When western fans first discover anime, they often arrive at the misconclusion that not much of it is available from legal sources and that the easiest way to watch anime is via illegal streaming websites. This would have been true in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but nowadays we have a whole myriad of sources that allow viewers in the UK, as well as many other countries, to enjoy their favourite shows while supporting the creators.
I understand that many anime series are unlicensed, unavailable on legal streaming services and don’t have a physical release in the UK, but I heartily encourage everybody who loves the industry to give back to it whenever possible – and that doesn’t always mean parting with your hard-earned money!
A common misconception among anime fans in the west is that merchandise for their favourite shows is difficult to come across on the average high street. That would have been true about five years ago, but otaku culture has recently reached new heights and its now easier than ever to find DVDs, Blu-Rays, manga, figures, plushies and other anime merch on the streets of Britain. I’ve travelled the UK extensively and have managed to find some kind of anime-related merch everywhere from Penzance to Inverness!
Nearly all Waterstones locations now have a selection of manga, the quality of which often depends on the size of the store. Larger cities such as Sheffield and Glasgow tend to stock plenty whereas smaller towns like Barrow-in-Furness and Middlesbrough will have smaller collections, usually only offering the most popular manga, which at the moment tends to be shounen series like Naruto, Bleach and My Hero Academia. If you’re looking for manga and haven’t yet checked your nearest Waterstones branch, give them a look!