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© Japan House

London’s best manga shops

From Japanese food halls to bookshops hidden behind takeaways, we pick the best places to find manga in London

By Alexandra Sims
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Manga is having a moment in London right now. The biggest manga exhibition to have ever been held outside of Japan has arrived at the British Museum and Japan House is hosting an LGBT+ manga season, as well as an exhibition dedicated to artist Naoki Urasawa. Whether your living room is a shrine to ‘Dragon Ball’ or you’re just dipping your toes into the Japanese genre, here’s our pick of the best places in the capital to find the iconic comics. Grab your cosplay outfit and get going! 

Recommended: 100 best shops in London  

20th Century Boys © 2000 Naoki URASAWA

1. Japan House

Attractions Kensington

Get a dose of authentic Japan at this slick spot where everything from the floor tiles (from Awaji Island) to the food (cooked by renowned chef Akira Shimizu) is the real deal. While you can already pick up many a manga here, from tomorrow its library display ‘LGBTQ+: Diversity in Manga’ will show how manga culture has helped to challenge stereotypes and social norms in Japan. Plus, forthcoming immersive exhibition ‘This Is Manga – the Art of Urasawa Naoki’ will look at the art form through the unique style of the artist responsible for Yawara! and Monster. Check out Urasawa’s original hand-drawn storyboards and look out for a new range of LGBT+ manga in the shop.

© Alexandra Sims

2. Adanami Bookstore

Shopping Bookshops Soho

Don’t be fooled by the sign saying ‘De-Luxe Cleaning’, or the food joint that greets you at the entrance. Carry on to the back of this tiny Soho shop and down the stairs to a little secondhand Japanese bookshop hidden in the basement where you can rummage through affordable Japanese-language manga, novels, DVDs and old-school posters. For those who haven’t mastered the language, there’s also an English manga section where we found series such as Naruto, Flame of Recca and Bleach on our visit. But the surprises don’t stop there. Behind the bookstore you’ll find Karaoke Epoc, which has secret booths where you can belt your heart out to Japanese, Chinese, Korean and British tunes, plus Disney songs. Oh, and did we mention it’s BYOB?!

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3. Japan Centre

Shopping Specialist food and drink Leicester Square

This London institution has been serving up grub from the Far East since 1976. While the depachika (that’s Japanese for basement food hall) is best known for its psychedelic specialist groceries, Japanese bakery and chill counters full of colourful sushi, you’ll also find a stash of mags that are perfect for those with an insatiable appetite for what’s new in the manga world. Pick up issues of CoroCoro Comic, Shōnen Jump and Animedia to read while you sip green tea in the shiny cafeteria.

4. Gosh! Comics

Shopping Bookshops Soho

Duck down to the basement of this friendly Soho bookshop where you’ll find a veritable goldmine of manga. You can get your mitts on everything here from popular shonen, shojo and seinen titles like Fruits Basket to the more thematically complex gekiga work of mangaka (manga artists). Classic stuff by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Seiichi Hayashi, Osamu Tezuka and Go Nagai sits beside work from modern, cutting-edge creators such as Taiyo Matsumoto and Tsutomu Nihei. To tie in with the British Museum’s exhibition, Gosh! has also been asked to curate collections for Islington’s libraries – a good option if you’re low on pennies.

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5. Japan Craft Manga Store

Shopping Art, craft and hobbies Camden Town

A staple of the Stables Market and a must-visit for manga lovers, this little shop is lined with shelves teeming with comics, figurines, toys, clothing and other manga and anime merchandise. It’s probably one of the only places in London where you can pick up Gunpla figurines. You’ll also find Dragon Ball and Pokémon merch ranging from the ubiquitous to the rare. It’s a good spot to load up on sweets too. Mango Pocky, anyone?

6. Forbidden Planet

Shopping Bookshops Shaftesbury Avenue

Forbidden Planet stocks thousands of books – covering science fiction, animation, graphic arts, computer games, film, horror, sport, superheroes, and more. It also stocks a huge range of graphic novels, from classic Marvel comics and obscure small publishers from around the world to Viz manuals. Make a bee-line for its superb range of manga, which spans everything from shoujo and josei to LGBT+ issues and brand new titles.  

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7. Orbital Comics

Shopping Bookshops Covent Garden

There’s always something unexpected in this traditional comic book shop with a twist. It’s been a fixture on the city’s comic book scene for 15 years and is the UK’s only Eisner Award-winning store. Their selection is one of the largest and broadest in London, showcasing everything from Naoki Urasawa's legendary ‘20th Century Boys’ and Katsuhiro Otomo’s blisteringly cinematic six-volume ‘Akira’ to the unbridled fun of ‘My Hero Academia’ and ‘One Punch Man’. Look out for a selection of hard-to-find manga and anime toys and merch.

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