So less than a month since I last visited the flagship Animate store in Ikebukuro — and now it’s gone. Kinda.
To coincide with the weekend-long Animate Girls Festival (AGF) held nearby, the company have just opened their new flagship store in the same area. Though to be fair, it’s about three minutes closer to the train station now.
I went to check it out for its ‘Grand Opening’ on Saturday, though not before hunkering down in the nearest Starbucks to do several hours of work. I had a seat near the window, though, so in addition to mean-spiritedly enjoying watching people get rained on all afternoon, I had a good vantage point to observe all the (mostly female) otaku scurrying past with their Animate and character carry bags. A lot of women at the tables around me had also just come from the AGF, and were loud enough while they spread their new purchases out across the tables that one of the Starbucks employees eventually wandered over to ask what kind of event everyone had just come from.
When I finally finished enough work to not call the day wasted, it was past 4pm and already dark. Out of a sense of morbid curiosity, I went first to see what had happened to the old Animate building. It was still standing, of course, and Animate seemed to be using it as a kind of satellite Girls’ Festival merchandise shop, though no one was allowed through the old main entrance (the ground floor had been gutted too).
When I doubled back to check out the new flagship store, I ran into the long line of fans queuing for the AGF — even though it was dark and raining.
Animate have been flogging pre-purchase festival tickets pretty hard in the past month, though you could also buy same-day tickets. I had a long commute back home and wasn’t really keen on any of this year’s events though, so I didn’t bother lining up.
Just down the road was the new Animate store, and there was a mini-queue to get in there too.
I got in quickly once I’d bagged my umbrella, and was pleased to find that the new store is much wider than the old one, so even with the large crowd I could make my way up the stairs without too much jostling (there was a long line for the elevator though — why do people bother?)
Presumably because of carryover from the AGF, most of the shoppers were women, which was actually a nice change when I got to the BL floor because I didn’t feel as conspicuous with the crush of people around me. The BL selection itself wasn’t much to write home about; it was large-ish and had mostly only new titles, though I was excited to see that volume 5 of Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko is out (now I just have to find somewhere to buy it where I won’t have to queue for 20 minutes).
In conclusion: shiny new store, but still much of a muchness.
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