Kinokuniya has always been a cool place. But now with a new store opening, and very close to another store called Book Off, it just got better. I love the thought of actually seeing more talks/events on manga outside of conventions.
I wonder how many talks/events we will see after the first month. It would be cool to have something going on at the store at least once a month. Little events like that tend to be good for business. Maybe a certain pair of sexy and fashionable bloggers should look into doing some sort of panel lecture at Kinokuniya. Maybe we should as well. I’m not sure they would want non-professionals, but it might be worth looking into.
BTW – If you are ever in New York you should check out Book Off. It’s a used book store so its selection is rather random but it also means that its books are very cheap. You can stumble on some amazing finds if you are lucky. The only real downside is the fact that the temperature is always weird in that store and it sort of gives me a weird vibe. I don’t think anyone else has that problem though.
The store itself is very sleek and modern looking. The first floor has a small gallery space where the current exhibit is Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue, Hataraki Man by Moyoco Anno, and Silent Service by Kaiji Kawaguchi. I am hoping this will be a changing gallery, maybe every few months. They have really expanded their magazine section. There are significantly more music and manga magazines. Both of which I looked at with pure joy. I even saw a few photobooks in the music magazine section as well.
I found it interesting that the gallery was all seinen manga. Seinen much like josei is not very popular in America, but Kinokuniya is mainly a Japanese book store so I guess seinen would be more popular with the people who would shop at Kinokuniya. Either way, it’s nice to see a little visibility for some really good manga targeted at an older audience. Maybe I’m very naive but maybe some teens looking for Nate the Ninja might look into some more sophisticated manga due to this. It probably will never happen but I can dream can’t I?
Other than that the new store has a very modern look. I also like the wider selection of manga magazine collections. They greatly increased the number of seinen and josei magazines. I might pick up a few the next time I am there. I was lame and only picked up a copy of Jump Square but I was curious what titles where staring in it as it was the magazine’s first issue. Hey it has the newest chapter of Claymore and Nobuhiro Watsuki’s new manga, Embalming – Another Tale of Frankenstein. I’m thinking about getting Morning, Big Comic Spirits, or Young Animal the next time I go.
In fact, I don’t remember the old store carrying any seinen collections. I could be wrong but they definitely have a wider variety of ages at this store. Although I couldn’t find a copy of Afternoon, I’ll have to ask next time.
The second floor is almost exclusively manga, both in English and Japanese. Both have huge displays of the newest books out. I really like this, it has a nice impact and it’s easy to see when something is out that you might not have realized. There is a decent artbook section, too. I do feel like the shojo manga in Japanese shrank from the previous store but all the other sections seemed to have grown. By the way, if you hate going to a bookstore and feeling like the manga you are buying has already been used 10 times over, Kinokuniya is the place for you. They wrap all their English books (Japanese have always been wrapped) and unlike at Barnes and Noble people don’t ignore it. There is a help desk and a cafe as well.
There is definitely a nice selection of both English and Japanese books now. I’m curious why there is such a small Japanese shojo selection but I’m not really going to complain about it as it effects you and Kohaku more than me. I sometimes wish I could take a flip through some of the Japanese books, if for nothing else the covers can be misleading. Series that look horrifically sexual on the cover can sometimes be rather tame in reality and other times series that look safe can be horrifically graphic on the inside. But I guess that is the price you pay for getting to buy pristine books.
I will testify to that being the case. Some shojo manga you think looks really cutesy ends up being smut! And sometimes even the other way around, all the special art can really give you a wrong impression.
I wish I had taken a look at the cafe. It seemed interesting but I totally forgot to look until after we left. I’m curious what their selection was and how good their prices were. There was also a decent toy section on the second floor. It was no Toy Toyko but it had all the common toys you see at most comic shops.
The basement seemed to have all the travel books, kids books and art and book supplies. Narutaki found two cute little pencil boards that doubled as Hirigana and Katakana cheat sheets. There was also a good selection of learning Japanese books including two different learning Japanese with manga series.
The event space is on the second floor right next to the cafe. When there isn’t an event there are easily moved floor displays. It was nice having the windows to the street behind the guests. However, it was really a noisy area being next to the cafe and having people moving about so much.
Well, it seemed the cafe space also was used by people to sit in on the events as much as eat (sometimes both). I really did not notice the noise as much as you, but I tend to actively tune other people out as much as I can.
Del Rey had their usual crew along for the ride. I have met all of them at different conventions, minus one. They are all fairly knowledgeable, entertaining and very talkative. They had a person for each sect of the publishing process essentially, from acquisitions to editorial to translations to production to publicity. I had a fairly good idea of what the process was already but it was still interesting hearing them go through it.
There were at least four different people in the audience who seemed interested in creating some sort of Amerimanga. There was also that guy who was either writing for a financial magazine or was some sort of odd investor because he kept asking questions about the manga industry and how one might be able to profit off of manga. If nothing else we got some early proof materials from Kitchen Princess. That is unique if nothing else.
Brian Camp ran the second panel about overlooked or unknown anime that had been released at one time in America. He mention that he used to be a regular contributor to Animerica and has taught a class about anime at the School of Visual Arts. Although his book, Anime Classics ZETTAI!, was mostly about about anime easily available in the U.S. most of the anime he talked about on the panel was no longer in print in America or never available at all. He oddly enough did not talk much about his book and mostly talked about some rather obscure anime. Not the best salesman in that respect ( :) ) but he did talk about some interesting shows.
Brian Camp gave us a big helping of old and fairly unknown titles that have never made it to U.S. shores, with a few exceptions. But everything was hard to get and unavailable. Actually, I don’t believe the panel was supposed to be all about pimping his book but rather a showing and he just happened to write a book too. I always like adding bits and pieces of information so this was a great way to do that. Not only did I actually see part of shows that I had only heard of, I also saw two incredibly rare films in anime history: Anju to zushio-maru and Hakujaden.
I was impressed by the choices he made because they were not the standard collection of anime people use in the overlooked classics panels. In fact, I would say it was the overlooked classics of the overlooked classics panel. Star of The Giants and Attack No. 1 are both fairly well known animes in Japan but since they are sports anime (and old sports anime at that) almost nobody in America know them. I only knew about Panda and the Magic Serpent (Hakujaden) because of AWO. I never heard of Arion and it was definitely a unique anime due to it’s use of actual greek legends (as opposed to Saint Seiya) to tell its own story. The Little Mermaid was also a good example on how the anime adpatation was far different than the Disney version.
It was also being billed as cosplay day and anyone in costume got 10% off all their purchases. Despite that I did not see that many people cosplaying. I’m not sure if that made me happy or sad but it was definitely interesting. Maybe people did not want to dress as Nate the Ninja at a bookstore (not that it stopped everyone).
Overall, it was a fine little trip. Learned a bit and chatted with people in the industry. And we walked away with some free stuff from Del Rey and Viz, entered to win free airfare to Japan, signed up for a drawing to get a free ticket to NY Anime Festival, and bought a couple of phonebooks. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Can’t wait for later in the month to see the mural painted on the second floor!