Akihabara Thoughts


The fact that places like Akihabara exist, but are over 6000 miles away is both and exciting and painful one. Existing and constantly evolving through the years Akiba’s place as the worlds greatest anime mecca is certainly well known, but I feel it’s vastly underappreciated by tourists and even those who are on a pilgrimage of sorts to the Otaku Holy Land.


Countless shops, eateries and other mostly otaku culture themed places sprawled throughout its blocks, yet for most the effort is just not made to discover what it really has in store. From the oblivious tourist who wander the floors of a club sega looking lost and only giving a random game a literal poke. To those whose giant backpacks who block the paths through a store. Their presence is only becoming more pronounced as Japan continues its major up-climb in tourism.


There’s a massive amount of oddities and charming shops to be found with a little exploration, I discovered down a street I have not really traveled much in this most recent trip, what I could only presume to be the worlds first maid optometrist shop. I would have never guessed that such a thing would exist but there it was. It’s really easy to get lost down the main strip of Akiba, and while there is definite excitement in wandering up the floors of a Sofmap or trying to find something in Yodobashi Camera, coming across a mostly empty retro game store manned by a 90 year old lady is what makes exploring the Akiba area fun.


And to those who look through the arcades and stop and play a House of the Dead 2 game from the 90’s, give one of the modern titles a try. The rhythm section pretty much requires no Japanese knowledge and any of the modern games will have such a long and complex tutorial when you play for the first time, you will have no problem figuring out out to play after a short while. It sure beats looking rather gloomy and lost when its blazing hot and humid outside.


To bring this all to a wrap, Akihabara still has all the charm and wonder than it did when I first visited a mere 5 years ago. There are parts that are different, and you can still get flooded by tourist traps and busloads of people at the wrong times. But there’s still so much to be had. As I was wandering about killing time before my flight back home, I came to the realization that there was a small section that I never even though about existing near Suehirocho station and gave it a look and found a few fairly neat stores that I may have bought from had I not been already packed.


tldr: Akiba is still awesome.



The latest in rhythm game crazes to take over the arcades recently is Ongeki from Sega. For those who have been there, the rhythm game culture can be a bit intense as they often fade from existence as soon as they hit their time in the sun. Games like Love Live which used to have lines that extended for day, are now barely noticeable.


Control wise, the game features 6 face buttons as well as two larger buttons on the side a few inches off the ground, as well as a joystick to control your character movement. The game is ambidextrous and will have at times swapping between left and right handed play and things can get really crazy on later difficulty levels.


The general gist of the game is that you control your party on screen to dodge enemy attacks as well as navigate a course that you travel down as the song progresses. The notes that you hit on screen are you “attacks” so to speak that take down the enemies health gage. The character movement being controlled directly by the player is a nice touch and adds a level not often seen inside a rhythm game.


Completing the various levels rewards you with cards! The game features cards you directly unlock in-game via spending currency that you earn though playing. It also has a gacha system at the card printing machine where you can spend credits to roll for super rare cards the easy way. One thing to note, the game is actually a pretty good value on Yen to play time if you avoid spending extra on booster items. Ongeki uses the new style GP system seen in most major titles these days. With a 300yen purchase (if the arcade allows it) easily being enough to cover 30-45 minutes of playtime depending on the song. The downside to this however is that the machines are often crowded with a line forming at every hour but the very early ones.


Upon finishing a a song, your characters gain exp and relationship points which enhance their stats to various degrees, although only the story characters have the Relationship points. The various collaboration characters only had the standard levels.

All in all I had a blast playing this game, the side buttons do start to hurt your hand after a while and the game does recommend these rather hilarious fingerless gloves that can be found in many stores for a few hundred yen. All of the hardcore players seemed to use them as I found my hands hurting after about 30 minutes of play. Mostly due to the side button use. While I highly doubt we will ever see this game come to the US since it is a Sega developed one, I look forward to playing it again.


Odaiba Report


Heading out to Odaiba to see the new Unicorn Gundam and check out the Gundam Base as well, the weather was kind of gloomy and raining but that wouldn’t be enough to stop a Gundam. Sadly though the ever faithful leisureland in Odaiba closed down with its wacky assortment of attractions and gimmicky games. So It’s hard to justify many trips out here unless you are into shopping malls and shopping malls.

Even so though every fan of Gundam owes it to themselves to make the pilgrimage at least once. While definitely not as iconic as the old RX-78 Gundam that was standing here till last year. They really upped their game with the work involved as the Unicorn Gundam is really rather stunning.


It features the gimmick of being able to transform into its NT-D mode that is often featured during the Anime, as well as several video synced performances, one of which is pretty much a 5 minute summary of the Unicorn series that could very well serve as a place holder for watching the actual series.

But that is not all that is featured out here in Odaiba for Gundam fans. The Gundam Base has since replaced the Gundam Front, though it is quite a bit different in scope and scale.


The Gundam Base serves primarily as a museum to all things Gunpla as well as what I would have to think is easily the worlds largest Gunpla store, as well as several other types of merchandise such as clothing and some trinkets. The size of the place is truly impressive, even though it takes up roughly the same space that the old Gundam Front did, the open atmosphere makes it feel gigantic.


The store features essentially every single Gunpla in existence for sale, and carries on for as far as the eye can see. Many of the model kits are also featured on display so you know what you may be buying if you are unsure.


Many limited edition exclusive gunpla are here as well such as the RX-0 Diver City version which is a real grade style kit… with two types of internal lighting for both versions of the NT-D that are featured. I can only imagine the difficulty of piecing this kit together matching the hefty price tag of 10,800 JPY. A note to buyers though, aside from the various limited editions that are only sold here, many of the kits can be had in places such as Akihabara for much cheaper.


While the Gundam Base is neat, I do miss the old attractions that the Gundam Front had, such as the entry video or the Photography section. It does look like the Base has various time limited tie in events. The current one being a Gundam Build Divers event which I have not personally seen, though it looks kind of strange. I could see a main stream event with a UC series being worth seeing.