Many Anime fans across the world believe Anime merchandise is expensive.
And in some cases believe they’re overpaying for what they’re buying.
These screen-shots of questions related to Anime merch are proof of that….
But the real question is:
Is Anime merchandise expensive? And how do you define expensive?
Google’s definition is obvious to anyone:
costing a lot of money.
But this is subjective for many reasons.
First, the average everyday person (at least in western society) owns either an Apple MacBook, an IPhone, an Android smartphone or Windows computer.
The cheapest MacBook costs £900-£1000.
A Windows computer costs £300-£400 at the decent/cheap level.
An IPhone costs over £400+. An Android can cost £200-£500+.
Not to mention the average person owns a TV, which costs between £200-£700+.
Compare that to the average cost of Anime merchandise
The average product (like the device you’re reading this from) costs more than the average Anime merch.
Even if we compared TV’s by themselves, the average price is still much higher than Anime merch or figurines.
And yet almost every one of us owns a TV, phone, computer, or even a gaming console.
Of course, there are rare exceptions when Anime merchandise costs £500-£1000. But that’s not typical or the “average” cost either.
Now we’ve cleared that up, here are 6 possible reasons why Anime merchandise is expensive.
Whether that’s in Japan, USA, UK, or anywhere else in the world.
1. Anime Industry Salaries
The Anime industry seems a lot like the music business. The creator is paid the least out of anybody. Even though they’re the creators of the product (in this case, an Anime show).
Here’s a breakdown of this list:
- Animator – $9400 per year.
- College student – $17,200 per year.
- Part-timer – $18,700 per year.
- Production assistant – $19,500 per year.
- CG Animator – $22,400 per year.
- Episode director – $28,600 per year.
- Series director – $42,500 per year.
- Chief Animator – $44,000
- Executive producer – $64,600 per year.
- A-list voice actor – $599,900 per year.
So when you buy Anime merchandise from retailers online or offline, keep this in mind.
Not because it has anything to do with Anime retailers directly.
No. But because if these salaries were any higher, merchandise would make no money for the industry itself. As it stands anyway.
Or put another way: The Anime industry as a whole doesn’t make enough money yet.
It’s a complicated topic but also a possible reason.
If you prefer video, you can watch this video done on the same topic.
2. Cost of Producing Anime
They say the average Anime episode costs $100,000 to produce. According to a 2015 post shared by Crunchyroll.
If you take an Anime with 12 episodes, that costs the studio $1.2 million (before taxes).
A post on Anime News Network in 2015 puts the figure at $4 million for 13 episodes.
If you take an Anime like Dragon Ball Z, a wild guess would put it anywhere near $30-$50 million to produce ALL those episodes.
Of course, DBZ is successful and makes tons of money.
Not many Anime shows can say that.
And that’s why Anime merchandise is used to make money back (and even more) from the shows studios lost out on. Because of a lack of sales.
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
Think about the best Anime series you’ve ever watched.
Can you feel that? That feeling brings back good memories and makes you feel warm inside.
And this is the reason collectors buy Anime merchandise. To recreate that feeling, or to support the Anime they’re so inspired by or passionate about.
Anime has this kind of effect. And so, Anime merchandise is priced for those who will buy it regardless. Because they’re willing to support their favorite Anime shows no matter what.
We all do this.
It’s the same reason we’ll buy a singers albums over and over. Or go to their concerts (even if it costs £100-£300 per ticket).
Or preorder a new version of an upcoming video game.
Or why we buy a brand new IPhone when it’s not much better than the last model.
Nostalgia sells. And for the reasons above – it always will. Nostalgia creates its own demand.
4. Novelty Items
Anime merchandise is one of a kind.
Unlike smartphones, pencils, food or clothes, you can’t walk into any store and expect to buy Anime merch.
Only specific retailers sell Anime merchandise, figurines, plush toys or Nendoroid’s across the world.
And that’s what makes Anime merch such a novelty product.
The more unusual, original, or hard-to-find a product is, the more it costs. Because it’s far from a commodity which can be bought anywhere and everywhere so easily.
5. Lack of Sales
Just as Goboiano stated in their Anime post, some Anime’s don’t make enough money at all.
So what do you do when the thing you shove money into doesn’t turn a profit?
You create and release merchandise, and depending on how well it sells, it’ll make back those lost profits.
And when fans like you buy this merchandise, that proves how valuable it is. And so the industry creates (or re-releases) more high quality Anime merchandise.
Then the industry benefits and has more money to fund Anime shows. And the cycle continues….
6. Lack of Innovation
Everyone knows DVD and CD sales have declined for years.
Look at the music industry. They’ve seen sales decrease since 2000.
And the Anime industry is no different.
Why? Because the internet has taken over. And the industry has been slow to adapt and innovate.
Regardless of whatever your opinions are on Piracy, it happens because:
- It’s too easy to watch Anime for free.
- Some countries don’t have access to a range of Anime shows. Like the UK and other places.
- Anime isn’t popular or supported in some countries.
- Fans don’t see the value in paying for DVD’s when compared to its cost.
- Anime is blocked in some countries (streaming services, etc).
The fact is – all these reasons (and more) make it too inconvenient for fans to pay for DVD’S or support Anime. And so, the industry suffers with a predictable decline in DVD sales.
That’s where merchandise comes into the picture.
Anime merchandise supplements the industries sales, and because each item is novelty, it’s not cheap. (Unless you buy fake counterfeit products)
If it was cheap, we’d all lose. Because:
- The products would be low quality.
- And profits would drop.
- Then the Anime industry could go bankrupt.
Imagine if a company like Gucci or Versace suddenly made their items cheap.
How long do you think they’d last? Their products would no longer be luxurious or high quality.
The higher the quality, the more it will cost.
Why do anime figures cost so much?
It’s not just anime merchandise in general. Fans also have questions about why anime figures are so expensive.
Or why anime nendoroids cost what they do… (Even though Nendoroid’s are cheap compared to others).
With that said, here are some answers:
1. Anime figures use high quality materials
If you’ve ever bought your own anime figure, or you know a friend who collects figures, then you know each figurine feels premium. Looks premium. And has the type of quality that will blow the minds of the average collector.
That’s because anime manufacturers put a lot of effort into creating high quality materials for each figure.
Here’s an example to explain things easier…
See this Saber Statue above? It’s one of the latest released in 2018, courtesy of Fate Stay Night.
It’s made in-house and manufactured with high quality PVC materials (and other parts).
It’s the reason the attention to detail is so precise. Almost as if it’s straight out of Fate Stay Night itself! Seriously, it’s a masterpiece.
Not all anime figures are of a higher price (Nendoroids are usually £40 – £50). But all figures are made with quality materials regardless. So you get what you pay for.
PVC Statues in particular have the highest quality of any anime figure. Which is why they usually cost between £100 – £300 and even £1000+.
But it’s uncommon for an anime figure to exceed £300 – £500 in general.
So if an anime figure “costs a lot” you can bet the quality of that figure is priceless.
And aesthetically pleasing to look at.
2. Supply and demand plays a big role in anime figure prices
The supply of anime figures is scarce. By definition they’re rare collectibles that usually don’t resell once they’re out of stock (unlike a commodity like a Vegetable or a mug for example).
This is true with all collectibles. Hence why fans collect these items in the first place.
No sense in collecting IPhones when everybody can get their hands on them, right?
Low supply + high demand = higher price + higher quality. That’s how business has always been, and it’ll never change.
It’s the same reason the latest IPhone X cost £1000 when the average Android phone is less than half that price.
Or why an Apple Macbook costs £1000 or more, and your average Windows computer costs half that. Or less.
The harder it is to attain something, the more it costs because demand goes up, and supply goes down.
The point of this post is to educate.
Often customers have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes of business.
Sure, things “could” be cheaper. But we can say that about almost any product that’s not considered “cheap”.
The reasons in this post aren’t concrete. But they do have supporting evidence that makes it legit.
What are your thoughts on Anime merchandise being expensive?
Do you think it costs too much? Do you even buy Anime merch?
And what would you like to see happen so you can better support the Anime industry?