We bought our first cels in 1998 at Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (some Slayers, Rayearth, Gokudo-kun and Galaxy Warrior Rai). Shortly afterwards (2000) we learned that Mandarake of Japan had opened a branch in Torrance, California, and for the next few years spent several hours every few months going through thousands of cels each visit. We also started purchasing cels at Anime Expo. However, after Mandarake closed their Southern California store the vast majority of our cels were acquired from Richard J. Self and his Anime Gambit online storefront.
It used to be that unless you have the opportunity to actually see anime projected directly from film, you were only seeing a poor approximation of the real thing. Even with DVD, picture resolution is far less crisp than film, and we've all seen enough miserable DVD mastering jobs by now to know that we're not usually even getting the best that the medium can offer.
More importantly, the picture tube phosphors used in the standard definition NTSC television system weren't capable of reproducing a significant portion of the color spectrum visible to the human eye. Especially in the case of very deep colors, such as deep reds and purples, you were only seeing a dull approximation of what's possible. And what colors you did see were smeared. Only with the advent of Blu-ray and high definition video, which no longer uses the NTSC color system, is it possible to see most of the detail and rich color inherent in the original cel art.
But looking at a cel is for all practical purposes looking directly at the film--or better. For a cel is, if anything, even more vibrant (and crisper) than the end product on film, which may have gone through several generations of negatives and positives and interpositives and what not. To take just one example, only by looking at the cel do you discover that Kaige's hair (Princess Rouge) is actually a deep rich maroon red, not orange as it appears on the video. (And, sadly, many Blu-ray anime discs are made from the same video masters originally created for DVD, especially re-releases of older title).
Now on to the more mundane stuff.
In a word, no. Also, our cels are not for sale.
Sometimes there is. Most anime already have dedicated sites on the Internet, and such websites as the Anime News Network Encyclopedia and Wikipedia are a rich source of information. In other cases, we have no idea what character a cel is of, or even what series it's from (see our Mystery Gallery for some of these).
Special thanks are due here to Key, who provided many of the identifications in this gallery.
Because these cels are not for sale, we have not hesitated to take certain steps in order to better present the cel art.
If these cels were for sale, we would of course post completely unretouched scans. But they aren't, and this makes it possible for us to share this beautiful cel art as ideally as possible.
Lamont Downs (& Pat)