Young and Stupid: Pirated Anime Merch I Can’t Believe I Bought


Pirated Anime Merchandise DVDs CDs

No one — not even the most hardcore fan, has never ever purchased fake anime merchandise. Even the ones that swear that their collections are 100% authentic have — at one point, been duped into buying fake items by unscrupulous sellers. Trust me — I was one of those suckers :DDDDD

And while my opinions of pirated merch and the people who buy and sell them are known amongst a close-knit circle of friends, I’m not going to get into a debate over them right now. I’m just brain-farting over the ridiculous the amount I had unwittingly spent on pirated stuff, and if given the chance I would travel back in time and whup my own ass for being such a newfag.

Here are five pirated or fake anime merch that I can’t believe I paid good money for.

Pirated Anime CDs

Do any of your anime soundtrack CDs sport that infamous SM logo? If they do, then we’re in the same boat, as those CDs were produced by Taiwanese music pirate Son May. Son May was in the business of making cheap knock-offs of expensive and hard-to-find Japanese anime soundtracks, to sell in overseas markets such as China and South East Asia. “Cheap” is up to debate however, as each CD cost about PhP 400 a pop ten years ago (when the US dollar was just PhP 29 and not today’s PhP 45). Expensive fakes, you can has.

Fake Anime Tees

Long before COSPA, UNIQLO, and all the licensed retailers of anime statement tees, there was the iron-on transfer. Of course, these days we have DIY laser cutters and home heat-press technology, but ten years ago the iron-on transfer was king, with both ardent fans who just had to wear their fandom, and unscrupulous merch sellers lured by a 400% mark-up. These lowlifes would take magazine scans (again, another marvel of science!), print them with a full-color inkjet (an astounding feat of technology!) on transfer paper, and then iron them on to a cheap tee. PROFIT!!!!!!

Fake Anime Playing Cards

In the days before official TCGs such as Weiß Schwarz, Ai Sp@ce, and other Bushiroad products, there were traditional 52-card playing decks that famously featured anime series promotional stills and art-book illustrations. They came in all kinds — YuYu Hakusho, Rayearth, Dragonball Z, and Fushigi Yuugi (yuck hahaha~). There were event tarot variants for Escaflowne, X, and Card Captor Sakura. I had inevitably purchased several of the tarot decks intending to use them for actual divination — big mistake, as they were completely useless and were a waste of good money.

Chinese Manga

This was one of those gray areas of early fandom. Technically, Chinese manga were legal and were legitimately for sale in their respective countries such as Hong Kong or Taiwan. However, once they were imported to markets outside their licensing coverage — the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, they were also crossing over into hot goods territory. Most of them were actually brought into the country as “second-hand books” to avoid import taxes, but still were sold at a 300% mark-up. Smuggling: profitable then, profitable now :/

Pirated Anime DVDs

Before Youtube and Crunchyroll, there was Quiapo. Manila’s den of piracy and a laughable open secret amongst its Koreanovella-loving, anime-fanatic masses, Quiapo was the go-to guy when all you had at home was a 56K dial-up connection and an old CRT monitor. This one I can actually say with a straight face that I purchased fakes from, although this was from a purely academic perspective, and to make a point with our local lawmakers (RE: the Anti-Hentai Bill). Ten years later, it’s still there and it’s still hoppin’ — although things have moved on from VCDs and DVDs to Bluray and HD-DVDs. Progress!!!

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Sese says:

    OH LOL SonMay yes XDXDXD


  2. Bought so much of those Sonmay casettes back in highschool. Back then, I never really gave much thought about ’em being “fake”.


  3. theBlocker says:

    Kung hindi kami na-baha ng Ondoy, siguro nasa akin pa rin yung Tex ng “Ghost Fighter”… hahaha.


  4. @sese tunginahng SM yun ang laki ng kinita nila sa kin :DDDDD

    @angrylittleboy uh thank heaven for small favors? at least the fake cassette tapes were cheaper than the fake CDs :/

    @theBlocker HAHAHAHA e yung tex na BT’X nag ipon ka din?! :DDDD


  5. hao says:

    I remembered that SonMay discs.. hahaha!

    Naalala ko pa, iniyakan ko mama ko kasi gusto ko bumili nung Weiss saka Recca no Honou cds as a birthday gift. Nabili ko pa dati yun sa Animania sa may Ever Gotesco Ortigas XDD


  6. Kat says:

    Double whammy yung akin. I got an SM cassette tapos hindi pa siya yung “original” (meaning the one from SM mismo). The tape was copied to those generic blank tapes tapos the cover was scanned & printed in color.

    Tanggap ko yung tex kasi alam mo naman yun. Eh yung ibang cards sold at “legit” stores. Argh.


    1. @hao meron palang tindahan ng anime sa ever dati?! bakit parang di ko inabutan yun LOL~

      @kat LOL i remember those — people who had the CDs (SON MAY or otherwise) would recopy them on to tape to sell to other people. fandom back then = pirates of the caribbean :DDDDDD


  7. This made me laugh because I can totally relate! I have tons of those pirated DVDs — and I thought I was getting a good deal haha. I also remember buying manga in Thailand when I was much younger. Of course I didn’t understand a word but it made me feel like a fan for owning manga back then. Desperado!


  8. Shaun says:

    Oh dear, SM CDs LOL, ang dami kong nabiling Son May CDs before from 1999-2001, tapos sabi pa nung tindera galing pa raw ito sa Japan and they accept ordering from the Son May catalogue. Can’t believe I’m paying PHP 450 for a bootleg CD, tsk tsk. Tapos yung mga bootleg anime box set ang mamahal like PHP 700-850 per disc (I think “Anime Cartoon” yung logo), I remember buying a Yu Yu Hakusho complete series box set for a very large sum, the store accepts installment since I was only a fresh college student at that time.

    Right now thankfully I replaced most of my bootleg copies with legit ones, some are pre-owned CDs that I bought from Amazon Japan and cost a fraction of the original retail price.


    1. Right now thankfully I replaced most of my bootleg copies with legit ones, some are pre-owned CDs that I bought from Amazon Japan and cost a fraction of the original retail price.

      same here — BOOK OFF to the rescue! you can’t beat the price of just JPY 100 for a legit album that was made in japan :/


  9. MarkPoa says:

    Ah, nostalgic trip back through otaku memory lane. We were all young and stupid once.

    Oh, shouldn’t the first sentence read “has Never never” or “has never not”?


    1. Oh, shouldn’t the first sentence read “has Never never” or “has never not”?

      LOL — this is why you need an editor 😀 i don’t understand fanfic writers who go “oh i don’t need a beta.” :/

      thanks, mark!


  10. Ady001 says:

    I was too poor to actually own some of the merch and fakes. I was into CDs then and got sucked into SonMay releases for anime. then I knew I liked JPop more.

    My first purchase was a Rurouni Kenshin BEST OF OST that was 450 pesos.

    Now, I have a mostly original Japanese Music Collection of almost 400 CDs.

    But those were the good days. I actually played the fake and cherished it because it was the only one I had.


    1. LOL same here — i got rid of most of my pirated CDs, but i hung on to about a dozen or so because of sentimental reasons :DDDDDD


  11. soulassassin547 says:

    I may be a late-blooming enthusiast, but why I should fork over thousands of pesos to some scalper (who maybe working for the Triad or the Abu Sayyaf) when there are better ways to skin a cat?

    There’s nothing much sweeter than owning the genuine product. 🙂


  12. Clair says:

    The cards! How I remember learning how to draw by copying what’s on the cards hahaha. I don’t have those decks of cards now but happily I’ve got some manga and a Card Captor Sakura artbook I love to bits.

    Lol. I remember buying those cassette tapes. Those were the days CDs were not as common. But yeah, I fell for it. These days, I am just glad that ordering online isn’t so hard these days. And, well, there are thrift shops where you could get second hand CDs. If you’re willing to dig for treasures, that is. 🙂


    1. lol those playing cards were a cheap(er) substitute to art books, back then when at books were about PhP 1000 each, and college allowances were about PhP 300 a week.


  13. ravenoux says:

    so sad that quiapo was ransacked by OMD.. now i dont know where to look for anime.. i’m not buying pirated for the anime since i can watch/download it on net for free.. im paying for their trouble of downloading, converting, and burning them.. it takes at least 10 hrs for me to make a quality dvd but for P30/12-24ep. anime i can just buy it hassle free and watch it on tv.. since watching anime on tv is the best.. hope i find a new anime den soon..


    1. it is illegal you know — the optical media board had every right to close those businesses down. if you are really a fan, you will purchase the genuine DVDs instead of relying on pirates :/


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