In August 2022, the online anime and manga store Right Stuf was sold to the massive anime streaming and licensing company Crunchyroll. Now, Right Stuf has announced that it will cease to exist and its contents will be integrated into the Crunchyroll Store as of October 10. With that comes what I (and apparently many others) believe is the end of an era. I haven’t felt quite this way since Geocities closed.
I first learned about Right Stuf Anime around 2005 or 2006, and have been a frequent customer ever since my first order: Eureka Seven DVD Volume 1. At a time when I didn’t have much disposable income, the sales they had on the regular were a great way to get more for less. Those sales were often based around a single anime or manga publisher, so it also became a practical method for familiarizing oneself with what a particular company had to offer. Although my memory is hazy, they might very well have been the first site I bought anime online from (It was either them or Deep Discount DVD).
Right Stuf didn’t always necessarily offer the absolute best deals. For example, in the time it existed, Amazon grew into an even bigger juggernaut of online retail. It wasn’t uncommon for items on Amazon to be better priced, but I stuck almost entirely to purchasing on Right Stuf because the company showed a lot of care for its products in so many ways. You almost never had to worry about damaged packaging, and they even went out of their way to eliminate the use of plastic and make it more environmentally sustainable. If you bought an item the day before it was part of a sale, you could email them and request the order be revised. And at the end of the day, the sales were still really good.
Not everything was rainbows, of course. I once had a package go missing and had to jump through a ton of hoops—including filing a police report—but the positives outstripped the negatives by a country mile.
Another strength was that the company always maintained something of an old school feel. A lot of the American anime culture over the past 15 years or so has been to incorporate more and more aspects of general geek fandom/media, and while those things are great, they can often overshadow the anime and manga aspects. The fact that Right Stuf was still dedicated primarily to Japanese pop culture after all these years (while still incorporating that more general fandom) was something I really appreciated.
I’m definitely concerned that without the Right Stuf brand and the weight of the customer expectations its fans expected, the savings just won’t be the same. I’ve looked at the Crunchyroll Store, and while I won’t knock them for providing merch in an easily accessible fashion, I never once thought of buying from there as long as Right Stuf existed. And even though I’m in a far different place in life compared to 2006, I know that’s not the case for everyone—especially younger anime fans (at least those who care about physical media) who’ve had to deal with things like a terrible economy wrought by a once-in-a-generation life-changing pandemic. And I just don’t expect the Crunchyroll Store to provide that more personal touch Right Stuf had.
Crunchyroll could surprise me. They could maintain a lot of what Right Stuf did, well, right. But the fact that they’re even shelving the Right Stuf name does not bode well in my view. I might give them a chance, but a chance is all they get. With Right Stuf, what I had was trust and faith.