The first thing I saw was a pygmy about to cut the nipple off of a captured Japanese girl’s left tit. And that’s just the door sign. If this doesn’t clue you in as to what you are about to get yourself into, nothing will.
TACO ché has a certain reputation amongst manga fans in Japan and beyond. Standing inside the small shop located on the third floor of the Nakano Broadway Mall’s escheresque building, I couldn’t really understand it. Is it the “rummage sale” indy feel? The artistic rebellion against established market themes? The “I’ve-been-there-and-you-haven’t” hipster cachet? I’m not into manga, so I tend to treat it the same way I treat all art–I may not know technical terms or styles or what’s in or out of fashion, but I know what I like when I see it. So let’s have a look.
As one would expect, the shelves are stuffed full of manga books. Some separated by topic, or artist, or other themes. The books themselves ranged in quality from professional publications to self-published pamphlets. It’s all in Japanese, so unless you have a good grasp on the written form of the language, you’re not going to find any reading material here. Illustrations range from simple line art and text to complex ink spills detailing someone’s mental illness and/or sexual hangups. Dragonball Z this ain’t.
I chose a book at random and discovered the incomprehensible adventures of Chinko-man, an apparently ordinary man with a head shaped like a penis. On the page I turned to, he was answering a phone. Exactly how talking on a phone works when your face is a foreskin is a question that I found impossible to avoid. Dude has no ears. So what, vibration? How does that not end, you know, happily? And what about the rest of his life? Blind dates have to be awkward, at least.
I turned my attention to the paintings over the shelves. The most prominent artist on display was partial to creepy nautical themes. Fish and various marine-styled monsters riding bicycles, or going to an aquarium, or enjoying a street festival. I liked the one that had a person in a dive suit driving a water-filled aquarium bus. If you like somewhat creepy art, this could be just the thing for your wall.
TACO ché doesn’t limit their artistic offerings to manga and canvas. There is a small but significant selection of grindcore and underground music labels on the shelves in front of the clerk’s desk. Across the shop are a handful of shelves devoted to DVD and VHS films–some I recognized, most I didn’t. I also found a zip-up bag shaped like a brain, a selection of buttons whose mottos seemed to be inside jokes of some sort, and a selection of T-shirts and leggings featuring characters from the books in the shop.
TACO ché is for varsity-level manga collectors who follow that scene, but it is not without its charms to people on the lookout for the strange and different. I, for one, could go for that painting of the aquarium bus.
TACO che Location Information
Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Nakano station. On the 3rd floor of Nakano Broadway Shopping Center, access through the Sunmall. (click on the Google Map for directions)
“Why Go?”: For indie manga with that anti-establishment feel
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