In which a short and pointed trip is taken to otaku Mecca, and loot is had.

I decided on a whim yesterday to venture into Akiba and blow what was left of my monthly salary on some of the stuff I’ve been writing about here for the past couple of months (or not). It was the image of what has become a typical Akihabara Sunday; Chuo Dori closed off to through traffic and opened to pedestrians, the occasional clump of fans and gawkers surrounding the latest up-and-coming wannabe idol performing in the street as countless others (myself included) shuffled by on other business.

The maid cosplayers were out in force, now also a common sight; we’re in the midst of an “Akiba boom” right now in J-pop culture, and the commercialization of cosplay and etc. seem to be an inevitable offshoot of the fandom’s broader exposure brought on by the Densha Otoko TV series, a widely-viewed NHK special last December, and other recent favorable media coverage. I don’t find this blatant commodification of what began as a mode of fan expression to be particularly attractive, and in fact it seems rather crass; motive is everything in these pursuits, after all. When it’s 2D at least you have the level of abstraction brought on by distance from the creator, but in cosplay you see the creator and created as a single item, which prompts snap judgements, especially when they’re selling something.

Ah well. I’ve been told by Japanese acquaintances that it will blow over, as these cultural mood swings always do, but I hope it will hurry. Akiba is getting dangerously “slick”, what with Crossfield, Yodobashi Camera and all of the other high-rise offices / department stores springing up between the Hibiya and JR stations. Otakuism took root there due to the flagging fortunes of the old electronics shops, presumably depressing rent values and allowing Toranoana and others to move in, but who knows which stores will get the axe as Akiba’s image as an entertainment destination – and not purely a shopping district – continues to grow.

Anyway, my mission yesterday was to spend my wallet dry, a mission which was most definitely accomplished. Items which may be displayed in a work-safe manner can be seen below:

stuff

From top-left to bottom: May ’06 Afternoon (with Mushishi DVD), May ’06 Shounen Ace (with Eva manga box designed to contain volumes 1-10, 10 just out), May ’06 Champion Red (with calendar, and hot hot Witchblade chapter 1 inside), volume 1 of Hatsukoi Shimai (pure yuri goodness), Keeper of Metal Key -After-, Yamada Akihiro Fantasy Art Works, Japanese Comickers vol. 2, Dengeki Moeoh Special Issue, and Kamiyadori vol. 5.

Also new from Comickers was a “nurie” (coloring) book featuring the work of Oh! Great and another artist whose name I don’t recall, stocked in K-books next to the recently released Moe Nurie and a couple of others. Seems the “how to draw manga / how to photoshop / how to paint figures and sell them for vastly inflated prices on the internet” family of publications is widening.

In the very-much-not-work-safe category of yesterday’s purchases we have these items, again from upper left to lower right: a new futanari eromanga from RaTe, a rather exotic offering from Type.90, muchi-muchi bisho-bisho goodness from Yoshu Ohepe, a bakunyuu eromanga anthology (only the cover is by Mogudan, alas), a recent doujin game project from circle Amagasa, Stellar’s Honey x Bunny, Soft Circle Courreges latest offering (Wakeari no Koibitotachi, with designs by the redoubtable G kilo-byte), West Vision’s Bakunyuu Kissa (aka the Zergling waitress game), Fulltime’s Eroi (with extras disc below), Doku Pepper‘s new book, Seura Isago‘s C69 book, and a reissue of Giroutei‘s C68 book.

I started playing Eroi this morning, and am thus far favorably impressed. Story-wise it’s nothing to write home about, easily summed up as Nurse Nikutai Kaizou Karte light, or perhaps Chuushaki 2 heavy; enough exotica to stay interesting without the oppressive atmosphere of an Ail (team Loveless) title. The more conservative 3D anime / still AVG format improves over some of the technical flaws of sister brand Illusion‘s offerings (though you’re still going to need a beefy machine to take full advantage of the video here in whatever bizarre format it’s been implemented); this is probably worth a more thorough review once I have my thoughts in order.

Other hard news updates are in progress, but nothing projected for tonight – it’s vacation time here at HD headquarters, and that means Mystery Science Theater 3000, a few cartons of cheap sake, and merriment all around. Oyasumi~