Well, I've been watching more and more shows and really need to seat myself down and write some full reviews, but seems like this post won't be the time for that. Instead, I just wanted to discuss some exciting items I was able to pick up on a fantastic trip to Buford, GA this past weekend (just north of Atlanta).
The reason for going was essentially friends of mine suggesting we do something with this 3-day weekend such as a road trip, plus they knew some good shopping opportunities in Buford, explicitly a couple anime stores, while we also have between us 2 friends down there we might be able to see. Well, sadly due to the brevity of our trip, one night, and our friends long work hours that never happened, but oh the awesomeness of their stores was far too much for this mind of mine.
Before I go into detail about those stores, let me mention some of the other activities we took part it in case anyone headed down there is interested. First I'll cover food starting with our excellent dinner at Kani's House. This is a semi-typical Japanese restaurant where you can either get the performance style dinner or sit in a more typical restaurant environment. We were worried about a wait but needn't be since they had so much room, which was nice because we got seated immediately and the cook got there as a few others joined us at the table (community seating and all). The food was fine and a better than usual at these sorts of establishments, which was nice, but importantly for me the show had some little differences such as rice tossing by the chef into people's mouths, including my friends and mine (with successful catches both) to spice up the pre-lims. Birthdays were going on near us to so we got to see the sing/drum show w/ picture for the memories, which was cool to although being none of our birthdays we just watched in curiosity. Otherwise, not too much difference however you expect some kind of familiarity between restaurants of this type, and we got a little better than expected, leaving us full and satisfied.
Our other main food stop of interest was an ASSI International Grocery Store that essentially is a Korean grocery store with several items imported from other various asian nations. Apparently there are a substantial number of Koreans in Buford, and this fact is noticeable in so many places, and makes for really cool stores to check out such as ASSI. Aside from some casual picture taking of the various import foods, my friends and I also picked up some variety items specifically I got some 99% Cocoa Chocolate (cooking purposes only I assure you), some puffy pastry mixed box, and some Pocari Sweat that I had heard about but never tried (interesting, taste like watermelon). Nothing seemed to spectacular after our taste tests in the hotel room, but we just went in to try different foods so we did and for that purpose alone the visit to ASSI was quite worthwhile.
As an aside, before I do get to the matter of the awesome stores for otaku needs, I must say we spotted quite the spectacle on one of the roads we travelled on. This appeared to be a giant robot near a conference or event center, and clearly to us we knew this was Kodak moment gold. Thus, as we knew we should do, we stopped by since no one was around anyways and marvelled at the robot, took pictures with the robot, and just realized that for whatever reason, this art store/center, which it seemed to be, had a robot. Either way how very cool and yes that is what the blog opener pic is from.
I mentioned this trip had some shopping purposes, so I will not slight you by leaving out what took up a substantial amount of our time, i.e., visiting these unique stores. First of all, we visited the Mall of Georgia, said to be Georgia's largest mall, and checked out the store Fandom, a place my local friends have frequented on their previous trips to Buford. Definitely this was quite cool and really made me wish for more stores like this locally, as I was looking at a variety of plushies, keychains, wallscrolls, cd's and other otaku goodies. While we would later find out that in comparison to the other anime stores we would visit Fandom's prices were a bit high, at the time everything seemed so awesome, so I picked up a Code Geass wallscroll for my room and some CD's, T.M Revolution's coordinate album, Penicillin's Flower Circus album, and Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid OST. Not knowing we would hit any other anime stores for certain, my friends chose these as a strong lead off location, and made sure to grab a few items to go, such as figures and a wall scroll or two. We headed out afterward, after seeing Chopper and the AAA Braves PR team hyping up the Braves move to Buford, and headed onto the one store that I have wanted to go to for so long, Fry's Electronics.
Casually known as Fry's, this store was recommended to me primarily for electronics, but with the promise of being the best of Best Buy, Circuit City, and a couple other similar stores. Truly, these mentions were no lie because I was overwhelmed by all the amazing items there, and this was with little venture into the electronics section, their bread & butter so to speak. What truly wiped me out though was the extensive aisle they devoted to anime, which not only had shows new, old, and classic, but had them all at outrageously great prices! I saw Genshiken, great show I've been wanting to pick up for some time, and Yuko the Negotiator, short show I actually just finished, and got them both. I then headed to the magazine section, which was equally impressive, to look for Protoculture, the anime magazine, but sadly that was the one disappointment, of the store and the trip, since I had no luck finding a copy. That minor blemish aside, Fry's was all the awesomeness I had been led to believe and I tell you now if you get the chance go to Fry's, bring money, spend money, help the economy, and smile as you find so much great stuff.
Leaving Fry's, we actually went to eat at Kani's House, but having talked about that already I'll skip to our last stop Saturday night before retiring to our hotel room. That stop, as is common locally too, was to a bookstore although instead of our local Books-A-Million, Buford has a Borders, another store I love almost as much as Fry's. Now, the size of Buford's Borders was much to be desired, as my Books-A-Million is bigger and has much more material, yet I was impressed with some of the unique titles they had, specifically the book I ended up picking up, the Genshiken Official Book. Having spent all I wanted to for the moment I knew I wasn't going to buy any more of the books they had, including a cool Hayao Miyazaki art book, so I left happy, but not as overwhelmed by some of the bigger city Borders, which is to be expected I guess.
Either way, I felt that Saturday had so much going on that I just didn't expect Sunday to equal that fun and amazement, but that was before I found Lydia's ARTBOX & Pica Pica, two anime/otaku stores in Buford's Discover Mall. First we stopped in Lydia's ARTBOX, where I saw a plethora of plushies to my liking, as well as figures, which included some I had not seen anywhere else except maybe the far reaches of the internet. Feeling the strain on my personal limit, I ended up not buying these items, but I discovered behind the counter just to the right my great weakness J-Rock CD's & DVD's, and lo and behold they were calling for me with the second CD only half off. Truly, this was a kid in a candy store moment, as I counted the Miyavi CD's with 2 hands, and did the math in my head realizing that perhaps I could squeeze a little more out of me for some CD's. Thinking at the time my debit card was not working, I and my friends decided we would return after finding Pica Pica, and hopefully I could get to an ATM in between then, so I didn't have to use truly emergency funds for such a non-emergency (although to me it seemed to be).
Well, Pica Pica was another one of those stores where an anime fan on a budget should probably never step into, more so perhaps than Lydia's ARTBOX, since Pica Pica was specifically devoted to being a Japanese goods outlet. Clearly they lived up to this title, as their wall scrolls, while perhaps a bit cheap quality, were numerous and their figures even more so than Lydia's ARTBOX. My friends started checking around for some such items, and this is where we discovered that Fandom really was more pricey, so finding some of what they wanted at nice prices, my friends bought a couple items while I reminded myself of the promise of J-Rock for my ears and show, and continued the hunt for an ATM.
Ultimately, I had no luck with an ATM, but my card actually worked on the first try at Lydia's ARTBOX, so go figure there, but either way something I'm very grateful for. This little miracle as it seemed paved the way for me to pick up, at not just a reasonable but a fantastic price, 5 Miyavi CD's (w/ some DVD material mixed in), and 1 3-CD pack titled hide: Perfect Single Box, hide being of X-Japan fame, and one of my favorite J-Rock artists, along with Miyavi, a new addition to that category. If I had purchased this all online, or even in most stores, the amount would have been something like 25$ for CD with about 45$ for the hide single box, but the price I paid was about half of that, which once again I cannot mention how amazing this was to me, and still is. I basically hung around long enough to see if maybe I had missed another great CD in the batch, but deciding my wallet had suffered enough, I bounded out of the store to make sure the dream was real and that I actually got that many CD's so cheaply. Thankfully, as I am now listening to some of the hide voiceless tracks, one of the wonderful parts of this box collection, I know that the dream was real.
I had seen Buford, and Buford saw me, and by the end of our trip I came away a happier otaku, nay a happier man, and while Buford may miss me a little bit now, the city has implanted in me a beacon that will call for me to return sometime in the future (after Spring Con season), so we can do business again.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Beauty of Buford, GA
Posted by Michael at 9:33 PM