Anime Vice News

Shopping for Your Favorite Anime Nerd! - - OTAKU COMING HOME

NYC Edition! Looking to do something special for all the geeks you love? Nick finds some must-hit shops to help fill those SAILOR MOON stockings.

Previously on OTAKU COMING HOME...

Some of you might remember that, way back in the first OTAKU COMING HOME, I mentioned spending a lot of time shopping for nerdy things down in NYC. From bootleg fansubs to import games, models and soundtracks, I made my way from midtown to Chinatown on a regular basis with some of my best pals.

Those were the golden days...

While most of those shops have closed, and the internet has lessened the need to hunt for hard to find stuff, there’s still something to be said for supporting local businesses, not to mention stumbling across things you might not think to look for online. With that in mind, I teamed up with my spiritual brother in geekery, comic writer, editor, and professional nerd Zach Rosenberg, to go on a tour of today’s best Japan-fan shops in NYC.

A number of these stores also offer some or all of their wares online, so whether or not you live in the area, if you still have some holiday shopping to do be sure to check these guys out.

BOOK-OFF

49 W. 45th Street

New York, NY 10036

(212) 685-1410

http://www.bookoffusa.com/

Ah Book-Off, one of the more well-known franchises in the Tokyo area. We stopped in our fair share of these guys when we were in Japan recently, most of them having between four and eight floors packed with stuff. The one in Akihabara, in fact, was the only place where we ran into body odor in Japan.

Take from that what you like.

This is allllll used - - import manga at great prices.
This is allllll used - - import manga at great prices.

Here in the states, however, there are relatively few of these guys and they’re less TOWERS OF DOOM and more AFFORDABLY-PRICED & WELL-ORGANIZED STUFF. They specialize in used products so some of the prices are absolutely killer.

14 volumes for $45? That's $3.21 each!
14 volumes for $45? That's $3.21 each!
Coming to you straight outta 1992 - - a selection of import VHS tapes.
Coming to you straight outta 1992 - - a selection of import VHS tapes.

The NYC location has three floors, each meticulously arranged to help you find what you need. Import and domestic books, magazines, DVDs, VHS (if you can believe that), video games, CDs, and more await you. There are some pretty cool finds in the $1.00 import manga section, if you’re feeling industrious. You’ll find a good selection here, and it’s especially worth the stop if you’re looking for a bargain in the book section or for anything out of print.

BOOKS KINOKUNIYA

1073 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10018

(212) 869-1700

http://www.kinokuniya.com/us/

Now if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese shopping experience, this is the place to be. Of all our stops, only one other reminded me as much of Japan as Books Kinokuniya (we’ll get to the other in a bit). Like Book-Off, Kinokuniya has a bit of everything. However, they only deal in new products, so be prepared to pay for it!

That Goku jacket is super nerdy and tempting. Maybe Alex and I can get a matching set for next year's con season?
That Goku jacket is super nerdy and tempting. Maybe Alex and I can get a matching set for next year's con season?

Don’t let the website fool you - this is more than just a bookstore. The first floor is a mixed bag, with books, magazines, clothing, toys, new releases, that sort of thing. Some great finds here if you’re looking to grab a special gift that you might otherwise not think to look for online.

We saw all this stuff in Japan, too. Nice to see the JoJo anniversary releases getting supported here!
We saw all this stuff in Japan, too. Nice to see the JoJo anniversary releases getting supported here!
All the latest releases are present and accounted for - - but watch out for the prices on these guys!
All the latest releases are present and accounted for - - but watch out for the prices on these guys!

The second floor is where you’ll probably have to take out a second mortgage. All the latest import and domestic art books, manga volumes, DVDs, and more line the aisles. A handful of toys and collectibles hide behind glass cases.

Buyer beware, here - - the selection is fantastic, but the prices on the imports are astronomical! Some of the art books I saw were tagged at twice what I paid in Japan. Some CD's were almost triple.

A great stop, particularly if you can’t wait or find yourself on a holiday time crunch, but you’ll be paying for the convenience and selection. They also have a nice little cafe on the second floor, where you can re-energize to power through all the awesome books.

“Anime Underground”

The Elizabeth Center - Basement Floor

15 Elizabeth Street

New York, NY 10013

No phone numbers. No shop names. No website. A secret hole-in-the-wall basement “mall,” complete with models, toys, and fansubs?

Smells like my childhood.

Ahh, fansubs. <3
Ahh, fansubs. <3
Step inside and tell the nice man what you're looking for. Don't worry - - he won't sell you into slavery or take your kidney or anything.
Step inside and tell the nice man what you're looking for. Don't worry - - he won't sell you into slavery or take your kidney or anything.

Over the years the number of stores has shrunk, sadly, but depending on what you’re in the market for this is still a good stop to make. Most of the stores specialize in things you might think of as stocking stuffers - - cell phone charms, plushes, novelty items, and so on.

There are, however, two small shops, one quite literally smaller than some closets, that specialize in DVD's (the closet) and models/toys.

Classic and new models for all my fellow snap-together fans.
Classic and new models for all my fellow snap-together fans.
Because nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like a paddle/fan with squishy breasts! Reminds me of the weird pillows we saw in Akihabara (No, I don&squot;t want to talk about it).
Because nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like a paddle/fan with squishy breasts! Reminds me of the weird pillows we saw in Akihabara (No, I don't want to talk about it).

The DVDs are quite bootleg, but it’s a great place to stop if you’re looking for something out-of-print or the odd, unlicensed show/movie. The model shop was closed on this trip but I remember their prices being pretty competitive, so if you’re shopping for the best price I’d recommend checking this place out.

Just be sure to get here early, as the shops close by 6 PM.

VIDEOGAMESNEWYORK

202 East 6th Street

New York, NY 10003

(212) 539-1039

http://www.videogamesnewyork.com/

Remember I told you there was one other shop that reminded me of being in Tokyo? This was it. Walking inside felt like I’d been transported to a very condensed version of Akihabara’s Super Potato, one of the best stops we made while we were in Japan.

Just like Super Potato, an ample selection of classic gaming systems and accessories at decent prices and in good condition.
Just like Super Potato, an ample selection of classic gaming systems and accessories at decent prices and in good condition.

It’s amazing what they are able to cram into this tiny shop...

Classic Atari games? Sealed Famicom Disk System? New Wii U accessories? Import Sega Saturn games?

They have it all and more, with a fantastic new, used, and import selection that’s hard to beat, covering pretty much every system you can imagine from each generation. I thought I took more pics, but apparently I let my own loves get in the way and just photographed the old school stuff. Trust me though, it’s all there.

If I had a vault like Scrooge McDuck, it'd be filled with these and I'd be covered in bruises from diving into them every day.
If I had a vault like Scrooge McDuck, it'd be filled with these and I'd be covered in bruises from diving into them every day.

Prices are more or less fair based on my experience shopping online and in Japan, so you can spend your money knowing that there probably aren’t too many better deals out there. If you’re looking for a rare game for that special someone, or just looking to selfishly plug a hole in your own collection, this is a stop totally worth making.

Image Anime

242 West 30th Street

New York, NY 10001

(212) 631-0966

http://www.imageanime.com

If Kinokuniya and the “Anime Underground” didn’t satisfy your need for import toys, models, statues, and accessories, than look no further than Image Anime. It isn’t the biggest store, but they pack a ton of variety into a small space, like Videogamesnewyork. They even have a small domestic DVD/blu-ray section in case you want to partner your gift up with a supporting flick.

How many jackets can YOU name?
How many jackets can YOU name?
For the fashionable nerd on the go.
For the fashionable nerd on the go.
Something to wipe your brow after a Spartan Race or, if you prefer, a hardcore STREET FIGHTER tournament.
Something to wipe your brow after a Spartan Race or, if you prefer, a hardcore STREET FIGHTER tournament.

From e-tank sweatbands to exclusive figures from San Diego Comic-Con, a Fox Hound messenger bag to a rack of cosplay jackets, you’re all but guaranteed to find a cool gift for the geek in your life here. Like some of that stuff on the first floor at Kinokuniya, these are the sort of things you might not think to shop for online, so having a place where you can stumble across it is pretty awesome.

These guys were pricey, but gorgeous. Also, as I recall, not priced too differently between here and Japan.
These guys were pricey, but gorgeous. Also, as I recall, not priced too differently between here and Japan.
Gifts for all budgets!
Gifts for all budgets!

And there you have it, folks. If you’re looking to do some last minute shopping for the dorks you love, you should definitely hit these shops, be it in person or online.

But what about where YOU guys shop? Have a local haunt you like? What about some preferred websites for imported nerdery? Leave ‘em in the comments below! Maybe we can run a few more of these shopping guides before the holidays (or after, since, let’s face it, we’ll all probably have some holiday cash and giftcards to burn...).

Nick Tapalansky is an author of comics and other things, some of them nominated for awards and stuff. Read some comics for free at http://www.NickTapalansky.com/blog and find him on Twitter as @NickTapalansky.

Marshal Victoryon Dec. 17, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.

Nothing close to that here in the hills of ol Kentucky so i do all my shoping online.

1st stop is http://www.amazon.com/

2nd stop is http://www.rightstuf.com/rssite/main/

3rd stop is http://www.shopanimedvd.com/default.php

an if its a blue ray of dvd i will check http://www.blu-ray.com/deals/?ref=5

Heck last comic book shop i knew of still open was over 80 miles from where i live.

buhssuhton Dec. 17, 2012 at 6:22 p.m.

something like these make me want to live at New York.

AURON570on Dec. 17, 2012 at 6:45 p.m.

I'm not sure if you're joking about the oppai mousepads being paddles with squishy breasts. xD

Wraithon Dec. 17, 2012 at 9:40 p.m.

I've been to Kinokuniya when I was in New York years ago, it's a really nice and expensive store. I live in the Bay Area so there's:

Kinokuniya in San Francisco and San Jose, Japantown in San Francisco and San Jose, and I'm pretty sure there's other places around here, I wouldn't know for sure since I became disabled a while ago and can't go out on my own so I do all my shopping on line.

Aleashaon Dec. 18, 2012 at 5:42 a.m.

We have about 13 shops here in Indianapolis area and i'm sure there are a few less known shops but most of the shops are geared more towards comic books than manga and anime. I haven't found a particularly good one yet but I am still looking and this is a big city lol.

NickTapalansky staff on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10 a.m.

@Marshal Victory: I hear you! Much as I'd like to shun the internet as something that's ruined most of the surprise/thrill of the hunt, it's been a HUGE factor in allowing fans in all areas to partake in nerdy shopping. Good sites!

@buhssuht: Hahaha! Yeah, it's nice to have some of these things so close to home. I live about an hour north of the city though, and plan to move further north still, since at heart I'm a rural lad.

@AURON570: MOUSE PADS. Right. Of course they are. I was... Joking. (I actually had NO idea what they were - it's been so long since mouse pads were a common necessity thanks to track pads and optical mice that it never crossed my mind!)

@Wraith: Yeah, Kinokuniya IS definitely one of the nicer--and legit--jams on this list. So where online do you do your shopping these days?

@Aleasha: 13 shops?! Pretty awesome. Any of them happen to be real "stand outs" that you can point us to? (Also, for the purposes of this list I focused solely on shops that specialized in Japanese products, but their are at least three awesome comic shops in NYC and a dozen more that I've never been to. Each can and will try to source whatever you're looking for but, of course, import products aren't always in their supply chain).

sickVisionz moderator on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.

That Kinokuniya place looks pretty sweet. A physical store that sells art books and anime related clothing (not cosplay, but clothing) would be something I'd frequent.

Barf @ buying bootlegs though. I'll never understand the idea of paying for bootlegs when the internet exists and you can get HD bootlegs for free.

Aleashaon Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:39 a.m.

@NickTapalansky: There is one place called Hero House which I found through a group called Indy Anime Underground ( http://www.meetup.com/indyanimeundergound/ ) you can find a lot of stuff there including free screenings as they work closely with some of the most prominent Anime Distributors in America, Its pretty varied and one of the only ones I went back to more than once.

Wraithon Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.

@NickTapalansky: I mainly use rightstuf or amazon. sometimes I may use jlist or amiami

NickTapalansky staff on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.

@sickVisionz: Yessir, Kinokuniya is pretty rad. You're paying a pretty steep price for ready access to these things (particularly the imports), but how often do you get to browse these things legitimately?

Speaking of legitimate though, I do understand the argument of bootleg pressing vs. bootleg download, and there's a discussion to be had about both, I think. "Back in my day," bootlegs were the only way to see a large majority of what came out in Japan, as anime/manga/Japanese entertainment in general all constituted a fringe market at best. Now it's more like any other bootleg operation, and while either option is a great way to get access to out of print or as-yet unlicensed material, it's probably best to otherwise steer clear.

@Aleasha: That's a pretty cool site. Thanks for sharing! Shame Hero House doesn't have a regular website we can check out. What makes them different from the average comic shop for you?

For anyone curious/unfamiliar with those last two shops mentioned, check out their sites here:

AmiAmi: http://www.amiami.com/

JList: http://www.jlist.com/home

Aleashaon Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.

@NickTapalansky: Well partly for where its located I have lived in and visited Fountain Square for years my grandma still owns a house with in walking distance the Fountain Square area is primarily a live/work community for Indianapolis artists. I think the other part is they have amazing choices of 1,000's of comics for only 25 cents each, graphic novels, toys, games, music, movies, & clothing and the occasional free comic book day not to mention the people who work there are insightful and helpful.

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