The Animate Ikebukuro Flagship Store isn’t open just yet, but we’ve been inside.

Towards the end of 2021, when no one was sure how much longer the pandemic was going to go on for, anime specialty store Animate made a bold proclamation. Since the neighbor to its branch in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood had vacated its lot, Animate decided to use the space for a massive nine-floor expansion. The store was already among the largest anime shops in Japan, but Animate wanted an even bigger venue for fans to celebrate their love of animation, comics, music, and all other aspects of the otaku entertainment sphere.

Now, nearly a year and a half later, the new Animate Ikebukuro Flagship Store is just about to open. The building exterior was more or less finished in January, and now that the interior touches are done too, we were given a special sneak-peak preview of the facility ahead of its grand opening to the public.

Starting at the entrance, you’ve got a nice, wide walkway, in order to accommodate the crowds of shoppers from across Tokyo plus visitors from other parts of Japan and the world. Frequent Animate shoppers will notice a life-size Figma figure of Meito Anizawa, the chain’s hot-blooded masot character, standing near an elevator that whisks you up to the second-floor manga section.

On the back wall of the entrance area are dozens of shikishi. These are paper placards for autographs, but their size means there’s space for hand-drawn artwork as well. Each of them bears the signature of anime/manga creator, artist, or other related celebrity, with the most eye-catching sporting hand-drawn one-of-a-kind illustrations.

▼ Roughly 350 shikishi will be on display on the store’s 1st through 5th levels until April 16.

If you’re not hopping on the escalator, on the opposite side of the entryway is a branch of Animate’s in-store cafe Gratte.

Naturally, the food and drink is otaku-oriented, with Love Live! Superstar!! latte art and Pui Pui Molcar icing cookies among the initial offerings.

Down in basement level 2 is something no Animate branch has ever had until now: a theater. The 208-seat Animate Theater will serve as a venue for stage plays, dramatic readings, and talk shows (as for anime screenings, we’ll go to the area for those a little later).

Floors 2 through 7 will be stocked with a massive selection of manga, art books, CDs, Blu-rays, and character goods. Of special note is the 4th floor’s Space A la mode, with anime-themed apparel and lifestyle products.

The 8th floor’s Space Galleria is, as its name implies, a gallery space that will host limited-time art exhibitions, with the first being a salute to My Dress-Up Darling. Finally, up on the 9th floor there are two event spaces, Animate Hall Black and Animate Hall White, for anime screenings, concerts, autograph sessions, and meet-and-greet events.

▼ Animate Hall Black, the larger of the two, has a capacity of 250 attendees when chairs are put in, while Animate Hall White has space for 150 seated guests.

The Animate Ikebukuro Flagship Store opens on March 16.

Location information
Animate Ikebukuro Flagship Store / アニメイト池袋本店
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 1-20-7
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (weekdays), 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. (weekends, holidays)

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