If you find yourself in the Akihabara Electronics District, you should definitely check out Animate! Whether you are a hardcore anime/manga fan or are just a curious passer-by, Animate offers something for everyone. This chain mega-store offers 7 floors of popular anime and game merchandise such as figurines, costumes, magazines, and other collectibles. It is enough to make even the most uninterested customer’s jaw drop.
With so many anime/manga stores in Akihabara, it can be difficult to decide which ones to seek out and which ones to skip. If you have the day, I recommend checking out any of the shops that pique your interest, but if you are on a time crunch and can only visit a few, Animate should be your first stop!
You don’t have to be interested in anime or gaming to find this behemoth of a store interesting or just downright fun. As soon as you enter Animate, it can be overwhelming to say the least. When we visited it was pretty crowded and the energy was high. You’ll find everyone from students to adults browsing the various floors that are packed to the brim with all sorts of unique and amazing merchandise with the exact same amount enthusiasm. That is probably what struck me the most about Animate and Akihabara in general. It seemed to be open to anyone and everyone. A place free of judgement where old and young could come to freely wander and explore typically “nerdy” or “otaku” things happily. It really made the whole experience a wonderful one and something I’ll never forget.
The layout of Animate is organized, but still chaotic. The first floor offers everything from posters to socks of various characters from anime/manga and games. The upper levels offer individual shops that are all placed together. Be warned, a lot of these stores are cash only! You also have to be aware of where the store begins and ends (which can sometimes be quite tricky) as you will get herded back into the store if you accidentally step outside the lines with unpaid merchandise!
Typically the employees we encountered at each shop were helpful and kind, though there were definitely those who seemed to want to be somewhere else. The prices can range from very cheap to very overpriced. I found a Pokemon plushee that was ¥3,000 in one store, but found the exact same one in a different store for ¥2,000. If you find something you really want, I would recommend remembering where you found it and checking the other stores out first for a better price!
Other than those few warnings, Animate was one of my favorite stores we visited here in Tokyo. Whether you are looking for a uniquely Japan experience or want to buy your favorite anime’s or manga’s merchandise, Animate is the perfect place!