In Japan there is this thing that people do that I have never seen anyone else in any other country, possibly due to the sheer amount of opportunities we have in Japan to do it. That thing is called “infinite collection” (“mugen kaishuu”, 無限回収 in Japanese). If you look up the kanji on Google, you’ll probably get a pretty good idea of what it’s all about, but to put it simply…
Many goods in Japan, especially based around anime/manga, come as randomized sets. You buy a sealed box or package and could get any of a variety of characters from a set. Rather than collecting the whole set, some people would rather collect an infinite number of exactly the same character from that set. Why? Because they really like the character, is the obvious reason. I first got introduced to this concept when after getting into Tenimyu fandom, someone on Twitter retweeted a picture of a girl’s huge collection of one key holder of Mizuki Hajime. At the time, I wondered why on earth someone would want that many of the same thing, but it made me curious at least.
Then, going to Tenimyu shows, I saw it in person. People would show their support for certain characters (or actors) through filling their itabags with goods of that character, many of which were multiples of the same thing. All I could think was what a nice way it was to support someone you loved, and how much fun it seemed. Unfortunately, this came a little too late for me as the character I loved the most disappeared before I had a chance. I didn’t take that as an excuse though. Knowing that a) I loved him whether he was still in the musical or not and b) that there was a high chance he would be coming back later, I decided to give it a try.
Let me introduce you to the mini Akutsu Jin army. Yeah, I have a way to go. As this from a set no longer sold anywhere, my only way of getting hold of these is to search the second-hand stores, which is how my collection has grown this much. It’s slow work, but exciting when I find another one. However, I wanted something a little more quickly rewarding…
Then came the BLEACH ROCK MUSICAL with its randomized badges. As I was already bitter about Akutsu being the only 3rd season Tenimyu cast member up to now who didn’t get a badge (due to the musicals they were sold during), I decided to feed my bitterness into Shota’s new role of Zaraki Kenpachi, and make a fun day out of trying to get as many as I could while I was there to watch the musical. I didn’t know how easy or hard it would be, not knowing how many people would be trading, but I knew I’d be happy with even more than just one.
I advertised in advance on Twitter, which gained me a couple I could pick up on the day, and then I spent time making a sign stating that I was collecting his badge. At the venue, I jumped into the goods line and bought six badges myself to try and trade, and hoped the rest would be gained through people selling to me.
Honestly, it was a slow start. Most people were interested in the badges I had but didn’t have Zaraki, so I told them they could just buy the badges from me (which would at least give me money back to buy more). Then I finally got my first trade. Shortly after that, a girl came up to me and practically begged me to take all three of her Zaraki badges off her hands, which didn’t take much persuasion. I realized by how eager she was that amongst the characters, I had chosen a good one to try and collect. Had I been an Asuma Kousuke fan (which I am, but that was irrelevant that day) I would have come away a lot more disappointed.
By the time I went inside to watch the first show, I had managed to collect 7 badges. It was, however, between the two shows that things really got started. I bought three more badges which amazingly I also managed to trade away (my main worry in buying badges to trade was that I would be stuck with some) and people just kept on coming to me and practically flinging their Zaraki badges at me. One girl, after staring at me and then at her phone for a few minutes, asked me in broken English she was reading from her phone if I wanted to trade. People really were trying hard.
After a while, I needed a drink and to check my phone so I put my sign away. About 30 seconds passed, and this girl nervously wandered up to me and asked “are you the person who is collecting Zaraki’s badge?”. Then, a minute later a girl who had previously sold one to me came back and said “I got another one, do you want it?” Someone next to me had one one in their box and when I asked for it she said, “I saw your sign earlier.” It was like I was suddenly famous for being the person who would take these badges no one seemed to want, for being Shota’s number one fan that day (I wonder how many people thought I was just a crazy Zaraki fangirl?).
Finally, I had to go back into the theater for the second show. At the last minute though, I got a Tweet from a girl who was outside but couldn’t go to the show as she had to leave for work. I made a quick dash out of the theater again ten minutes before the show began, claiming my final badge of the day. When I laid them all out later while eating dinner, this was what my total of 20 looked like.
Looking at them all gathered like this, it looks kind of crazy doesn’t it? But I had no regrets. Not only was this what I set out to do, I had so much fun in the process. Interacting with people outside the theater, finding out who everyone else was collecting, and having people make conversation with me while we traded our badges made the day such a great experience. And whether people thought I was a fan of Shota or Zaraki, having people know so obviously who I was there for made me feel proud to be a fan. It’s definitely something I would try again. And who knows, maybe this isn’t the end of my collection.