Yeah, yeah. I know I said before I left for Japan that I wasn’t real keen on doing yet another game-journalist-goes-to-Akihabara article. And I will say that if you wanna find out all about Super Potato or other retro-gaming shops in the area, hit up any of the excellent articles Jeremy Parish and Chris Kohler have penned over the years. But I finally had to see for myself what Tokyo’s gaming mecca was all about — plus, if I was gonna do my civic nerdly duty and infiltrate a maid cafe, Akihabara was the place to be.
What struck me first about Akihabara wasn’t all the glitz and lights and games — it was the foreigners. I knew was popular with the overseas crowd, but I didn’t quite grasp how popular. In fact, I even saw a handful of foreigners working at some of the shops — every Akihabara vet I’ve mentioned this to says they’ve never seen this before, so perhaps it’s the start of a new trend. It makes sense, though — when a significant portion of your audience doesn’t understand Japanese but desperately wants to buy from you, why not serve them in their native language?
Personally, I went to Akihabara just to observe — not to actually buy anything. After all, I figured that if I found something I really liked, I could probably find it online in some capacity later on. But just as I was headed back to the train station, I heard the sounds of Persona pumping from a nearby shop and stopped in my tracks. It was a live-performance DVD of the Persona 3 and 4 soundtracks, and all reason just went out of the window at that point — I had to have it! Yep, Akihabara will reel you in…whether you want it to or not. Because if you’re a Japanese gaming fan, you’re gonna find something that appeals on a Pavlovian level.
So, yeah…about the maid cafe. Well, I decided to hit up The Little BSD, because I, er, kinda liked the outfits from what I saw online, and I heard that the girls there are actually otaku themselves. After an hour of searching (seriously, it is hard to find the right building in Japan sometimes!), I finally stumbled across it in a little alleyway…only to find out that it wouldn’t be open until later that night. I ultimately figured that it would probably be a little creepy to go there on my own — especially late at night — and decided to make a return trip there with friends someday, when we can all share the bizarreness of the experience together.
In fact, that was really the theme of this Japan trip for me. While I enjoyed the freedom of exploring on my own, there’s really nothing like experiencing exciting new places with good friends.