Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Hitting the comic stores in Tokyo: April 2013
Monster was a very cool shop to hang out in even if the comic book selection was pretty slender. It's easy to find, only a minute or so from Ebisu station-- right on the Yamanote Line, so there's no chance of getting lost-- and the store is absolutely jam-packed with superhero and movie toys. They seem to specialize in Star Wars but they had a lot of DC and Marvel action figures and statues, plus all kinds of other neat little items. This stuff isn't cheap, but Monster is worth a stop if you're jonesing for little Luke Skywalkers (or that mega-expensive two-figure 1/6th scale Bespin Luke from Hot Toys; he was in stock), die cast metal Batmobiles or plastic figures of Wonder Woman in her new costume. Or if you just like looking at such things. I was hoping they might have the new Dani Moonstar action figure, and while they did have others from that series (with her picture on the back of the package), she was nowhere to be found. Heartbreaking!
The customers were nice, a mixed crowd of young men and women, some parents and their little kids browsing and having pop culture fun. I also found the staff very pleasant. Big smiles and arigato gozaimashitas to seal the deal. I had a great time there, and I can't say I was disappointed not to find a massive selection of new and old comics. I didn't have much expectation of that in the first place. Still, I'll be making regular visits to Monster when I go to Tokyo. It beats hauling my butt all the way to Akihabara to see the same things, plus there are a lot of intriguing restaurants on the same street.
With Blister closed for the weekend, my only other choice was to find Manga No Mori in Ikebukuro. This proved an exercise in frustration. I finally located its former location, which is now a K-Books Men's. They sell those plastic statues and artwork of cutie-pie nearly-nekkid anime/manga girls. Kind of ironic, when one of the draws of Manga No Mori was its reputation for catering to female customers. I didn't expect to find any Cass there-- another shot in the dark-- but I had hoped to find the store at least. Since I'm not into the kind of stuff they sell, I didn't linger at K-Books Men's.
Speaking of catering to female comic customers, visiting the huge Animate in Ikebukuro was a highlight. First of all, just look at it!
That is one mammoth slab of comic book fun. Are there comic book shops this large in the United States? I tend to doubt it, and I doubt if there were they'd be as crowded as Ikebukuro's Animate shop. Just the line for the elevator made it seem like an amusement park attraction. I opted for the steps.
I didn't take any photos inside because I thought it would be rude, but there were plenty of people inside who had no qualms about snapping away. Now I'm thinking it was a missed opportunity. I mean, this place was just bustling and the lines for the cash registers on each floor made looking at merchandise difficult, like trying to watch a baseball game through a wooden fence.
And yes, most of the customers-- but not all-- were women and girls. A very bright, cheerful environment and as many comics about boys kissing boys as you could read in a lifetime. All in Japanese, of course. There is a floor for guy comics, too. And a section with manga-making supplies like paper, pencils, all kinds of ink pens, comic-making computer programs, color markers and more.
I'd read many times about Otome Road, the girly version of Akihabara. Having experienced the dude side in Akiba a few times, I was curious to see how the other half lives. Well, I must be an idiot because I couldn't find it. Others who are smarter than I am have had better luck and you can read about their happier experiences elsewhere. I'm more than a little disappointed I didn't get to visit any cosplay shops there, but if you look at my last photo you can see a brown van parked just in front of the main entrance of Animate. That's for buying food and the young women running it might have been cosplayers. I saw some startlingly white hair. Just down the street was a small park with its own festival in progress.
There I definitely saw some cosplayers. They were having a photo session. I strolled by just to check them out. So I suppose my story has a happy ending after all.