[Interview] Mandarake the "Paradise" of All Collectors

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MAndarake intervista ita

articolo in inglese


  Mandarake is one of the symbols of Akiba, one
 chain with many stores scattered around Japan
 and known by all game lovers, figures, souls and
 much more not only among the Japanese. Let's find out more with the interview with Yamamoto Shinya from the PR department in Mandarake.

There is no fans on animation, entertainment and modeling around the world that doesn't know Mandarake. It is one of the icons of Akihabara and in recent years it has developed by incorporating genres and products ranging from modernism to pieces even of ludic antiques.

For those who had been to Akihabara, the building is easily recognizable because it stands out for its black color and its height, a "paradise" for the Otaku and not, where you can find anything that teases your passion and a puto of reference of curious and interested in the Otaku culture of Akiba and Japan.

Mandarake is divided into 8 floors, each of them with a theme all its own, well organized and above all full of everything that an otaku or passionate could wish for, and also what he don't know he wanted :D.
mandarake map floor
For those few who don't know what it do and who it is, a brief explanation. Mandarake deals with the purchase and sale of products related to entertainment, modeling and collecting. You can bring your used things that will be checked and possibly purchased from the store, which will then sell them. E 'divided into 8 floors as mentioned before, with different types of products, to miss a whole day: D.

Before going on to the interview, let's see what the various areas reserve for us. The ones you see are from the Akihabara headquarters, the other Fukuoka, Kokura, Osaka (2 Umeda and Osaka downtown stores), Nagoya, Sahra, Utsunomya, Sapporo and 4 Tokyo locations (Shibuya, Nagano, Ikebukuro and Akiba). Some stores are more specialized towards some issues than others.
FIRST FLOOR (Vintage Games, reception desk used):
mandarake counter deposit
SECOND FLOOR (Material for cosplay and dolls):

mandarake second floor
 THIRD FLOOR (Manga, posters and other publications):

mandarake third floor
 FOURTH FLOOR (reserved for doujinshi, light novel and adult material):

mandrake four floor

FIFTH FLOOR ( doujinshi, BL novel e BL manga) :

mandarake fifth floor

 SIXTH FLOOR ( Cd, DVD, Bluray e Giochi) :

mandarake six floor

SEVENTH FLOOR ( Toys and Cards ) :

mandarake seven floor

EIGHTH ( Toys) :

mandarake eigth floor


Now that you have an idea of ​​what it is Mandarake and what you can find, let's move on to our interview with Mr. Shinya Yamamoto.

Mauro: What led to the birth of Mandrake? (because it was born, a small history of the brand up to date).
Yamamoto: Regarding the story of Mandarake, the president of the company initially ran a book and comic shop together with another enthusiast partner. This partner then stopped the business and he went on alone, thus realizing that the customers really appreciated being served by equally passionate and knowledgeable staff as they were themselves and that the business could expand rapidly. He founded the headquarters in Tokyo, Nakano Broadway.
At the time, the buying and selling of used books used to establish the purchase and sale prices based on the individual customer and on his appearance without creating actual price plans and notifications. This involved behaviors such as buying lower-than-used people who seemed to need money and would therefore be satisfied anyway.
To counteract this somewhat unpleasant behavior, Mandarake began to decide the target price directly to the object itself and its quality and to establish real price tables, data and so on. Mandarake was also the first used comic book shop in the country, and when this was first noticed and published in a newspaper, a long line of files was created in front of the store the next morning.

Mauro: What is the philosophy that distinguishes Mandarake? (company philosophy towards customers and their employees).
Yamamoto: Regarding the mentality and ideal of Mandarake It is a discourse that should primarily concern every business, but obviously the main purpose is to satisfy the customer. There are obviously different requests and needs, but respecting this concept is the basis. At Mandarake we primarily want to satisfy customers when they come to sell their used goods by giving the goods a favorable price for them and then we want to sell them at prices for which even the buyer is satisfied. It seems a very simple concept, but it is actually a difficult and accurate job, so much so that other similar activities can not imitate it.

Mauro: Was it easy for the Japanese to bring their things they are fond of or have to sell them? Today in Japan I have noticed that it is a rather common thing, but at the beginning of your activity? We talk about the 80s right?
Yamamoto: There are obviously people who do not want to separate themselves from their rare and precious things. In the event, however, of having to separate, rather than throw away the objects collected with such passion, many prefer to entrust them to a place where they are evaluated and considered for their actual value by expert staff.

Mauro: Mandrake is not just vintage or modern games, there are figures, we find manga, anime, music CDs, cosplay and much more. Have these activities been added together with the creation of the store or integrated over time?
Yamamoto: At the beginning Mandarake took care of manga and in small quantities also of doujinshi (private publications written by fans and not published by official publishers), but the main product was the manga.

Mauro: Your chain has many stores scattered around Japan now, with online sales and a name known to all fans. How will I be the Mandrake of the future? Are you thinking of radical changes in the management and the face of the stores as we know them now or will you keep the current style? (automation or robot service).
Yamamoto: As for the future, we will look for new ways to reach and satisfy as many people as possible.

Mauro: Imagine that I am a Japanese who comes to resell, what do I do for sale? can you explain the procedures? (These will then be the subject of registration and photos of course without undermining anyone's privacy).
Yamamoto: In our stores there is the "kaitori", literally "buy and collect", or the place where we make the purchase of goods from customers. If you want to resell your merchandise, you can take it directly to this section of the store, you will then need to show an identity document for data control.

Mauro: For those not Japanese or non-resident, could you resell at your stores? Maybe he won some games or too many figures, or something else.
Yamamoto: Of course, foreign clients are welcome to the kaitori as long as they have with them any identity document (of course, even their country, the passport is ideal). Unfortunately, we do not purchase goods shipped from abroad, so once you want to sell something you find in Japan, you can take your things right here from Mandarake (if you want to know if your goods are bought or not, or what the generic price may be before you bring them here during the trip to Japan, the request section is available on the website, at the moment only on the Japanese home page, but you can also contact us by email via the English homepage.)
Mauro: The assessments you give as they are made? (current market, you also rely on how high shops do or other).
Yamamoto: The staff who work at Mandarake are mainly made up of people who are very passionate about something, so much so that they want to do their job. There are many enthusiasts and collectors who obviously have their basic knowledge, but who every day study to improve and assign the appropriate and updated price to the goods.

Mauro: Mandrake also sells toys and vintage products that are highly sought after and of a certain value. What are the products that today's Japanese are looking for with more interest?
Yamamoto: I can not answer with precision as it depends on the person-to-person, it can be said that the main requests are directed towards the souls and manga that go the most at the moment, but many seek things that can only be found by Mandarake as we treat also a lot of rare goods and of any age.

Mauro: What is the difference between the Japanese and the foreign customer? (in terms of purchasing behavior, such as products, quality, preparation on the product).
Yamamoto: It is often foreign customers who are the most passionate. In fact, since these goods are not for sale abroad, many probably consider the moment in which they are in Japan, a unique chance to put their hands to what they want for a long time.

Mauro: The question that many people ask, can I work in one of your stores? What if you should do? (we speak not of Japanese but of foreigners, residents or not).
Yamamoto: Anyone can work at Mandarake regardless of the course of study or nationality, the important thing is the strong passion to want to dedicate oneself to one's own passions towards souls, manga, etc. For foreigners, as in all jobs in Japan, a non-tourist residence permit is obviously required.

We sincerely thank Mr. Yamamoto Shinya that, with the help of his staff, has allowed this interview and help us with the questions and its translation. Special thanks also go to the Akihabara Office and to the staff that work there that allowed me to take pictures for our article and Mr. Takeshita Norihiro, head of the Akiba office.