Mangagram was the worst and best thing I ever got involved with

Back in late 2020 I toyed with the idea of adding Instagram to my blog-related repertoire. It was partly an idea to cross promote certain posts or have certain images I could add on Insta then link in my blog, etc. Partly an idea to allow me to post my fandom loot and hauls but in a way that wouldn’t disrupt my usual blog style here on WordPress. Sometime in early 2021 I took the plunge and finally went ahead and did it.

As the title suggests, it was the worst and best thing I ever did.

I never had any real grand ambitions with my Instagram account, much like my blog. I was going to launch my pretty pictures into space, much like I launched my thoughts out here. Maybe I’d get a small following, and maybe I wouldn’t.

My posts have always been a smattering of various things, and my Instagram is no different. In the early days it was about small hauls, cool anime/manga stuff I encountered in the wild, and a few curated posts mostly around manga reviews that I had.

Hey, I’ve reviewed most of these minus Replay!

I also knew much like WordPress, I needed to interact with the community a bit if I were to get any real following or interactions. I started with WordPress peeps or those who were kind enough to respond when I announced my account. (Thank you to this day!!) I then expanded to the official accounts for movies or dramas that were airing/coming soon, plus a few other goods companies, etc. Eventually getting to other users not on WordPress, and that’s probably where the problems started.

The first problem, and the most superficial was the photos. Every single photo was clean, well-thought out, good lighting, on-point composition, and the list goes on. For me this wasn’t a huge deal – dusting off my old photography skills and committing to having actual photo set ups was about all I needed. Some natural light and a bit of inspiration helped too. It took awhile, but I’ve since found my ‘style’ posting and my page to a point, has a cohesive-ish feel to it like a real influencer. My stories though are a hot mess and a good time if you want to see in real time fangirling lol.

The second problem, and arguably the bigger one was the rapid (and occasionally vapid) consumerism heading into overconsumption. At first I really liked seeing people’s hauls, especially from outside of Japan and outside of America. What manga were getting licensed in Germany? Brazil? It was fascinating to see the familiar characters of a much beloved series have such a fresh feeling with just a simple linguistic change and maybe alternative cover art.

Of course, these served as unofficial recommendations. Coupled with actual recommendations too. I’d spot a colorful catchy-looking spine in the background and immediately search it up. There was a never ending onslaught of new to me manga, new series in general for me to discover! The best part was if the title was, let’s say in French, and I saw it hadn’t been licensed yet in English it wasn’t a problem! I’d just go ahead and search for it in Japanese, add to cart and problem solved!

I am not immune to the propaganda i.e. the influence of Instagram.

Hand in hand was watching people’s in real time reactions to various announcements. Things like convention schedules for artists or cosplayers, new merchandise drops, which platform was getting which anime, real time anime reactions especially for season premiers, and the joyous fangirling for licensing announcements. I was more in the loop for anime and manga then even WordPress afforded me and it was AWESOME. There was so much more for me to find, and seemingly a whole new community for me to enjoy it with.

There was a lot of innocent, feel good type of stuff too. The re-shelving/ ‘shelf my new manga with me’ content, the somewhat satisfying ASMR like rush of watching someone clear their shelves, clean, and re-shelve them. It was so simple and so effective! It usually inspired me to clean my own shelves off and try a new shelving style (or two) I hadn’t thought of. Or a reminder to change up my display style if I felt bored with my current one. Again, fairly innocent content here that inspired me to up my own.

We now get into consumerism, which Instagram allows people to showcase with cute titles like hauls and unboxings. One or two over the course of a week was fine, but I started to see them daily. Partly due to people I followed, and partly due to algorithms of course. The modest RightStuf!/Amiami/Mandarake unboxing of a few items (under ten) felt reasonable. I then saw the huge 15+ item ones, that weren’t just blind boxes or cheaper trinkets. These were easily several hundreds of dollars worth of anime merchandise being unboxed. Which for the users that could afford and ordered that sort of thing – good for them! I’m glad they’re in a comfortable spot where they can do that.

Until I noticed that these expensive hauls, or just large hauls weren’t really once in a blue moon posts. And a lot of this was starting to tip into over consumerism in my eyes. These were happening every day, on Instagram. Okay, easy enough hit uninterested a few times and it goes away. But a few users I followed had these hauls were coming in weekly in seemingly an ever increasing flow coupled with… odd comments. The following aren’t word for word anything I saw directly, but they are paraphrasing’s of things I’ve seen.

“I didn’t really like this series, but I’m glad I bought it when I did”.

“I don’t even really like this character but this figure is cute so I bought it”.

“OMG this has been OOP for YEARS, and I spent like… ten times the price it’s worth on a single volume but…”.

“I mean, is this series good? No. But I couldn’t just stop collecting it for that reason”.

“I can’t believe some idiot donated *series name here* at -second hand store name here-. It’s worth *significantly over original market value* so I bought the whole thing and am going to resell it “.

Black Jack’s resale rates are… ridiculous. No my set isn’t for sale lmao.

This is where things started to feel, for lack of a better word, icky for me. It was becoming increasingly clear that my style of collecting wasn’t really what the majority of the Instagram crowd was into. And that’s totally fine, to each their own. And the easiest answer is the simplest in this instance: unfollow people whose values and consumption patterns I don’t agree with. And I did. I unfollowed a lot of people, even blocked a few users whose patterns of behavior made me more than uncomfortable.

I made myself take time away from the app, and really re-look at what I was doing. In my cart for various secondhand stores were maybe 15+ titles that when I really looked at the art, and then the description were not my cup of tea at all. It was startling when I cleared those titles from my cart(s) how little remained that I was genuinely curious about. I made sure to go through my plan to read, and plan to watch lists again and re-visited those titles and remove them as well so there was no further confusion. Somewhat thankfully, I’ve never been an impulse buyer to any degree so I didn’t do too much damage to my wallet. But admittedly, there were a lot more times where I was significantly tempted to do so.

I won’t deny that a lot of those hauls made me uncomfortable not due to ethical reasons like overconsumption being bad, or disliking the culture around thrifting/flipping, but flat out envy. I envied users that were passionate fans of series that regularly got merch drops that they could fangirl over, and haul. I envied the users that were fiscally stable enough (or at least appeared to be) to be doing it frequently. I envied the users that could spend hours getting the perfect shot of their collections. Then editing them in such a cohesive manner that made me long for that same set up and life style.

When it wasn’t envy, there was an ugly sort of emptiness to it. I never have, and continue not to collect super popular series that would get a lot of attention. My collection style has rarely been cohesive in a manner that appeals to wide audiences. I’m admittedly picky to a fault about what I collect. In fact I miss out on a fair amount of stuff because I fail to commit to buying things. On top of it, I don’t really have an “Instagrammable” set up… ever. My place is a mess and while every manga has a home it’s not the most visually pleasing to look at.

Messy setup.

It got in my head that my collection would never be enough. That my photos would never be up to par, and that my captions (like how I’ve felt about blogging in the recent past) sucked, always. Instagram went to being a fun little add-on to just share things for a bit, to making me anxious. I went back and forth for literal months each day debating the pros and cons of deleting it.


Taking another deep breathe, I made the decision that I would keep my Instagram for the blog. I started being more cognizant of the influence that other accounts on me had. Instead of immediately heading to my preferred shopping sites for manga, goods, etc, I made a “saved” list where I’d add titles. After some time I’d look through the posts again and really evaluate why I liked the post or was attracted to the post originally. Sometimes I really liked the set up and wanted to try out something similar myself later – so photography inspiration. Other times I really liked how it was filtered and edited. Many times I recognized a favorite title of mine and just was so excited to see it ‘in the wild’ and just wanted to share it on my Instagram story. There were a few times where cover art got my attention, and re-reading the caption and looking it up: it’s just a really pretty cover and not something I’d actually be interested owning a hard copy of.

I took some time that, much like my blog, I did not have to participate actively in the trends of the algorithm and could just do my own thing. Of course I post my pretty pictures as I like. But I will tell you now that the staples of my current collection, regularly re-appear and are featured. My Oshi no Ko tiny potato children are too cute to only share once! The people that follow my Instagram will either be into it or not. People will follow or not, leave a like, or a comment or not.

I didn’t anticipate this post getting this long so if you have stuck around until the end, thank you very much for reading! As always, if you have thoughts/feelings/opinions on the topic please feel free to leave a comment down below! And with that I’ll see you next post!



  1. I’ve heard about this over consumerism when it comes to collecting manga. I wonder if the industry purposefully tries to appeal to these type of people with all the pretty covers.

    It does make me feel uncomfortable as well, but I do understand to some extent the feeling of wanting to collect. Though, I don’t really have the financial capacity to do so myself.

    I admit, I do also want to someday have a manga collection. Though, I’d probably only do it for manga I really like and leave the rest for digital. I’d rather have a collection of manga I love than just pretty covers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I’m kind of auditing my manga shelf in the same way. I’ve been looking through what manga I have and I ask myself “Do I actually like this series? If not, than why am I keeping it?” And if I don’t like the story I take it back to the used book store where it came from. My local used book store gives you store credit if you donate books. Little by little I’m pruning down my collection and only keeping what I really like.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m doing a big pruning myself right now. I always work on the notion of “will I genuinely re-read this?” and “do I need a physical copy or can borrow or read it digitally?”. It’s a slippery slope with manga collections. >..<

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh the pretty covers are absolutely to get a collectors interest. I say that as someone whose regularly suckered by them.

      I’ve been doing my best to remind myself that I am in a very lucky position to collect what I do and how I do. It’s a tricky situation of balancing morbid curiosity social media gives us, and being satisfied with my own collection.

      I think that’s the best strategy when it comes to collecting manga, or anything really. Collect what you really love, and save everything else for digitals or borrowing from libraries/friends, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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