Apologies for the late posting this week! Today’s featured collector is Safetygirl, a self-described Shinsengumi fan and avid manga collector who owns over 2,000 volumes. As you’ll see from her drool-worthy photos, her tastes run the gamut from Kaze Hikaru to Golgo 13 to Arata: The Legend. She’s so dedicated to anime and manga, in fact, that she custom designed a room in her house just to hold all her swag — and what a space it is! If anyone from Bravo or TLC is watching, I think Safetygirl’s organizational and decorating skills would make a swell basis for a reality show.
One quick programming note: since I will be hosting the Osamu Tezuka Manga Movable Feast next week, Show Us Your Stuff will be on hiatus until Thursday, March 1st. –Katherine Dacey
Hi, I’m Safetygirl! Welcome to my office, or, as a friend dubbed it, “the otaku room.” When I bought this house, I wanted a room for my computer and small manga collection, and it’s really expanded since then! Besides manga, this room is for my anime, cels, character goods, and doujinshi collections. I also LOVE the Shinsengumi, and collect anything with any version of the guys in baby blue.
Behold the Great Wall of Manga!
How long have you been collecting manga?
I was briefly into manga in the mid-’90s, mostly the stuff available in the old floppies, like Ranma ½, Maison Ikokku and Oh! My Goddess, but at that time I was all Marvel/DC/American superheros. Then I went to college and gave up on comics entirely, due to finances and being annoyed by the frequent rebootings and retconning of American comics.
That changed in 2003. That was when a friend let me borrow the first volumes of Kare Kano and Kindaichi Case Files, and I avoided reading them for a while. Then I finally read them… and I was hooked. I had just gotten a promotion at work and had extra disposable income, so a new hobby came just at the right time.
What was the first manga you bought?
I can’t remember what it was back in the ’90s—that was a long time ago! In more recent times, it was Kare Kano volume two. I was annoyed that the manga cows had been handling it and the spine was dinged, but I bought it anyway—I had to know what happened! It’s still in my collection now, even though my feelings towards the series has cooled appreciably since that time.
Close-ups of Safetygirl’s enormous (and drool-worthy) manga collection.
How big is your collection?
Over 2,100 volumes. Even though I cull and sell pretty aggressively, I’m running out of room! When I bought my house in 2004, I designed the custom-built shelves in my office to fit 1,300-1,400 books, which seemed like a lot—I had maybe 500 at the time, plus some character goods I wanted to display. As you can see, I’ve had to be pretty creative; I’ve found that manga can serve as great cord-hiders on the entertainment center. I bought a shelf at a Borders fixture sale, and it holds my Shinsengumi manga on one side while the other has my Yuu Watase titles (and a great place to display my Watase pin collection!). Recently I had to add another shelving unit; this one has my CLAMP collection (with a little room for expansion!) and Yumi Tamura. In the past couple of years, I’ve started stacking things vertically—I don’t like doing that, but the shelves aren’t deep enough for double rows.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
I wish I could say those super-expensive middle volumes of Basara, but I don’t have those yet. The French copies were an affordable placeholder, and it’ll be a good test of my French when I get there.
Beyond my manga, I also collect cels, and being one-of-a-kind, those are rare. The focus of that collection is Millennium Actress.
Safetygirl’s anime shrine. Bow before it and be humbled!
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
The original run of Golgo 13, as published by LEED here in the US in the mid ’80s. It’s flipped! Featuring strange coloring on the first chapters, where flesh tones are rendered in an Oompa-Loompa-ish orange! I’m not sure if it’s really weird, but it’s certainly early in the history of manga in the US.
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
I think I was like a lot of people: I went on what my friends were reading, and things related to the anime I was watching on TV. I didn’t find the manga blogging/tweeting community until much later, and they’ve been an influence. But these days, I don’t do Jump titles like I used to—I’ve not liked one enough in a while to justify the investment of dozens and dozens of volumes. I’d like to say that I’m pickier now, and I use the manga community to help guide me towards things I might have either overlooked or dismissed. But what attracted me to manga was shojo, and that’s still what I love the most. I’ve also discovered that the rest of the world has manga, too, so I’ve been able to improve my rusty high school French AND finish Walkin’ Butterfly at the same time!
Who are your favorite comic artists?
Taeko Watanabe (Kaze Hikaru), Shigeru Takao (Teru Teru x Shonen), Yuu Watase, Miyuki Yamaguchi, Kaoru Mori, and my newest favorite is Yumi Tamura. I really wish I knew how to bribe the folks at Viz—brownies, maybe?—so they’d license 7SEEDS. For American comics, the only titles I still have left from my once-extensive collection are the trade paperbacks of Sandman and Astro City.
What series are you actively collecting right now?
I try to keep up to date—I fell behind a bit 2007-2008, which sent me scrambling during the CMX/GoComi shutdown era. Currently: Kaze Hikaru, Twin Spica, Black Bird, Dengeki Daisy, Kimi no Todoke, Oresama Teacher, xxxHolic, Arata, House of Five Leaves, Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei, Bakuman, Kamisama Kiss, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vampire Knight, Chi’s Sweet Home, Afterschool Charisma, Kingyo Used Books, Story of Saiunkoku, Ouran, Goong, Bunny Drop, Bride’s Story, Yotsuba, Black Butler, Arisa, Otomen, The Betrayal Knows my Name, Drops of God, Sailor Moon, Dawn of Arcana, A Devil and Her Love Song. There’s a lot of other series I would be buying, if they still were being printed. Looking forward to: The Earl and the Fairy, Sakuran.
I buy stuff from France and Germany, but since I tend to order in bunches on a quarterly basis, I wouldn’t say that I’m following anything. From Japan I buy Kaze Hikaru, and whatever Yamaguchi Miyuki and Shigeru Takao are putting out, and other things as needed. I have a weakness for anything from Hakusensha with a pretty cover. If I lived near a Book-Off, I would need another room. I subscribe to Flowers and Melody.
Manga, anime, and Hello Kitty! swag.
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)?
Catalog it, somewhere. I used to use Collectorz, but it no longer met my needs. Now I’m fairly happy on LibraryThing, though I still use Collectorz as my back-up. I once was a big fan of ListerX, but it suddenly closed and ALL of my work was lost. So no matter how much I trust LibraryThing, I *have* to have an offline record of my collection. However, one advantage to an online catalogue—it’s easy to access if you’re out book shopping! I also keep spreadsheets on my pre-orders and things I will pre-order, once RightStuf has a sale!
Organize it in a way that makes sense to you. I do alphabetical, but I do keep series together (sometimes there’s a name change, like how GoComi’s Ultimate Venus is Big Bang Venus in French), or file by common name. (Both Codename: Sailor V and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon are under “Sailor.”)
Deals and rarities—I scour comic book stores. Some bought into manga heavily during the boom, and have a lot of stock from that era. Good if you’re looking for Emma, not so much for something more recent. For new things, I wait for RightStuf studio sales, and I’m a member of their GotAnime? discount club. I buy a lot of manga; getting it 40% off helps a lot!
To see more of Safetygirl’s awesome otaku room, click here.
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 follow the directions on this page.