WTB: One Stop Shop for All Things Anime

Okay, so licensing companies might cry and fans might whine, but it is where the retailers are that rubber meets the road. All that talk about internet distribution offers a glimpse of another world, another way to do business; but that’s not today. At least when it comes to anime anyways.

My question to you is: who and where do you go to get your fix? When you’re buying DVDs in the US, they are abundant and cheap. Places like DeepDiscount consistently provide margin-killing prices for a wide selection of videos on discs. I pretty much go there for anything that I’m not in a hurry for. Well, maybe between that and Netflix.

The licensee RightStuf operates their own store, and often they also provide good prices. Granted it’s not often and their normal prices are not exactly exciting, RightStuf is a candidate to an one-stop shop. I wonder how much money they make off a copy of Piano… That said, I use RightStuf only because it is cheap, and because they have the selection for some of the less popular wares that catch my eye. I suppose the only notable thing about this Iowa-based retail operation is that they almost hired Lawson for something. For better or worse.

There’s also this other licensee, AnimeNation. They are also one of the earliest entries into the US regional market to provide both imported and locally licensed goods. While they don’t do the same kind of margin-killing sales, they do offer a much wider selection with more imported goods. Maybe ‘wider’ is not so accurate of a description as more, different kind of stuff go through their inventory than RightStuf, which tend to stick to some relatively exclusive goods that are hard to find elsewhere. Yet, for an import junkie like me, the fact that RightStuf doesn’t sell imported CDs means they’ll only get a couple hundred dollars (at best) of my sales each year. AN plays the import game very conservatively so I rarely buy from them, at any rate. I don’t blame them–it’s not easy and I’m not sure if a FL-based company can pull it off.

Fair enough. The only “real” one-stop shop for anime, as an importer, is Amazon Japan. And I do spend way too much money on them (when I have said money to spend). They even have a complete figure store, but I guess they’re too high profile to sell that stuff as exports. What the hell, right? I mean, ok, blocking exports of video games make some sense (not much more, but at least they are controlled much more tightly by a handful of licensors), but why figures? They part with CDs and DVDs without a care, so I don’t see the problem. Maybe a customs issue? Anybody knows?

There are a few other near one-stop shops. Animaxis, if you can put up with how annoying they are and how much more things are marked up, is a potential option. Akadot retail and Broccoli’s AnimeGamers (currently dot-anime.com) are also good options online, but neither is that cheap and their selection is spotty at best. They are good places to go to get some exclusives, though.

That brings me to the final potential of an one-stop shop: Kinokuniya. Now I’m not sure what you can buy from them over the internet, but their local stores are chock full of imported CDs and DVDs. And of course books and manga and artbooks and random trinkets. Kinokuniya’s selection is not great, but it isn’t stale. They get the new stuff, the popular stuff on the shelf. I can go in on a Friday and expect to see the new singles that came out that week displayed there. The markup is notable, unfortunately. Now the American Kinokuniya stock tons of the region 1 anime and manga, and it has transformed into something more like a B&N or Borders. But when it comes to the somewhat more hardcore fanboy stuff, there’s traces of it to be found.

Admittedly, my simple survey skips a lot of nuances. If you want to buy anime porn, well, don’t ask me where to find them. Certain some goods like doujinshi and specialty imports like bishoujo games and indie fan CDs and the like require a specialty outlet. A lot of the figures you can buy (and almost all the ones I buy) also require a specialty outlet. There’s stuff like Y!JA and other special order stores. Still, that is not to mention only AnimeNation, out of the stores I listed, deal in used goods. There’s a healthy division of labor to avoid competition?

And of course I must’ve missed some stores out there, too. Anyone care to add?


18 Responses to “WTB: One Stop Shop for All Things Anime”

  • VLSmooth

    The majority of my DVDs are from Right Stuf. They occasionally have incredible 10 for $50 or 25 for $100 deals, like the ADV one ending in ~1 hour

    http://www.rightstuf.com/rssite/main/news/individual/?ForumThreadName=FT0000000287&ReturnTo=Main

  • omo

    Yeah, thanks for the reminder actually…

    By the way, why do people use Robert’s? I tried but the website is just…not appealing. And the prices aren’t really any better for domestic stuff that DeepDiscount would normally carry. Mostly the website. It looks like a geocities frankenstein.

  • dm

    Almost all of my DVDs are from RightStuf. Hometown team loyalty, I guess, coupled with just compiling a list and waiting for their sales. CDs from CDJapan, though Amazon.com seems to be getting a lot of import CDs now at minimal markup (and a lot at major markup). Books I get from Amazon.co.jp or sometimes Sasugabooks.com.

    And I wish there was a Kinokuniya in my little provincial town, but there isn’t.

    My theory about Amazon.co.jp and figures lies in them not wanting to be bothered with the shipping hassles. But I only have a handful of figures, from various sources.

  • Andrew F.

    amazon.co.jp can’t be beat for selection, but their shipping charges are a pain, especially since they dropped economy shipping last year. The falling dollar isn’t helping things either. I haven’t been able to find a US-based online store with a decent selection of import manga and magazines, though, so it looks like I’ll be sticking with Amazon for now. If only I lived closer to a Kinokuniya…

  • Jeff Lawson

    Given the way things have been going in the industry lately, it’s for the better.

    Anyway, I buy pretty much exclusively from Deep Discount. I used to buy from Right Stuf regularly, but no so much now. On rare occasion, I’ll pick up a thinpack at Best Buy. I don’t do much shopping in general, so I’m not in B&M stores often enough to buy things on impulse. Finally, for imports, I stick with CD Japan.

    Since my anime purchases are almost entirely limited to two or three R1 DVDs per month, and since Deep Discount’s prices are about as good as it gets, I don’t have much reason to shop around.

  • omo

    My last order from Amazon had a 5000 yen shipping cost. The order itself was just shy of 30000 yen after shipping. The exact same order from CD Japan would’ve cost about 900 yen more with their slowest shipping.

    Which is to say, Amazon actually has REAL sales. And on stuff all year long. At least that’s why I’ve been using them more despite the increased shipping.

  • Michael

    Unless there’s a good sale on at RightStuf, i go with DVD Pacific.

  • Steven Den Beste

    I used to use RightStuf. But I got tired of their shipping policy. Their motto seems to be, “We ship at our convenience, not at yours.”

    Eventually I tried Robert’s Anime Corner Store. I’ve been buying my anime from him ever since, some two years or more now. Their motto is “Next business day shipment or die trying.” The only time they didn’t ship my order immediately was when I screwed up my credit card info and they had to contact me to get it corrected.

    http://www.animecornerstore.com/index.html

    It’s simply the best service you can imagine. I don’t see how it could be any better. And the prices are competitive. Maybe you might save a dollar or two at Rightstuf (though it’s unlikely) but you’d wait several weeks for them to get around to shipping. Not worth it.

  • Steven Den Beste

    My most recent order with RACS, I entered it in the morning on a business day, and they shipped it that afternoon.

  • digitalboy

    I may or may not store buy all my anime >_>

  • roast-beefy

    As long as you know the right people to use, I’ve always managed to find the best prices in Amazon’s marketplace for DVD’s. I always check DDD and rightstuf, and other than when RS was having a sale, there’s always been a good marketplace seller with a better price. I’ve only ever had trouble with one seller, and I’ve found others who will actually go the extra mile and include goodies. Works for me.

  • TheBigN

    I usually go with RightStuf mainly due to remembering the discounts that I once had being a member of my college anime club, but I do use Amazon.com, Best Buy and Deep Discount when I get the urge to do so (or when RightStuf doesn’t have what I want). I’m currently tempted to use Broccoli International’s store to obtain some artbooks, but we’ll see what happens with that. :P

  • dm

    My last order from Amazon had a 5000 yen shipping cost. The order itself was just shy of 30000 yen after shipping. The exact same order from CD Japan would’ve cost about 900 yen more with their slowest shipping.

    Weird. I have a comparable order from CDJapan (I seem to do this once a year) in shipping process at the moment. I saw your note, and with morbid curiousity, I went to Amazon.co.jp to see how much I would have saved.

    On almost every CD, CDJapan’s price was 5% less (the exceptions were one Spitz and one Yoko Kanno album, where Amazon was about 7-10% less). Amazon shows one thing being out of print that CDJapan has in stock, and I can’t find another, though I can find its sister CD.

    CDJapan EMS shipping is only 650 yen more than Amazon’s. In the end, it’s a wash (which is a bit of a relief).

  • omo

    Amazon.co.jp’s CD prices are more because they are taxed and CDJ makes a point to not do that for us. But between their handing costs and lousing shipping policy it still comes to a very close number. OTOH Amazon does have sales (especially during the holidays) and sometimes saving 26% on a DVD will make ordering it from them good 2-3000 yen cheaper than CDJ. With faster shipping.

    I really like CDJ’s order interface though. It makes things really easy if you just want to put together an order with a different store.

  • prajantr

    DeepDiscount.com is usually my place to go, although I will wait for RightStuf sales for stuff I’m not in dire need to acquire or stuff that’s already gone out of stock from DeepDiscount.

  • Link

    I almost exclusively use Deep Discount with the occasional Right Stuf sale once a year or so. I may occasionally use Best Buy for a sale.

  • Muey

    I generally shop my DVDs at DeepDiscount or DVDPacific (about as cheap normally as righstuf during a sale), and import things I get from either CDJ or Amazon.jp – Generally, if it’s only one item like a CD it tends to be cheaper to just get it from CDJ thanks to Amazon’s new gay no-economy-shipping policy, but otherwise I find myself favoring Amazon. Well, the the fact that they also stock (art)books/manga helps a lot with that.

    Otherwise, If anyone’s aware of some place remotely akin to Toranoana but who isn’t a faggot about international shipping, I’d be all ears. Well, I guess Mandarake exists, but their selection really is horribly shitty by comparsion.

  • JELEINEN

    I only buy from Right Stuff if it’s a really good sale as I have to pay sales tax in addition to shipping. Usually I’m just lazy and will buy at the local Best Buy (they’re usually comparable to Right Stuf’s normal prices anyway). For pure impulse buys, nothing beats a con.

    I really miss being able to buy used stuff through Anime Jungle.

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