The British Isles is a vast geographic area, containing several countries and crown dependencies. There are plenty of towns and cities, but I don’t think there is any region more remote than the Scottish Highlands, which I had the pleasure of visiting in April.
My trip began in Inverness; the only city in the Highland council area. While there I made sure to have a look at the anime and manga for sale in mainstream shops like Waterstones, HMV and CeX. I have made it a habit to look out for bargains in every town and city I visit, after all it would be a shame to miss the chance to snap up a product on my wish list.
If the city I’m in has a Forbidden Planet store, that’s all the better. What kind of otaku can pass up a 3-for-2 offer on manga volumes? But still, these are all brands with abundant locations across the UK. I often prefer to browse small local comic shops and get to know the owners a bit.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of independent comic shops in Inverness. There are places to play tabletop and card games, but I didn’t find anywhere with much anime merchandise, or even a good selection of western comics.
After leaving my B&B in Inverness, I headed even further north, towards the small town of Thurso, on one of the most pleasant train journeys of my life. Great scenery, quiet passengers, helpful staff and even decent Wi-Fi throughout much of the journey. There is plenty to criticise about Britain’s railway companies, but I couldn’t fault ScotRail on this occasion. The full trip takes nearly four hours, but it certainly didn’t feel that long.
The next day, I took the bus to John o’ Groats to take some typical tourist selfies, and made it back to Thurso with a few hours to spare before my train back down. While I was waiting, a little shop called “The Cave” caught my attention as I noticed it was advertising comics, anime, manga and trading cards in the window. Being the nerd I am, I had to take a look!
As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted by an enthusiastic chap by the name of Harwyn. He was incredibly friendly and not at all pushy, leaving me to browse his shop’s selection in peace.
Being more than 100 miles away from the nearest city, its obviously not going to have everything, but I found the stock very impressive. A decent selection of manga, plus some light novels, including titles like Persona 4, Death Note and My Hero Academia. There were also some nice looking anime shirts on display, in addition to several anime figures, quite a few of which were from Fate/Grand Order. I’m a big fan of the Fate series and couldn’t resist snapping up an Artoria Pendragon figure myself, which has been sitting proudly on top of my bookshelf ever since this trip!
The Cave is also home to a brilliant selection of western comics and related merchandise, including posters, figures and more. Not to mention all kinds of trading cards, from Pokémon to Magic: The Gathering.
Harwyn started the shop in the summer of 2018, and despite its remote location, has seen business flow at a steady rate ever since. It caused me to spend more money than I hoped to during my Easter holiday, but I don’t regret it at all!
If you ever find yourself in Thurso, please remember to visit The Cave, located at 39 Olrig street near the Bank of Scotland branch. You can find the shop’s Facebook page here. Trust me, its any nerd’s dream, and I hope it continues providing anime and manga merchandise to highlanders for many years to come!