We’ve known it’s been brewing in the wings for a few weeks now thanks to a link on the Japanese Akiba Blog site, but as of today it’s finally live – English Akiba Blog. Little is known about the spinoff beyond what can be immediately seen: it’s a direct English translation of the content of the Japanese side, with advertisements tailored to an international audience from Hobby Search (figures) and Himeya (eroge); who is doing the translations is unknown, but their tone is decidedly Engrishy. It’s hard to say what impact this will have on the English language otaku news establishment in the long run, but from the perspective of one Japan-resident blogger it’s clear there’s a major new player on the scene, and we’ll be watching this one closely. Update: I just received an email press release from the organization behind the new English Akiba Blog that sheds a bit of light on who’s working on it and to what end. Text of the PR follows:

Email Subject: The English Version of AkibaBlog Started

To whom it may concern:

NEWS RELEASE
February 14,2008

The English Version of AkibaBlog Started

Introducing Otaku culture in Akihabara to the world

HimeyaSoft USA has started the English version of AkibaBlog, which introduces “Otaku” culture in Akihabara, since February 14, 2008.

Site URL: http://en.akibablog.net/
Press Release: http://en.akibablog.net/ad/AkibaBlog.pdf

This is a translated version of AkibaBlog, originally written in Japanese by Mr. Geek.. He talks about “hot” news in Akihabara, one of the most popular subculture cities in Japan. The Japanese version of AkibaBlog, which has 20 million page views a month, is one of the most famous blogs in Japan that talk about Otaku information. AkibaBlog and HimeyaSoft USA get together this time and try to become world’s leading information source of Otaku culture.

About AkibaBlog (Original Japanese site)

AkibaBlog introduces all kinds of “Otaku” news- about manga, anime, cosplayers, figures, doujinshi, games, and so on. Mr. Geek goes around Akihabara 360days/year including New Year’s Day, Christmas, and the Bon festival (Japanese summer vacation). From March 2004 to the end of January 2008, AkibaBlog got a total of more than 510 million page views. In March 2007, among blogs that talk about Akihabara, AkibaBlog ranks one of the top, getting over 20 million page views per month. If you google “Akiba” in Japanese, this blog comes #1, and if you enter “Akihabara” in Japanese, it comes #4 of the list. Also, if you google “Akiba” in English, the blog comes to #3.

about Himeya Soft USA

Core Business:
Marketing Japanese Games and Animation.
Development, Import, and Sales of PC and Video Games.
Import and Sales of Animation Products.

Contact Information
Himeya Soft USA, Inc.
akibablog@himeya.com

Sincerely,

The message is reproduced in its entirety – there was no name following “Sincerely”. However we now know that export shop Himeya (corporate site | online shop) is responsible for the translations appearing at English Akiba Blog, and they seem like a natural fit – the Google pagerank will allow them to tap into a potentially very significant customer base. This begs the question, though: if “AkibaBlog and HimeyaSoft USA get together this time and try to become world’s leading information source of Otaku culture,” what will they try next time? Put another way – if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one around to spell it, can that tree ever hit the top of Google Trends? Only time will tell… Personally I wish them well in their experiment, and hope they can learn the territory well enough to succeed where others have fallen by the wayside.