Another week, another awesome manga fan shares pictures of her stuff! Today’s featured collector goes by the handle Hamster428, and traces the beginning of her manga obsession to Doraemon. These days, her tastes run the gamut from Skip Beat! to Phoenix, and while she doesn’t actively collect rare titles, her library includes a unique edition of Mermaid Saga. (No word on whether that volume of Mermaid Saga is valuable…) So without further ado, I turn the floor over to Hamster428 so that she can introduce herself and her manga. – Katherine Dacey
Hi, this is Hamster428. I majored in engineering and make a living doing design work now. But aside from my job and my manga, I’m generally a non-geek, I swear.
How long have you been collecting manga?
If you count my Doraemon days, it’d be since I was six. No, really, I saved lunch money to buy my own volumes of Doraemon and Chibi Maruko-chan. But those days didn’t last long because we moved to the US when I was in the third grade. And it wasn’t until Fruits Basket came out over here that I bought my next manga volume.
What was the first manga you bought?
Doraemon. I must have been six, or something like that, because I couldn’t read a word. And I really, really wanted to learn, because I really, really wanted to know what the book says. Yes, parents, comics can be beneficial to your child’s education!
How big is your collection?
700 volumes, give or take.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
To be honest, if they’re that rare, I probably don’t own them. (See the gaps in my Phoenix collection…)
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
I didn’t think I owned anything weird — that is, until I bought an upside-down and backward copy of Mermaid Saga volume 2. (VIZ somehow flipped the cover in production.)
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
I used to to read anything and everything that was available, which means shonen like Ore wa Teppei and very young shojo like Chibi Maruko. Now I tend to favor older shojo/josei and little of everything else. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for all things romantic.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
I may have a CLAMP “shrine” and everything, but that’s only for organization purposes. I practically worship Fujiko F. Fujio and Yumi Tamura, the former for writing my favorite series ever, and the latter for consistently writing quality series.
What series are you actively collecting right now?
Skip Beat!, 13th Boy
Do you have any tips for fellow collectors (e.g. how to organize a collection, where to find rare books, where to score the best deals on new manga)?
I’m always pressed for shelf space so I’ve had to double stack for a while now. For those who want to double-stack but don’t want to hide one series behind another, you could do what I do and hide half of one series behind its other half. I’m not exactly anal about seeing every volume of a series so this works out for me (although I am generally more anal about my stuff being in alphabetical orders). And I suspect most of us are already using these, but I really recommend IKEA’s Billy cases. They’re the best for manga because of the adjustable shelves. They’re not fancy but they’re highly functional.
Show Us Your Stuff is a regular column in which readers share pictures of their manga collections and discuss their favorite series. If you’d like to see your manga library featured here, please send me an email.
Michelle Smith saysJanuary 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Nice! And I’d say a full set of the bilingual Princess Knight editions qualifies as pretty rare! :)
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 8:40 am
Good point, Michelle! All the bilingual manga that Kodansha published in the early 2000s are pretty rare—when I originally bought Princess Knight, I paid as much as $40 for a single volume, something I’m not usually willing to do. I’m still kicking myself for passing on the opportunity to buy all five bilingual volumes of Division Chief Shima for $30!
hamster428 saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:06 am
I guess it is. I didn’t think about it because I got it with relative ease (someone was offing the entire set on Ebay). Maybe that makes my bilingual Tale of Genji set rare too?
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:57 am
It does! I don’t think American readers are as familiar with Waki Yamato’s work, so Tale of Genji doesn’t have the same cachet that Princess Knight does. But those bilingual volumes are indeed hard to come by, and very expensive; there are some eBay sellers charging $70 per volume!
As for other rare stuff in your collection, it looks like you have a number of older TOKYOPOP series — now OOP, of course — as well as two VIZ series that are increasingly hard to find at normal retail prices: Basara and From Far Away. I guess this is just a long-winded way of saying, “Actually, your collection does include a lot of rare manga!”
Estara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm
From Far Away is rare now, too? Interesting ^^. I do know that I had huge amounts of trouble getting the 2nd Basara volume once I decided to buy the whole series in one go.
hamster428 saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm
For me, 19&20 were the darn elusive volumes. I’ve thankfully tracked down 19 for $5(!) but I’m making do with two foreign editions for 20.
Estara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm
I was lucky with all the rest. I obviously bought the series before it became too much of a hassle ^^. I hadn’t been sure whether VIZ was going to release all of the volumes and had been waiting for the full set to be released.
Estara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm
Fellow Billyshelf and Manga lover! YAY! I haven’t been so clever as to put half of my series in front of the other, so as to show all of them at the front of the shelf, but I’ll investigate if it works for me. I also don’t have my manga standing but lying on its side ^^.
I don’t think readers here will worry about you being a geek, by the way, heh.
hamster428 saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm
I used to stack my books on their sides too because that was really space saving. But I haven’t had to do that once I got the Billy case (and it’s so much easier to take a volume out now).
Estara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm
True, but I also have Anime and my romance and sf&f collection on my Billy shelves. My manga is basically running out of space, heh, so I only have especially large volumes in an upright position. After years of lusting after one and not having the space for it, my living-room is basically my library now ;-)
lovelyduckie saysFebruary 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm
From Far Away is becoming difficult to track down? Interesting. From Far Away is probably my favorite “Girl in Another Land” type of series, I really like it a lot. Fushigi Yugi was once my favorite of that genre, but as I grew up I found my preferences changed a lot.
ALSO HOORAY Skip Beat! I was surprised to see a few volumes of Skip Beat! going for a lot on Amazon. But I feel like Viz’s solution to that is the omnibus volumes they’ve started releasing.
Hamster428 saysFebruary 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm
I think like other series, it’s only a particular volume that’s rare. And I wouldn’t trust VIZ’s 3-in-1 if I were you. I heard it’s only for the first few volumes as a way to entice readers who are on the fence about starting that series. Unless it’s their deluxe omnibuses like X or Kenshin, they won’t print the entire run.
lovelyduckie saysFebruary 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm
That’s true, I was sad to find that I’d only have 3 omnibus volumes of Kekkaishi.