Before the internet, I used to love going to anime and manga shops. It was a fun way to discover new stories.
What in the world could be better?
Well there is something better (but I didn’t have access to it). Unbeknownst to me and many other fans around the globe, Japan has been hoarding the world’s largest anime retailer for over 30 years. But not anymore.
Forbes reports that Animate stores now sells products internationally… via their new website.
Animate is the Walmart of Japanese animation — if you substitute trash-people (yeah, I said it) with fanboys and fangirls. There are over 121 Animate stores scattered over Japan and parts of Asia, and now… Animate International.
The online retail store carries DVDs, Blu-Rays, and official merchandise. They also carry exclusive items available only through Animate stores. Fans now have access to official anime merchandise in addition to originals – both of which that have been difficult for westerners to find with confirmation of authenticity.
Spend a few minutes (or hours) perusing their store and you’ll realize that there’s a lot of unique goodness to discover. Like a manga store, but much bigger.
The only downside is that the prices are in Yen, so you’ll have to waste 15 seconds calculating prices in Google. And be warned, the shipping prices are high – as you should expect when ordering things directly from Japan. Expect to pay on shipping what you’re paying for a comic. (So, this obviously means make large purchases with your friends and split the shipping fees.)
One last note – be wary of online imposters. There are several online stores masquerading as Animate, but are actually crafty Japanese middle-men. They take orders on their site, but actually just buy from their local Animate retailer. If you’re lucky. Many of these third party retailers add hefty markups then send customers non-official knockoffs, so they can pocket even larger profits.
Stick with the real deal.
If you find any exceptionally good deals, share them in the comments.