Travel Report: The Mandarake Complex – Akihabara, Tokyo.
February 2019. In Tokyo’s Akihabara Electric Town district the pervading vibe is strictly otaku, a Japanese word used to describe “a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills”. This being Tokyo and all, much of this phenomenem revolves around anime (animated TV shows/films) and manga (animated books/comics). There are hundreds of such stores to dive into across Akihabara but if you want to check out the definitive anime-manga Mecca then head here to Mandarake, a giant, ominous-looking 8-floor tower block that could literally be Darth Vader’s Japanese headquarters.
February 2019. There’s an elevator you can take to shuttle between Mandarake’s various floors, but I opted to simply take the fire exit style staircase and work my way up from the first floor. The first level focuses on collectibles and antiques and it’s impossible not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the place with row after row of magazines, books and comics from floor to ceiling. Stools are available for getting up to the higher shelves. Some of the stuff here is second hand and they also buy and sell for people wanting to offload or trade in.
Look out for the limited edition sketch prints of legendary anime-manga characters. Prices start from around 2000JPY (£13.50/€16/$18).
February 2019. The 2nd floor is all about animation cells, dolls and general cosplay, while Level 3 is pure manga from expensive vintage box sets to periodicals and graphic novels. The stylish, pre-wrapped limited edition version of Fullmetal Alchemist caught my eye, a series that follows the adventures of Alphonse and Eric who are on a quest to use alchemy to bring their dead mother back to life. You know, we’ve all been there.
Take a deep breath before entering Mandarake’s no-holds-barred 4th floor, as this is where you’ll come face to face with a vast range of hentai, which is basically anime-manga form pornography.
All the hentai stuff here is pre-wrapped to prevent pervy instore flipping, but anyway the covers alone give you a pretty good idea of the kind of shenanigans that lie inside.
February 2019. Level 5 is dedicated to girls’ comics, the 6th floor is home to a massive range of CDs (yes they still exist), DVDs and games, while Levels 7 & 8 showcase Mandarake’s fantastic variety of toys and games, many of them vintage. Look out for life size Gremlins, Star Wars collectibles and robots galore. The giant lego-like machine below could be yours for just 28.000JP (£190/€220/$250). As impressive as he undoubtedly is, I wasn’t even a little bit tempted.
Mandarake complex is located right in the heart of Akihabara Electric Town just a five-minute walk from Akihabara Station on the JR Yamanote and Sobu lines. Just take the Electric Town exit. For more details check out their official website and online shop here.
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