Manga in Manila: Ayala Centre (Greenbelt-Glorietta area)

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IMPORTANT NOTE: This list hasn’t been updated for several years, and will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. Some of the places described here may have reduced or relocated their manga collections, or may even have closed/moved entirely. Please don’t rely on the information in this post for so long as it remains out of date. Cheers.

Almost anything an anime/manga fan could ever want can be bought somewhere in the gigantic urban empire that is Manila – it’s just a matter of looking in the right places. Of course, for those of us who lack either the courage or the street smarts to seek out those wonderful hole-in-the-wall specialty stores that are the true bastions of otakudom, the only recourse is to hit the glass-and-marble halls of the city’s upscale shopping centres and dig up whatever we can find in conventional bookshops.

So the next time you find yourself in Makati’s Ayala Centre, check out the places profiled here and see if they have that one manga title you’ve been scouring the earth to find.

Just be careful not to get your hopes too high. Don’t forget what country you’re in. But if all else fails, Amazon.com and scores of other online retailers are just a few keystrokes away.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This list hasn’t been updated for several years, and will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. Some of the places described here may have reduced or relocated their manga collections, or may even have closed/moved entirely. Please don’t rely on the information in this post for so long as it remains out of date. Cheers.

Note: If you know of any other Ayala Centre stores that a manga fan should check out, do fill me in. (For the time being, please limit your recommendations to stores in the Greenbelt-Glorietta area; shops in other places will be profiled in separate posts.) I might swing by for a casual visit and, in due course, add a profile to this list. Corrections and other helpful comments are also welcome.

POWERBOOKS (Greenbelt)
Location: Greenbelt 4, second floor, on the same level as the main pedestrian walkway. The entrance is almost directly across the bridge linking Greenbelt 4 to The Landmark.
How to find the manga shelves: PowerBooks’ manga collection is split between two sets of shelves, located in different parts of the store. To find the first group (which leans a bit more towards mature readers), look for the graphic novels section in the rear part of the lower level, near the mystery/suspense section. The other half of the collection is on the upper level, right between the religion/philosophy section and the children’s books.
Languages represented: English only.
Prices: Very reasonable, with most volumes going for P400-P500 apiece. PowerCard Plus holders can get 10% off on cash purchases. (I’m sure the other retailers profiled here have their own discount card systems, but I’ve only ever signed up for a PowerCard so I can’t say anything about the rest.)
Titles/genres represented: PowerBooks Greenbelt has the largest and widest selection of manga among all of the Greenbelt-Glorietta stores I’ve visited. That said, it still desperately lacks the range offered by, say, Kinokuniya (Singapore) or any of the major online retailers. Shoujo titles appear to form the bulk of the collection – which explains why romance seems to be the most strongly represented genre – although there’s also a fair number of action/adventure-themed shounen series on offer, along with works based on supernatural themes. In addition, they’ve recently stocked up on titles linked to the Pokémon franchise (not that many of us here would care, but I suppose it’s still an improvement . . . of sorts). “World manga” enthusiasts may be interested to know that not everything on these shelves is Japanese in origin: the graphic novels group includes a few examples of Korean manhwa, while the other group has a small number of titles drawn by Western artists. Translations of Japanese novels with anime/manga tie-ins (e.g. The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, Full Metal Panic!) have also begun to make an appearance.
Publishers represented: Mainly large U.S.-based publishers like Del Rey, Tokyopop and Viz. The large Singaporean publisher Chuang Yi recently gained a strong foothold, thanks to the infusion of Pokémon titles.
Completeness/availability factor: PowerBooks replenishes its manga shelves fairly often so gaps are occasionally bridged; plus, absent volumes can sometimes be found in a different branch (check with the customer service counter to see if arrangements can be made for transfers/reservations). New titles are also added with some frequency. Still, don’t expect them to restock sell-outs anytime soon. Special order services are available, provided you’re willing to wait several weeks.

POWERBOOKS (Glorietta)
Location: Glorietta 3, second floor, right above the mall entrance.
How to find the manga shelves: Turn right at the entrance and walk a few steps forward. On your right, you should see the manga collection sitting in the row of shelves closest to the store window. The collection has been moved since this post was first published. From the entrance, walk past the large pillar in the middle of the display area (the one with the cashier’s booth) and turn right. Head for the far wall.
Languages represented: English only.
Prices: Same as in PowerBooks Greenbelt.
Titles/genres represented: Pretty much the same as in their sister branch at Greenbelt, although shounen titles appear to predominate. This is one of the PowerBooks chain’s smaller branches, so naturally the selection isn’t quite as large as elsewhere. There are some series that are present here but aren’t available in Greenbelt (and vice versa), so when I make enquiries about specific titles/volumes at the customer service counter of either branch, I’d sometimes ask them to check with the other one as well.
Publishers represented: Same as in PowerBooks Greenbelt.
Completeness/availability factor: Same as in PowerBooks Greenbelt, although that’s mainly because I can simply walk to the other branch if I can’t find what I want here.

BIBLIARCH
Location: Glorietta 3, first floor, just to the right of the escalators if you’re coming in from the street entrance (one level below PowerBooks Glorietta).
How to find the manga shelves: Make a hard left at the entrance and keep going until you reach the magazine rack. The manga shelves are on your left, at the tail end of the graphic novels row (i.e. the shelves closest to the store window).
Languages represented: English only.
Prices: For U.S. publishers, typically higher than in PowerBooks – figure on spending P500 or more per volume. Chuang Yi’s titles (which aren’t restricted to Pokémon-themed series in this shop, thankfully enough) can be had for as little as P250 or so each.
Titles/genres represented: Bibliarch is a small botique bookshop, yet the owners seem to have a knack for putting certain titles on sale weeks or even months before PowerBooks and other retailers start stocking them. (This is true not just for manga but for the rest of their collection as well.) Of course, looks can be deceiving: this little store is an offshoot of the Fully Booked chain so one shouldn’t underestimate their ability to tap the global book market. Their manga selection is very small – probably just a few dozen volumes in size – but there’s a good range of series on offer, including some pretty obscure titles. I check their shelves almost as often as I visit PowerBooks.
Publishers represented: U.S. companies once had a monopoly on Bibliarch’s shelves, but lately Chuang Yi has been edging them aside (and not just with Pokémon!).
Completeness/availability factor: Turnover and customer volume are obviously lower than in the bigger shops, so there’s less incentive to restock. New titles are added once in a while, but once something’s gone, it’s probably gone for good.

A DIFFERENT BOOKSTORE
Location: Glorietta 3, Bridgeway.
How to find the manga shelves: Turn right at the entrance and head for the shelves on the far wall, just to the left of the cashier. The manga collection is wedged somewhere between the fantasy novels and the travel books.
Languages represented: English only.
Prices: Roughly in the same range as Bibliarch (i.e. P500-P700 or thereabouts). They’re currently offering a 10% discount on most of their stock (ends November 4th, I think) and every P500 regular book purchase gets you a P50 rebate coupon that can be applied to your next purchase (I don’t know when that promo is scheduled to end).
Titles/genres represented: A Different Bookstore is the smallest of all the retailers profiled in this post, and it has a manga collection to match: just one shelf, with much of the space taken up by Fruits Basket, Tsubasa – Reservoir Chronicle and a few other series. Probably an even split between shoujo and shounen. Not the first place I’d recommend for manga, but it’s worth visiting all the same if you’re after books in general – they have a very nice selection of hard-to-find titles and the staff are always eager to help. If you’re the same kind of bookworm as I am, you’ll fall in love with the place on your first visit.
Publishers represented: U.S. publishers only, last time I checked.
Completeness/availability factor: I don’t think they’ve restocked on manga in a while; I see more or less the same titles every time I visit, and the selection appears to shrink bit by bit as time goes on. Still, they’ve proved useful for filling up some annoying gaps in my collection. The store restocks its shelves with more regularity these days, and the collection – while still the smallest of all the stores in the area – appears to have grown slightly.

NATIONAL BOOK STORE
Location: Glorietta 1, near the bridge leading to SM.
How to find the manga shelves: Walk in a straight line from the entrance until you reach the children’s section (near the back). Head to the right and look for a cashier’s booth. There should be a row of shelves carrying magazines for kids somewhere nearby; the manga collection is on the other side.
Languages represented: English only.
Prices: Very reasonable. About the same as PowerBooks (P400-P500 range).
Titles/genres represented: Mixed. It’s a smaller and less varied collection than the one in PowerBooks, but larger than the ones in Bibliarch and A Different Bookstore. There’s nothing particularly special about the titles on offer, though I’ve had a couple of pleasant surprises from these shelves: 1) Volume 9 of xxxHolic, which has been languishing unticked on my checklist for ages (and which neither PowerBooks nor Bibliarch ever seemed to have stocked, despite both of them putting Volume 10 on sale); and 2) Volume 2 of Mushishi, another long-sought-after title.
Publishers represented: Mostly U.S. imprints.
Completeness/availability factor: They get fair marks in this department, although gaps can be quite substantial – School Rumble, for example, starts with Volume 5 on their shelves.

If I remember correctly, there are two other stores that carry manga in this area (one in Greenbelt 3 or 4 and one – a National Book Store branch – in Greenbelt 1), but I haven’t dropped by either of them in a while. I’ll add their profiles to this post if I can find the time to visit them.

(Updated on Saturday, 01 December 2007.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This list hasn’t been updated for several years, and will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. Some of the places described here may have reduced or relocated their manga collections, or may even have closed/moved entirely. Please don’t rely on the information in this post for so long as it remains out of date. Cheers.

12 Responses

  1. Rather tough to make any additions here; you’ve already exhausted my knowledge of whatever is in the Ayala Center. Now if you’re talking Greenhills or Megamall, then I can whip up a list easily.

  2. I’ve actually started to scribble out a draft for an Ortigas Centre post, and things don’t look too good for that place – the three stores I visited (PowerBooks in Megamall and two shops at The Podium) were are quite disappointing. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to add when that one comes out.

    Man, I really need to visit Greenhills one of these days.

  3. hi.Does this Ayala center have books from tokyopop and shojo beat.cus i’m looking for mangas that are reaaly cheaps cus like in states they cost like 10 bucks a piece or more.Do they have this tittles:
    Fullmoon o sagashite
    fushigi yuugi
    fruitsbasket.
    happy hustle high
    punch by rie takada
    naruto – really good action searies u should watch anime
    and more

  4. @tintin: Tokyopop and Shojo Beat are both pretty well represented, along with some of the other big names like Del Rey and CMX. Fruits Basket is available in both Powerbooks and Bibliarch. I’ve also seen Naruto in Powerbooks.

    I’m not too sure about those other titles, but Powerbooks Greenbelt is probably the best place to start looking. Their manga collection has grown even bigger since I last updated this post: it now occupies close to half of the entire graphic novels section (and let’s not forget that other group on the upper level!).

  5. […] interviews and a bonus 50+-page manga. I snapped up a copy for PHP799.00 (about US$19) from Bibliarch in Glorietta 3, where I remember seeing one other copy still on stock a few days ago. (I […]

  6. […] back to the book. I hooked this prize from the art shelves of Bibliarch in Glorietta a few days ago. At P1,199 (about US$28), I wouldn’t call it a bargain, but the […]

  7. does anyone know where I can buy Romeo X Juliet? It’s kinda hard to look for it.

  8. Just like to know if you guys have ideas where to get the OHSHC vol.1?

    • Just a quick caveat: this list is seriously out of date. The information should not be considered reliable in any way.

      As for where to get any specific title, that all depends on where you’re based. I might be able to advise for my corner of the world, but if you’re in a distant city then any info I have probably won’t be of much use.

      If anywhere in Metro Manila is fine then Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street (not listed above) might be your best bet – their collection is the largest I’ve seen so far. There’s also Planet X Comics in Glorietta (not listed above either); it’s a great new(ish) shop with a small but substantial selection of manga. I don’t know if they have the specific volume you’re after; always better to call them and ask.

  9. I know a manga store named “Comic Quest” they only sell mangas and comics there it can be found at SM Megamall and I think there is also one at SM North edsa..

    I like Manhwas, its the same as manga their only difference is that manga came from Japan but manhwa came from Korea,, you are lucky enough that you can buy manga here in the Philippines unlike manhwas. I still haven’t found a store where I can buy one..

  10. to Diego , I checked that planetxcomics I was hoping to see some mangas but pffft, it was just a bunch dc comics and marvwels :poop: It was good that I had only checked it on the internet and not really go in there.

    • I’m afraid this post hasn’t been updated for years, and given my present circumstances (for one thing, I work in a different city now) I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to do a comprehensive update anytime soon. I’ve added a note flagging potential users to this fact. Cheers.

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