard that shopping for 2nd hand bargains can lead one to a number of rare finds; I have good memories of going to a car-boot sale years ago and buying up a load of anime VHS’ (back when VHS was still alive, too!)

    1. The great thing about ebay/paypal (at least now) is that if you get a fake it’s pretty easy to get your money back. I bought a copy of Serial Experiments Lain on ebay a little while ago and they were clearly burned copies, I got the buyer to give me my money back pretty quickly (and got to keep the counterfeits, although I threw them away).

  2. I’m so glad you referenced Newbury Comics! I’ve made so many good finds there. For instance, I got four discs of the out of circulation Utena for 5 bucks each.

    1. Newbury Comics has been good to me as well (including the DVDs pictured in the post). I think people forget that some DVDs that are priced ludicrously high online are available for cheap offline.

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