And now we come to the final installment. This is it folks. The Holy Grail of anime box sets. This is what you’ll be using most of your Christmas/Hanukkah money on. If there is an anime set that costs more than this, then you need to tell me about it, because this is about as expensive as anime gets. First though, you might want to catch up on the previous installments if you’ve forgotten the titles we’ve covered:
Got caught up? All right then, let’s look at the most expensive (to my knowledge) anime box set out there:
8. Maison Ikkoku Vol. 8
Though you normally see “Collector’s DVD Box Set” on anime sets, this one truly means what it says. The value of this ONE DVD set can range from as little as $1,000 up to $4,000! At the time of this writing third party sellers on selling a brand new copy on Amazon.com for $2,499.99, and on Half.com for $1,999.99. And keep in mind this is just THIS set alone (it should also be noted that both these major sites are only selling one copy of this)! If you factor in the entire series (which are also rare and expensive) you could be looking at potentially $5,000-$9,000 for the entire series! How did “Maison Ikkoku” manage to be worth so much money? Long answer short: it’s a high quality series that was never a huge seller. In fact, I’m going to go on record and say this is one of the best shows to come from Japan (or anywhere else in the world) that never got the attention it deserved.
See, back in the VHS days of anime Viz decided to release “Maison Ikkoku,” which has a whopping 96 episodes. Even in the early days of domestic anime long shows were a financial risk. The show did well enough to get to episode 36, but after that there were no more tapes. Several years later “InuYasha” airs on Cartoon Network and is the biggest anime in America next to “Dragon Ball Z.” Also, “Ranma ½” has long proven to be a cult favorite with anime fans, and DID manage to get all of its 100+ episodes released on VHS and DVD (plus movie and OVA specials)! What these three shows have in common is that all three of them were created by Rumiko Takahashi. And – thanks to these two shows proving to be big hits – now Takahashi is practically a house hold name in America for anime fans (something she wasn’t during the initial release of the show).
So Viz decided to give “Maison Ikkoku” a second chance on DVD. This time though, they were determined to finish it. Well, they decide to go with three disk sets that would have an average of 12 episodes per set. The series must not have been selling well though, because starting with the fifth set the remainder of the sets became Right Stuf exclusives. This made it even more difficult to find for fans of the series and sales dropped off even more. Viz did finish the series this time with the eighth box set though. But by this point the series was either losing money or making very little to justify manufacturing costs. The series was finished because the manga had been a great seller, and Viz was hoping the readers would eventually buy the DVD’s as well.
When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, the DVD’s were discontinued weeks later. But volume eight hadn’t been in production that long before it was discontinued, which meant there were FAR more of the previous seasons than there were of the final season! In fact, it’s suspected that there are only a fraction of final sets compared to the number of volume one sets. Now, if this set were rare, that in and of itself would probably make this valuable. If you remember from a couple installments ago, the English dub of the first season of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” can demand almost $400 and that dub isn’t even GOOD! “Maison Ikkoku” is good though. In fact, it’s great.
Though not as popular by the general anime fandom, those who have seen it almost universally agree that it is one of the best animes out there. In fact, I would personally go as far as to say it’s one of the best shows PERIOD! And once someone takes the chance on the first couple sets they know they are watching something special. That’s why this show is frustratingly expensive. Because it’s a series that you NEED to finish! It just gets better as it goes along. Even though the price of the final set is equivalent to a fancy Mac or used car, I can almost justify the value because the show is just that good. Considering how valuable this set is you’d think Viz would re-release it as a thinpak release or at least digitally.
Sadly, there has been no word of that happening. I don’t know if they finally let the rights expire, but they have made no mention of the series making a comeback. The sad reality is that even though these sets command huge bucks, only fans of the show want it, which is probably a low number considering how rare these later sets are. That means that even if Viz did do a DVD re-release, there’s no guarantee of the sales being much better or worse this time around. I feel lucky that I kept up with the DVD releases of the show as they were coming out, because this set got really expensive, really fast.
So with that I leave you with this one last thing: if you’ve got this set at home, chances are you’re rich. In more ways than one. Thanks for reading!