Edit on March 9, 2016: I’ve decided to remove sources I have no experience or information with since I do not keep track of them nor do I know how good or bad they are. Hopefully that makes this guide more up to date.
So you want to IMPORT OTOME GAMES! Congratulations, I hope you have at least $50 – $80 reserved per game. Now let’s get started!
Stores that Ship Overseas
Hooray! There are non hateful stores that will ship items to people overseas without having to go through a million 3rd parties and all sorts of conditions.
- CD Japan: CD Japan has a nice point system and it’s always easy to tell what items are in stock HOWEVER they have their own shipping & handling fees. The shipping you see on Japan post is NOT the rate that they use and they stack an extra $15 on top of certain items. It seems to be a hit or miss randomly so beware, they may increase your shipping fee last minute. They do have a variety of shipping options though so if you stay away from EMS then you might be okay.
- ComiComi Studio: ComiComi is actually a BL game/manga shop BUT they do sell otome stuff too. However you have to note that they are basically a Japanese store that happens to ship overseas via EMS only. That means if you have any problems or concerns they must all be addressed in Japanese. They will not provide English customer service and their entire website is also in Japanese. If you know what you’re doing though, this can be a great place to order PC games from. Please also note that they prioritize their domestic shipments over their international ones. So while other makers may mail your stuff out a few days early, ComiComi has a tendency to delay international shipments for 2-7 days before they ship it out. Very flaky and unless you have no other options, I do not recommend as you are also paying Japanese taxes for the items.
- HMV: HMV I really don’t recommend that much but once in a while they may have an interesting tokuten with the game. Most of the time they rarely even sell otome games and they will often also give you SURPRISE shipping adjustments a the end. They do have a slight discount on some of their products and their point system seems decent but I still associate them mostly with music and magazines/books than anything else.
- Nipponyasan – Their games tend to be pricier but they do offer a variety of shipping and sometimes they have preorder bonuses from totally random places (Like Famitsu). They also have online methods to purchase PSN cards.
- Amazon Japan – Didn’t think I forgot did you?? Amazon Japan is known for 2 things: Discounted games and free shipping within Japan. As of March 2016 Amazon Japan now ships games overseas which includes Vita & PSP otome games! Unfortunately a lot of otome makers have blocked them from doing so, leaving only very few games that can be shipped via Amazon global. It’s a shame they continue to do this (why u no take muh money!?) but it’s not a huge travesty seeing how Amazon tokutens are usually crap/nonexistent anyway.
- Animate International – Animate USA closed but now reopened as Animate International. They also now sell way more otome goods such as drama CDs and -finally-, full Animate sets of upcoming and past otome games! If you’re looking to avoid the middleman for animate’s sets, give this place a shot! The only downside is their only shipping option is EMS.
Other stores are PlayAsia and YesAsia but I do not recommend either of those because they use awful shipping methods which are slow and their games are overpriced. I’ve also heard horror stories of packages getting lost and damaged with whatever shitty postal service they use. Here’s what I mean by overpriced:
Also I DO NOT EVER recommend AmiAmi. You will never know if something is in stock, and if it’s not you will have to wait god knows how long for them to get it IN stock because they will NEVER CANCEL YOUR ORDER. Well you can give them the finger and not pay but that will just blacklist you from shopping with them again – although honestly that’s a blessing in disguise.
Not satisfied with direct stores? Want better Tokutens? Want to order directly from the maker? Well I welcome you to the:
Maybe someday makers will recognize that us otome game fans exist outside Japan, or maybe they’re just too ashamed to sell dating sims to anyone but their do-M player base…but either way it’s time to go jump through some hoops!
Official Company Stores:
These are official stores set up by the otome game makers themselves. They will often have specialized goodies, event tickets and things that regular otome game/online stores will not have. For the collector in you, this is probably your first go to place. Remember NONE of these stores ship overseas and will not provide customer service in language other than Japanese.
- D3P Webshop – Despite being on Rakuten, their shop terms clearly state they will not ship overseas. The good news of course because they are through rakuten, it means you can use your foreign credit card and combine it with a forwarding service which will often save you a few bucks over a complete proxy. I’ve used Rakuten Japan even before Rakuten Global existed and I still often use it because the global interface will translate words like “fake thigh high tights” into “smelly cheese” or something so it’s often easier to just stick to the Japanese site. (Also I’ve had instances where the shop clearly ships overseas but the global interface told me I couldn’t buy a pair of tweezers. Yea.)
- Takuyo Official Shop – Just like D3p, Takuyo has a shop on Rakuten as well (which they only setup about a year ago.) Again you can also use a forwarding service with them if you wish to order directly from the maker.
- Skit Dolce – Skit is Rejet’s official web store. I have contacted them and confirmed that YES you can use a foreign credit card to buy a game as long as it gets shipped to an address in Japan. That means that you can use a forwarding service with them to save on proxy fees if you’re only going to buy 1 or 2 games. (And well seeing how bloody expensive their PC games are, I’d be surprised if you’re buying more than 1 thing at a time there anyway （；^ω^）….) Their limited edition pre-orders go very quickly so if you want any special shop tokutens, pre-order early. Please note there’s a store shipping fee of 600 yen per order within Japan.
Other Online Stores That Sell Otome Games:
- Stellaworth – If you saw my Japan trip post, I had a chance to visit this otome game wonderland! It’s actually quite small, on the 3rd floor of a building but you will only find otome and BL games here! They also sell goodies, and have button machines (surrounded by squealing fangirls) as well as magazines and doujinshi. I can confirm to have successfully ordered 2 Stella Sets from here with a foreign card. If you don’t care about tokutens you will be able to get some games at a fairly good discount. The store has a 500 yen shipping fee within Japan which you may have to pay on top of whatever fees you pay with your fwding/proxy. They often have really great tokutens and their pricy Stellasets will have extra stories/drama CDs/illustrations that no other stores will have.
- Alice-Net – Alice-net sells both stuff for guys & for girls and their prices are quite competitive. I’ve been told recently that they now accept credit cards but I have not verified this myself yet.
- Animate – Animate accepts foreign credit cards and as long as you ship to a Japanese address, you can buy from them using a forwarding service. However Animate probably has the most expensive prices out of all the places I’ve seen. They give NO discounts at all and their online shop tokutens are usually shit like PC wallpaper. Their IN-store tokutens are usually what’s better so it’s best to check what you will get from their “online shop” before buying from them.
Proxies & Forwarding Services:
So now you’ve found your perfect store, you’re ready to buy but you need to jump over the Pacific Ocean to get your hands on it. I’ve done a lot of digging and found what I think are the cheapest proxies & forwarding services. Please note I do not have experience with a lot of them and I’m just basing my findings on their fee tables.
Package Forwarding (aka an address in Japan but you do all the shopping & payment):
- Tenso – Tenso is convenient because it’s in English but it’s not cheap. They charge their fees based on your package weight so if you’re ordering say 3 games from 1 store it may be cheaper to use a proxy which charges a flat fee per store than using Tenso. As far as I know they only ship via EMS.
- Baggage Forward – Has pretty competitive rates and allows SAL and Airmail small packet shipping methods though seems like you need also notify them of anything you plan to fwd using their services. I’ve used Baggage Forward twice and I can only say excellent things about them. They shipped my order within 4 hours of my payment and their repacking is only 300 yen but probably saved me 1000 yen in shipping fees. Additionally they do have the option of COD for shops who do not take credit cards.
All-In-One Proxy Services (They will buy & ship the item to you with additional fees):
White Rabbit Express – They have a proxy and a forwarding service, all in English. They do however charge per item, and per store along with a 12.5% service fee, so if you’re buying a lot of small items the costs will add up fast. Their fees for FWDing are slightly more expensive than Baggage Forward, but if you can’t maneuver BF’s site in Japanese, it’s a decent alternative to Tenso. I was recommended this, but I have not used it.
Zen Market – I only used them 1 time to preorder and buy a pair of headphones. The fees seem pretty decent (300 yen per item and sometimes on sale its only 100 yen) and you have a variety of shipping methods that you can even change once they calculate your total shipping fee. They have a pretty convenient shopping cart method as well. I’m not sure how much the fees would stack up if you buy multiple items from different stores but if you’re just buying 1 thing it might be the place to go, especially if the store doesn’t accept foreign cards.
…and wait as your lovely otome game arrives in the mail with all its pretty tokutens and frisbees
and then continue growing your never ending backlog. (✧≖‿ゝ≖)
For more shots of what kind of stuff you find inside otome game tokutens, please check out my unboxings.