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.
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!!!