Manga Collecting: To Complete Or Not To Complete?

The end of junior high and into the start of high school began my love for anime and manga. It was around the time the Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z anime have crossed over into North America and found an audience of young kids discovering, perhaps for the very first time, an entirely different style of animation that came from Japan. Anime and even manga were still pretty new to Americans at the time. The amount of series that arrived over here were few and far between, but the ones that did were the kind that felt as if you had discovered buried treasure. They were just that good. As more anime and manga titles started getting imported for young American kids to find, the more I gradually added to my own personal collection.

I’ve been an avid manga collector ever since they became accessible at bookstores and comic shops. I devoured every shojo manga I could find and always looked for anything that had a good story and memorable characters that stuck with me. But the older I got, the more my collecting tendencies dwindled. The reason mostly stemmed from not having enough money to buy all the books to complete the set. Now that money has sort of become less of an issue, where does a manga collector go from here?

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I started collecting and reading less manga. It most likely was around the time I was still finding my place in the workforce and what I wanted to do professionally post-college. That meant less than ideal salaries and working towards gaining more job experience, while always keeping an eye out for other opportunities that were better than the ones I currently had. It was a discovery period for me with a great amount of effort exerted towards proving to myself and to others that I had the skills to take on bigger and better responsibilities. The limited income during that time left me with deferring my insatiable love for manga in favor of saving my money for more important things, like paying bills.

Things did take a turn for the better recently, both professionally and financially. I’m by no means rich, but the improvements in these areas of my life did allow me to enjoy the money I earned to spend on wants than just needs. Even with all the extra cash, you think I would jump at the chance to complete the manga series left unfinished since my high school and college days but I find myself hesitating.

Ouran High School Host Club [Credit: Viz Media]
Offhand, I can tick off which series I most want to read and complete: Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango), Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, and Ouran High School Host Club. There are a few others I want to complete, like Vampire Knight, but those have fallen way below my priority list because of how convoluted the plot had become when I read a few summaries of major developments that happened within the manga. Others, like Kodansha’s Sailor Moon, are more about collecting the re-release of a manga I read and collected years ago, but really wanted the updated covers, included color art pages, and the tighter and more faithful translation of the Japanese original. But even with the scale back on titles I would collect and read over the others, there are still some challenges that keep me from dropping my money and snatching all the volumes I’m currently missing.

Space

When the manga volumes I owned began to grow, spots in my room also began to diminish to try and accommodate the collections I was building. Boys Over Flowers, CLAMP’s Tsubasa, and Ouran are massively long series with over 20 or 30 volumes between them. Owning all of them will undoubtedly put a strain on my severely limited living space. I had to get creative with what little space I did have, but I’m starting to run out of ideas for where to put them all. Collecting the remaining volumes as digital copies would be a solution to my space problem, but I find it a little out of place to have a manga series suddenly split between physical and digital copies. Unless I began my collection as digital, I prefer to finish the current collection I started years ago as physical books.

Out-Of-Print

My top 3 series I would ideally want to finish are really old and have finished its publication run 5 or 10 years ago. I did my best to buy and collect some of these series as they came out. In the end, I fell behind on keeping up with each volume’s release mostly because of money constraints. When you’re a semi-poor college student, you really couldn’t buy whatever you want whenever you wanted.

Years later, and being in a much better position to continue my manga hobby, it has become increasingly hard to track down every single volume I’m missing and in the correct order to read them. Well, sort of. I have found some of the volumes I needed by searching for them on Amazon and seeing that they’re being sold by third-party sellers. Some are reasonably priced for slightly used books and others may charge more simply because they’re not being sold as new any where else. Hunting for these volumes have been a massive pain and they pose as an obstacle on the road to collecting and completing my unfinished set.

Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers)

I’ve been contemplating for a while now how I’m going to go about achieving my goal of finally finishing some of these beloved series I wanted to see through to the end. The obstacles may seem small and not entirely insurmountable, which may be true, but it won’t be easy. I don’t have the answers for how I’m going to face these challenges in front of me, but I don’t think I’m ready to give up on my manga collecting dreams. Wish me luck?

What challenges do you face as a manga collector?

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17 thoughts on “Manga Collecting: To Complete Or Not To Complete?

  1. I have a manga collection ( actually my brother’s … he gave the collection to me when he moved, though I did manage to collect a few titles )…. the problem I have with some mangas is that some publishers stop publishing a manga.. ex. B.O.D.Y The publisher stopped after Vol. 10. The complete story has 15 volumes. So now I’m left hanging with uncompleted collection.

    1. You mean they released all the volumes but you never caught up to the releases and therefore it’s out of print? Or the publisher decided to not release the full 15 volumes? In any case, that’s the pitfalls of being a manga collector who can’t always buy every single volume as they come out right away. It’s a frustrating problem to have for sure.

  2. I don’t really collect Manga, I focus more on the anime side of things and I have faced all your problems now and in the past. It’s getting to the point where its taking up a lot of space when I moved across the country.

    1. I also had the same problem with collecting anime for a while until I eventually slowed that down with the advent of streaming services. I end up not buying as much anime as I used to, but once in a while, I might buy the ones I absolutely love. Luckily, there hasn’t been too many I really have to own which gives me one less thing to add to my growing space problems.

  3. I don’t really have a manga collection as I am more of an anime fan myself. But…that said, I am reading more manga than I used to read. So…I now have two series that I have followed: One I have completed: Monster, the other is Battle Angel Alita the deluxe editions, and that is still ongoing 😊

    1. Haha, at least your manga collection is considerably smaller. 🙂 I have the half that’s completed and the other half that’s not. I would love to have a completed set of everything I ever decided to collect, but I think I’ll have to make peace with the fact that it probably won’t happen.

  4. I’m currently collecting Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and No. 6. Of the three, No. 6 has been the most challenging to find the remaining volumes I need to own the whole story. If FMA wasn’t being rereleased in glorious hardcover, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to get all of the books, but with the new hardcover installments it will be easy to collect them all as long as I keep up with the releases. Similarly, AoT being super popular makes collecting the volumes pretty straightforward as well. I guess I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum finding books hah hah. XD

    Also! I know what you mean about space! At least a quarter of my small bookshelf is dedicated to manga, and with 2 of the 3 series I’m collecting putting out who knows how many more volumes, I may not have space for them all. It’s a fun, but challenging hobby to balance for sure. 🙂

    1. The all-in-one volumes definitely become handy for a much longer series that you’re collecting! You’re lucky you have that option with FMA. Unfortunately, the ones I named in my post don’t have anything like that for some reason. It’s too bad too because it would make things so much easier on myself.

      You’re so right about manga collecting being a fun but challenging hobby. It’s easy to keep gathering more and more volumes of your favorite story because you want to know how it all ends. That is until you realize your room may not be equipped to accommodate such a huge and growing collection. I’ve certainly had to get creative on storage, but now that I’ve run out of options to put them someplace practical, they’re currently being stacked as tall manga towers or a mini-wall in the corner. Not the best solution, but it’s something…for now at least. 🙂

  5. I’m more of a anime collector than manga but in the last 4 months this year I’ve slowly getting back into collecting manga again starting with filling the holes in my collection. Big manga I’m collecting is rurouni Kenshin with the 3 in 1 volumes now as was one of the first ten manga I read. Def combined volumes is going to make this easier to collector. Generally when collecting I stick to getting series I know I’ll reread.

    1. That’s a good rule of thumb to have. I’ve sort of gotten to that point with my manga collection since I stopped buying new manga series. I prefer to focus on what I currently have and finish those up first. Maybe if I complete the ones I’m missing I may look into newer stuff.

  6. As someone who first got in to manga as a teen about a decade ago now I can totally relate to a lot of what you’ve written. Reading this actually feels incredibly nostalgic, especially since you mentioned Tsubasa! I was obsessed with that series for the longest time, and I do recommend checking out the ending if you ever get round to it.

    In my case I never did lose my love for manga but I agree; catching up with series that have since been dropped/gone out of circulation is a nightmare.

    1. I fully intend on finishing (hopefully) Tsubasa. The volumes I did read gave me so much nostalgia for Syaoran and Sakura of Cardcaptor Sakura at the time, even if it is an entirely different story and version of them.

      As you said, it’ll be a nightmare to collect these volumes now. So much time has past since they were released and I’m not sure how successful I will be in finding them all. Gotta try anyway, right? 🙂

  7. I think my biggest issue is simply not finding ones printed in English. I tend to read a majority of manga online, but after falling in love with some of them (like Shiki, for example), I can only find them in different languages to buy online. Unless… I’m just not looking hard enough. I look online now because I’ve gone to many different book stores and none of them have some of the ones I’m looking for. How depressing is that? haha

    1. That is a dilemma! Is the reason you’re not finding the manga in English is because it never officially got localization in North America? It’s tough when you encounter manga you absolutely love, but it’s not available for whatever reason. Not finding it any where in English is the worst possible challenge. I suppose being able to read it online is better than not being able to read it at all.

      1. Yes, exactly! I live in North America, so certain titles aren’t officially available over here. However, you’re entirely right; being able to at least read it online is a blessing on its own!

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