Japanese pop culture, and all the things that make Sawtelle Japantown great.
One of the things that makes successful ventures successful is the usually the singular vision of one person. Y’see, the trick is to make something, very narrowly, very specifically you, and then hope others will see the uniqueness of what you’ve done, and hop on board.
Giant Robot owner, Eric Nakamura likes…well, Giant Robots. He has ever since he was a kid. He’s also a Sawtelle Japantown guy, having grown up in the area back before it was known as Little Osaka.
So what do you do if you if you’re from Sawtelle Japantown and have a hankering for the good stuff in Japanese Pop Culture? Well, most people would open a Comic Book store and be done with it. But calling the Giant Robot Store a “comic book store” is seeing things through too narrow a lens. Sure, Giant Robot is a temple of Japanese Pop Culture and Japanese-American tributes to said Japanese Pop Culture, but it’s more than that.
Sure you can get your books, posters, and T-Shirts over at Giant Robot, but the store has also served as a valuable launching platform for new and emerging brands, like the Ugly Doll. That helped launch UglyCon. The Giant Robot Store also helped launch the Giant Robot Magazine.
All this from the mind of one, open-minded, welcoming and in-the-know entrepreneur.
So what do you do now?
Well, maybe you open a Gallery Space down the block, featuring a rotating Gallery collections of up and coming, cutting edge artists.
That’s what Eric Nakamura did, and he called it Giant Robot 2.
Again, like Giant Robot the original, Giant Robot 2 is much more than just a temple of Japanese Pop Culture, it’s an Art Gallery, featuring up an coming artists on a regular basis. Every once in a while, you may find some known Artists (DC Comic’s Jim Lee has stopped by) coming through for a signing or a talk, but Eric has devoted his time and energy to also launching brands through the Giant Robot Stores. Things like the Ugly Doll, which found their start in the original Giant Robot Store, and have grown to having their own Conventions.
The Artists you may not have heard of, but they’re always worth a look. Beside, you’ll be able to say you saw ‘em back in the day, before the got big.
Giant Robot 2 have had poetry readings, and most recently an Experimental Game Demonstration featuring the students at USC (University of Southern California).
Giant Robot 2 set up a bunch of stations just outside the store, most featuring TVs where the Student Programmers could demonstrate their wares. And it wasn’t just Video Games, there were a few Board or non-electronic games at work also. Students would man a station for forty minutes, then rotate to a new location to keep things fresh.
They even projected some games on the side of the store, which was also a lot of fun, and brought a great energy to the affair.
There will be more evenings like this. They are events that Eric is quite proud of, and an idea that Giant Robot wants to build upon. Events like these help build the community, and that’s nothing but a good thing. Sawtelle Japantown is an old community. Maybe one that most locals don’t know about, but it’s been around since the 1920s. It’s got a long history and a proud one. Still, the official name of the area (as of publication) is only days old, and the community is as a whole is starting to see influx of Hipsters.
Nothing wrong with Hipsters, and if they’re here to help keep what Sawtelle Japantown is and has always been, great. But that’s not been the history of communities like this. Even Little Tokyo, is finding itself more and more gentrified as time goes on, as more and more of the residents move on to places like Torrance. Soon, we could find the unique little nugget that is Sawtelle Japantown in the same condition.
But not if the residents have anything to say about it. Not if people like Eric Nakamura and the Giant Robot stores have anything do with it. This is an old and proud community. Long may she reign.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Giant Robot 2 is as much a labor of love for Eric Nakamura as much as anything else. He’s totally cool with people just dropping by to see what’s on display, and there’s no pressure to buy anything at the store (even though there are prints available that are ridiculously cheap all things considered.)
If you want to take Photographs of what you see, that’s mostly cool also, but I’d check in with the Giant Robot 2 Staff to make sure it’s okay. I can see these these varying from artist to artist.
PARKING: This is going to be the tough part. My main recommendation is to make Giant Robot 2 a part of your evening in Sawtelle Japantown. Pick a restaurant, and of course pick it’s attending Valet Service. Park your sled, and hit the store. Then after you’ve gone through Giant Robot 2 and hopefully bought something (I encouraging you to do so), then hit that place, make sure you get validated, and tip your Valet well. Viola.
Other than that, you can try street parking, back toward Corinth or Perdue Avenues, but that’s residential. Make sure you read the street signs and try not to annoy any of the people who live their year round.
Giant Robot 2
2062 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (424) 246-7626
Wednesday-Thursday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm