Even if you’re not a lifelong fan of anime (pronounced AHN-neh-may), you may have recently noticed that the graphic and colorful style of Japanese animation seems like it’s everywhere. From music videos to album covers, anime has skyrocketed in popularity. During your Japan travels, you can explore the style in person by checking out Akihabara, the Tokyo neighborhood that’s practically dedicated to the super fans of anime and manga, a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels.
The music industry’s new love affair
Anime has infiltrated the hip-hop world, with famous artists incorporating the style into their lyrics and music videos. The topic of anime has also surfaced on the social media handles of world-famous musicians, both established and up-and-coming, with the colorful Japanese visual style gracing top-selling album covers and more. One explanation for the recent rise of anime is pretty simple: musicians who liked anime as kids are growing up and integrating the style into their art. The animations in this distinctly Japanese style rose in market value by 29.2% between 2016 and 2017, according to a 2018 report.
Where anime comes to life
The popularity of anime is continuing to grow within Japan as well, especially in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.
Best known for its many electronics stores, Akihabara has seen a plethora of anime and manga shops starting to pop up. The neighborhood has a reputation as the center of Japan’s otaku (diehard or obsessive fan) culture.
For example, Mandarake, the self-described “largest manga and anime shop in the world,” has a giant branch in the district. The store specializes in preowned collectibles, making it a great place to discover rare manga or figurines. Manga-themed restaurants and cafes, where wait staff dress up and act like anime characters, also abound. Hotspots include Gundam Café, which is designed after the popular Mobile Suit Gundam anime television series.
Getting to Akihabara during your visit to Tokyo is easy. Multiple train and subway lines run to the Akihabara Station, which is just two stops north of Tokyo Station. If you’re interested in anime or looking to learn more about the style during your trip to Japan, the Akihabara district is a can’t-miss.