Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cel Market

Anime cel collecting just isn't what it used to be. Then again, I suppose it was never huge and along those lines I never amassed a large or exceedingly valuable collection. But damn, it was a lot of fun. In fact anime cels really were my last big connection to anime. Most people that know me know I really don't watch much these days. I have what I like, and most of what I like is the anime of the 1980's and 1990's. Particularly Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, Super Dimension Century Orguss, and one off things like Robot Carnival and Project A-ko. Yeah, I'm stuck in the past.

However one used to be able to find hundreds of great cels at really decent prices. But that's really not the case anymore. And honestly there are only about four or five dealers that have what I want and put it out for sale on a regular basis - and even with them there's not much there anymore and what is there is very expensive. I mean, decent non main character Sailor Moon cels used to drop in the $20-$30 range on a weekly basis. EVERY WEEK. For YEARS. And there was frenzied interest too! But people simply knew they could wait and eventually something else would come along. Hell, I let the eBay auction for my prized Mome cel (from Orguss) drop off and be relisted three times before finally bidding - and it was only $30.00 each and every time, unchallenged. Robot Carnival was the same way, hundreds of cels out there all the time, no more than $25 for most of them, many as low as $8 flat. Not anymore.

People are just simply out. The huge stacks of acetate that were all over the place are finally starting to sell down and most of the dealers just don't have them anymore. The collectors that had tons from the days of bargain prices have also sold off their excesses at this point. It's a strange spot to be in for people such as myself that still want Sailor Moon MOTD (Monster of the Day) cels for $20, or to have a large choice of scenes from a Robot Carnival short.

The last time I really got into one of those old bidding wars over a cel was for a particular Sailormoon SuperS cel of Makoto Kino and Tiger's Eye dancing together. This is a well known episode due to Makoto's rose dress. Most of the other bidders were collectors / occasional dealers I had done business with before. It was cool to see some old familiar names come out of the woodwork (back when eBay actually let you see stuff like that, really made the community). And still, bidding didn't get much over the $30 mark.

The last cel I sold was of Sailor Moon from an early season 1 episode that was unaired in the USA. Not many bids and it sold for around $20 - I still kick myself for letting it go. It actually was part of a three cel lot that I purchased (actually, from someone that would be bidding against me for that previously mentioned SuperS cel) for one specific cel. I kept that one, sold the Sailor Moon one, and have the other sitting in the closet. That three cel auction ended at something like $25 shipped. We're talking like $35 after framing and for some reason I felt compelled to sell the Sailor Moon early episode one to "make my money back." Pure stupidity! But then again, that's just the era of cel collecting that I came up with - and really, really miss. I can also understand that people really don't care as much about Sailor Moon these days as they did then. Part of that is due to the limited availably of the whole franchise these days. However with the show returning to Japanese networks, hopefully some interest will return.

Granted I guess I'm not a true collector. I buy cels to hang on the wall, out in the open, fully exposed to the harshness of the world. My displaying is killing them, slowly. No cel books in darkened closets for me, I buy cels to display as what they are - unique art. Regardless of how I protect them, being out on display will cause them to continue to fade - much like the memories of the era of collecting I wish I could go back to.

What really gets me down is that I was never able to obtain a cel of my all time favorite Sailor Moon MOTD, Toden. She was a Daimon created from a streetcar, in one of my favorite episodes of my favorite Sailor Moon series, Sailormoon S. I would pay near anything for a good cel of Toden. I post this here at the end in hopes that one day, someone reminiscing about cel collecting, Sailor Moon, or both (as in my case) will come upon this post, have a Toden cel they'd like to sell and get into contact with me. To that person, I await your e-mail.

The current cel collection can be found at my anime page here.

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