Wednesday, February 17, 2010

空間の問題 (A Space Problem)

So I've opened up the "left wing" of the room. I have a huge closet that covers pretty much 70% of the wall that the door is on (and the door covers about 20 of that remaining 30% ニコ). It's not quite what you'd call a "walk in", but actually if you wanted to stick a twin bed in there and sleep, I bet you could fit it. Pretty sure it's also the only place in the house with wood flooring. Now, if you've been reading my blog or talked with me on I'm sure you've seen pictures of the closet I'm talking about.

For probably 15 years up until like 2006-2007, I stored lots and lots of boxes of crap in this closet. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I had - at least mildly - the beginnings of a hoarding disorder before my otaku leanings/interests pushed me to prioritize. I started out collecting anime/manga/gaming goods like I'd collect anything else: buy something I like, sit it out in the open, look at it for a while, maybe keep it permanently somewhere, but chances were good that it'd ultimately end up in a box (usually in that closet) "stored" somewhere. I wrote an entry to this effect a little while ago. I'd save games but I'd also save huge boxes of magazines (I think I had almost every Nintendo Power from 1988 to 1996, ditto EGM), advertisements from game stores, etc etc. I mean, things still had somewhat of a theme of gaming/anime, but I'd wind up keeping so much stuff that I'd never even look at again that it started emigrating into the basement or garage or wherever didn't already have ten tons of crap stuffed into it.

Since the mid-to-late 90's I had had an interest in anime, but barely even knew any titles beyond Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Tenchi Muyo! - all of the ubiquitous titles that US anime fans would know in the 90's. And much like anyone else with an interest in Japan then, I knew of things like Doraemon, Lupin, Gundam, Kitty, etc. But for someone with a budding interest in anime a scant 15 years ago, there were few places where you could go to purchase VHS tapes of the anime themselves, let alone products (of which there were still few figures/toys compared with what's available today, even in Japan). I mean, you could go to hobby shops and have them "import" stuff for you from the Diamond Comics catalog - usually expensive and sparse in selection - and I say "import" because most of the stuff you could get was from Kotobukiya, which has long had a US office and even though the products were often identical to their Japanese releases, they weren't really imports in the strictest sense of the word. Your other option would be to try and find a store with a "Japanimation" *sic* section and hope they had a small section of gashapon figures or other small figurines that somehow magically found their way from Japan to here. (And were about as "magically" priced, I'd liken it to spice traders in the 16th century bringing exotic goods to sell in London or something. I remember a large comic book store in my city in like 1995, having small Sailor Moon gashapon figures that were priced at like $11 a piece.) Even when I went to Japan in 1996, there weren't an overwhelming amount of goods available based on anime series. There were plenty of garage kits produced in small batches, plamo kits and monochromatic gashapon toys, but nothing like what you'd find today. Remember, during this time Akihabara was still the "electronics district", where you'd find more game stores and arcades (game centers) than anything anime-themed. And we were still about 5-6 years away from anything like a maid cafe being around, there.

Upon entering 1998-1999, the goods available for any given series really ramped up. Whereas only Dragon Ball Z and Gundam may have had a huge product selection available before, series like Cowboy Bebop, Card Captor Sakura, Ah My Goddess!, Trigun and Evangelion started to amass giant product lines of their own. 2000-2001 seemed to be the years where anime really took root here in the US, and couldn't really be ignored anymore by even mainstream comic book stores here. A lot of the products from the aforementioned series got imported by mom & pop comic shops as well as larger establishments, 'cons began to really pick up here and interest reached a fever pitch at one point. Although there was still but a fraction of what was available in Japan, in shops here. As the selection picked up the quality tended to improve, and even now I look at stuff I bought 8-9 years ago in 2001-2002 and compare it with something I bought in say, 2008, and marvel at the difference in detail. So back then I'd more or less buy what was put in front of me, not necessarily having seen the anime it belonged to, and I'd have this huge hodgepodge of figures and game center prizes and gashapon toys everywhere.

But as I became more acquainted with anime and the further along technology got, to where almost every title was being digitally subbed and available a week after it aired in Japan as opposed to two years after it got licensed by some shitty american company with shitty american voice actors, I wound up buying things that were more relevant to the series I was watching. This also led to somehow being way more appreciative of what I had purchased. I'm sure it was also the growing quality of the items being produced that caused me to appreciate them more as objects of art, or something I wanted on display. Eventually I started buying shelves and glass cases for my collectibles and quality overtook quantity by leaps and bounds.

The closet full of boxes was finally overhauled and streamlined little-by-little. All of that time spent packing away (and moving) every box and piece of paper and figurine for so many years and I pretty much unceremoniously threw away about 90% of it in one year, and every year since I've been tossing more and more to make more room for more display cases and shelves to put what I really like out in the open. And as I said above, I'm pretty sure it's relevance that makes things "make the cut" for display. Because, a lot of my items on display are smaller figures and decorative items and not necessarily all that expensive, either. Then again, smaller capsule figures like the Dragon Ball Capsule Neo ones from Megahouse are tiny, inexpensive and highly detailed.

So, having eschewed many boxes full of crap for a few nice cases/shelves full of aesthetically-pleasing figures and other miscellany, other than having the effect of being broke and having little to nothing "adult" or "real world" to show for it over the past 4-5 years, I'm relatively pleased. Unfortunately it has only taken me around four years to fill the room with these shelves o' plenty, compared with 15+ years just filling it with crap.

But effective immediately, I've more or less stopped buying anything non-essential. Coincidentally I've run out of space just as I've come upon a reason to set more realistic goals, so I take this as a sign to move on. So I guess this place really will become like a museum/showroom with no new additions to it for some time. ^^;

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