Anime Music Buyers Guide
This is a guide for people who buy (or are thinking of buying) anime music. I’ve read a few guides similar to this and decided to write my own focused ideas.
The purpose of this guide is to share some of my experiences and better educate anime fans about buying anime music in stores and online.
A lot of people enjoy buying and listening to anime music just as much as they enjoy watching it. Unfortunately, actually buying the music can be a bit tricky. There’s a large amount of fake or “pirated” CDs on the market. Some people don’t care about this, but most do. Pirated CDs are copies of the authentic product. Because of that, they are usually quite inferior in quality and lack special features or bonuses that the real product would normally include. A lot of fakes also have numerous misspellings of composer names, tracks, etc.
So how can you be sure that the CD you want is the real deal?
The first thing you want to look for is the label on the CD. The label is often times clearly shown on the obi (spine card) of the CD. This will be your first indication of whether you have a good (legit) product or not.
Here we see the same anime CD… however… each has its own different label displayed on the obi. The CD on the left has a label from “Smiley Face International”, a music pirate company. The CD on the right has a “Victor Entertainment” label, the real thing. At first glance, people won’t notice this, since its not the label that attracts your attention but the cover. At this point, one would only need to be knowledgeable of common pirate labels or know exactly which label prints what anime’s music. Common pirate labels include: Smiley Face International, EverAnime, Alion International and SonMay.
Some pirate companies don’t even put a visible label on their CDs, as shown below.
If you find yourself in this situation, flip the CD over to the back and look at the copyright information at the bottom. If you suspect the name displayed or if it’s missing altogether (which is true for some pirated CDs), don’t buy it. Also near the copyright information you should see where the CD was made. “Made in Japan” is what you should be looking for. This information is always printed in english for the most part. Pirate CDs mainly come from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Here are some obi (spine card) examples:
Fake: Here you see a pirate label (Alion), no english copyright info, and the more prominent “Made in Taiwan”… evil!
Legit: Here you see a good label, catalog number, and a “Made in Japan” line.
Now, this will all work fine if you have the CD in your hands and you can physically examine it. But what about buying the CD online? Unless you live near a nicely stocked anime store, most of your anime music buying will take place online. Some online shops have a “Click here for bigger image” link that will show you the CD cover in detail (and give you a glimpse at its obi). But this isn’t always the case. Another thing you can look for is the CD’s catalog number. Get a hold of that number from a review or news site and compare it to the one displayed in the product description of the online shop you are browsing. If the numbers match, then the product should be legit. The numbers are usually located on the obi like the label and also on the back near the copyright information. It is also very common to see the price for the CD listed on the obi. This is always shown in yen (Japanese currency). So looking for that symbol (shown below) is also a good clue.
This may sound a bit frustrating at first, but trust me, after some intense browsing, you will be able to identify pirate soundtracks quickly. Visit your local anime shop or favorite online anime store and browse through their stock and pay attention to the details and descriptions. In my honest opinion, the single most trustworthy site is CDJapan. As its name implies, the CDs come from Japan and not Taiwan or Hong Kong like most pirated CDs. This is the best place to look up a soundtrack and get information on it. It will usually give you a picture along with that vital catalog number. This is also a great place to purchase your music. Everything here is authentic. I’ve listed a few sites below where you can gather information on a CD or even buy it if you want.
I suggest that when you buy music online, try to buy everything you want at once. Shipping overseas can get pricey, so having all of your items under one shipping fee will save you more time and money in the long run. Everything I have ever ordered overseas was done with the EMS shipping option which gives quick and safe results.
Another popular place to purchase anime music is on eBay. Here you can find really rare stuff… however… sadly eBay is literally flooded with pirate CDs. Most descriptions won’t tell you where it was pressed and will give a vague “Import CD” line. Almost everything you will find is a fake, so unless you have a really good description and picture, it’s a risky business.
Pirated CDs can be a huge disappointment for the avid anime fan who thinks that they’re getting an official product. Some people will often look for and favor pirated versions simply because they are usually much cheaper than the official ones. Official CDs usually cost about $10-$20 more than the pirated versions. But just remember: you get what you pay for.
Hopefully this guide has made you a bit wiser or more observant in your anime music shopping. If you find yourself confused or hesitant on whether something is pirated or not, post about it on the forums, come into chat or drop me a line. We will be more than happy to help you get what you’re looking for.
Happy music buying!