Anime, manga and otaku culture are increasing in popularity in the west at rapid speed, and next year is going to be massive for manga fans in the UK.
The British Museum has announced a manga exhibition that will take place at Room 30 between 23rd May and 26th August 2019. It is set to be the largest manga exhibition ever held outside of Japan and will feature all kinds of titles, providing something for everyone.
Anime that revolves around otaku culture is nothing new – in fact, the earliest instance was a very unique OVA from 1991 titled Otaku no Video, which combines an anime story with live action interviews featuring real otaku in order to create a rather loose retelling of how critically acclaimed anime studio Gainax was founded.
More than thirteen years later we saw Genshiken, Welcome to the NHK, OreImo and a wide variety of other series dealing with the anime, manga and visual novel fandoms. And somewhere inbetween, we had Comic Party – a visual novel derived anime from 2001 that essentially spawned a genre but has been seen by fewer than 15,000 MyAnimeList users.
I first came across Comic Party about three years ago when I was searching for more otaku-focused anime, although I only got around to watching it last week. I came out of the series with mixed feelings, but I certainly don’t regret sitting through it.
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!