Seconds after the smoke cleared on Maid War: Two, in the form of puffs of post-massage baby power, the staff of NHK’s TokyoEye stumbles back into the Akihabara mean streets.
While the director, soundman, and cameraman shuttle back and forth throwing equipment back in the van, the fixer and I stand around trading notes, sharing the first few pangs of combat fatigue.
Akihabara sure ‘aint like it used to be. Center Guy types stroll around with their dolled up girlfriends. Entire families prowl the streets in search of thrills. Everyone, it seems, is a tourist now, no matter where they come from. And the classic plaid shirt and beat up sneaker otaku is regulated to the margins of their former clubhouse-writ-large. The other day, we got news of “Otaku Gari” or “Otaku Hunting” where packs of bad boys were cornering and mugging otaku in Akiba for as little as US$30 (The quote of the year from one of the perpetrators, “Otaku are weak and they’ve got money, so we went after them.” Matt Alt asked, “Did Bandai say that?” I thought it could have just as easily been a maid).
Two rough looking Japanese youth are squatting next to us, having a smoke. They are pouring over a travel guide to Tokyo published by Pia magazine. Both are wearing urban surfer clothes and look like they got lost on the way to Shibuya. One of them is too cool to talk to us. The other sheepishly approaches.
“Excuse me, but do you guys know where all the maid cafes are?”
I almost want to send them to Mai:lish where the otaku at the counter with the horrible skin disease would scare them straight. I tell them to check out the one in the basement of LAOX, simply because it’s the closest. But how hard is it to simply ask a maid, especially since you can find at least one per block on the main street, handing out tissue?
Only several hours into the shoot, maybe I already look like a seasoned veteran of a million maid wars. Possibility two: maybe I am becoming something of a maid myself and will be judged harshly by a jury of my peers for exposing safehouses and secrets.
Then the director gives the signal and we are off to another cafe…