This week, New Additions focuses on a new company who is attempting to bring the “comic’s café” industry over from Japan. Manga Cafe Mika is the first “pay to read” manga café to open in San Francisco and is located in the Japantown Center at 1737 Post Street.
In an effort to provide a service to manga readers who are tired of getting kicked around the floors of the aisles at Borders, Manga Cafe Mika offers access to a large collection of titles and charges $5 for the first hour, and $1.25 every additional fifteen minutes. Sales tax is not included in these rates.
The price might seem a little steep, but anyone who reads comics or graphic novels should know it’s considered tactless to read an entire issue without buying it.
Manga Cafe Mika is a great place to waste time while reading and to have access to more titles of collected manga than anyone besides “otaku”, who are anime super fans, could ever hope to find in one place.
One thousand of their 20,000 titles are English editions and include popular titles such as “Bleach” and “Tri-Gun”. With extensive volumes of each title, readers can catch up on any part of a story they missed, or jump around a story’s continuity to check out the different stages.
I kept it to what I like to call “anime evil” by reading a lot of “Hellsing” and “Death Note” and was introduced to the title “Monster” by Naoki Urasawa, which will hopefully have an English version film by 2009. I also jump around the Dragon Ball series to see if any of those stories actually end.
By having such a large selection to choose from, readers can inspect all genres and get a full dose of manga media. The café also has a search system, which helps readers dissect through authors and artist’s bodies of work.
I think more cafés of this nature are necessary in the shopping malls of America. It’s the perfect place for non-shoppers to take a break and sit down to look at funny books while their significant other shops.
All of the books I read had intact and un-creased spines, which makes my day. Beverages and snacks are for sale at the café, yet I didn’t see any coffee stained books.
The chairs are comfy and clean, and there is a little den area next to the window where anime is always on the screen. The café doesn’t have many items for sale yet, and children tend to bypass the café and buy their anime action figures and trading cards at Japantown Collectibles.
The staff is friendly and they know their manga. The Kikuchi family owns the store and daughter Mika Kikuchi is an accomplished actress whose voice is credited in the anime series “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”. The café also invites manga artists to create work in-residence.
If this industry takes off, it won’t be long before manga cafés have showers and gambling like their Japanese predecessors.