I can now watch all of Sailor Moon on Hulu. But some anime was not as lucky. Some — such as Dominion Tank Police — may only live on in the minds of older anime fans. If you’re new to the LD scene and want to start beefing up an anime collection, there are plenty of shows to pick from! We’ll be looking at realized prices on eBay for LDs $50 and under.
Once upon a time, I was a huge anime fan. From 1991 until 2002, I consumed anime and manga like it was air. In the earlier days — before streaming services and other ways to consume anime took over — fans had to go to Suncoast or Blockbuster and either rent or buy a VHS that had maybe 2 episodes on it if they were lucky. Price was also a factor. Dubbed anime tented to cost less (roughly $24 in my area), while subtitled anime cost more ($28 on average).
Collecting an entire series was an expensive challenge. Sometimes a series would only get a handful of episodes of seasons released, such as the iconic Sailor Moon.
Luckily for me, my dad was a Stereophile, and his main equipment store sold LaserDiscs. They had LDs for American media, but they also had a plethora of anime LDs from both Japan and America. It was through LaserDisc that I would discover Tenchi Muyo, Cutie Honey, and even Gunsmith Cats. My dad encouraged my interest in soon-to-be-dead media, so he got to work.
For my 11th birthday, he managed to import most of Sailor Moon on LaderDisc — unlike VHS, LD was region-free. In a time when DiC couldn’t obtain the rights for more than 60 or so episodes of a 200-episode series, LD was my only hope of watching the rest of Sailor Moon.
Clearly, times have changed.
Better known as Lum: Urusei Yatsura, Rumiko Takahashi’s first popular series has been popular with shonen fans since the 1970s. Lum is still very popular to this day with fans. So much so, that Onitsuka Tiger shoes just released a limited edition Lum shoe. Since the 1990s, Americans have been able to watch Lum on LD and VHS. One of my first anime LDs was a Lum LD. The first film of the series, Only You, was released stateside by AnimEigo in 1992, introducing new fans to the crazy world of Lum!
In August 2022, a like-new copy of Only You sold for $14.99. In October ’22, a similar copy sold again on eBay for $29.99. By comparison, there is a Japanese version on eBay in Very Good condition for $58. Both the US and Japanese copies feature different artwork, as well as language tracks. Urusei Yatsura is fairly easy to find second-hand, with prices ranging from $8.95 to $70.
Remember when the Sci-Fi Channel would show anime on Saturday mornings? One of their staple movies was Project A-Ko, a sci-fi action/comedy movie that spawned a few sequels. Project A-Ko was a staple of the 1990s anime scene, with people cosplaying as the characters for years at anime cons. Project A-Ko is still around today — fans can buy it on Blu-Ray, but the original U.S. Manga Corps copies are a true collector’s piece.
As with most LDs, Project A-Ko is out of print. VHS and LDs are hard to find for it, but it isn’t an impossible task. In October 2022, a US version sold for $44.99. Many of the Project A-Ko LDs listed are from Japan and are listed for over $100. With a little patience and time, you could find the English counterparts for half that.
In 1992 creator Masaki Kajishima would release a 6 part series called Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Special. The six-part series, better known as an Original Video Animation (OVA) would introduce the world to Tenchi Muyo and all of the various alien women vying for his affection. The series has spawned sequels, manga, and spin-offs, and is still popular to this day. In the early 2000s, Tenchi Muyo was aired on the now-defunct Toonami on Cartoon Network. This exposure solidified the series in the American anime scene, with newer episodes being aired on the anime streaming service Crunchyroll.
This is one of the easier series to collect on LD due to how much there was. Browsing through eBay, the most recent sales for Tenchi LDs are under the $15 price point. While there are more expensive buy-it-now options, you likely won’t have to wait long to find a deal.