An anime-obsessive visits Paris

Hello from a new contributor to Drastic My Anime Blog, and thank you to TBN for inviting me to make a fool of myself here — dm.

Wish I'd been there in time to catch this exhibit.

Wish I'd been there in time to catch this exhibit.

I admit that looking for anime in Paris is a little silly: there’s so much else to see — much of it timeless treasure — why spend one’s time in Paris chasing after Japanese cartoons and comic books?  And anime and manga are a global phenomenon — what can one hope to find in Paris that one won’t find in the US?  While it’s true there are probably more manga titles published in France, if you aren’t familiar with the titles that aren’t available in the US, it’s easy to overlook them.

On the other hand, I was in Paris for about two weeks, and seeking out odd little bookshops in odd neighborhoods takes you to places you might not see otherwise, particularly if you walk to get there, and adds a bit of variety to making the rounds of museums.

Furthermore, I’d decided that I’ve given up on ADV Manga ever bringing out more volumes of Gunslinger Girl, so part of my goal (other than just curious browsing) was to locate volumes seven, eight, and nine of the French translations of Gunslinger Girl.  While I don’t read French, there are a ton of cognates, and at least French dictionaries have the same alphabetical order as English ones, instead of puzzling my way through stroke-order in a kanji dictionary (and the Japanese Gunslinger Girl is kanji-heavy, making it a pretty hard slog).

Finally, one of the places I planned to visit sells used books.  There, significant savings are possible, and the selection can be serendipitous and surprising.

So, I Googled “anime in Paris”, and had a list of shops that would prove to be pretty out of date.  Armed with the list and with Google Maps, I set out to find the shops.  Even so, my first anime-related encounter happened completely by accident: while wandering around Ile-St.-Louis, I walked past Gallerie Arludik, and noticed a poster in the window for their current exhibit — works by Pixar artist Enrico Casarosa and some of his colleagues.  I’d seen Casarosa’s posts on the Nausicaa-L mailing list, and have enjoyed his work, which has appeared in Flight and the Monkeysuit anthologies, partly because it pays homage to Miyazaki’s manga works, and does it well (his Adventures of Mia will bring joy to any Porco Rosso fan).

Kung-fu Marjane prepares to battle evil

Kung-fu Marjane prepares to battle evil

Returning to the gallery when it was open, the Pixar-artist show was wonderful, but my heart (and my pocketbook) were immediately captured by a print of production art from Marjane Satrapi’s film Persepolis (above), along with a nice poster advertising a joint exhibit of works by Miyazaki and Moebius that took place in Paris a few years ago (top image).  Gallerie Arludik will certainly be a place I visit on any future visit to Paris.

Also, it was August, and Ile-St.-Louis appears to be a thriving center of Paris’ ice-cream and sorbet culture.

Anime fans will want to head for Rue Keller between the Place de la Bastille, Richard-Lenoir, Voltaire and Ledru-Rollin metro stations.  I went there looking for Librarie Tonkam, but discovered that there are three other shops on the block-long street that an anime and manga fan will also want to visit, in particular, the figure-filled shop called Manga Toys — you’ve seen the photos of those shops in Akihibara, just imagine the labels in French and the prices in Euros.  Being new to this blogging game, I failed to write down the names of the bookshops (Google tells me about Mrk Mangarake and Tokyo Eyes on that street).

One of the Rue Keller bookshops had markedly better prices than the others (I found a missing volume of Gunslinger Girl there for about half the price I’d paid for the other volumes earlier at FNAC).

Rue Keller is also in the middle of a funky little neighborhood that gave off something of a “student hangout” feeling to me, despite not being on the Left Bank.

After checking out the Rue Keller shops, one will also want to check out the Japanese branch of Book-Off Paris, a bookshop with a mix of new and used books (just down the street there’s a Book-Off that specializes in books in European languages, too).  Book-Off is at 29 Rue St Augustin, near the center of the triangle formed by the Opera, Quatre-Septembre, and Pyramides metro stations.  There’s a sizeable selection of new and used manga, and a decent selection of new and used JPOP CDs (plus a smattering of anime CDs — mostly drama CDs).  Book-Off is a chain — there’s also one in NYC, for example.  At Book-Off Paris, used volumes go for 2-4 Euros (when I was there, all 2-Euro volumes were marked down to 1-Euro).  New manga go for a reasonable price, but for me, the used books were the main draw.  Saturday finds the place packed with browsers.

Near Book-Off, you will find Junkudo at 18 Rue des Pyramides (near the Pyramides metro station).  I was a bit stunned by the prices at Junkudo, and would use it only for browsing.  They have a great selection of anime art books in the basement, but the prices were high enough that, for me, it makes more sense to import books from amazon.co.jp.  I think they are aware of this — the clerks told me that note-taking was prohibited as I jotted down titles and ISBN numbers.  I do regret not picking up a couple of books on Diebuster there that Amazon.co.jp reports are out of print.

Book-Off and Junkudo are in the middle of a neighborhood where Japanese Parisians have settled in large numbers.  You will also find lots of Asian grocery stores and Japanese restaurants in the neighborhood (even a Japanese real-estate office).  And you’re a short walk from the Louvre.  Visit Book-Off, stroll down to Junkudo, then spend the afternoon in the galleries of the Louvre.  If you go on Wednesday or Friday, the Louvre remains open late.

You might also want to check out the branch of the FNAC chain at Forum des Halles.  For someone from a tiny and provincial city like Boston, FNAC is something of a marvel: literally acres of books on multiple floors, with a dozen or more cashiers at the exits, each with thirty people queued up to pay.  In addition to a large manga collection, FNAC has a huge collection of Bandes Dessinees (BD).  BD are the French species of graphic novel the way manga are the Japanese form.  BD are usually large-format, in color, and hard-covered.  New volumes in a series generally appear annually, with some series running since the 1970s.  Like manga, BDs come in a wide variety of graphic styles and genres. It would be very easy to spend a day browsing the BD shelves at FNAC — the graphic novel/manga/BD section of the bookstore is itself the size of a reasonable bookshop. It’s a shame that so few of these wonderful books have been translated and imported to the US, since they’re easily as interesting as manga.  However, they’re a bit expensive, which kept me to browsing, this trip.

This is what I found with a bit of Googling, some advice from friends (thanks, Dje!), and a lot of luck.  I’m sure there are lots of other places I didn’t discover.

9 Responses to “An anime-obsessive visits Paris”


  1. 1 A August 19, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I’ve been to Paris many times, and love it. There really are so many great little shops you can find all over the place.

    And yeah I was at Rue Keller and was astonished to see more than one Anime-related shop on the same street.

  2. 2 Hynavian August 19, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Hi there! (:

    Great to know another who loves manga. Some of the series that I’m collecting are VIZ’s Claymore, ADV GSG, Infinitely Studio’s Blood Alone, Chuang Yi’s Blood+, etc (the list goes on).

    Same here, I have given up waiting for ADV to publish Gunslinger Girls. Its badluck for GSG to be published by ADV in the first place. Why didn’t VIZ or Del Ray get the series? They’re more awesome in quality with regular release. *rants on*

  3. 3 reversethieves August 20, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I want to travel the world searching for anime! What fun! If I ever make it to Paris I will review this guide for sure.

  4. 5 nyoronyolo August 20, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Hi from Paris, I really liked this post since it’s always interesting to have an exterior point of view.

    Rue Keller is the one of the best place to buy mangas but it’s been a while I’ve haven’t been to book-off and it wasn’t that great in my memories (maybe it has changed). FNAC is good if you don’t have time to go to the Tonkam shop or other little ones but yeah it’s a bit expensive (actually everything in FNAC is expensive:/ ).
    It seems that you were mostly looking for mangas, if you’re looking for artbooks I heard that Nautilus (near Montparnasse) had some for a decent price but I usually go there to buy figures. There’s also Asian Alternative who has decent prices (and sometimes discount) for anime goodies (once again mostly figures), mangas are a bit expensive there from what I’ve heard.
    Junku is a very expensive shop since they almost double the original price for anime stuff but at least everything is still packaged when you buy it (I always go for the furthest volume in the row when I buy a manga at the FNAC). I’d say that Junku is more a place to buy Japanese literature than anime stuff.
    It seems that you’ve been to the most interesting places to buy mangas, there’re still little shops here and there but it’s usually in the Tonkam’s range of price.

    By the way, it’s nice to see that you took interest in our BD “Franco-Belges”, even more since the success of mangas in France is one of the reason of the decline of the Bande Dessinées.
    iirc the Louvre entrance free is reduced on Friday nights and free if you’re under 26.

    Oh and good luck with the blogging thing and feel free to contact me if you plan to return here someday and wants some infos. (I don’t pretend to know everything about Paris but I can give you some directions about nice places to visit/drop by).

  5. 6 TheBigN August 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

    I do want to know more about how the anime/manga industry works in France, since in some ways it seems more ahead in some aspects than here in the US. It’s interesting to see that there’s a lot of places where you can apparently easily find places that sell manga, for example.😛

  6. 7 omo August 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    LOL how did I miss this😄

    I need to figure out a way to read your blog and turn your images into links instead of embedded or something.

  7. 8 Sheba September 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    >> I do want to know more about how the anime/manga industry works in France, since in some ways it seems more ahead in some aspects than here in the US. It’s interesting to see that there’s a lot of places where you can apparently easily find places that sell manga, for example.

    It work in about the same ways as in USA. Publishers sends people to japan to hunt for anime that are marketable in France.

    This is where the demands from the customers are diverging from those in USA. True, we too have our liking for the action shounen genre. But the anime we learnt to appreciate over about three decades had given frenchmen different tastes in anime from americans. There are also a gap between generations of anime fans, but communication between the different generation is still possible, so the new anime fans can learn to appreciate classics like City Hunter.

  8. 9 wildarmsheero October 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    >>Furthermore, I’d decided that I’ve given up on ADV Manga ever bringing out more volumes of Gunslinger Girl, so part of my goal (other than just curious browsing) was to locate volumes seven, eight, and nine of the French translations of Gunslinger Girl. While I don’t read French, there are a ton of cognates, and at least French dictionaries have the same alphabetical order as English ones, instead of puzzling my way through stroke-order in a kanji dictionary (and the Japanese Gunslinger Girl is kanji-heavy, making it a pretty hard slog).

    You know that there are scanslations out there. I haven’t read them yet so I can’t comment on quality.


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