By Melissa "Ming-Ling" Louie
Anime not just about watching those pretty pictures flicker at you from the screen. It's also about all the wonderful things that tie into the series, ranging anywhere from soundtracks to pencil boards to character goods. Now, you can usually hop on to your local video store to check out titles. But where do you get the merchandise from? Online offers many places, but for some people, shopping just isn't shopping without hitting the stores. And if you live in Southern California, you're in luck.
Located at 7314 Melrose Avenue, Animate's parent company owns giant stores back in Japan and thus most of their goods are imported from there. This is a great place to go for character goods from a variety of series. Ever want Vash's sunglasses from Trigun, a With plushie from DNAngel, or a medallion of Spike's Swordfish from Cowboy Bebop? The merchandise is quite varied and extensive. There are also lots of pencil boards, a wall devoted to lami-cards, posters and wallscrolls hanging from the ceiling, and figurines. For the artists, they sell Copic markers and tones as well as other art supplies. There is also a large shelf full of anime, game, and seiyuu soundtracks, many from lesser-known series that are hard to find. If you're into manga they have plenty of these as well, although they are occasionally not stocked in some titles. However, they do have a large variety including those from older or lesser known publisher such as Gakken Pocke and Enix, which aren't always found at Japanese bookstores, as well as a number of artbooks and doujinshi. There is also a small collection of DVD's, both domestic and import, as well as inexpensive Japanese-released VHS tapes of many shows. Animate will do special orders if you know the name and ISBN of the product you are looking for. For frequent customers you can get a point-card, where you get a stamp for every $10 of purchase, and which can be redeemed for discounts later on. Their website has directions, more information, as well as an online store so you can get a better idea of the items they carry.
This shop is located at Little Tokyo's Village Center, tucked away at 319 East 2nd Street #103. It is a collector's dream come true. Lots of figurines greet you as you enter, and as you venture into the store you can check out their large collection of anime cels, promotion flyers and posters (many given out at special events in Japan and are rare, such as the Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door movie program guide.) There are also a small number of soundtracks and an amazing amount of import LD's. If you still have one of those laserdisc players and are wondering what to do with it, come here and get some great titles! Also available are a variety of UFO catcher dolls, doujinshi, import games, models, and posters. Their website has directions, more information, as well as an online store so you can get a better idea of the items they carry.
AnimeGamers (formerly known as OmochaBox)
Previously known as OmochaBox, AnimeGamers is located across from Westside Pavilion at 10811 Pico Blvd. The store's parent company is Broccoli which owns the large and popular Gamers stores in Japan that use Dejiko and the cast of DiGiCharat as their mascots. Accordingly, this store has more DiGiCharat merchandise than you can shake a Gema at as well as plenty of other merchandise by the artist of the series, Koge Donbo. However, that's not all they carry. The also have merchandise from other series such as Love Hina. Because the parent company also runs Synch-Point, there are some great FLCL goods including Haruka and Canti figures. The back wall is devoted to manga at very reasonable prices. There are also artbooks and phonebook manga (monthly manga compilations) as well as a large number of DVDs -- mostly domestic with a few imports -- and a few soundtracks. At the counter you can check out card sets for such shows as Card Captor Sakura and Yu-Gi-Oh as well as art portfolios by Koge Donbo (DiGiCharat) and Yasuhiro Nightow (Trigun). There are usually specials going on every month; past specials included getting DiGiCharat bookmarks when you bought manga or specific merchandise or getting a FLCL shot glass for preordering the DVD. AnimeGamers also has a point-card system, but instead of redeeming for future store discounts, you can instead get special merchandise not sold, such as a Gema mug or a Sentimental Graffiti musical frame. Their website has directions, more information, as well as an online store so you can get a better idea of the items they carry.
Mandarake's parent company in Japan specializes in used manga as well as other second-hand anime goods. Formerly located in Torrance's Mitsuwa Center, they have recently changed venues to be near Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. Their new store location is 332"B" Santa Monica Blvd on the corner of 4th Street. Although the Torrance store continued the tradition of having mostly used manga, the new Santa Monica location has expanded to have a lot more anime merchandise, including model kits, a large variety of cels, toys and t-shirts. Their manga section has shrunk somewhat and mostly carry big names by big publishers. They also have a large number of used artbooks and a large selection of doujinshi. They now also have a small number of domestic DVDs and VHS along with import soundtracks, DVDs and VHS. Check out their glass cases along the walls for some rare or noteworthy merchandise like Fushigi Yuugi postcards and Mononoke Hime kodama plushies. Their website has directions, more information, as well as an online store so you can get a better idea of the items they carry.
Mandai Used CD's and Books
This tiny shop is hidden in the side street of Weller Court in Little Tokyo, near the Kinokuniya. If you head past the Space Shuttle tribute and past the Family Mart you'll find the store. As the name suggests, it's got lots of used CD's (mostly J-pop and J-rock, with some anime and game soundtracks as well as a few American releases) and used manga. The manga selection mostly includes older titles and again, be sure you know the publisher, author, and title in Japanese because the manga sections aren't as neatly organized as Mandarake. There is also a good selection of VHS tapes of various movies (mostly live-action) and TV series from Japan.
Other local stores of interest:
http://www.bookoff.co.jp Japanese only
Another Japanese used book store with a location in Gardena.
- Kinokuniya Bookstore in Little Tokyo
Japanese bookstore that also carries manga, soundtracks, and some domestic books/DVD/VHS.
- Asahiya Bookstore in Little Tokyo
http://www.netdirect.co.jp/ - Japanese only
Another Japanese bookstore with manga, soundtracks, and some domestic DVD/VHS.
- Nippon Books in Little Tokyo
Another, smaller Japanese bookstore with manga and soundtracks.
Other links of interest: