Recently I was looking at some Railgun stuff to add to my already huge collection of incredibly rare as well as very common Biribiri goods, and I ended up checking this place out because of seeing them at Anime Expo. Advertising works a little I guess, though it’s been nearly a year since I actually saw the name and never went there.
The first thing I noticed was that the selection is kind of small (Only about 10 items for Mikoto goods) but at the same time they have a good amount of random things that most other sites with the same focus will just always be sold out on. This mostly means things like special collector’s piggy banks, towels, business card holders, and so on. The random little merchandise things that are all great but typically simply sold out on all the other anime fan specific sites with one or two exceptions unless you make it in time for a pre-order.
If you’re someone who regularly uses or even looks at J-List or HLJ (apparently there are still people who don’t know better), these prices might look pretty good. JL and HLJ have a shit ton of mark-up on every item and it’s right in the price of each item, something you can get for $20 easily elsewhere will be on either of those for $40 before shipping and taxes. It’s the nature of the business – taking advantage of people who are simply ignorant of their options, and it works. The thing is they’re upfront about those prices so while it’s shitty they’re at least honest about it and with very little effort you can find the same items for more reasonable prices if you really want to. TOM has the same prices – but they keep them out of your view until the last second.
Shipping options on J-List and HLJ also vary in price like almost every site on the internet, you can go the super cheap route and wait 2 months to get what you want or pay a shit ton and get it a few days later and there’s a few in-between. On Tokyo Otaku Mode though you’re stuck with one option – that being the most expensive one, EMS. This isn’t told to you really until you have an account, are logged in, put an item in your cart, go to your cart to buy it, and are on the actual screen where you purchase the item. EMS has a minimum shipping cost of around $20 for the smallest and lightest package, and while the shipping is fantastic, tracked, and taken care of – this is something you’d only want for expensive, rare, or delicate items. It’s a great OPTION to have, but being forced to spend upwards of $60 on shipping depending on the item, let alone a minimum (again, around $20) that will often outweigh the cost of your little trinket? Not okay. The only thing even hinting at this is a note way down the page of an item stating that items in their Japan warehouse are shipped EMS – which is more than nothing but not when it’s directly following up using basic USPS shipping in the sentence just prior (for their US warehouse) while also not listing which warehouse the item is shipped from. The fact this same info box also starts with saying they use shipping “services” and not “service” leads you to believe there are options, which there aren’t. I also believe there really aren’t any “US warehouse” items in the first place and that it’s just there to mislead you, as I went around checking shipping prices for a fuck ton of items just to be sure and absolutely none of them were not EMS.
It’s only made worse by the fact that according to many claims online they WILL change the shipping option BUT ONLY if you contact them in advance and discuss it. This is something you just have to guess to try and put the work in for, but the fact they CAN DO IT proves this is all just essentially a lighter style of scam. They can totally provide cheaper and more shipping options, they just refuse to because 99% of people will just buy something instead of sending an email and waiting a week for a response and having this go on for a couple months. Nowhere on the site, at least not visibly to any normal consumer (but I think not at all), is there any indication that you can request a different shipping method, nor are there any clearly written warnings of the fact this site is EMS-only prior to being one single click away from buying an item or putting your information in to do so.
For various reasons I suggest avoiding using Tokyo Otaku Mode. The most prominent reason not being the shipping – but the prices. They’re as expensive as J-List and HLJ once you factor in the shipping and any taxes. Items on here that are hard to find on other anime focused shops can be easily found through Amazon, Ebay, and so on without any problem for a third of the price. The item I wanted was $13 with free SAL shipping on Amazon from a very reputable shop, while on TOM the item I wanted was “$10” plus $20 for shipping. Ridiculous.
They are a safe site to use, this isn’t a bootleg scam or a place that’s going to steal your credit card information – but again I wouldn’t recommend shopping here. Otaku Mode chose to go the route of E-bay styled hidden fees and it just makes the entire website feel really skeezy, untrustworthy, and not someone deserving of anyone’s business. On top of that the prices are just far too high, they are essentially the same as J-List and HLJ by the end of the transaction and just hide the mark-up instead of telling you upfront about it, and also you have the pretty shitty selection of items.
Tokyo Otaku Mode is just another business run to take advantage of western anime fans that totally fucks those not “in the know” of all the much better options right in the ass. If you’re looking for figures then use AmiAmi, HobbySearch, Amazon, or Mandarake – Mandarake especially for rare things or stuff that is sold out already as they are cheap and sell directly from their stores in Japan, including things traded in or sold to them every day (though it’s mostly all previously owned but very well kept).
Actually, I take it all back – the most prominent reason to say FUCK this site is their fucking spam. Here is just a SMALL sample of what I got within the first two days of signing up and it continues weeks later. The last 3 have a ! because I had already sent them to spam before taking the screenshots, and note the Engrish which just makes it more obnoxious to always see 1~3 new emails a day. None of these emails provide any useful shit either, they are literal spam. Just like their prices, the fact that this will happen to you is also hidden entirely.
It might seem amusing at first, but when you get at LEAST one a day every single day, if not more (usually more), it’s pretty fucking annoying. They also made sure to use different emails – as you can see above the actual email name is different for everything so that you can’t avoid this shit as easily. I looked through all the emails and all over the site and you cannot unsubscribe. It lets you unsub from some, yet it still sends them anyway, and I’ve read around that this is not just an issue for me. On top of that, the actual unsub page (albeit, it also doesn’t work really) is hidden in a place you cannot get to either via the emails they send or on the site itself at all. I found out about them because of gmail linking me after I clicked ‘this is spam’ on enough of the fucking things – but now they just keep sending from other email accounts. I had heard their spam emails were an issue but not on such a fucking massive level.
I highly recommend you do not use this site. You’d be better off buying anime shit on fucking craigslist – just about anything would be a superior shopping experience compared to this and the aftermath of signing up. If it’s not obvious, I decided not to buy the one single product they had that I had signed up to buy (before noticing the hidden mark-up) – and after all this email bullshit I’m never even considering using it in the future.