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.
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.
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.
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.
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?