The Three Things Anime Shops Don’t Always Tell You About Their Products

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Toys are one thing, but merch can’t possible be pirated — right? Unfortunately, the answer is “wrong”.

Anime merchandise such as CDs, DVDs, accessories, and apparel are actually some of the biggest profitmakers for copycats — they are cheap to make and easy to sell. These are the three things anime shops doesn’t always tell you about your purchases:

The item is meant for sale in a different market.

Some CDs or DVDs that look suspiciously like fakes are actually originals, but meant for different overseas markets like Taiwan, Thailand, or Malaysia. To adjust for local market preferences, these items are usually priced lower than their original Japanese counterparts; however they are also made of lesser quality compared to the Japanese originals.

The trouble starts when local shops take these copies and sell them here, and at highly inflated prices — almost at par with the prices of Japanese items, therefore fooling some customers into thinking they are Japanese imports.

For customers who unwittingly purchase these items thinking they are from Japan, they are ultimately disappointed when the item is not as well-made as the genuine article, does not have the premiums advertised in Japanese magazines and websites, or has booklets and other print material printed in Chinese instead of the original Japanese.

The item is an illegal reproduction.

This is where things get a little dicey: some items are a mass-produced illegal reproductions of actual merch sold in Japan. Think keychains and novelty pens, notepads and sticker sheets, and other consumables that are easy to pass off as originals.

They might even be made by the same factory producing the genuine goods, but without the knowledge of the original copyright holder. They are made with less stringent quality control and sold with more shoddy packaging, so they are pretty easy to spot from originals.

Unfortunately, they are still big sellers as stores are selling them at cut-price rates, compared to the several hundred pesos they might cost if bought from an online store based in Japan.

They made the item themselves.

Least but not least, some items — especially t-shirts, bags, and jackets, are made by the stores themselves, based on designs of official apparel. Some stores go as far as attach tags and labels on the napes of shirts and jackets and in the interiors of bags and pouches to make it look like the items are original.

What is even worse is the blatant cheating going on with the price tags. I saw some items go for as much as PhP 3000 (or JPY6,000) — which is highway robbery considering the store may not have spent more than PhP 1000 in producing the faux item they are passing off as genuine.

If the item is fan-made and there are no measures taken to conceal this fact, then I’m all for that — but if the store tries to pass off their little craft projects as genuine, then we have a fraud case on our hands.

There are probably a lot more shady goings-on in the local anime retailer scene, but as I am not a big fan of local cons they may have gone under my radar. One thing is for sure though: sometimes the biggest stores are the biggest offenders, so caveat emptor (buyer beware). In the grand scheme of things, that little bargain you scored might not have been much of a bargain after all.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. theBlocker says:

    ah. one example is the domo-kun products.
    i wonder how will NHK react if they found out about the spread of fake domo-kun products.


    1. not just DOMO-KUN, also MOKONA, TOTORO, DORAEMON, and a truckload of other mascots and characters are getting the yohoho treatment :/


  2. Mizuhara Yuki says:

    Now I am wondering if my Domo-kun bag is an original or not! (bought at CA) X(


  3. xl petite says:

    So, how will we know if the products that CA sells are genuine?


  4. do your research well before you buy. or, get it from a reputable import store instead of CA.


  5. m. miki says:

    Otsuka Ai’s Love-chan is another example.
    I hate seeing Love-chan being produced illegally as well as being used without knowing who she is and where she’s from. T__T


    1. also been seeing plenty of fake RILAKKUMA items lately :/


  6. domo-fan says:

    hello, I’m wondering…
    how can you tell if i bought an original domo product or not.
    did the original nhk have some tags or anything to determine that it is original and not fake??

    thanks 🙂


    1. original products have an NHK tag with their logo which looks like a three-winged butterfly. however, some fakers are known to copy these tags as well, s o it really boils down to how familiar you are with the quality and make of genuine DOMO versus fake DOMO.


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