Buying Anime Gifts on a Budget

‘Tis the season to be jolly–or to be more exact, to be mall-y. It’s the holiday season, and that means, buying gifts for friends and family. Unfortunately, if you’re still new to shopping for your anime-lover friend or brother or sister, the mall is the last place I would go to shop. Why? Because it’s expensive! Imagine paying $10–whole price–for a manga volume! Well, if you’re on a budget and paying that much for manga, anime, or Japan-related gifts isn’t something that’s on your Christmas list, I would heed a few points that I’ve learned from buying some great gifts.

Before you head out there, actually make a list of who you’re buying what for. If you make a list, you’re likely to stick with that list instead of buying impulsively and spending all of your money. Also, you should set a price limit as to what you want to buy for each person.

Now that you know more about what to do before shopping, on with the tips!

1. If you have time, go online. There are a lot of websites out there that offer deals just for buying merchandise from them. Websites like and offer savings on anime, manga, apparel, and Japan-related items. And before you decide to roam their pages, sign up for an account with them. You can get additional deals just for making a new account. Re-sell sites, like and, offer new manga and anime for cheaper prices outside of regular retailer websites. For instance, you could buy a Bakuman Volume 1 manga for less than $3 on, versus getting it at $7.49 ( or $9.99 (retailer). The only thing about shopping online is making sure the shipping fee is reasonable, if any, and that the package will arrive on time.

If you’re worried about receiving the gift by Christmas, I would suggest getting a gift certificate. If the gift certificates are still shipped, the shipping fees are really low and it’s more likely to arrive on time because it’s not a box. On some websites, gift certificates aren’t sent out, like on They are sent to the purchaser via email, and all you have to do is print it out (on nice paper, I hope!) and wrap it like a Christmas gift. It takes the hassle out of buying a specific gift for your anime friend and they’ll appreciate not having to return an item they don’t like.

If you live outside of the United States, offers free shipping to all countries.

2. If you have time and got a dime, get in line. If you already booked yourself to go to a convention, make sure to remember your anime friends and family. For a list of your local anime convention, check out If you’re one of those people who don’t go to anime conventions, there’s always the option of going to your local comic book retailer (not a mall one, hopefully), and having them order the manga or anime, if it’s not available in the store. Normally, there isn’t an extra charge for ordering, but sometimes, a deposit of the item’s price will be asked, so come with some cash. In some towns and cities, there are also manga and anime stores. Although they don’t have as many deals as online websites, if you’ve signed up for a point card, you can earn some much-needed points on your Christmas purchases.

3. No dime, no time, draw a line. If you don’t have money but you have some artistic skills, like drawing, painting, or even using Adobe Illustrator, make them a gift. You can personalize it to your choice, and it’s something original for your friend or family to keep. If it’s drawing or computer-generated images, just make sure to frame the piece or put it in a plastic sleeve like the ones used for American comic books (any comic book retailer can sell it to you for less than $1 each).  If you have left over clay or plaster, sculpt a figurine of their favorite anime character, use acrylic paint to color it, and let it dry. Presto! You have a gift that didn’t take hours to construct and zero dollars to make.

2012 & Third Impact: This Time For Sure!


Uh oh ..... Pull shade ..... draw curtains.

2012 & Third Impact: This Time For Sure!

October 21 has come & gone & it looks as if Harold Camping is wrong again (He has since retired & now says no one can know the time …..). No rapture. No armageddon. No world destruction.

And for us Evangelion fans, no Third Impact! As for me, good!

But wait! There is 2012. When the Mayan calender ends. Even though there are no indications that something would happen there has been much speculation about ….. THE END (Roll credits.). It’s all bullcrap but then again what a better time for Third Impact to happen.

So, when the ball drops on New Years’ & “Guy Lombardo” strikes up the band (Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s later. possibly 12-21-12. Can’t be too careful though.), be on the lookout for any hovering, blue haired, Japanese albino schoolgirls in the vicinity. Do whatever you can to avoid physical contact. Fight, run, hide, whatever. Just don’t let her get close enough to touch you. You may not like what will happen if you do. That’s my advice to you, take it or leave it.

So there …..

OK, so much for that. I can only hope somebody takes this warning to heart. I can only do so much to …..

Awww ….. Nooo! Not you ….. AGAIN?!. It’s not even Thanksgiving let alone New Years’. Why are you always picking on ME?! We’ve been through this ….. how many times already? Twice. Yeah, two times before & both times I’ve rejected Instrumentality & came back. The last time what was left of me dribbled under the front door & I rematerialized outside my apartment. BUTT NEKKID! Have you any idea how embarrassing that is? (Good thing the door was unlocked.) Come to think of it I don’t think you would …..

Look ….. kid. I don’t want Instrumentality. Really, I don’t. I don’t wanna be one with the greater “whatever”. I don’t care to be joined to the collective conciousness of the oversoul. I’m not into that communal thing. I’m also not into that fetishy schoolgirl look you seem to effect ….. & …..

Never you mind what I’m into! That’s not the point! The point is I don’t wanna go! I like it here. I like being here. And I like me just the way I am. It may be lonely & “painful” but that’s the way it is. I can take it.

Now I know I can’t outrun you, so I’m just gonna step right here in this here bath tub (Plug’s in? Good!) & pretend you’re not here. I figure if I reject Instrumentality beforehand, I won’t have to go through the krap of “transcendance” again.

Let’s see now ….. I’m in my happy place ….. I’m in my happy place ….. my happy place ….. happy place ….. happy place ….. happy ….. happy ….. happy ….. Aw darn it! ….. BLOOOOOSH!

burble ….. burble …..

LCL ….. Crisp & clean ….. no caffiene. Never had it. Never will!

Article copyright © 11-10-2011 Jay Agan

This article first posted at Jays’ Tee Vee.

Azumanga Daioh: Too ….. Much ….. Cute

The Azumanga Daioh kids. L-R: Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara, Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga, Chiyo Mihama, Sakaki, Kagura, Tomo Takino. Credit: J C Staff

Azumanga Daioh: Too ….. Much ….. Cute

One of the shows I’ve put off bothering with (Not my kind of anime.) is Azumanga Daioh. On glancing at articles & seeing illustrations in passing, I concluded it was another of those insufferably cute shows for girls. Having just aquired hi-speed internet & nothing better to do, I decided to take this one in. Glad I did.

The show is about several young women going through grades 10-12 & the situations (surreal & otherwise.) they encounter. Summer/winter semesters with their attendant classes, sports/culture fests, holidays/vacations & general “slice of life” high school experience. This story arc is repeated for each grade. While one might think this to be boring, there is more than enough variation keeping this series interesting throughout. The characters themselves keep things moving, lively &, at times, have you busting a gut laughing.

The “cast” members are stories unto themselves:

Excrutiatingly cute child prodigy, Chiyo Mihama: Top scholar in class but still with the mind of a child. Doing her best socializing with classmates five years older. Her “cooking is so fun” segment from episode one almost had me calling the EMS over what I feared was a sugar OD. This seemed to innoculate me for the rest of the series so I was able to continue.

Remote, alienated, Sakaki: Taller than most of the boys at school & quite self concious of it. Everyone misreads her detatchment as “being cool”. Oh yes. She wants a kitty ….. so ….. bad (Can’t have one. Parent allergies.). Cats don’t seem to like her much. One in particular almost always puts the bite on her when she tries to pet it. You’d think it would occure to her the critter might be rabid.

Sadistic, hyperactive, ritalin deprived, Tomo Takino: I’m against drugging children to make them compliant in school, but in this case, maybe they should put this one to sleep! LOUD (!) with a capitol loud & always roughhousing or ranking on someone (Usually Yomi.). Also likes messing with Chiyos’ mind. (“Okinawa! OH KIN AH WAA!” “Oh! Shut up!”)

Studious, sensible, weight concious, Kayomi “Yomi” Mizuhara: A stabilising force in the group. Good for giving an occasional sock to the jaw of the hyperactive one. In spite of her exasperation with Tomo, they’re actually good friends.

Athletic go-getter Kagura: In a one sided sports/coolness competition with Sakaki. Not above participating in some of Tomos’ stunts.

Spacey, other worldly, Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga: Originally from (Where else?) Osaka. Her mind, from somewhere beyond there.

Whacked language teacher, Yukari Tanizaki: You’d think she was related to Tomo, the way she acts. Likes playing head games with everyone. Her teaching “style” is unique to say the least. Also drives like a freakin’ maniac!

Caring, attentive, phys-ed teacher Minamo Kurosawa: Another stabilising force & guardian of the kids, standing between them an a certain “strange” litt. teacher.

Obsessive, lesbian wannabe, Kaorin: Has a crush on Sakaki (Who is either oblivious or just very good at ignoring it.). Constantly “beating herself over the head” about it. (Geez kid. Get a boyfriend or three. Find out what it’s like on the “other bank of the river”.)

Unsuccessful pedophile, litt. teacher Kimura: This guy needs to be locked up! As the kids know what he is from the start & avoid him like the plague, the character is played for laughs. I had to keep reminding myself that Japanese humor is a little ….. uh ….. different.

The latter two characters would pretty much keep this show off saturday mornings here & on Adult Swim. I admit, I laughed my butt off over some of the situations they were in. Howsomever, the scenes of Kimura focusing his attention on poor Kaorin are creepy to say the least. (Is it any wonder the kid is such an emotional basket case at times?)

While not rushing out to buy the show (Again, not my kind of anime.), I must say I enjoyed watching it & even got a little sad when it concluded. It is, with some reservations, I recommend it to an older crowd.

So. Do Kaorins’ dreams come true? (Oh for cryin’ out loud!) Does Kimura score? (Good Lord! No!) Do the kids graduate high school let alone pass their college entrance exams? And, most importantly, does Sakaki finally reconcile with the little, gray, pirana kitty? (This is what had me follow this series to the end.) See the series & find out!

Article copyright © 2010 Jay Agan

This article originally posted on Jays’ Tee Vee.

Pastor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Apocalypse




Pastor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Apocalypse

Well “Rapture Day” has come & gone & I haven’t heard of any mass disappearances (Maybe there were so few genuine believers, no one noticed. Uh Oh!). Aside from the usual world chaos, nothing catostrophic has happened …. so far. Of course we have up to a few days before Halloween (Five months.) before Mr. Campings’ prophecy concludes with the worlds’ fiery destruction. Which makes me wonder. Is he trying to pull an “Orson Welles” on us?

Halloween time, 1938: “The Columbia Broadcasting System & The Mercury Theater On the Air presents, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.” Que the music.

As for me, I am a bit disappointed. In all the time I’ve spent collecting movies, cartoons, & anime, I was looking forward to “The Great Tribulation” (Which isn’t actually mentioned in the Bible, at least not in capitol letters.). I like my special effects & this period of chaos had better deliver when it does arrive.

Hey kid! Ever give a thought about what might be in that stuff!? Yuck! Besides, things go better with Coke! Mari Illustrious Makinami from the Evangelion "Rebuild" series of films. Credit: Studio Khara


Aside from the flood/fire/famine/war/pestilence etc., I want more! Godzilla, Mothra, Rhodan, mad scientists, alien invasion, you betcha! Giant robots (Preferably NOT piloted by angsty, liquid breathing adolescents with attitudes!), flesh eating zombies, ….. piranas! Music by Yoko Kanno, Dick Wagner, & Spike Jones. Co-produced/directed by Hayao Miyazaki & Edward D. Wood Jr. A Walt Disney presentation. Oh Yeah!

Article copyright © 5-22-2011 Jay Agan

This article originally posted at Jays TeeVee.

For a little “end of the world” click here. Might as well celebrate Christmas early.

For a slightly more serious take on this past nonevent click here.

Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!

Yes ... they talk ... a lot! Oh look! They're talking now! Tsukasa, Konata, Miyuki & Kagami. Credit: Kyoto Animation

Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!

At first, that’s what I thought it was. At second, it still is. But now I get it.

My first attempt at viewing Lucky Star ended the same as my efforts at watching Gone With the Wind. Disaster! I couldn’t make it past the cream horn eating debate in episode one so I went on to other things. 24 episodes of four girls CONSTANTLY discussing such weighty matters as girl talk, dodging homework, dieting, girl talk, the weather, boys, girl talk, pop culture, hair care, girl talk … No way was I going to be able to take this one in! And after that zippy opening credits number, what a let down! (The “Konata drop” at the end of the cheer line never fails to get a chuckle out of me.)

Call it senility, stupidity, temporary dementia, what have you … a few weeks later I gave it another try. Got past the cream horn “speed bump” & after going through the first four eps I started to actually enjoy it. (No. It didn’t get me in touch with my “feminine side”. And no, you DON’T want to meet her!)

The show centers around obsessed otaku Konata Izumi & her level headed (Kagami Hiiragi) & not so level headed (Tsukasa Hiiragi, Miyuki Takara) foils. In their typical & sometimes atypical everyday activities we get an observation or ten on media culture & to what degree it affects (Infects?) the world. As Kagami exasperatingly observes more than once to Konata: “It all comes down to THAT with you, doesn’t it?”

Others in the cast are a slightly off center homeroom teacher (Nanako Kuroi), an authority figure who drives like a maniac (Yui Narumi, Konata’s policewoman cousin.), & Konata’s lolita complex “afflicted” dad (He doesn’t try to act on it overtly. Surprisingly, his flakey daughter is a stabilising force. eg. the “… too close, you’re freaking me out!” scene in episode 18.) Shades of Azumanga Daioh! Second season eps put some attention on Konata’s even more diminutive freshman cousin (Yutaka Kobayakawa) & her friends.

Fear & Loathing on the (un)Lucky Channel. Akira & Minoru. Credit: Kyoto Animation

The cast is rounded out by the two members (Akira Kogame, Minoru Shiraishi) of the “show within a show”, Lucky Channel. Ostensibly to comment & inform about Lucky Star it’s mostly about Akira’s (Slipping in & out of “character”.) jealousy, grumbling bitterly over her flagging acting career & bullying Minoru as a result (He later explodes in ep 21.).

The constant, obvious, visual/verbal references (No subtext here!) are more than a clue that this show is a running commentary/satire on anime/manga/gaming in particular, & pop culture (Japanese & otherwise.) in general. It’s also a continuous ad for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, another Kyoto Animation property.

Being that the show is about otaku “culture” (Before dabbling in anime, I used to think otakus was a Frito-Lay product. I like the Cool Ranch & Barbecue flavors.) we see most everything through the eyes of the “showcased” Konata. Through her we are given a first person accounting of the trials, tribulations, & FINANCIAL dificulties rabid fans go through, & how manipulative some can be in their desperation to indulge . (I like it that she could con two friends into canvassing the huge Comiket convention for her {ep 12}, & have her buddies accompany her to the Kyoto Animation studios during a field trip {ep 21}.) In ep 16 we see Konata in action at her job in a “cosplay” cafe (It was a kick to hear Wendee Lee switch horses in midstream & reprise her Haruhi role.).

Though we are taken through about 2+ years of classes, the high school scene is only a backdrop for the above mentioned references (Too numerous to count.). One has to be a true fan to “get” even half of them (I got about a quarter.). I was more interested in Konata’s “relationship” with them. The character is really wrapped up in it (Aren’t you glad YOU’re not like that?).

Lucky Star has everything: Nonstop talk, comedy, nonstop talk, anime/pop cult. references, nonstop talk, product placements, nonstop talk … Not my kind of anime but enjoyed watching just the same. You just have to get past the discourse. Fade to white …

Article copyright © 2-17-2011 Jay Agan

This Article originally published at Jays Tee Vee.