Go to shopping: Mandrake

If your want is manga, anime related toys and any other kind of specialist otaku goods, Mandrake, pronounced as so many of Her Majesty’s loan words in katakana, as “mahn-drah-keh”, is probably a good place to have a gander. They have shelves of any kind of manga you could possibly imagine, yes, including the naughty stuff, more plastic toys than a man can eat and even anime cells.

They have quite a few shops, but I’ve only ever ventured into the Shibuya one, which is down three or four flights of stairs leading to a subterranean dungeon of geekdom. You have to deposit your bags in a locker (100Yen coin needed, refunded when you leave) before you’re allowed to browse the maze of shelves and glass cases containing toys both old and new. Or you could simply have a quiet giggle at the poor staff who often have to dress up in cosplay, or if they’re terribly unlucky, stand on the tiny stage amongst the larger robot toys and butcher karaoke songs. Judging by the “kill me now” look of one cosplay girl I witnessed as she was Shatnering "Fly me to the moon" I am guessing it’s a contractual obligation for all staff, the poor thing.

Akihabara has many shops for such sad hobbies, but the Shibuya branch of Mandrake is fairly well located so that even the uninterested with a slight curiosity can pop in and have a quick look. Some Japanese ability or a lack of self-consciousness is helpful if you want to avoid the embarrassment of accidentally browsing the “male homosexual love story manga aimed at girls” section (eh?), for example. If you can’t flip through the comics because they’re packed in cellophane with a photocopied sheet covering the title page you have probably wandered into the hardcore porn manga section.

Location: Akihabara is on the local Chuo line or the central Yamanote line; Shibuya is on the central Yamanote line as well as many others.
Website: http://www.mandarake.co.jp/
Map: Shibuya branch or Akihabara branch.

10 comments:

  1. Mandarake is a national chain of shops, so you have them in most cities. The Shibuya one normally has a better selection of goods though.

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  2. The one in Nakano (also on the Chuo, walking out of the north exit and going up the arcade and into Broadway) is the most amazing, in my opinion. Not only are there several Mandarakes sectioned into manga, games, etc, but this very messy "department store" is like something right out of some Chinese backwater, only it is filled to the brim with nerdy shops, Mandarake aside. It is worth going only for the game-Mandarake though (if you can find it, I've been there dozens of times and it still confuses me). This shop has great used and rare items as well as great selections of games for most consoles. Also don't miss all the amazing vintage toys and figurines, or getting your ass kicked at one of the arcades (one of which is dedicated almost solely to versions of Street Fighter). A confusing place, but recommended!

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  3. I presume you've realized it's not spelled "mandrake" but "mandarake", but a little trivia as to why: The resemblance of the name "Mandarake" to the English word "Mandrake" is coincidence. "Mandarake" is just short for "Manga Darake", which I guess would be translated "Brimming with Manga".

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  4. D'oh, you're absolutely right! That certainly put me in my place; it goes to show I really shouldn't write about things I don't know too much about, i.e. the whole manga otaku culture. :)

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  5. Now I can't make the obvious "bodily fluids" comment. =(

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  6. JC,

    I'm the person who made that first anonymous comment. I'm sorry if it came off like I was trying to "put you in your place", that wasn't my intention at all. I was typing when tired (and am, again, now), so I probably didn't phrase myself well.

    (And I'm no manga otaku either, but I lived in Shibuya for 5 or so years, hence my familiarity with the place)

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  7. No, no, no, my embarasment is entirely justified. It's a stupid mistake and I'm glad someone pointed it out. I really hope people that read this blog and disagree with something feel comfortable enough to slap me on wrist when I make silly mistakes like that!

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  8. The HD music-video channel Palladia showed "Across the Sea: Weezer, Live in Japan", a rockumentary of them playing at the Studio Coast, 2005-12-20.

    After rehearsing, the band is filmed walking the streets, and they go into the MANDARAKE store. The cosplay-girl they meet there is wearing a dark-blue dress with white lace in sort of a shibari pattern on front.

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  9. I'm an otaku and I will do my best to read each entry done. By the way, this entry has something special, because you're mention Mandrake as an important thing and everyone know need more shops like this one in this city. 23jj

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  10. This is really perfect because it's the best place to go to shopping and more because I love manga and all those things related to it, I'm impressed seeing a big place to satisfy our needs.

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