MANGA-mania has come to the Capital with the opening of the biggest anime and manga store in Scotland.
Anime Republic, which opened in Princes Mall at the end of January, has already proved a hit with Edinburgh enthusiasts, even attracting groups of fans dressed as their favourite character.
Manga comics and the l cartoons called “anime” originated in Japan, though there are also Chinese and Korean branches. The stories cover all genres, with something to suit all ages, and thousands of characters for fans to explore.
Manager Maggie Yang, 27, said: “There’s lots of places like this in England, especially down in London, but nothing in Scotland, so I thought we’d do something about that. We carry all sorts of manga-related products – books, figurines, bags, keyrings, jewellery . . . even wigs and costumes.”
One of the people most thrilled about the new store is sales assistant Rachel Currie, who has managed to land her dream job.
The 20-year-old has spent years collecting and studying manga and anime, and said: “I’m so lucky to be working somewhere where I get to be surrounded by my obsessions.
“I first got interested in Japanese cartoons when I was about 15 after seeing Spirited Away, but I soon discovered it could be quite hard to find more – local shops usually have a small selection of books and perhaps some figurines, but that was about it.
“And while you could order things online, I for one like to properly look at something before I buy it.” One of the first things customers will see when they enter is a wall full of different figurines, the smallest of which, Rachel explains, are called Nendoroids.
“They’re often based on manga and anime characters, and some are also Vocaloids. They’re basically a representation of a piece of software you can programme to sing. You can usually get them all sorts of accessories, even change their face and hands.”
And to go along with the large selection of manga graphic novels, which include everything from tween-friendly tales of teenage rock chicks to more adult titles such as the Deathnote series – where a boy discovers a note book capable of killing anyone whose name is written inside – there is also a seating area in the back of the shop where customers can take a closer look at the merchandise.
Rachel continued: “We’ve not been open that long but it’s already proving quite a popular hang-out spot with local fans.”
And even if you can’t tell your Nendoroids from your Figmas, or your Haruhi Suzumiya from your Squid Girl, there are still some familiar faces in store.
Rachel said: “We also carry lots of accessories and toys based on Super Mario Brothers, Dragonball and Pokemon, which are still very popular with all ages. Everyone loves Mario.”
Comic book writer hails new store
Seán Michael Wilson, a professional comic book writer from Edinburgh, who now lives in Japan, was thrilled to hear about the store opening.
He said: “Osamu Tezuka, who is often referred to as ‘The Godfather of Anime’ once said we had entered the era of manga as air. I prefer to think of it like water – meaning that it’s easy to get some and it’s good for you.
“With the opening of Anime Republic in Scotland, manga and anime just became a lot easier to get.
“As a Scottish writer, living in Japan and working in the manga industry I am very pleased about this. Long overdue.”
Sean has worked on many graphic novels since his first publication in 1998, and has been nominated in the Harvey book awards, and the Stan Lee Excelsior awards. He is also the editor of the critically acclaimed ‘AX: alternative manga’ (Top Shelf), which was selected as one of the ten best comic books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly. You can see some of his work at: www.seanmichaelwilson.weebly.com.