Do I really need this?: My thoughts on purchasing physical Anime releases

I love collecting things. Whether it’s video games, figures, books or whatever else, I have a passion for owning stuff that relates to my identity as a consumer of media.

But when it comes to Anime, arguably my biggest hobby alongside video games, the desire to own physical copies of the shows I like, or any shows in general, just isn’t really there any more.



I have a pretty sizeable Anime collection. I’ve got around 4 or 5 shelves worth of Anime DVD’s, and it’s really nice to see it all sitting there, alphabetised and looking awesome.

But the saddest part is, I haven’t added to it since 2015, nor have I had any real desire to since then. Even the stuff I do own, hasn’t been taken off the shelf or been watched for the longest time, with my most recent additions remaining unwatched and unopened since they were first put on the shelf.

Like this! (I’m terrible, I know)

But why is that the case? Didn’t I just say I like collecting things that relate to my hobbies? What changed over the years?

Well, in all honesty, a lot of it has to do with both how my access to Anime and the platforms for viewing the medium in general have changed. During my teenage years, online streaming was hardly the beast it is today, and on top of that I lived in a remote village at the foot of the mountains where my household had the modern day equivalent of dial-up internet. It was so bad that it would often take half a day for a simple YouTube video to buffer. As a result if I wanted to watch Anime I had no choice but to buy shows on DVD, regardless if I knew the show was something I would like or not.

It was actually a really fun experience that I kind of miss. Back then the internet was something I wasn’t able to use as an effective source of information, so getting a new Anime DVD was almost like a new adventure that I’d go into knowing absolutely nothing about. I had the opportunity to jump into each new show completely blind, armed with nothing but a front cover and a little blurb on the back informing me of the smallest details of what it was going to be about.

Crazy stuff, right?


This made DVD’s not just something I wanted to collect but something I needed to collect so I could actually watch Anime. My internet never really got better either, even after we changed provider in 2011, at least not to the point where I was able to effectively use sites like Crunchyroll or Kissanime, both of which had begun to immensely rise in popularity.

On top of that, I was also a dub purist. Back then, I exclusively watched English dubs and I struggled to get into subtitled Anime, and the only way I was really ever able to find the dubs, was through DVD’s. Of course that’s hardly the case now, but it was incredibly difficult for me to find dubs online, and even then, I didn’t want to spend a day waiting for an episode to load.

tanaka - 12

But then, as the years went by, I overcame my aversion towards subtitled Anime. I’d just finished University for the Summer, my girlfriend was working, and I was alone in her house, with nothing to do. My girlfriends parents had freakishly good internet, and I wanted something to do, so I downloaded some Anime, subtitled, and gave it a watch. The show was Hunter x Hunter (2011), a show that would go on to become my all-time favourite, and it introduced me to the world of subbed Anime and digital viewing.

This was a pivotal moment for me as an Anime fan. I’d finally discovered the joys of watching Anime through the internet, in high definition, something I’d never done before.

Naturally, having just uncovered a trove of seemingly endless amounts of Anime series to watch, whenever the opportunity presented itself while staying at my girlfriends and having free time, I’d watch as much as possible.

And then my life was taken from me

Soon afterwards, I practically moved into my girlfriends parents house, because we never got to spend a lot of time together if I stayed with my parents, and it was easier to commute to University from there. As a result, I finally had the good internet needed to stream Anime like everyone else was doing.

From then on, consuming Anime digitally became my primary means of watching series. DVD’s no longer felt like a necessity, and over the years, the value of collecting series has more or less vanished as a result.

Because the mystery of not knowing what I’ll get is no longer a thing, and nowadays I have the means to watch all the series I want for a small fee, or for free if I dare, without the risk of spending £30 on something that I could wind up not even liking all that much.


Furthermore, I’ve gotten used to high definition. DVD’s aren’t in HD, and often look much worse when compared to their 1080p online alternatives on my laptop monitor. And yeah, Blu-Rays are a thing, but they’re obscenely expensive compared to DVD’s, which are also getting pricier and pricier with each passing year. And laptops basically never come with disc drives any more, never mind Blu-Ray drives, because computer companies are stupid and don’t view them as necessary any more, even though they are. And, you guessed it, I prefer watching stuff on my laptop because it’s how I’m most comfortable watching stuff.

And honestly, even for my all-time favourite shows, I just don’t see the need to own them any more. Sure, I’d love to have Hunter x Hunter (2011) on my shelf, but do I need it? No, I don’t, and at the end of the day, it’s just a really nice plastic box with a picture of the show on the front. At least, that’s how I see it now.

With video games I need the physical media to play the game, and barring PC gaming which I’m not a fan of, digital downloads tend to be far more expensive. With figures, the whole appeal of them is to display them on a shelf to admire from time to time. With Manga, reading the book is the only real way to do it for me because I hate reading it on a tablet or through a web browser.


But with Anime, owning the physical media just doesn’t have the appeal that it used to. It looks nice on my shelf, and I’m grateful to own what I own. I will cherish those box sets forever and they’re very precious to me.

But whenever I think about adding something new to the shelf, I hold it in my hands in the store and ask myself the question: “Do I really need this?”

And unfortunately, the answer is, more often than not, “No. I don’t need this.”

But perhaps I’m just weird and cynical.

tanaka - 05
It wouldn’t surprise me

12 thoughts on “Do I really need this?: My thoughts on purchasing physical Anime releases

  1. I still love my physical copies of DVD’s. Mostly because the streaming services may take something out of their library at any time and then I lose access. My issue with physical DVD’s is that they don’t last forever so you end up digitally backing up the collection anyway and the storage space is insane. Still, they look pretty on the shelf, it gives me access to an English dub if one exists which is kind of needed for some of my friends to watch any anime, you get extras and sometimes trailers for other anime series, sometimes you get merchandise or posters if you buy a collectors set, and really I just like physical purchases (I’m still the same with books as well).
    That said, I primarily watch streamed anime or the digital back up of discs rather than actually taking the disc off the shelf.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s always my biggest worry with streaming services myself, with Netflix having done this several times before. Hopefully Crunchyroll don’t adopt the same practices in the future, because that’d be a shame.

      The english dub, nice packaging and pack-in extras are often a treat that make the box sets feel like they have more value.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Watching people get burnt out with collecting makes me sad—especially with anime. But it’s totally understandable! I mean, why buy it if you don’t see yourself a) rewatching it later or b) not even touching the show if it were on your shelf? I love collecting anime DVDs and Blurays. To me, it completes the journey of many shows, from concept art, to announcement, to Simulcast, dub, and final physical release in whichever land you reside in. It’s kinda magical, and I see myself doing it for a while longer still. Well, that and I love spending money on good deals.

    You’re not cynical, just doing what we all like to do when we’re contemplating moving on or starting something new—pondering the what-ifs and could-have-beens. Thanks for sharing bits of your story and collection. Perhaps someday we’ll be in for the full tour of your favorites. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad to know you don’t see me as a cynic haha!

      Perhaps one day the fire of collecting will spark once again! I hope so because I miss that old feeling of opening a new box set.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Takuto!


  3. I actually have that kind of mentality when it comes to buying even groceries. Sometimes, it takes me a bit of a time to decide if something is my need or if it’s only a want. I guess I got a bit of my grandmother’s frugality. However, I still envy people who can actually buy DVD releases. Had I had money more than enough for my living, I would buy a lot of them to support the production.

    As of now, the DVDs that I’d really love to buy are actually those of the stage productions (Haikyuu, Touken Ranbu, Daiya stage plays) since some people who have been in butai fandoms for a long time said that there’s really not much money when it comes to that industry. And I just love the actors so much that I’d love to buy bromides, clear files, and other stage goods. I feel guilty that I’ve been watching the plays through some people who shares their copies. But I also feel guilty of the thought of spending a whole lot of money just to be able to buy DVDs. There’s just so much more important things to pay for in real life that I can’t just buy DVDs and official merchs even if I badly want to.

    Anyhow, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I guess our way of thinking just really change over time. I don’t think you’re being weird and cynical. I think it’s just really a part of human nature. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an interesting read, and your reasoning is pretty sound here. When you have such easy access to something, the number of reasons you might need ownership of is is understandably less.

    The question for me isn’t really “do I need it?” Nobody really needs anime. It’s a hobby like any other, so rather I consider “how badly do I want it?” when it comes to physical copies. Save for a buying binge last year, that answer is usually “not enough to spend the money.”

    Still, there are some practical benefits behind ownership. Licenses are a finite thing, and streaming sites can’t hold onto titles forever. Your lie in April is currently on Netflix and Crunchyroll, but I don’t ever want to be without that series even 10, 20 years down the line so I shelled out obscene money for the blu ray set. Once it’s not being distributed anymore, prices skyrocket so outside of piracy a physical disc is the only practical way to watch it.

    Of course this all comes down to personal preference and priorities. It’s all a matter of how important it is for you to have that physical copy, and you’ve done a great job of explaining some of that decision making with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true, we definitely don’t “need” Anime in our lives at all (unless we’re dependent, but that’s crazy haha!)

      A lot of definitely comes down to money for me too, which I now need to use for bills and such, something that wasn’t a concern when I was a teen and had an allowance to spend on whatever I wanted.

      Hmmm, that’s true actually. I never thought of that. That’s definitely a benefit should the licenses ever run out. Good thinking there!

      Thanks a lot for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the post and as always I appreciate your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha…I really have to laugh at this post (no, no worries you haven’t written anything weird, and no I am not making fun of you 😊). But I just came home from a weekend of Animecon, and I got home with bags full of anime boxed sets. I wish I had read this post before that lol. But knowing myself I don’t think that would have changed anything. I agree with a lot of things you wrote, but the thing is I am still a collector at heart, and anime was very hard to come by in my country, because it simply wasn’t very popular (I know, this is horrible right 😂). So, these days I love the way that there are a lot of streamservices like Crunchyroll that fill my need for anime, but luckily things have gotten better in my country and anime is at least more available now.
    I’m not buying every single series that I like, but there are a lot of them that I just have to own. And as Karandi said, not every series remains forever, so I do want to own the shows that I know I will at least watch a second time.
    That said, there will come a time when dvd’s/blu Ray’s will probably become a thing of the past. With the digital age moving forward, I would not be surprised if in 20 years from now, it moght be gone altogether. That really does make me kind of sad, seeing as some boxed sets are just beautiful Collector’s pieces. But, until that time comes, my library will probably continue to expand, no matter what 😊 But I do get what you are saying. I have asked myself that question quite a few times this weekend: Do I really need this: and then I quickly heard myself saying: Yes I do lol,😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a coincidence haha! It’s great to see you’re able to be a collector at heart and continue to add to it (especially because it’s hard to come by in your country, that sucks! D: ). I’m pretty envious! Perhaps one day I’ll start up my habits again!

      Owning your favourites is definitely something worth doing, especially if the license disappears from the streaming services (that’d suck!)

      Thanks for your take on things! It was very interesting to hear your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

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