Tokyo BL Diary: Month 2.1

November 10th

Like a splotch on my otaku credentials, I’d never once visited the flagship branch of Mandarake (まんだらけ) in the Tokyo ward of Nakano before. So after a work week that left me feeling like a zombie, and Saturday morning grocery shopping that left me feeling like a zombie weighed down by pineapples, I took a rapid express to Nakano.

I’ll be honest — it was a bit seedier than I thought it’d be. Once I’d avoided getting sucked into the covered shopping street directly opposite the station’s north exit (and bypassed all the hawkers handing out those tissue packets that double as advertising) I found my way to the Broadway building that houses Mandarake. (For reference, turn right into the narrow street that has a Mister Donut on the corner).

(And I’ll apologise now for the terrible photo quality — I forgot my camera and was left with only my geriatric iPhone to document the day).

The ground/first floor of the Broadway building is mostly taken up by arcade-ish clothing outlets and other small stores (I may have paused to ogle the gorgeous loose leaf tea canisters at one point).

It’s the second and third floors that cater to otaku: dozens of bookshops, model kit and figurine shops, and then all the separate mini-Mandarake stores — not a single, large store like the one in Shibuya, but instead half a dozen smaller ones carrying specific types of products.

The outside of one of the secondhand Mandarake manga shops was pretty cool, even though I’m still not quite sure what I was looking at.

The whole mini-shop system is actually great for when I finally stumbled on the place for BL doujinshi on the second floor, but turned out to be less awesome when I inadvertently entered the hentai shop and had to chart a path out past all the middle aged perverts men.

I probably only spent an hour in Nakano altogether, so I won’t claim to have trawled the place extensively (yet), but some of the day’s highlights included:

The range of secondhand BL in the general pre-owned manga store (entryway featured above). There was a lot more than in any one Book Off branch I can think of, but sadly no vintage (レトロ) volumes. Though they had some old shoujo stuff, which had lovely, dreamy art.

In this section I also found some secondhand art books, including this Maiden Rose OVA shousasshi (booklet)! Yours for 1,200 yen.

A real testament to the size of this Mandarake complex is the separate section where you can sell your pre-owned manga. They were doing a pretty brisk trade.

I really wish they had something like this back home; it’s a pain finding places to give my manga to because there aren’t many secondhand stores that’ll accept manga with this kind of content (let alone when most of that content is written in Chinese or Japanese).

And I can’t say with any certainty that the Mandarake BL doujinshi store in the Broadway building had a larger selection than Shibuya’s, but I did come across some interesting things there, including a surprisingly large section of Animal X stuff and even some western fandoms like Sherlock…

…and the Avengers. Three lone volumes, that is. All featuring sad!Loki on their covers. (Aww).

At any rate, there’s no doubt I’ll be back to Nakano sooner rather than later, but next time I think I’ll go on a weekday (and bolster my immune system with tasty, caffeinated stimulants first).

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