I went to the LA grand opening of Japan’s largest Anime retailer Animate! Animate is the largest Anime retailer that first opened in Ikebukuro, Tokyo in 1983. Animate USA has been teasing about a new shop opening up in the Del Amo mall for months now. Anime lovers were finally greeted with the news that the shop would open up with less than a week’s notice. Even with the quick announcement, the opening day had a large line of fans waiting to get inside.
I’ve been to Animate several times at the Ikebukuro location in Tokyo and was very happy to hear that they would be opening a location near me. But this is not Animate’s first rodeo in the US.
I was actually looking through old Anime flyers I got from Anime Expo back in the day and found this relic. Animate USA actually opened a shop on Melrose Avenue in 2000. I would also shop out at that location and was so sad when they closed down in 2003. This was during a time where anime was more niche and not mainstream like it is today. So Anime companies were doing well but not as well as they hoped. Many companies had to shut down, move back to Japan, or rebrand in a smaller way to continue.
I was very happy to see Bandai Namco with their Gashapon stand at the shop. The window display for the Gashapon was adorable! Gashapon (ガシャポン) are coin operated toy vending machines and is a trademark of Bandai. I created content for their Little Tokyo shop!
As I stepped into the new Animate shop I saw a lot of the new popular Anime franchises that I don’t necessarily watch like Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer. Out of all the new series the one I do watch and enjoy is Spy Family. What I was really at the shop for was Neon Genesis Evangelion. They had a good amount of EVA merch but I would love to see more. I did see some Sailor Moon books and a figure. Oh how I wish I could go back in time to Animate 2000 where most of the Anime I loved was in the shop. I’m hoping they bring even more Anime franchises out especially for us retro Anime fans. That would be amazing! I’m very happy to see Animate back and here to stay!