At the doorstep of Sunshine City Prince Hotel is Otome Road, often referred as Fujoshi Street, is one of the most well stocked and up-to-date in BL content. When I went down in April, this little street had expended to the neighboring shopping and food district, right up to the doorstep of Ikebukuro Station.
Walking along the street towards Sunshine City and Otome Road are stylishly dressed male promoters, some with long blond dyed hair line the street. Like girls dressed in fluffy maid outfits in Akihabara who would only become chatty with guys, Ikemen at Ikebukuro, would only devout their attention on girls.
Most Anime related shops at Ikebukuro are generally skewered towards the Otome market.
If you are in the hunt for unique off the shelve merchandize. You should never give Animate a miss. Anywhere Otakus would congregate, Animate will be there. But the two sitting in Ikebukuro which are different from the rest around Japan.
Along Otome Road is ACOS, the Animate that marks the start of Otome Road. Right across from Sunshine City, this Animate sells everything for the girls and girls only. Even its café sitting on the 6th floor of the building spots either a yaoish or reverse harem theme. Often polarized from the Moe Moe Kyun Kyun fluff at Akihabara.
ACOS do not only stock up on keychains, folders and other character goods, but also delicate an entire floor to Cosplay. It is a one stop center for the casual Cosplayer to buy off the shelf costumes (sadly no armor), wigs, costume accessories and prop weapons.
Located a few streets away, in a recently furbished building is Animate’s Flagship store. This is the biggest Animate around with multiple floors dedicated to merchandizes and character goods for both guys and girls. From food products like instant curry, tapestry, cups to Manga, Doujinshi for girls to digital media.
Animate is probably the most convenient retailer to purchase anime related music without rummaging through shelves after shelves or records.
The combination of convenience and variety at a convenient location makes both Animates at Ikebukuro a must go to place to end your shopping in Japan. Just remember leave some yen for Tokyo Banana if you promised anyone back home.
Comic Toranoana Shop B
Until recently, Shop B was Shop A. Stocking an inventory of male oriented Hentai. But, with companies wasting no time in capturing the women’s market. It takes little logic to see why one of the biggest retailers in doujinshi should not delicate at least one of it’s many shops for the ladies.
There is no better place to plug that shop in other than Ikebukuro. Located opposite Ikebukuro Station, Shop B now host an inventory of doujishi of stacking men on top of other men, reverse harem, Boys’ Love and shoujo manga. This is the holy grail of yaoi content. If you’re looking for copies of Eren x Levi, Tiger X Bunny or Uta Prince you missed at Doujin Events, this is the place to be.
What happened to Shop A?
Well they got evicted by Shop B, kicked a couple streets, down the road, into a dingy looking building. It now occupies two floors. One solely for the high moral reader who prefer less skin and the other for those who prefer less clothing.
The Japanese got to love second retailers and by the end of the first week in Japan, we start to see why. Second-hand retailers holds a major advantage over others mainly because of their unique inventory, cheaper prices and the wild chance to find an out of production antique. Random loot from UFO machines, Gachapon and Kuji often end up on the shelves at second hand retailers, most of the time, they still smell new.
We cannot help to leave Lashinbang out from the fun when they recently expanded their shop last year to hold more products for the ladies.
Situated between ACOS and K-Books on Otome Road, Lashinbang operates a second-hand shop selling a mixture of figures, games and character goods. On their ground floor units every corner is stocked up for the ladies.
On the second floor, that’s the guy’s department with stocks of generic figures, illustration books and doujinshi. It lacks the grandeur as compared to shops in Akihabara, but what choice would you have if you’re dragged by the collar to go shopping on Otome Road?
Right, if Lashinbang have doujinshi for the guys, they definitely have one for the girls. The shop is not on Otome Road, but the neighbouring shopping district. This outlet is for the bookworms. They don’t carry stock of any other products other than books.
If you cannot find what you fancy, you could always hop off to Fromagee next door.
Ikebukuro would not have always been the place for girls to get their Anime goods. But in 2000, after next door rivals Animate decided to make the switch to emphasize on the girls, K-Books decided to make the switch as well. Ikebukuro would have to content with Akihabara and Nakano Broadway. There is no better demographic than to target the girls market and to give them some privacy in the process.
Most retailers of Anime merchandizes rarely mix first and second hand goods together. But K-Books does just that, at least not under the same roof. Spotting five shops littered along Otome Road, this is the largest congregation of K-Books on a single road.
They sell everything from Otome merchandizes, doujinshi, digital media to Cosplay related products.
To complete the experience on Otome street, K-Books also operates the Swallowtail Butler’s Café.
Otome Road ends with Mandarake. In our next edition, talk about food as we dine on a tight budget from Osaka to Tokyo.
Additional Photographs by Bob