(See the Taiwan 2011 page for more posts on Taiwanese events.)
For those of you who haven’t been to Japan or watched Lucky Star, Animate (アニメト in Japanese, 安利美特 in Chinese) is one of Japan’s largest anime merchandise store chains (see here for all their locations). They sell mostly official anime merchandise, similar to Gamers, and their largest stores are in Ikebukuro (Japan flagship store) and Akihabara. Taipei’s Ximen (西門) Animate store opened in
May 2010 way before that, in 2002. This was Animate first international store since their failed expansion to Los Angeles back in 2003. Since then, Animate has been very successful in Taiwan, and their Ximen store moved to its current location (Taiwan flagship store) in June 2010, a larger store with its own storefront as opposed to on the 2nd floor of Mag Freak. And this year, as a testament to Animate’s success in Taiwan, they opened their second store in Guanghua a week ago.
While I do agree with Jennifer’s analogy with Guanghua as “Taipei’s Akihabara” (at least for the electronics part), the Guanghua Animate store by itself reminds me a lot of Animate’s Japanese flagship store in Ikebukuro, what with its location on the corner of a building, right next to an overpass. Anyway, I went to the opening ceremonies. To be honest, nothing much happened.
I got there at around 10:15 to see a line of people already waiting, and some tents. After taking some pictures, I line up with everybody else. At 10:30, the line moved forward so everybody could gather under the tents, and they pass out some drinks and free cake.
After everybody has gathered under the tents, they have some executives give some opening remarks, talking about some history, thanking everybody for their support and so on. They also talked about some long-term plans, such as opening more stores in Taiwan and expanding to (Mainland) China, and the differences between anime stores in Japan versus Taiwan, plus some other stuff I probably missed. I guess one thing they learned from their experience in the US is to pick the low hanging fruit first, i.e. first open stores in East Asia where ACG is very popular, before expanding to the West. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of the crowd, so I wasn’t able to see any of the guests.
After that, they cut the tape and then let people in. The store itself was what you’d expect from an anime merchandise store, though with much less doujinshi than their Ximen branch. The first floor had some magazines, while the second floor had all the merchandise and manga. Below are all of the pictures I took that day in chronological order, including the itasha and two itabikes that were at the event. Sorry for the lack of pictures inside the store itself, no pictures were allowed inside.
For more information, see here, though you’ll need to be able to read Chinese or Japanese.
Edit 1: Fixed crowd.jpg picture.
Edit 2: Animate opened way earlier than I thought. Whoops.