In a weird twist that I
could nowhere see coming, I began to ignore Akihabara.
After years of squatting
on the fringes of electric town, the joke felt spent. The corridors of old junk
parts, increasingly haggard maids, and the usual otaku haunts seemed to have
reached an evolutionary impasse known as “kind of boring”. At least for me, anyways.
As my attention drifted
to Shibuya and Harajuku, I probably hadn’t even really gone to Akihabara much
in the last year except for Mandarake runs and last min gift shopping or BD-R DL grabs at
But last May, the AKB slapped
me upside the head and surprised me all over again. The missing ingredient was largely
this: going at night time.
Prodigious use of LED
lighting is changing the Tokyo landscape from blanket flat fluorescent into
unforgiving localized starbursts. Akihabara seems to be the epicenter of
how far that look can physically go and a walk down Chuo-dori – the main drag –
feels like it could do real damage to the optic nerve.
Also, I was struck by just
how dingy the neighborhood had become, especially in areas that were only
recently built or set to be revitalized. After all, around 2005, Akihabara made a bid to
become Japan’s swinging new tech center and the centers of power began to shift.
The gleaming NTT UDX center was meant to be a springboard for all manner of changes, physical and psychological. But the Japanese IT revolution
didn’t happen as planned and backstreet funk has leaked seemingly
everywhere since, over tourists and locals alike.
In my past writing on
Akihabara, I saw things in terms of a struggle between the weirdoes and the
straights, but I didn’t consider how large a role pure inertia would play in
changing the equation. Now, there’s something like a cross between Las Vegas,
Chinatown, a decaying mall, and a short circuiting Interzone to explore all over again. So here we go boldly in the future -- Phase transition from liquid to solid: Cold Japan.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and her 2011 megahit PONPONPON video sort of raised the bar for models-turned singers in Japan. Nowadays if you want your song to get any attention, you have to make the most visually appealing promotion video you can, one that can target both web addicted otaku and magazine-flipping fashion kids alike or else risk getting lost in the deluge of PVs uploaded daily to YouTube.
Thus, 17 year old Popteen magazine model Shiina Hikari (nickaname: Pikarin) along with record label avex – have really hedged their bets by hitting all the buttons video for her debut single “Shinryaku Pikarin Densetsu☆” . This is less a simple music video and more like a shopping list containing multiple crazy costume changes, kawaii-guro styling (Look! She’s holding a human skull!), frantic visuals and editing, all capped off by a nose-bleed techno song by Vocaloid producer HachioujiP.
The cynic in me finds this all a bit too calculated to exploit the growing links between the fields of kawaii fashion and idol culture. Ditto the press release for the song, which makes a big deal out of how much of an anime fan Pikarin herself supposedly is (cue: fake geek girl debate).
No doubt there is a lot of crossover taking place between the realms of Shibuya, Harajuku, and Akihabara – which used to be totally separated until pretty recently, but my big question is: is this shift in Tokyo youth culture happening organically, or are a collusion of magazine editors, clothing brands, and record label pulling the strings? The correct answer is probably, “a bit of both”, but Pikarin’s clip bears big smudgy fingerprints of the latter camp.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and have come to the conclusion that Julie Watai is the coolest, most well-connected female otaku in all of Japan.
From her Hardware Girls photo sessions, to her stints as a gravure model and her sessions as a club DJ and remix artist, Julie continually and nimbly crosses the lines between super nerdy and somethin' else.
Lately, she’s been busy with mishmash＊Julie Watai, a musical collaboration with T. Mishima, long associate of Japanese indie music tiki head Cornelius.
Oh...one more thing about Julie…SHE ALSO HACKS FURBYS!!
All of which leads us to mishmash＊Julie Watai’s latest song, “Go Furby Go”; an ode to the toy that Julie loves to “circuit bend” when dressed as a maid.
And while Momoiro Clover Z has been assigned the duty of delivering the official Furby 2012 endorsement deal via their new commercials, Julie and co. have a furry saga of their own to unfold before your eyes below...
The full length version of “Go Furby Go” will be available on October 26th from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.
Chatter on the web tapped out in six letters plus
asterisk, a phrase tapped out over social networks like a song hook or
a sequence of Morse code, repeated repeating, the message saying….
In a time of strife when Chinese patrol ships are
entering Japanese waters, and (more importantly) Aya Ueto went and married some
gorilla from EXILE, “Yun*chi” has become a top search on yahoo.jp.
It’s on the radar now, a developing cloud of stardust on the edge of the galaxy
that begs a question here in Earth Defense Headquarters, “Just who or what is Yun*chi?”
The short version: Yun*chi is a model turned
singer, signed to ASOBISYSTEM, the same agency that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu calls
home. Still in her teens, Yun*chi’s first mini-album is due to arrive this November 14th,
and the hype machine is now spinning in earnest well before any of the music itself has seen official release. So file under "almost famous".
In the last few days alone, Yun*chi has been
profiled by numerous outlets in Japan, including the Hochi Shimbun and musicman-net,
the latter piece including a ringing endorsement from agency mate Kyary who
took the time out of her busy schedule furthering the illuminati agenda to say,
“Yun*chi has a wonderfully odd view of the world, and I'm rooting for her with
all my might."
Who else is rooting for Yun*chi? Well, here’s
where it gets interesting… A preliminary analysis of her DNA shows a genealogy
that is all over the place – from otaku cheesecake, to “Shibuhara” club kid, to
potential idol of millions – and the machinations of plans within plans.
I first became aware of Yun*chi about a year ago
when she appeared as a model in a series of photographs by Julie Watai, who
once did time in Akihabara as a gravure
idol named “Amano Ai”. After hanging up her pink bikini top, Julie became
instrumental in helping to forge a new kind of post-Akiba nerd culture based
not only in referencing 8-bit videogames like holy texts, but also
participating in events that played up the “cute + tech” angle (I will
now shamelessly name drop and tell you that I hung out with Julie long enough
to insist that she buy a copy of Gibson’s “Neruomancer” right after lunch).
Posed or not, Julie’s fetishistic vision of female otakudom was an act that could work in both AKB and in
more rarified parts of town and the gang became the Hardware Girls: a loose knit group of artists,
DJs, VJs, and singers – Yun*chi among them – that Julie could brand for “Hardware
Girls Night” at talk shows and club gigs. Yun*chi’s roots in otaku culture are forever preserved in Julie’s pictures, baring skin and steaming up the showcases at Nakano Broadway....
next thing you know, Yun*chi is backed by up-and-coming jimsho ASOBISYSTEM, who
are mostly a model agency with a lot of Zipper and KERA magazine faces on their
roster. They also have increasing pull in the Shibuya club scene for putting on
regular nosebleed electro events like Yasutaka Nakata’s FLASH!!! and
TAKENOKO!!! parties (he of Perfume infamy). ASOBISYSTEM’s collusion of magazine-ready fashion plus club
music reaches its apex when Kyary Pamyu Pamyu strikes global YouTube gold with
PONPONPON and her subsequent Nakata-penned songs and videos. Finally, here was a single act that could put a
human face on the all “TOKYO KAWAII HARAJUKU GIRLS POP” marketing buzzwords
being tossed around. Others had certainly tried before.
Consider how long a heavy hitter like model-turned-singer Tsubasa tried to
make good with her Milky Bunny persona and yet has failed to
get much traction…
More shameless name dropping: I worked with
ASOBISYSTEM briefly in getting Kyary to appear on my Otaku-Verse Zero web show
in that split second just before she went supernova. Whereas most show biz
agencies you’re likely to encounter tend to be old, demanding, and inhibiting,
ASOBISYSTEM came off as young, accommodating, and permissive, although who knows how much
has changed in the wake of Kyary’s subsequent ubiquity…It should now be noted
that Yun*chi is only the second female act on the ASOBISYSTEM roster of musical
acts, so there’s got to be some kind of play book now. And even though I don’t
really want to see Yun*chi holding a giant KFC cup anytime soon, the joy of tie-up has already begun…
Whereas Kyary’s initial style and image came
from colorful, eyepopping Harajuku shops like 6%DOKIDOKI and SPINNS, Yun*chi’s
first fashion collaboration is with the monochromatic bad boys of VANQUISH: a brand that
started off as a hilariously oversexed oniikei and host clothier from the MEN’S
EGG school before settling down in recent years into something far more ordinary and kinda yankii. While Kyary music now functions as jingles for g.u. TV commercials
(which is where people shop when UNIQLO is too expensive)
Yun*chi’s mini-lp debut will be rolled out in tandem with a new line of VANQUISH VENUS
items for the ladies and, lookie, there’s already a promo video for the line starring the new IT girl herself...
While it would be too early to say that Yun*chi will be angled like a sword point at Shibuya the same way that Kyary was to Harajuku, I’m willing to bet that she’s is likely to be plastered all over the 109-2 building as soon as her mini-lp drops. There's something about the amount of skin Yun*chi tends to show that fits the profile.
But oh yeah, music…I almost forgot about that. Up until about
a week ago, Yun*chi was hosting what sounded like demos on her blog, which were
taken down as the PR storm broke. It sounded like serviceable J-pop, and she
has a nice voice for this sort of thing (she picked up singing from her mom), but yeah… I hope her upcoming disc remembers to contain some of the electro madness as found here in Yun*chi's old 2011 cover of a song from the Kare Kano anime...
Oh, and a great music video -- you know, something more than just a cover photo of Hardware Girl Ushijima Iiniku rotating in the background -- would be essential too to make this thing click with a few people beyond those prone to loitering around on Basketball Street. Or maybe, that's not even the point anymore.
In tossing around notes for this piece with W.
David Marx, he said of spokesmodels and singers in a tone I would associate
with the architect of the Matrix, “The way I see it, there is no actual
audience for it, but there are advertisers/brands (that) need it.” Indeed,
it’s practically a matter of principal and honor that any jimsho will pursue
business opportunities over furthering a musical phenomenon, but so far
practically everything ASOBISYSTEM has carried (Kyary'd?) a strong dose of the authentic about it.
At the edge of the center now stands
Yun*chi herself, a cool beauty, unsmiling and still something of a cipher. It's
like she's keeping a secret; about how her her bid for stardom is now a map of a fragmented, yet connected, youth culture in Japan…and also
how easy it is for partners to make alliances now in points along the
Yun*chi wound up taking over the VANQUISH store at the Ikebukuro PARCO, a bit further up the Yamanote line than I initially predicted...
Also, I did not / do not want people to compare Yun*chi to Kyary. It's more like a new superhero has arrived in town from the pages of the same comics company. So if Kyary is a bright red and blue Superman, then Yun*chi can be...Batman?
Also, the promo video for "Reverb", the first of the new mini-lp songs, was released last week. You can read my impressions on it here and watch it below...
I'll be writing a full report on today's Bandai's Tamashii Nations 2010 event proper for the Otaku USA website shortly, but I wanted to get a few pics up before I passed out...
Out of the hundreds of new items that Bandai had on display. I'd have to say that the one that attracted the most press attention was the Gunship from Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä.
Although my general disinterest in all things Ghibli is well-documented, I have to say this piece -- part of Bandai's new Formania line of super detailed anime mecha -- is really (as Kevn Costner would say) neat.
There were also some smashing displays to celebrate the VF Hi-metal series of 1/100 scale transforming Macross Valkyries which weigh in around 5775 yen each.
Call me old-fashioned IF YOU WILL, but I normally associate the Chogokin brand with, you know, giant robots and spaceships. Nevertheless, the B-Club has expanded the line to include new Vocaloid Hatsune Miku (above) and *ugh* Buzz Lightyear figures. Look for a larger Hatsune Miku themed post at OUSA shortly...
The monster kid in me was practically moved to tears by an immense, nearly five foot long diorama featuring super articulated figures from the new Ultra-Act series (act for "Actor" and "Action"). The fun unfolded in a vaguely geographically correct miniature of the Asakusa ward, complete with Sensoji temple and the infamous Asahi beer building.
The big mass-media baiting whammy of the show was the ever-popular Rocket Punch ala Mazinger Z. Much of this madness was filmed for my upcoming web show that I'm hosting set to debut on-line later this year. And yes, I give it my very best Kabuto Koji wall-shaking scream...
The time has come to talk about the three-part English subtitled “Perfume – The Introduction” video recently upped to YouTube. While this 30-min “Behind the Music” styled piece, apparently adapted from a 2008 TV special on the rise of Japan’s reigning idol unit may not be essential viewing for those who don’t care for robotic Auto-Tune pop, or seem remedial for those who were introduced to Perfume a long time ago, advanced foot soldiers in the “Cool Japan Wars” may still find some genuine diamonds and pearls contained within. That’s mainly because “The Introduction” offers a glimpse inside an industry that few foreigners have been privy to before: the sort that sees three middle schoolers leaving the hinterlands of Hiroshima to fend for themselves in the harsh and uncaring show-biz climate of Tokyo where they are re-groomed by techno impresario Yasutaka Nakata as the perfect vehicle for his Daft Punk and Kraftwerk fantasies before finally hitting the jackpot via sold-out concerts, big sales, and (that ultimate barometer of success) Pepsi Commercials.
Also, this is the only place you’ll find translated quotes from subcultural superheroes like Rhymester Utamaru and Roman Porsche articulating the importance of Perfume to the Japanese music scene. Back before Perfume’s fame went supernova, these two influential j-pop pundits rightfully positioned the group’s Nakata-created sound and performance style as “the last real hope for idol music” at a time when a once mainstream genre was content to either target children or creepy post-adolescent males (and often disconcertingly, both markets at once).
What I find interesting about “Perfume – The Introduction” is that it also chronicles Perfume’s failed attempts to win over those audiences as well. Much of the running time is devoted to the girl’s Early Years of Bitter Struggle as they give thankless concerts on tiny local stages or are literally shoved in the corners of CD shops to be ignored by passing shoppers. “The Introduction” also reveals Perfume’s 2006 bid to become “Akihabara idols” complete with standing on Chuo street handing out concert fliers to disinterested gaijin tourists...
With trendy drama-ready levels of adversity and hopelessness on the table, one has to wonder what finally tipped Perfume to the top of the heap? Was it a ‘70s shojo manga maelstrom of “tears and hard work”? Was it the "borrowed" pop hooks embedded in Nakata electro-Svengali’s knob twirling? The missionary fervor of early adopters like Rhymester and Roman Porsche? Or was it merely that the group finally signed to a major label that had the resources to plug them into the all-powerful, all-controlling relentless media promotion machine?
Actually, the biggest questions I have now are with regards to the origins of this video itself. Who made it? Where did it come from? Who am I and what is the meaning of life? Well, Jay thinks the “The Introduction” is a fan-made production of some sort. But I’m willing to wager that this is a record company / agency inside job through and through. The text overlays are too well integrated for a fansub, and the rumpy English smacks of the sort of hasty corporate translation that I now spend most of my days trying to decode for a living. The stated goal is merely to introduce...
But whatever the case, let’s hope that it continues to spread the gospel of idol culture around before one of the Perfume girls becomes pregnant, gets caught smoking, or they are summoned to a US anime convention to start from zero all over again.
Akihabara was kind of looking like a let down last week. Aside from a new cosplay nikuman place down on Chuo-dori, there wasn’t much of anything new and exciting going on. And believe me, we looked.
Akihabara beer. Pour some on the curb in memory of the Otaku Boom?
Darth Samurai inside a weapons shop. Welcome to the 21st century.
But while “new and exciting” struck out, big well-lit Asobit City turned up the buried treasure. For no reason in particular, they had cardboard boxes full of old anime and toku LPs, LDs, and cassettes for dirt-cheap. We’re talking Yamato dramas, the Votoms “Synthesizer Fantasy”, and a lot of superheroes and ultramen. I walked away with only two items from the fire sale…
ISAO SASAKI SINGING HIS BELOVED ANIMATION HITS…all in mangled ill-fated English and with a cover that would do Jim Nabors proud. Includes sheet music and a complete set of crazy lyrics. Virgin vinyl and definitely never before played! Will convert to MP3 and upload here as soon as I can.
I'll leave it you you real nerds to figure out the track list. Some real gems in there, though.
GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER book and record set. From the Asahi Sonorama series, beautifully illustrated and containing a child-size version of the film on flexi-disc, these tend to go for hundreds of dollars at Mandarake and I never thought I’d own one. But there it was for 20 bucks. In Akihabara. So I take back everything I said.
A non-event perhaps for some “heavy-users” but here is 30 seconds of video shoplifted inside the cosplay floor of the Don Quixote superstore in Akihabara. This where about 90% of the local maids buy their bonnets and aprons. Sorry if things whiz by real fast (best to keep on the move to avoid the sentry-bots) but watch it over and over again to suck up the details. Special Guest Star YUKORIN!
As real-estate developers size up new digs and construction reaches an all-time peak in Akihabara, some real gems have gone the way of the dodo. Here’s a list of some now-absent friends.
Akihabara Department Store
Ok. So one had ever done any shopping in this large-sized department store connected to the JR station for decades, which couldn’t have helped the bottom line much. But the food court on the first floor long served an invaluable purpose as Akihabara’s very own cafeteria. There, a hungry public could dine on donburi, okonomikyaki, sushi, and steak from one of the many mini-restaurants inside. The grub wasn’t gourmet, but neither are most otaku. It was always fast and (most importantly) dirt cheap, so the place was beloved until the doors slammed shut in late 2006.
LAOX The Computer
A symbol of Akihabara’s do-it-yourself computer know-how, and centrally located in the middle of town, this six-story emporium stocked everything you could possibly need to maintain an all-digital lifestyle. Back in the ‘90s salad days, otaku would line up around the block to snap up new operating systems the second they went on sale, but business was sucked away by the bright and shiny Yodobashi Akiba superstore that opened recently nearby. Now, even the maids who ran a cafe on the basement floor are out of work. Tragic really.
Sofmap Store #13
The Yamagiwa chain, which sold DVDs, CDs, PC software and stuff like that, is merging with the Sofmap chain that also sells DVDs, CDs, PC software and stuff like that. Stores on both sides of the fence are closing down, and reopening under new names. One store that isn’t resurfacing is Sofmap Store #13 (an unlucky number?), which was a haven of new and used video games. So it goes…
The cast of zany characters surrounding the Akihabara JR station increases with the addition of this rappin’ store clerk at the Megane (“glasses”) Super who, via the miracle of “hip-hop,” describes the virtues of his establishment and the various wares inside, including hearing aids.
I'm not sure how successful the sales pitch actually is, but I do know one thing. When he was in full "flow" no one was paying any attention to the maids nearby.
I’m all interviewed and profiled in the new issue of HANAKO magazine as part of their massive “Let’s go Akiba!!” feature. Basically, more of me yammering on about Akihabara, otaku, and why there are increasing numbers of gaijin in Nightmare Before Christmas gear suddenly strutting down Chuo-dori.
This issue has to be some kind of turning point for the whole mainstreaming of the otaku thing as HANAKO is mainly read by perfectly normal office ladies that crave sweets and skin care treatments and who would probably flee in terror if ever approached by the average cave troll or warlock commonly found in the Akiba area (i.e. me).
The feature includes a list of "Onna no Akiba BEST SPOT 10” - mostly restaurants and confectionaries - which, sadly fails to mention all the really good places (for example, the “adult” section of Yodobashi Akiba). There’s also a rouge's gallery of “Digital Handsome” rich bachelor IT guys, one of them shown riding a totally awesome Segway.
So much for Densha Otoko. Here comes the Hanako-zoku.
The New Way is set to begin on April 1st, suspiciously around the same time as NTT’s UDX building is due to open. So far, so surgical. But all of this suggests a bid on the part of the Government of Darkness’ Business and Death division to monopolize the spectrum.
As anyone who’s been there knows, the overwhelming amounts of energy generated by electronics found in Akiba is causing time to vibrate faster than normal. By prohibiting the sale of certain consumer goods prior to 2001, and in turn offering the latest models at discount prices over at the Yodobashi Akiba super-store, G.O.D. is hoping to literally tilt the future in their favor.
Counter-ESPY is said to be holding high-level talks in ESPACE regarding these recent developments. Until they come up with a plan, the divisions already present down Chuo-dori (Akiba’s answer to the Yellow Brick Road) stand to get a whole lot deeper.
Her nametag reads Koma. Sleepy eyes in the Volks doll head. Low bangs hang just above them. 5 yen sized spots of talcum powder resting in a bunch all down the front of her black apron. Says she loves Zeta Gundam, Rose Maiden and that well-known children’s entertainer, Marilyn Manson. As if to prove it on the spot, planted in her bottom lower lip is a piercing, a silver ring erupting out of her lower jawline.
She says she’s…young. She looks the part, but has to be lying. Hasta be. Either way, Watanabe Denki is taken aback. “When I was growing up, none of the girls had piercing, or even tattoos. Now, it’s like they all do.”
Koma massages your feet and hands but it’s mostly your brain she works. Making you talk so much that you never realize how insane the situation really is until you stumble out on the Akihabara street below.
She throws tea and water at us before we pay. The name of the game now is Avoid Looking at the Next Customer Sitting Next to You, but we can’t help it. Koma’s next must weigh at least 350 lbs, stuffed into pleated navy-blue Super Men’s pants. “Jappa the Hutt.”
“I want to rescue her!” I tell Watanabe.
“You are MOE!”
Earlier, in the basement at Yamigawa-soft looking for the bathrooms. The trip takes us past the front of yet another newly opened maid cafe. A waiting line of sophistos stands in front, caught in various annoyed and impatient poses. The thousand cell phone stare. Second glance: all the customers are woman. Are the men all getting massages?
“They are probably media people,” speculates the visibly annoyed Watanabe, like a landlord who doesn’t like the color of the children being bussed in. “Reporters, TV people…”
In a shop, stone’s throw away from Akihabara station, there’s a wall of one-use-only sex toys. Thousands of foam vaginas packaged like beer cans. They go from 500 to 1100 yen a pop. Cheap. The cans are made out of all-plastic products. Recycle them on a Tuesday. On the front are lolicon anime and manga illustrations. Pastel colors. Stuffed animal nearby and tears everywhere. If that’s not your demographic, there are CGI beach bunnies, inspired by the Dead or Alive video game. A can of Kunoichi seems like the only concession to what we think of as anime. Looks like rejected character designs for Ninja Scroll on the wrapper. There’s the occasional porn star brand to be found, but for the most part, real women don’t figure into the product line.
Date Rape says, “that’s because Japanese men are afraid of real women. I want to kill them all.” Jay’s theory is that this is all a meme somehow. The world has decided that there is no more use for Japanese men. Thus, fragmented fantasy sex and declining birth rates.
On the way back to Draft One, up comes an Mp3 of an old Joseph Campbell lecture. He’s talking about “why it’s such a pleasure to be in Japan.” Apparently, this is where “the radiance trapped in the forms” comes through on a regular basis. He says it just as I walk by a smoky yakitori stand, one that’s been planted next to the shoe store. Stacks of limited edition Converse hi-tops cast sidewalk-shadows on November day.
Radiance means something different to all of us, I figure.
I wonder what Campbell would have made of Akihabara…and what the mythical interpretation of a maid massage parlor would be.
When I tell Honda-san what where I'd been and what I'd done that day, he came up with one on the fly for me.
The Honorable Matt Alt, over at Alt.Japan, with his own spin on what dem Yumiko Shaku be sayin down dere:
She's commenting how much more knowledgeable about Akihabara you are than her, and that seeing the "scene" there was a really eye-opening experience: the "conventional wisdom" is that Tokyo is Japan's attempt to ape the West, but when you see the confluence of technology and imagination in places like Akihabara you realize that Tokyo actually represents the "singularity" where creative Japanese come together to build a new and more interesting life for themselves. And she wants to promote that image and idea of Tokyo to tourists and such.
Like, deep, man!
In an unrelated segment, jet lag found me watching Serpico at around 6am for no particular reason. There's a nice exchange between Pachino (in his 'Paco' persona) and some drunk girl at a party. On the DVD, it's during Chapter 4: "Everybody Loves You."
Girl: You know, Japanese culture, theater and painting…it’s too rigidly stylized.
Serpico: Well, you know…yeah…but…I think after a while, you get through that. You start to…appreciate the clarity…the authority.
I was the special guest and I will teach you English.
That’s me with co-host Yumiko Shaku (Princess Blade, Godzilla Vs. Mecha Godzilla,
Sky High). She totally got into a maid outfit and everything. Rad.
Looks like it’s
going to air on NHK in Japan on January 2nd.
It was a beautiful day, so after the taping; I went to Asakusa to
pay homage to the Sumida River, Kafu Nagai-style. Here is the view from the Azuma bashi.
Then, I took a very romantic boat ride by myself up the river. I
sat in the front and ate a bag of popcorn. The Himiko boat designed by Leiji Matsumoto
passed us by and briefly made the waters all choppy.
(Man, if only it had some cannons or gun turrets on it, it would
be the shit.)
Then, I ate a big tempura dinner near the Kaminari-mon. Afterwards,
I did my usual Shinto prayers at the Kannon Temple and walked around Roku-za listening to Momoe Yamaguchi MP3s.
I took the Ginza line to Ueno, and then walked back
through Akihabara to the Sobu-sen. Along the way, I stopped at an arcade to play the new Cobra game.
Meanwhile, I'm old (my birthday was on the 4th) and I am going to die someday, probably horribly, but for right now, I have zero in the way of complaints.
Stylish Avenue Koenji. “Since 2003,” the signs say. 1943
from the look of it. Every time someone grabs ass on the train or throws
another yakitori on the grill, the wireless signal gets the blame. Murph saying
something about a black woman with a labyrinth on her face trying to return
something at a store she didn’t buy it from. America there. Spam and jalapeno
pizza for banned gohan here. So weird it might be good. Fortifying myself
before a wild weekend. Nostradamus no dai yogen: I will spend Sunday on sports
drinks and vitans feeling like a battered child.
Yesterday. Akihabara. Escorting around NHK producer who
promises me English lessons from Yumiko "Princess Blade" Shaku. And together,
we will assault the Radio Kaikan and some junk shops, in early December. Good
TV for you and your momma-san. To get permission to shoot, we have to go to the
8th floor. Downstairs is the otaku inferno: trolls stocking up on
Moe figures, air-soft armories, ero-dojin that could get you jail time in
Canada, your next-door neighbor buying miniature cameras for the bathroom.
But the office on top is like heaven, or at least that Muji
show house they have in Yurakucho: wood floors sending back your reflection,
massive windows looking out over diamond day on Showa-dori. Not a touch of
otaki anywhere. Not even a Future Boy Conan bottle-cap laying claim to a
Efficient and pretty OL run the place, a mad nerds dream.
One of them brings on the green tea. Our motives and intents are carefully
judged through eye contact. Permission granted. Just don’t shoot the outside of
the building: which just so happens to be the most photogenic part. Such a big
sexy yellow and red neon sign showing. But the old timers selling GPS devices
and palm-sized TV sets might get pissy. So I guess we know where the real power
We’ll take what we can get, we tell them, and the angels of
Akihabara show us the door.