Japanese Culture in France

Recently, I decided to take a trip to Paris with a fewfriends for a short holiday. At first I was going to take a laid back approachon the holiday until hearing rumours that people in France have a higherinterest in anime than the U.K. So one day when the girls decided to goshopping I decided to do some research of my own.

I was shocked by the discovery of the high level of Japaneseculture in Paris; there is for example a store called Fnac. Fnac is a typicalentertainment store you would find in the U.K like HMV. However, in addition to selling the usual class A-films and television shows, they also sold a large collectionof Japanese anime: Bleach, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Beelzbub, Bakuman, etc. The prices of these DVD’s differed of course, the older the seriesthe cheaper it was. The price for Bleach box 1 was €25(£21). However, Bleachbox 20 was priced around €50(42). Moreover, Fnac had a separate sectionentirely dedicated to the Studio Ghibili films each one of these films was pricedat €10(8.30). The question you have to start asking yourself is, why is theresuch a price difference in France compared to the U.K!? £8 for a Studio Ghibilifilm! Come on guys, what fan would say no to that?

To my amazement Fnacdidn’t just sell electronic products, they also sold books and manga. They had a large collection of titles from several different series that I forgot existed, and the pricewas roughly dependent on the popularity €5-7(£4-8).

Here is a nice picture of the 5 most popular series:

And a bigger look at the collection:

Let’s take a step away from anime and manga and take a lookat video games. If you guys have a chance to go to Paris you should visit avideo-game store called MicroMania, which is a lot better than typical video game stores.They don’t just sell games like Call of Duty and Grand theft Auto. They also sell PS3 titles that are next to impossible to obtain in-store in the UK, like the recent Saint Seiya game, One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 or evenOne Piece Pirate Warriors 1, an essential for any One Piece fan!

I was shocked and immediately took apicture of what was on offer. The guy behind the counter asked me: “Why are you taking apicture of these games, they are quite easy to come across”. I responded with:“Not in the U.K.” He simply laughed and said, “One Piece is the second mostpopular manga in France, Dragon Ball being the first.” He then diverted myattention to a basket full of stuffed toys in which I found Luffy, Chopper andseveral Pokémon. He also, showed me 3DS cases that have One Piece and Pokémonskins on them, things that do not even exist in the U.K! The only differenceis, though, the games in France are very expensive. An example of this is the new Thief game on the PS4 being priced at €70(£58), where it’s only £45 in the UK.

I continued my journey during the day and ended up finding a retro gamestore. The guy in this store said he collects old games and consoles andsells them to people for their game collections. He said he also recently startedselling games from popular anime too. After looking around the store I found some prettycool things. The first being two old DBZ games for the SNES:

I wondered how they made it all the way to France. Icontinued to search the store and found several new titles like One Piece RomanceDawn on the 3DS. This game isn’t even available in the UK.There were also several Naruto games and small Pokémon and Death Note figuresfor people to buy.

But what shocked me the most was this poster I found on thewindow of his store.

That’s right an opportunity for people to pre-order J-starsvs. A brand new Japanese game that he knows people are willing to buy and he isasking people to pre-order them from him. Something, I know for sure smallerbusiness stores would not do here.

My friend in Paris eventually took me to a big comic bookstore, a store which is similar to Forbidden Planet. In the window of thestores they had their typical Marvel and DC figures, but on another window whatdid they have?

That’s right – a large selection of Portrait of Pirates OnePiece figures! Inside the store they had a glasscabinet with Sailor Moon figures, Dragon Ball figures and of course more OnePiece figures, but these were from Figuarts Zero.

The prices of the figures varied depending on the size butfrom first inspection it looked as if the figures were slightly cheaper thanthe U.K. But, of course they are not as cheap as those sold in Japan.

This comic book store also had a large selection of figurines,stretching from Street Fighter to Metal Gear Solid, and various posters fromanime series.

The final place we went to was a board game store. At first I wasn’t that interested in the shop as I’m not really a keen board game player, but after looking around I came across a few things that took me back a little:

One piece card and board games!? Why not in the U.K!? We’re not even that far away!

Stepping away from anime and manga and back to video games,famous game creator Hideo Kojima is currently in Paris and actually turned up to an unofficial launch forthe new Metal Gear game. It’s amazing how large the Japanese culture is inFrance and continues to grow.

Interestingly I also noticed alarger number of Japanese tourists in Paris when compared to London. Living inLondon near Big Ben and the London Eye and often visiting these places, Irarely hear the Japanese language being spoken, but near the Eiffel Tower orNotre Dame there was a much larger community of Japanese people.