Amidst tirelessly attempting to complete the readings of the fifty-some books for my cultural history PhD minor, my collection (!) grew. In the past couple of months, I've been: reading all about the boundaries of commodification (apparently - a negative term!) and the evils of capitalism (!) that most scholars emphasize in a sustained ideological assault on my brain; memorizing disturbing amounts of information about 19th century sewing machines and farming equipment; finding out all about American coffins, managerial patterns, and female working class fashions in the early 20th century; most of all - learning that I apparently have the obligation to spend my hard-earned dollars using my social conscience (read: fitting the left definition of morality). Strangely, all these texts did not preclude me from desiring more Ryuks. Fusing Marx and Freud, scholars call it "commodity fetishism". So, my apparently immoral purchase of this doll doesn't save rainforests, cure AIDS, or ban sweatshops. But, his carnivorous grin sure is cute!
Ryuk is a God of Death from a popular manga-turned anime-turned movie-turned endless merchandise Death Note. My only miniscule feeling of guilt comes from the seeming incompatibility of my age and such a childish interest. Of course, this interest speaks to the sheer success of Japanese cross-platform media production and cross-border marketing. Interestingly, the mighty resource, Wikipedia, suggests that the notion of a God of Death, as loosely referenced in Death Note, actually came to Japan from the West in the 19th century. And, here I am, consuming this God of Death in the West through a Japanese lens. Remember those evils of globalist capitalism in all their multivalent glory! (More specifically, "hypercapitalism" via the web, according to those aforementioned scholars.)
I've never considered myself a collector, despite owning hundreds of (largely heavy metal) CDs. The closest I've come to this coveted status is the multiple Orthodox and Catholic miniature icon reproductions, which happen to sit on my other bookshelf. (I am way ahead of you: I don't consider myself a book collector either, despite certain noticeable patterns!) Or, perhaps, my Russian tin soldiers qualify. In contrast to the icons and the soldiers, I've actively sought out Ryuk. My strategy even included transparent gift hints (including this one)!
Stranger yet, I've never been interested in other anime-related media. Sure, like any aware film fan, I enjoy a Japanese comedy or two: some would say that I have a curious sense of humor when it comes to over-the-top splatterific gore as administered by a huggable drill bra (!) in Machine Girl. But that's where it ends. I swear.
So, what is it about this God of Death that leaves me wanting to "collect them all"? His wobbly yellow eyes? His insatiable appetite for..........red apples? Perhaps, the fur around his neck subliminally reminds me of those fashionable twenty thousand shirtwaist worker women who went on strike in New York in 1909-1910, as my readings tell me.