Molly Tips-a-lot: Wordy Wallet Protection From Anime Sticker Shock

Posted on Jul 25 2010

Prelude: Though I seem to allude to college life on more than one occasion, this could apply to absolutely anybody. These tips are ones accumulated through both high school and college. Remember, these are merely opinion. Don’t even try to consult me for real financial advice. Alright, now that that is out of the way and we’re all on the same page, let’s get started with this special edition of Molly Rants-a-lot.

Oh, the joys of doing laundry and writing that thesis on Versailles in European History simultaneously while watching Bleach reruns on Adult Swim at 2 in the morning. You must be in college! Yes, one must learn the hard way that some luxuries in life must take its place on the grimy back burner of the college student mind when that $10 in quarters should probably be spent on a warm meal instead of the latest volume of xxxHolic. Anime is not immune to the belt-tightening regimen of the undergraduate, but that does not mean you should go and sell your $500 manga collection just yet. Here are some of the ways I have bypassed the cries of my penniless pockets.

Con Fever

Attending conventions is one way fans of all species converge to enjoy a weekend of luke-warm foods, over priced merchandise and obligatory quoting of LittleKuriboh. If there is anything I have learned over the years it is that a year’s savings doesn’t seem to last all three to four days. Here are a few tips to assure you have money to spare for tuition next month.

The dealer’s room is glorious and shiny, yes. That $20 Urahara Kisuke hat does look damn good on me, yes. Don’t let the wall-to-wall collection of 18 and older manga that you are now legally old enough to buy cloud your judgment! It’s way too easy to drop $200 on things that will collect dust on your over-cramped dorm room desk. Remember two things when considering buying ANYTHING from the dealer’s room.

  • 1) Do I have the funds to buy this AND pay for books, tutoring, tuition, gym memberships to work off all the Pocky I just ate and physical therapy to repair any injuries from any near catastrophic glompings?
  • 2) Do I really, in my heart of hearts, need this object in order to be fulfilled? If you can answer yes to both questions with some logical reasoning that you have obtained skills to use from those Logic and Reasoning seminars you have been attending, then by all means buy that object.

If not, save that rare twenty in your pocket for your Advanced Quantum Physics book that you have yet to buy for that class that started 2 months prior (good luck on finals, if that’s the case).

Cosplaying is a pastime any anime fan enjoys every now and then. It can be a point of pride of your sewing skills or just a mere badge of fandom honor. However, it is simple to let your ego get the best of you and cosplay the h*** out of your favorite characters for one weekend to show just how much of an otaku you are! Like any clothing construction, it is costly on both your budget and what little time you have among papers, classes and anime club meetings. Though these results may vary in final product, here some ways the casual cosplayer can still enjoy themselves with some money to spare for a well-deserved swig of Ramune at the end of a long day at Con.

  • 1) Think carefully about how much time you have to devote to your construction. Choose simpler character designs that will be within your range of ability.
  • 2) Borrow pieces from friends. Perhaps your buddy has a wig they can let you borrow from their Halloween costume. Expensive pieces like wigs are just as good if they can be free.
  • 3) Consider group cosplay. Find a friend that can work a sewing machine, another to work on accessories and leave yourself to work on alterations, detail work, choreography, ect. The results will be even more rewarding and the overall work load is far smaller when split among multiple people
  • 4) If possible, find ways to create large pieces of your costume from pre-made clothing from stores like the Goodwill. An entire costume can be constructed for under $30 if you shop with resolve and patience. Altering pieces is far faster and simpler than trying to create something from scratch with a big midterm around the corner.
  • 5) Know your level of ability when it comes to clothing construction. Save yourself the extra stress by undertaking something you are capable of. If you are willing to devote time to learn new techniques, invest in a sturdy sewing machine that will eventually pay itself off after so many completed costumes. If there is anything you should never shirk on cost for, if it’s plausible, it’s a sewing machine that won’t double in cost after multiple repairs. In such a situation, gift-giving holidays are good times to drop hints to parents, grandparents, ect.

There are moments when times are tight and one has to evaluate if attending a con is really the best route. After calculating badge fees, hotel room costs, cosplay expenses and time needed for preparation and the con itself, it might be best to wait out until the next one comes around. If you are so steadfast on attending the con, though, finish your homework, balance your checkbooks and see if there is a specific day you would like to attend over the others.

A day pass might seem depressingly minimal at first, but you not only get to go, you are far more inclined to make the most of that day. Do some research and hunt down a convention schedule. You might find that your favorite guests and panels are on a certain day, making that day more enticing over the others. Sunday, though, is just that tiresome lull when the sugar rush has died down and the sadness of calling it quits for the weekend sets in.

If you are h***-bent on going all three days, see if your college anime club has a incentives for volunteers by working club events, raising money and becoming a real active member of the club. You’ll make some epic study-buddy friends and score some awesome bank-account friendly perks along the way (like hotel rooming or a full pass). It never hurts to become acquainted with friends of similar interests and a wide range of abilities.


If you’re anything like me, you get hooked on a series and develop an overwhelming desire to own every volume. Well, here is the harsh reality of college living: your parents aren’t paying for your frequent trips to the bookstore anymore. Chances are they aren’t paying for much at all now, and they sure as hell aren’t going to cough it up for a “trivial comic book.” First, let me respond with the following….. THEY AREN’T COMIC BOOKS! THEY HAVE DEPTH! THEY HAVE PLOT! THEY DON’T HAVE MASSIVE HEROIC CHINS! But, I digress.

In truth, collecting manga is a costly endeavor and one that is hard to break if it dates back before middle school. Being a collector myself, I have found ways to satiate my ever-growing desire for expanding my collection and still be under budget for the month.

  • 1) Buying used is one way to save a few pennies, but stores still find ways to charge you out of apartment rent. Have you ever noticed that online stores show used manga for a price as low as $2.13 but then in small and light print waaaaay off to the side they add a shipping cost of $7.83 making it just as expensive as it would be just buying the book new at the store? Yeah, me too.

    Keep an eye out for clearance sales or used book sales on specialty anime merchandise shops online. It may not seem quite as cheap as what big name online stores were boasting, but a $6 copy is far better than full price. Why buy new when, if you’re anything like me, you’ll read the heck out of them leaving them in the same slightly deteriorated condition as it would be if you bought it used. Just saying, sometimes quality gives way to a better price, but in the end, it’s still the book you wanted.

  • 2) I bring up anime clubs again for this reason. They are all poor college students like you. Keep your eyes and ears open for an announcement made about a fellow member selling off their personal stock. I’ve seen some pretty great deals on both books and DVD’s of series I have been dying to complete for years. Who knows, that girl at club might have the out of print book that you’ve been searching for for dirt-cheap.
  • 3) Used book stores, if you search diligently, will have an impressive manga collection waiting to be discovered by the bargain-hunting, penny-pinching otaku. If they don’t have the volume you need or the series you were looking for, put in a request with the store’s management or clerks. Most of the time, they are happy to help a fellow book lover.
  • 4) I hate to say it, but I reiterate; free is a good thing when it is obtained by legal means. When you can’t own it, borrow from friends. When they have a series you love but can’t afford without going hungry for a month, ask to snatch it for a few hours. That’s what friends are for: mooching. Do this until you have sufficient funds to obtain them for yourself…. Or do as I do and just wait to read the next volume until you nag your friend into buying it (something I have done for Absolute Boyfriend, Bride of the Water God, Wallflower and Loveless and I am not ashamed).

Really, these tips could apply to anyone who is short on pocket change (nothing much changes from high school to college, like never having more than 40 cents in nickels and pennies, except that everything is far more costly and it is a cost paid by you and not the first national bank of dad). The same basic principals could easily apply for dvd’s:

  • 1) Borrow the DVD’s
  • 2) Though, it is tempting and convenient, save yourself the headache of a lawsuit and watch your anime through official distribution sites like Funimation. They are free episodes and are in far better quality. If you want these companies to continue supplying you with your anti-drug, support them.
  • 3) For anime clubs, companies like Funimation have anime club programs and truly appreciate getting requests for anime to show for the clubs. You not only get rights to publicly show the series but sometimes you get free swag. I repeat: “free” is the best-case scenario (when it’s legal, of course).
  • Brain Overload

    If there is anything more beneficial to the brain of a college student than sleep and study, it’s downtime. This momentary lapse in information intake actually helps your mind take in everything you attempted to cram into it. Crash on your couch, bed or floor, stretch out your back and watch or read something enjoyable. This will be relaxing and help reduce stress.

    But why do this alone? On a Friday night, after classes are out for the weekend and you are no longer willing to open that 40 pound text book, gather your club buddies, your math buddies or even your dorm buddies and have yourself an anime night.

    There is nothing better than geeking out with your closest friends and giving your mind, body and soul something positive to take in. You will strengthen your bonds with your friends and feel ready and rejuvenated for the next week. Enjoy it while it lasts because Monday always seems to come right back like some vicious, mocking cycle.

    So, how do conclude this? Here’s a short synopsis of (almost) everything I told you about today just in case none of what I spent this whole time telling you actually stuck:

    • Be constantly aware of your current financial situation. Calls from the bank are not ones you want. Do you really need everything you want? Eating something other than dried ramen is far more important than an $80 figure. Buy used. Buy pre-made. Friends are put on this earth for mooching (kindly, of course and in moderation).
    • Time is the enemy. Remember, you’re paying that 5 figure number per year to learn and become an intelligent person of the world, not an over-indulgent time waster. Leave time for study when planning your convention preparations.
    • Remember your level of ability. Nothing is worse than feeling way in over your head when trying to construct an impossible feat and keep up in classes. Stress is the last thing you need.
    • Rest, friends and laughter are the best medicine, especially when it involves a box set of DVD’s and sugary snacks. Lots of sugary snacks.

    And finally: SLEEP, FOR GOODNESS SAKES! All of the above is completely useless if you are some coffee-fueled zombie scaring small Narutized children at the convention. Sleep will keep you from getting stressed and sick which will, in turn, keep you from wasting the money put forward for classes. No one likes a sleep-deprived otaku.

    But a word of advice: When confronted by the aforementioned, put a pocky stick in their mouth and tape a pillow to their head. They now have some form of nourishment and in the event of colliding with a wall, human, tree/pole or somehow find themselves on the floor they cannot injure themselves further. Now you know.

    Anyway, that does it for me this month. I should be back in August with a special “Extra Sunday” video edition and more anime reviews. If you have any tips you would like to share or any questions, add your comment below or on the forums. Peace out and enjoy what little summer vacation you may have left.

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  • Louis6507 July 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    All common sense, but a great article…and entertaining. ^_^ Thanks!

  • mollybibbles July 27, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Ah, but you see, not many people know of this “common sense” that you speak off. Such a practice has died out XD

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