Notable Japanese hobby merchandise shop, Anime Jungle, opens their third location in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California dedicated to tokusatsu, Gundam plastic models, and trading card merchandise.
Anime Jungle first opened in 1995 in Osaka, Japan specializing in anime, tokusatsu, and Japanese films with a strong selection of independent Japanese filmmakers. In 2001, it opened shop in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles becoming one of the, then, few retailers bringing Japanese pop-culture and special collectors merchandise to the American public.
In May of 2015, Anime Jungle opened its third location, expanding from their two original spaces in the Japanese Village Plaza. This space now specifically houses all their tokusatsu, Gundam plastic model or “Gunpla”, and trading card game merchandise.
By opening multiple locations in one area, Anime Jungle’s intent is to create a space for Japanese pop-culture fans to gather and share their hobbies, much like the Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan. Akihabara is an area known as an otaku cultural center and shopping district for anime, manga, video games, and electronic goods.
“We’ve been trying to [‘Akihabarize’] this town,” general manager, Yoichi Kakuma, jokingly states.
The additional reason for multiple locations is to create a more comfortable shopping space. Their original store that initially housed all their products had become too packed with merchandise. By expanding to additional locations separated by genre, it would allow customers to find and enjoy the merchandise offered.
“We’ve definitely had people coming in and telling us that they’re happy we’ve opened up the space because the other store was so packed,” states manager, Juergen Martinez.
“There [are] definitely strong hardcore [tokusatsu] fans in Los Angeles and the West Coast. We are getting more merchandise requests, including Bandai Premium, X-Plus, vintage soft vinyl figures, etc,” adds Kakuma.
According to Kakuma, the Los Angeles tokusatsu scene namely consists of two groups: those who grew up watching aired tokusatsu movies or programs, who tend to be in their forties; and those who currently watch recent Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Godzilla franchise installments, who tend watch the shows as an extension of their passion for general Japanese pop-culture.
Anime Jungle hopes to fill the gap between the two groups and create a strong tokusatsu fan base by hosting screenings and events at their locations. The Godzilla vs Biollante screening back in May of 2014 with the late special-effects director, Koichi Kawakita, was Anime Jungle’s first step to bring attention to the Los Angeles-based tokusatsu fan community as well as potentially increase its numbers.