Otaku-Planet brings the world of Anime to Troy

Published 12:33 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

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Recently, a new anime themed shop arrived in Troy in the form of Otaku-Planet, owned and operated by a pair of military veterans.

Manuela and Robert Hatler are the owners of Otaku-Planet. The couple moved to Troy in 2015 after retiring from military service.

“A friend of mine had a house in Phenix City and I fell in love with Alabama when I came down here to help him do some work on it,” Robert Hatler said. “We came down here and started looking around and found Troy and a really nice piece of land and decided we wanted it and have been here ever since.”

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Hatler’s passion for anime is quickly apparent and it was the passion that helped lead to the decision to open the first anime shop in Troy.

“I’m a big anime nerd and both of my boys were really into it – my oldest son in still super into it – and they play (Dungeons and Dragons) and Magic the Gathering and things like that,” he said. “When Fanatix closed down they were having to drive to Enterprise or Ozark or Dothan just to have a place to hang out and play, so I figured I might as well do something about it.

“I love anime and to open an actual anime shop where they can also game and do everything else was perfect.”

Otaku-Planet offers anime themed merchandise, card games and spaces for players to play both card games and video games.

The Hatlers found a location – a former suntan location – near Village Coffee in Troy.

“We can have a storefront up front and then have all these rooms in the back that were used for suntan beds, which gives the kids a space to have their area to play,” he said. “I can have multiple groups of people in here playing Pokemon, Magic, Dungeons and Dragons or whatever they want to play.”

Otaku-Planet also wants to help out the Troy University student body with their gaming needs.

“Now that we have pretty decent internet, I’m trying to get the college kids that maybe can’t get on and play online at the dorms to bring their system over and play,” he said. “You can play your games, $3 an hour to use our internet, and we also have snacks and sodas. It gives them a place to be where they aren’t struggling to play their games.”

In the shop, Otaku-Planet offers everything a anime fan can think of from anime-themed plush dolls, figures, statues, mangas, clothing, cups, Pop figures, posters, canvas art, wall scrolls, comic books, used Magic and Pokemon cards and much more. Manuela Hatler also sells makeup at the location, as well.

“It’s just an eclectic mix of all kinds of stuff,” Hatler said.

The Hatlers have plenty of goals for the future, including hosting big tournaments and offering custom costumes and 3D printing.

“The shop will expand to some of the rooms in the back, too and we’re going to do custom Comic-Con costumes,” Hatler said. “Eventually, we will be doing custom 3D printing in here and custom painting and we’ll also sell models. We’re working on getting stuff done with Wizard, so we can host Magic stuff here and that’s still in the process.

“Selling the Magic cards, more Dungeons and Dragons stuff and whatever tabletop RPGs and card games people want is our short-term goal. Our long-term goal is being able to host video game tournaments and larger scale Magic the Gathering tournaments. We’re really trying to expand out.”

Otaku-Planet is located at the Southland Village shopping center in Troy, around the corner from Village Coffee. The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m.