Growing up a weeb in a 3rd world country? Not an entirely fun scenario. Because of the whole ‘my parents were too strict, so I didn’t get the internet till 2009’ thing, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to anime outside of what Toonami was airing. Hell, I still remember the absolute nightmare it was trying to get a Beyblade back in 2005 because it felt like every toy store in the country was constantly sold out. Anime merch was just such a coveted sell, even back in the day, because it was so limited.
You can easily buy and sell anime merch without complaint in today’s world. The mainstream popularity of anime has made it an extremely lucrative business, with companies regularly collaborating with different franchises to sell their designated merch. You have everything, from Proplicas belonging to an anime character to clothing collections inspired by said anime. It’s become so much more readily available in the past decade, while simultaneously having a more personalized touch to keep up with the times.
And it isn’t just, like, specific items such as figurines or posters, though those are extremely popular still. We’ve had luxury brands such as Gucci have collections come out that feature or are inspired by anime. Remember the Balenciaga x JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure collaboration? Or maybe the Coach x Naruto Shippuden collection? And merch isn’t just for high spenders. Frequent anime-themed collections are coming out with companies such as Hot Topic and Uniqlo, for all your budget Otaku needs.
But what makes anime merch such a great investment? I mean, a lot of these things aren’t exactly resale value. They are, first and foremost, something for enthusiasts. Likely you’re collecting the memorabilia not because you plan on selling it for a profit but because you just like to show off your passion for something. Like, when I bought my first Naruto Shippuden-themed gym wear, I wasn’t exactly thinking I’d be keeping it in a showcase to gawk at. Things are meant to be enjoyed, after all. So, here’s why anime merch and memorabilia are so hot right now!
Anime Has Gone Global!
God, remember when being an anime lover was, like, niche? It was always disregarded as something kids grow out of until, well, they didn’t.
Those kids, mostly Millennials, went on to carry their flame for the art medium and it trickled down to the Gen Z crowd. And, well, now anime is everywhere! You can’t escape its presence, both in its place of origin and outside. Anime is arguably the most popular animation format right now, with its influence even bleeding into western productions and catching the eyes of foreign investors such as Netflix. It’s how we got the likes of Castlevania and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
And businesses saw that there were people out there willing to pay for products related to their favorite anime and manga. Artists saw commissions coming in requesting various anime characters. Anime conventions were starting to see more and more stalls pop up that were selling export quality figurines, Nendroids, and plushies alongside more normal-themed stuff, like homeware inspired by specific anime.
The kids had grown up into adults with money of their own to burn. And toys weren’t exactly going to cut it.
Cue The Anime Merch Boom!
Anime has come a long way from being something that was mainly created to sell toys to kids. Now, it’s a full-blown respected industry, with a host of cult classics that can give some big Hollywood epics a run for their money. And with that came a demand for more and more themed memorabilia catered to a growing audience.
I’m a big collector of cottagecore-style cookware, like whimsical pots and pans, My Neighbour Totoro-themed mugs, and vintage-style goods that you’d see in something like The Wind Rises. It’s something that gives me so much joy and comfort; I actively search for similar items when looking for anime merch online. Sure, I also have my more normie anime stuff, like hoodies that look like Yuji Itadori’s from Jujutsu Kaisen, and my Death Note-themed planner. But this just goes to show how anime has a varied fan base, from bold enthusiasts to casual newcomers alike.
You even have cosmetics and skincare stuff that is themed around anime, like Creer Beaute’s Sailor Moon collection. Where the eyeliners are shaped like Moon Wands and the Pretty Power Compacts hold actual makeup. And recently, SK8 The Infinity announced three customized perfumes centered around the three older characters in the show.
Why Selling Anime Merch Is A Great Idea:
Anime merch doesn’t have to mean bold prints and hyper-specific quotes. Sometimes, there’s a lot of money to be made in the more casual anime memorabilia, like discreet decor and minimalist clothing. It’s why Shonen-themed streetwear brands such as HypeLand are doing so well.
I’ve seen Dragon Ball-style engagement rings, that look nondescript to the untrained eye, but an enthusiast can recognize them immediately. Think little ornaments and trinkets that don’t give things away immediately but are like a silent badge of honor for fans. There is a huge market for those kinds of anime merchandise, alongside portrait works and art inspired by them.
Due to the pandemic, a lot of people were stuck in their homes with nothing to do except stream shows online. And at some point, anime must’ve come up because post-pandemic? Anime has become a huge movement across social media, with more and more shows being created that cater to a wider audience. So, it’s no wonder demand has increased for more related items to it. Also, resale value has gone up for most luxury goods. Combine that with the higher demand, and most people are seeing a lot of benefit in investing in anime merch to sell.
Between the casual fans who are just starting with comfortable Studio Ghibli movies to the prouder fans of big-name shows such as Demon Slayer and Spy x Family, collecting anime memorabilia has become a source of pride. So, will you be buying some anytime soon?