Animation Cels - Buyer Beware!

by Joe Palermo,

Animation Cels - Buyer Beware!

Collecting animation cels of any kind is a fun and profitable thing to do. Japanese animation cels, in particular, are really starting to gain popularity in other countries outside of Japan. Unlike what you might imagine, the age group of those involved in this hobby ranges from 15 to 50.

For those of you that may not realize, animation cels are all unique and original. These are used in the actual production process of a Japanese animation film. Since it takes hundreds of these to do a few seconds worth of film, you may find some that are similar, but no two are exactly alike. That's what makes this such a wonderful hobby. You get to own a piece of your favorite film or video that no one else has!

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to obtain great cels is via the web. When purchasing cels over the web, however, there are a few important questions that you should ask before you place your order.

The most important question is, how do you pack your cels for shipping? I have heard some real horror stories of customers who have had their cels ruined in transit. Any time a vendor places a cel in an envelope that bends, you can be sure that the mailman will bend it and jam it into your mailbox! That is why a typical "Priority Mail' envelope is not enough. Regardless of how many times you write "Do Not Bend", it almost always goes ignored. The best way for cels to be shipped is within a cel bag, between two sturdy pieces of cardboard, with the edges securely taped.

The next piece of information you need to know, is whether or not the cel comes with a sketch. If it does, always ask if the sketch is stuck to the cel or not. Many times, even if the sketch is stuck to the cel, it is possible to remove it without any damage. Other times, however, it is necessary to rip the sketch in order to avoid peeling paint from the cel. If you accidentally rip a sketch while trying to remove it, don't despair, it is still possible to frame and enjoy your cel.

Sometimes cels are shipped with a thin type of rice-based wax paper over the painted side of the cel, to protect it from sticking to the sketch. The wax paper should be removed, and there is a trick to doing this. Simply take a damp washcloth and rub it over the wax paper. The paper will then come off easily, without damaging the cel. You may cause damage to the cel's paint, however, if you try to peel it off dry.

Many great deals can be found by purchasing your animation cels over the web. Please remember to find out in advance exactly what you're buying. Most cel dealers are happy to answer your questions, as they would like you to come back in the future. Happy Collecting!


Joe Palermo has lived in Japan for eight years, is fluent in Japanese, and has always been interested in Japanese animation. He currently runs a very successful website featuring original Japanese Animation Cels and other anime related goods. Visit his site at

some very desirable cels, fear not though...

not all cells are that expensive,

one very happy Bubblegum Crisis fan took this sell home from Anime Expo for less than $70

bookmark/share with:

Feature homepage / archives