I’m in that “I’m packed up and don’t want to try to squeeze anything more in” state of things, so I really didn’t need to go back to Akihabara. In truth, I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had a directive to go there, but it was also nice to take a last look at it for the trip.
When you leave Akihabara Station, you have to pass through the Maid Gauntlet. This is where girls in maid outfits try to hand you fliers and pretend they’re not thoroughly creeped out by their prospective customers. I guess the girls on flier duty have it easier, really, they’re not the ones who are giving out the massages and reflexology “treatments” and eye exams and guide services and so on. I turned around after I passed the last one and took this shot, facing back down the gauntlet. Unfortunately, apart from the one in foreground, you really don’t get the effect – maybe you can see a frilly headband here and there, but the mass of people kind of obscures the whole thing.
Those guide services I mentioned, that’s taken directly from a flier that got handed me. For Y2000 every 30 minutes, you can have your own personal maid to go on a “date” with you – she’ll go shopping with you, do karaoke, have dinner with you “and so forth”.
I’m guessing that the “and so forth” stops well within the realm of the tame, at least, for those prices. I saw a couple of guys who obviously considered it a reasonable fee to have a girl in a maid outfit hanging off their arm, and they looked happy enough; who am I to criticize?
I wound up in an arcade because I wanted to find an Otomedius machine. This is a shooter that’s gotten plenty of coverage on western game sites, because it combines Gradius gameplay with Yoshizaki Mine character designs.
Two minute’s googling would turn you up plenty of examples, but I went to the trouble of ignoring a clearly posted – in clear, correct English, even – NO PHOTOGRAPHS sign to give you this picture of an advertising standee:
I played through the first three stages before getting a game over sort of screen – I suspect it’s because I had to use a continue to get through the third stage and that if I’d managed it without continues I would have gotten more stages, or something.
Ignoring the cute girl factor for the moment, it’s a lot of fun, a 2.5D sort of horizontal shooter affair with lots of 3D characters that move between the backgrounds and the foreground play. The enemies trend towards the weird – lots of penguins, for some reason – and the bosses are appropriately massive screen-filling affairs with glowing weak points that shout “shoot here!”
It’s coming out for the Xbox 360, at least in Japan. It had better see a US release, damnit.
I had a guy hanging over my shoulder waiting for a go at the machine, so i bid it a sad farewell and went off in search of small things that I could stuff into niches in my suitcase and use up my small change on.
I happened across a bank of capsule toy vending machines; these are evil soul-sucking devices that take your yen and give you pretty much exactly every possible toy except the one you want. The first time I was in Japan, I sunk probably twenty bucks into one that had Gainax characters in it, trying for a Noriko from Gunbuster with no luck. After I gave up, my wife – who had no vested interest in ANY of the characters, an important point – put money into the same machine and a Noriko popped out, first try.
I digress. The particular capsule toy vending machine that caught my eye was a Haruhi-characters-in-nekomimi capsule toy vending machine.
I have some simple rules about nekomimi: They’re a simple way to add moe factor to an anime or game character, and it’s generally successful. When a real, live human tries to pull off the look, though, it has something of the effect that a bright red patch has on a frog: It says, “Poison here. Avoid.”
This doesn’t apply to the hard-working staff at Cafe With Cat, however.
But there I go digressing again. Anyway, I saw this machine, and it offered up the option of Haruhi, Nagato, Mikuru, or Tsuraya-san figures in nekomimi.
Assuming I’d get a Tsuruya-san, I put in my Y300.
Out popped a Haruhi. Not bad, I thought to myself, and here I have Y900 left in Y100 coins, let’s see what else comes out.
The second and third were also Haruhis.
While I guess that’s better than three Tsuruya-sans, a man only needs one of these. Arguably he does not even need one, but that goes down that whole road that leads to admitting that I don’t NEED ninety percent of the stuff I own:
Anyway, I had Y300 left and was thinking very unkind thoughts towards the evil machine by this point. Fortunately the fourth round popped out a different character; a Nagato this time, and I beat a hasty retreat.
On the way back to the hotel, there was a nice fog effect around Tokyo Tower, so here’s a shot of that. They’ll be turning off the lights on Tokyo Tower and several other big tourist attractions from tomorrow through the 7th of July, so tonight was the last night that it’ll be lit up for a while.
Thus endeth my final night in Tokyo.