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‘A space for all us nerds’: Japanese comic book store becomes destination for anime fans in College Hill

Last Updated 7 days by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

Theyre sold out.

Asa Featherstone repeats that sentence: “Theyre sold out.”

He just wants to be sure. Then, he laughs. Because Featherstone knows the person who bought the Japanese comic book hes looking for.

Featherstone is shopping at Manga Manga, a Japanese bookstore in College Hill. He said he comes here as often as he can. Because even though they didnt have exactly what he wanted, he still bought four books.

Every time Im in here Im spending money, he said. This is dope. This is truly a gem in our city.

Owner C. Jacqueline Wood doesnt claim to be an expert on manga. Shes a filmmaker who became interested in anime movies and manga books after watching the films of Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary Japanese director who has won multiple Academy Awards.

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Two years ago, Wood took a chance. She opened what she says is our region’s only Japanese comic book shop.

“Everyone knows someone who loves manga or anime, Wood said.

So what started as a store with 2,500 books quickly grew to more than 5,000.

College Hill officials tell us this small business is making a big impact in Cincinnati. And Wood says she wouldnt have been able to open without help from the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation.

Emmanuel Karikari runs that nonprofit organization, which focuses on developing the neighborhoods business district. He says his group offers lower rent to small business owners. They also helped Wood move from one building to another to get more foot traffic.

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Karikari laughs when asked about his manga knowledge, but he said hes consistently surprised by the crowds drawn to the store. People come from all over.

Weve never had anything like a manga shop anywhere near College Hill, Karikari said.

Wood said shes been more successful because of their help, which includes sponsoring an anime film festival that starts this month.

Were not just a comic book store, she said. We really are a part of the community.

Even though Featherstone visited the store on Friday morning, he’s coming back Friday night. He said connecting with other fans is one of the things that sets Manga Manga apart.

We have a space and a hub finally, Featherstone said, for all of us nerds out here.

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Starting on July 11, you can watch classic anime films every Thursday night behind the comic shop projected onto the Hollywood Theatre. Tickets are available on Manga Mangas website at $25 per car. Movies scheduled to be shown include Yu-Gi-Oh! and Spirited Away.

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