Aniporium, one of the biggest anime stores in the Philippines, officially opened its first physical store as a Good Smile Company hub in the Philippines on November 5, 2022, in Makati City. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the morning, followed by an intimate celebration and lunch with the Aniporium staff, brand ambassadors, and other companies. The showroom officially opened to the public at 1 PM in the afternoon.
Anime Corner was privileged with an invitation to Aniporium’s momentous event and a few of us got the first-look experience. Inside the showroom, you can find rows of glass figure displays, 12 gachapon (capsule toy) machines, a large Good Smile Company logo, special Christmas packages, and about three television screens around the shop playing popular anime theme songs and trailers. Every corner is filled with authentic brands of anime merchandise – from Scale Figures, Pop Up Parade figures, Nendoroids, small and big plushies, keychains, acrylic stands, wall scrolls, and so many more. There is not a dull moment in looking around, especially with the numerous captivating art prints and manga collections decorated on the walls.
Aniporium may be a shop, but it is also designed to be a hangout place. It is spacious and cozy at the same time, not to mention the cushy bean bags to rest on. There is also Pokkó Coffee, a cafe for coffee lovers to enjoy. There’s also a simple and charming photo booth that is free for customers to use. The place is pleasant to the eyes with fun color combinations of blue, pink, and purple. If you look close enough too, you’ll find hidden gems like figures or small charms sitting around.
All in all, the atmosphere at Aniporium is a unique experience of its own kind – an absolute otaku haven!
Inspired by the Anime Experience in Akihabara, Japan
Aniporium by Avalon Oath is a retail business to serve all anime fans. (The name comes from the words anime and emporium.) At its core, the company’s mission is to “provide customers with the same anime experience as if they were in Japan.” Aniporium wants to offer high-quality, authentic, original, and affordable merchandise to the Filipino anime community. It’s not just about the business though, it’s also about the shopping experience as a whole. Basically, they’re talking about the iconic Akihabara vibe.
If it sounds familiar, Akihabara is the name of a unique and lively district in Japan that is most famous for its wide selection of all things anime, manga, games, and electronics. It’s basically the one-stop destination for otakus! (Yes, including maid cafes.) There’s the famous SEGA 3rd arcade building and the Gachapon halls. Mandarake, Animate, and Toranora are just some of the merchandise stores you can hunt or get lost in, too. Cosplay fashion is also very welcome. Can you just imagine the life there? The feeling of it? That’s exactly what Aniporium’s goal is. No more daydreaming about Japan. As their motto says, it’s time to “live your anime fantasy.”
The success of Aniporium’s physical store opening marks the beginning of many more milestones planned for the future, especially since their vision is to become the “Akihabara of the Phillippines” and serve the same anime shopping experience as it is in Japan. In the past year, the shop worked on its community campaigns and the launch of its online shop, as well as participated in local anime conventions. For instance, we had a memorable first meeting during the recent ACX (where my colleague, Marvic, tried the Ani Kuji gacha raffle and lost) and at this year’s Cosplay Mania as well.
The “Official Good Smile Company Hub” of the Philippines
The highlight of the Aniporium’s physical store opening and perhaps the biggest step they’ve made this year is becoming the “Official Good Smile Company Hub” in the country. This means that as a retailer, Aniporium is now in a direct partnership with Good Smile Company and will soon become the base of operations for the Japanese manufacturer here in the Philippines.
The Team Behind Aniporium
If you’re wondering how Aniporium achieved its success, all recognition goes to the passionate founders and staff members, or as they call it, their fellow Nakamas. (A Japanese word translating to a friend, teammate, or comrade; a common anime term, most notably in One Piece.) Not only are they professional and passionate about the company, but they are also all anime fans at heart.
Before the showroom opening, Ms. Sue of Aniporium spoke about the culture and impact of anime. In today’s generation, the new technology does not only gift us with high-quality animations, but it also allows us “to live in an anime world of reality.” Whether it be Naruto, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, or Spy x Family – these are just some of our happy films to watch and be a part of. And now with Aniporium opening its doors to the Filipino community, Ms. Sue continued to say how happy they are in bringing the “opportunity to have your favorite merch” closer to anime fans.
Of course, the opening would not be complete without a few words from the owners. Mr. Aoi Ikeda, the CEO of Aniporium, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the staff and guests. He initially joked about his English not being good, but in fact, his message was very clear. Mr. Aoi Ikeda shared that Aniporium is not just an ordinary anime shop. It’s anime culture, feeling, and experience. He also thoughtfully shared his simple story behind starting Aniporium. “Whenever I’m sad or not happy, I always watch anime. In Japan, I go to an anime shop and I enjoy it. But here [in the Philippines], there are few anime shops. That is the reason why I started this Aniporium.”
Lastly, Mr. Zab Leccio, the general manager of Aniporium, shared how excited they all are for this day. “Some people think anime is just for fun and that it is just a hobby… but for us, we’re trying to make it professional. We’re trying to incorporate everything else that we do into something we can be proud of, and we wouldn’t be successful without our team members here.”
Mr. Zab proceeded to introduce and acknowledge some of the hard-working staff, especially Ms. Yen who handles their Digital Marketing, Ms. Kyle who handles their customer sales, Mr. Marx for e-commerce, Ms. Ira and Mr. Jed for the sales front, Mr. Luis who fulfills orders, and Ms. Sue — the life of the party– who has been supportive since the beginning. He also thanked the partners like the brand ambassadors, the Daily Manila Shimbun, Navi Manila, Cosplay.ph, and more. “Thank you for your support and trust…Thank you – that’s the best word to describe how appreciative I am of you guys.”
Meeting the Aniporium Ambassadors
Joining Aniporium’s mission are the brand ambassadors as well. The opening day featured the shop’s mascots, Maika and Kaito, which were brought to life by cosplayers Seikatan Sei and Haruki Okazaki. They were also joined by William Mescallado who cosplayed as Tengen Uzui from Demon Slayer. The three of them were very lively together as they invited friends and other people online to come to visit Aniporium’s store opening.
I had the opportunity to speak with them, and they all shared about how special it was to be part of Aniporium. They also all shared their wholesome stories on how they became ambassadors. For example, beginner cosplayer William Mescallado said that it was very overwhelming for him, “It was definitely an awesome experience! It’s an honor to be part of this growing company and of this historical event– the grand opening of one of the biggest Anime stores in the Philippines! Everyone in the Aniporium family is very nice to work with, and the one thing that I noticed is that they all have cheerful personalities and their smile is very contagious.”
The ambassadors said that they met Aniporium at separate conventions in the past year. The staff, including their CEO, were very enthusiastic about their cosplays at the time that it transformed into an ambassador opportunity. The three of them expressed that it’s a dream come true not just as a cosplayer, but as anime fans as well.
“It’s actually a game changer,” Haruki Okazaki said. “ Anime lovers will now have the chance to experience an Akihabara-like feeling here in the Philippines. It is an honor to support the company as a cosplayer. I also feel happy because I was the one who brought Kaito to life.”
Seikatan Sei also shared her own personal experience. “I did not expect that many years from now that there would be a store in the Philippines dedicated to anime and manga. It is like a dream for me, since the last time I strolled around a store full of anime merch was when I was still in Japan. The store really captured my otaku heart, and it does feel like you are in Japan. Thank you ka-otaku (fellow otakus) for letting me experience the fun and joy.”
To keep us all excited for what’s to come, William Mescallado left us with a teaser. “ [We’re] looking forward to more successful events with Aniporium! There are plans that are being discussed right now and Sir Zab gave a gist about some of the plans, but I cannot announce them yet! For sure, you guys are going to see me [us] more at future conventions working with Aniporium. They have been very supportive of us and we will do the same thing in return as their ambassador!”
Aniporium’s Authentic Shopping Experience
As soon as the ribbon-cutting ceremony finished, Aniporium opened shop. Customers came in to tour the showroom and fill their baskets with figures and merchandise. A lot of people were especially excited to visit Aniporium’s showroom because of the special discounts and surprises, like 35% off selected scale figures, Buy 2 Pop Up Parade & get the second for 50% off, Buy 1 take 1 badge/pins, and Buy 5 gacha tokens & get 1 free.
Many customers expressed how they couldn’t resist buying a few items, not to mention trying out the exciting gachas too. One of the customers we met even said that the prices were reasonable and affordable considering that some of the products were only recently released in Japan. It really puts their “official” title into perspective and it’s overwhelming (in a good way) for many.
We also took this opportunity to look around and see our favorite titles. Marvic found himself a newly released mousepad of Vladilena Milize from 86 for only ₱2,100.00. Meanwhile, my unique find was a 1/8 scale painted figure of Gwendolyn from Odin Sphere (2007, 2016 remake.) It wasn’t exactly a mainstream game so seeing it available at Aniporium was a pleasant surprise! As a figure collector and a fan, I couldn’t help but admire its beauty on the shelf. It was already a great deal, but then I discovered the discounts. The original price on their website is ₱7,650.00, but the price onsite went from ₱6,700.00 to ₱4,690.00!
Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness obviously didn’t know where to shop. After my emotional (and financial) roller coaster ride in the Aniporium showroom, I felt that my personal experience was fun, heartwarming, and satisfying. It was also nostalgic to think that it was the same feeling during my first visit to Mandarake and Animate stores in Akihabara, Japan.
Running an Anime Bussiness
We got the chance to sit down and chat with Mr. Zab Leccio, the general manager of Aniporium. Parts of our discussions included how they’ve truly managed to pull off the Akihabara atmosphere and how they’re now one of the biggest anime stores in the Philippines. He admitted that he was exhausted but relieved to see that Aniporium’s physical store opening is off to a good start.
When asked about the transition into being the central hub of Good Smile Company, Mr. Zab said that some discussions are already underway. “Honestly, speaking, As a distributor here [in the Philippines], we’re not competitors … more like a player part. Good Smile is working towards us, hence the support, but it’s not overnight.” Mr. Zab also acknowledges the other distributors and partners who have been around in the industry but also humbly bragged, “Yes, we have the support and authority to say that we are the hub — we’re going there. It is not something you can simply say.”
Mr. Zab also let us in on some ongoing discussions with Kadokawa, which piqued our curiosity about whether they would also be venturing into anime and manga copies. “Why not?“, he said. Aniporium is open to discussing potential plans or ideas, but it will all be done at their own pace, one step at a time. As an otaku haven, we also asked about the idea of offering their space for fan gatherings.”We’re very flexible, especially with new ideas. Actually, it’s in our industry to be more creative and flexible so that we don’t stop at one thing.” If there’s a demand for it, they might give it a try.
If you wondered how they could keep their prices low, Mr. Zab has a short answer to that. “It’s actually simple — we don’t mark up too much. We’re not greedy. As long as we don’t lose. Business is business and we need profit, but what we want is engagements... And since we have the support of different direct manufacturers, the goal is to expand and reach out to more communities.” With the right strategy and patience, people will eventually notice and come.
He also shared that the secret to their success so far is how lucky they are with their very energetic and hands-on team. He especially mentioned that Mr. Aoi Ikeda, as an anime fan, really puts in the effort to go to Japan and back for market research and perspectives. There were also the twin sisters, Chojyo and Jijyo, and Ms. Noriko who were always very cheerful during conventions. (Sadly for us, we learned that they already flew back to Japan so we didn’t get to meet them again at the store opening.)
Although not everything was brought out for Aniporium’s physical store opening, they teased that it will be something to look forward to anyway. Apparently, the space they have is not enough and there is still plenty of merchandise to sort on the floors above.
Leveling Up the Anime Experience for Next Year
One of the things to look forward to in the shop is the Ani Kuji, their very own version of Ichiban Kuji (Number One Lottery.) Unlike its old look with the cardboard boxes at the last conventions, Aniporium will be displaying a legit wheel raffle with tiers and everything! There are also going to be monthly house events, auctions, and membership/VIP programs that will be starting very soon. There might also be a new mascot joining them next year.
For outside events, Aniporium’s next and last convention of the year will be at Christman Toycon this December. Although they won’t be at Cosplay Matsuri, they are, however, considering a simple booth with their gachapon machines.
When asked about the next major step in their 5-year plan, Mr. Zab and Ms. Sue shared that they definitely will have an expansion coming soon, most likely to Cebu City since the anime community and organizations are big over there. They’re also exploring the possibilities of being open for franchise. With many big plans underway, Mr. Zab also added that they are on a special search for a new Nakama, specifically a Partnership and Events Coordinator, to join their growing team.
Lastly, when asked about their end goal, the manager said it’s to achieve something like an entertainment center or Disneyland, but anime. He said that “It’s not just about selling. We really want [Aniporium] to be an anime haven for anime fans. We want to have that experience.“
Live Your Anime Fantasy at Aniporium
If you missed Aniporium’s physical store opening, don’t worry! You can visit the store from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, at S Division Bldg, 928 Antonio Arnaiz Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati City.
Lastly, we have a special surprise for our readers and followers! In collaboration with Aniporium, you can get 10% off on your purchases by using our code: ANIMECORNER2022, valid until December 15, 2022. Terms and conditions apply:
- 10% off single receipt purchase
- No minimum purchase required
- Available for all customers
- One use per customer only
- Can’t combine with other discounts or promo
- Valid until December 15, 2022
Don’t miss the opportunity to live your anime fantasy and experience the Akihabara vibe! There are plenty of anime merchandise and Good Smile Company items to see. You can also check Aniporium’s opening event highlights on their Facebook page. You can also check out their online stores via Shopee, Lazada, and their official website.
Thank you to everyone at Aniporium and Avalon Oath for having us at this event. Special thanks as well to Marvic and Ian Carlo for their contribution with photos and research.
Anime Corner was an official media partner for Aniporium.