You don’t even need to buy anything at Nakano Broadway for the trip to be worthwhile; being here is a magical experience in itself - if you’re part of the manga/anime subculture.
The main stretch of road hosts an assortment of shops, including a niche pet shop specialising in selling exceedingly cute dogs and cats. There’s bubble tea, an arcade, all things you might typically expect from a mall. But the magic really begins when you head upstairs.
This place is a must-see if you fit the (niche) target audience. Figurines, dolls, vintage items, rare finds, original prints - it’s a collector’s treasure trove. It’s like a museum, housing an enormous collection of collectibles, except that you can pay to bring them home. For example, we passed a store that sold original concept art from various popular anime (NGE, Toroto, etc), maintained in excellent condition (and of course exorbitantly priced). They’re so prized that the owner is constantly on the lookout for people who attempt to take pictures, as photos are strictly not allowed in the shop.
Of course, Mandarake plays a central role in this attraction, with majority of the complex being dominated by its stores. Its stores are spread by category and interest. There are only figurines in one shop, only art books in another, comics in yet another (partitioned by gender and genre), and doujinshi on another floor. The sprawling selection brings out pure wonder in the consumer. I spent at least 45 minutes looking at two rows on bookshelves. You could spend hours and hours there and it wouldn’t be enough. I didn’t buy much, but I left happy that I had obtained yet another glimpse into the wild, obsessive world of otaku.