Well, color me pleased and surprised. While I was sure that it was a complete fabrication for April Fool’s Day, Yurimate seems to have been real(!) if temporary. Sort of like a Yuri mirage. ^_^
To begin with, it’s probably worth pointing out that there are several Animate locations in Tokyo alone. The three I have personally visited are in Shibuya, (which, very cleverly, moved to the same building the Mandarake has occupied for years, thus making shopping at both a mere elevator ride,) Akihabara, where it is the grande dame of anime/manga goods stores on the main street and in Ikebukuro. This last location has been my home away from home for years. Because of Otome Road‘s location nearby, populated with BL-doujinshi and goods, Ikebukuro Animate tends to cater to the female fans. They typically do carry some Yuri manga on the shelves, and when I was last there, had Yagate Kimi ni Naru front and center when one walked in. The fact that it’s “women-focused” clearly doesn’t preclude it being Yuri-friendly.
Imagine, then, how my heart soared when I saw that it was the Ikebukuro location of Animate that was being advertised with a “Yurimate” special area. While it’s not a permanent feature, the Yurimate event is running and it is in Ikebukuro and it goes into May. And here to tell us all about it is YNN Special Correspondent Julia T! Thank you Julia for jumping in and taking the plunge for us! The floor is all yours.
As it turns out, the April 1st announcement from Animate Ikebukuro that they would open a new Yuri-only floor at least partially came true. From April 15th until May 14th, the third floor (or second floor for those not familiar with Japanese floor naming conventions) is hosting a special event: Yurimate
While it does not cover the entire third floor by any means, it does occupy a decently sized proportion of it, somewhere between a third and a quarter of the area. The pictures were purposefully taken to avoid including people in them, but even if it was not bustling with customers, there was a steady stream of women of all ages who purposefully visited the section, including some rather obvious couples, which I found quite gratifying. The collection includes manga, scrolls, and cell phone covers, as well as showing large sketches on the walls.
There are quite a few authors being shown, including pretty much all current works by Takemiya Jin, Takashima Hiromi’s Kase-san collection, Kurata Uso’s Linkage, Ohsawa Yayoi’s 2DK, G Pen, Mezamashidokei, Yukiko’s Room for Two, Kishi Torajirou’s Otomoe no Teikoku, various works by Itou Hachi, as well as the seemingly ever popular Citrus by Saburouta (and Kodama Naoko’s NTR, while it does show up on one of the posters, is not found in this part of the store).
Independent of this, you can also find a Yuri Hime shelf one floor down, which already has decent selection, but is of course limited to the entries published inside said collection.
Given that the magazines Comic Yuri Hime and Galette are both being sold off the shelves on the ground floor, this currently allows you to stumble across Yuri entries on all of the first three floors, which is still somewhat rare in Tokyo.
Erica here: Thank you Julia! My goal is to see Yurimate be a permanent shelving strategy. And if, as you say, stumbling across Yuri on the main floor – where new releases are given visiblity – is still being encouraged, as it was last spring, this may just be a thing we will see. I’m also extremely gratified to hear that there were some obvious couples walking the floor. Of all the many things that pleased me in this report, the fact that NTR was not included, has to be counted among them. I wonder if it, like Yuri Danshi is for the editor of Comic Yuri Hime, rather than the rest of us.
If *I* were the boss at Animate, I’d take the Yurimate event over to Akihabara next, then bring it back to Ikebukuro. It would get a different audience at each, and give them an idea of who actually buys Yuri, then place the shelves where ever they do best. But that’s me. Thank you again for the report and the photos!