Giant Robot 2 GR 2 / ジャイアントロボット 2 GR2

June 7, 2015

Eric Nakamura

Eric Nakamura

By Malcolm Johnson*

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 (read Eric’s post on his thoughts to the changes occurring in Sawtelle Japantown).

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.

Giant Robot Exterior

Giant Robot Exterior

IMG_7402-Edit (640x427)

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 GR2.

Again, like Giant Robot the original, GR2 is much more than just a temple of Japanese Pop Culture, it’s an Art Gallery, featuring up and coming artists on a regular basis.  Every once in a while, you may find some known Artists (like DC Comic’s Jim Lee) 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.

GR2 has poetry readings, and most recently an Experimental Game Demonstration featuring the students at USC (University of Southern California).

GR2 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 a few months 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.

GR2 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 GR2 Staff to make sure it’s okay.  I can see these varying from artist to artist.

* Contributing writer Malcolm Johnson is the publisher of the food blog Is It Any Good

ジャイアントロボット2

成功しているビジネスは一人のビジョンから成り立っている事が 多い。その秘密は自分らしさを徹底追求してる事で他の人々がそれに気が付いて 共感することだ。

ジャイアントロボット2 のオーナーは 子供のころからジャイアントロボッㇳが 大好きだった。彼はソーテルジャパンタウンがリトル大阪と言われる前から 住民だった。日本のポップカルチャーが好きな場合大抵ならコミックストアーを作るだけだがそれは視野が狭すぎる。ジャイアントロボッㇳは日本のポップカルチャーの殿堂であり日系人のそれに対するㇳリビューㇳ以上のものがある。本、ポスター、T-シャツを売るが新ブランドアグリードールやアグリーコム誕生のきっかけを作った、ジャイアントロボッㇳマガジンも作った。これら全ては心広く全てを歓迎する企業家が築いた。その後は近くに新人向けギャラリー設立 ジャイアントロボッㇳ2と命名。ここはポップカルチャーの殿堂を超え新人アーテストを毎月展示するギャラリーだ。

たまに有名なアーテストDCコミックのJim Lee 等がきてサイン会をしたりレクチャーしたりするがエリックは店中にブランドを作ることにも力をいれている。アグリードールなどは愛好者の話題にもなっている。無名のアーテストでものちに有名に成る可能性がある。ジャイアントロボッㇳ2では詩の朗読会やUSCの学生をフィーチャーした実験ゲームを行った。外に沢山のステーションを作り学生のプログラマーがーデモを行った。

他にもエレクトリックでないゲームも有り一人当たり40分で場所替えをしながら楽しんだ。店内にもゲームを置きエネルギー一杯のイベントとなった。これからもこのようなイベントを続ける。エリックはこれがコミニュテイを作っていくと考えている。当地は古くからあった誇りを持ったコミュニテイで歴史もある。しかし正式名称ソーテルジャパンタウンは数日目だがすでに多くのヒップな人達が集まりはじまっている。ヒップな人達が悪いわけではない。

コミュニティの良いところがつずくと良いのだがエリックはそうでないケースが多いと言う。リトル東京も変わってきている。

住民はㇳーランスの様な所に移住しているのでいずれはこの小さな金塊ソーテルジャパンタウンも同じような運命かも知れない。でもエリックなかむらの様な人やジャイアントロボッㇳがある限りこの古く誇り深い町は存在する。ソーテルジャパンよ永遠に!

Hours:

Monday-Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Thursday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Friday-Saturday: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

GR2 is located at:

2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

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