Saturday, April 20, 2024

Tokyo Kid, a Harvard Square store specializing in Japanese animation and graphic novels, will shut down at the end of September, owner Andrew Cocuaco says. (Photo: Hina Ichigo)

Tokyo Kid, a Harvard Square store specializing in Japanese anime and manga, will shut down at the end of September, the latest in a string of specialty bookstores in Cambridge to close.

“People just aren’t buying,” said Andrew Cocuaco, Tokyo Kid’s owner. He blamed the ease with which people can get anime online.

Cocuaco cited a conversation he overheard recently between two customers in the store, debating whether it was stealing to watch an anime show for free online rather than buying the DVD. They decided it was not. Cocuaco disagreed.

“Artists,” he said, “put their blood, sweat and tears in this, and they’re not getting paid.”

Tokyo Kid is on the third floor of The Garage mall in Harvard Square. When it opened 20 years ago, it was called Man from Atlantis, with just a small section dedicated to Japanese animation and other graphic art. But as anime became more popular, the original owners expanded the anime section and finally decided to focus on it, renaming the store Tokyo Kid.

At the time, Cocuaco was studying for his MBA and was a regular customer at the store.

“My dream when I was a kid, I wanted to be a Japanese animator,” he said. But as a non-Japanese, he decided that unless he was “a super amazing artist” he would probably not be successful in the field.

He discovered that Tokyo Kid’s owners wanted to sell, and that if he couldn’t work in anime, he could own a store that sold it. He made the store something of an anime shrine — plushies and anime satchels hang from the ceiling, and display cases and shelves hold figurines and other merchandise, though they are rapidly clearing.

“We’re the last anime shop in Boston,” said Cocuaco, though some bookstores and such comic stores as Harvard Square’s Million Year Picnic carry material of interest to fans.

Another Cambridge-based Japanese bookstore, Sasuga Books, closed in 2004.

Curious George & Friends, which sold children’s books, and the travel-focused Globe Corner Bookstore closed in July after 16 and 29 years in business, respectively. McIntyre & Moore Booksellers, a used-book store with a focus on scholarly and academic texts, closed in spring after 28 years and Kate’s Mystery Books in 2009, after a quarter-century in business.

The Globe Corner Bookstore and McIntyre & Moore sells online; the Kate’s website was last updated in 2009 and still bears a note from owner Kate Mattes saying she intends to open for Web sales in March 2010.