Otaku Culture in Poland

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TOKYOPOP Fam: Cześć!

It never ceases to amaze me how far and wide otaku culture reaches. Honestly, when I started TOKYOPOP, it was already overwhelming to think about spreading our culture throughout America, let alone to far off lands.

But technology has brought the entire world closer - and we’re able to access cultures from across the globe at simply the click of a button. Of course, I prefer visiting in person - and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so at this point in my life.

So, this week’s blog is about my short trip to Warsaw, Poland. The former Soviet-bloc nation, with a rich history that includes an expansive kingdom in the Middle Ages (think Game of Thrones but for real), was the first to fight for freedom and topple their Communist regime in the late 80’s (when I was in school!). Even now, I clearly recall newspaper headlines (yup, it was pre-Internet) with huge photos of Polish rebels and the “Solidarity” party. The Soviets fought them back for a few years, but eventually democracy won.

My short trip was mainly for a key business meeting, with my partner for POP Comics (you’ll learn more about this soon!), but I also was introduced to the “Polish King” of Otaku! He showed me what they’re up to - and it was very impressive!

While I was there, I did one of my “running tours” - where I combine an easy training run (for those of you who don’t know, I’m an avid endurance athlete - marathons and triathlons) with a city tour. I get to see a city by foot, but I can cover more ground since I’m running instead of walking. Usually, I run 15-21 km (about 9-13 miles), although sometimes I run a bit more. I’m recovering from an injury so I only ran 15 km through Warsaw but it was a fascinating adventure.

Since Warsaw was devastated by the end of World War II, the entire city was built (and rebuilt) since then. That means, a combination of Soviet-era drag architecture, amazing recreations of classic European “old town” blocks, and modern skyscrapers and malls.

I even discovered a bit of street art - and a few American chains like Starbucks, KFC and the fanciest Pizza Hut restaurants I’ve ever seen.

Focusing on the otaku side, Jan of manga publisher Studio JG showed me one of his shops (they currently have three and are expanding), as well as their office and e-commerce operation. They publish Polish-language manga, import toys and other merch, and are leading the otaku community into the future. They may expand into anime DVD’s in the near future.

Take a look at some of the cool pics below - and if you get a chance to visit Poland, know that you’ll find fellow fans to welcome you with warm otaku hospitality!

Do zobaczenia! —Stu

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