Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tokyo Ramblings

I’m in Tokyo right now. I flew from Miami to New York to Narita Airport last Saturday and Sunday, and took the airport limousine bus to the Metropolitan Tokyo hotel in Ikebukuro. Then I took a taxi to the Kita-Ikebukuro station (I originally planned on walking from the hotel to Ikebukuro station and taking the Tojo Tobu line to Kita-Ikebukuro, but I had a ton of luggage and there was a taxi right there), where I was to be met by the landlord of the share house I was going to live in with three Japanese house mates. Starting tomorrow (erm, technically later today), I’m doing a six week internship with a Japanese company, and then I have the remaining time until August 16 free.

Monday afternoon, I visited Akihabara to get a new computer adapter, since the one I already had isn’t compatible with Japanese outlets.

But mostly, I looked at otaku shops. ^_^ No surprise, there was a ton of Madoka Magica and Nanoha merchandise (for the Nanoha movie and Vivid; I didn’t know Vivid was selling that well; there was almost nothing for Nanoha Force), sometimes displayed side-by-side to cross-promote each other. A lot of K-ON, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Oreimo, Touhou, Vocaloid, etc; some A Channel, Ano Hana, Angel Beats, Suite and Heartcatch Precure, Suzumiya Haruhi, Black Rock Shooter, Railgun and Index, etc. The stores I visited included Gamers, Animate, Toranoana, and Madarake. (I also went into some smaller, less well-known places with names I forgot.) I kept an eye out for yuri, of course. ^^ 

The most surprising thing was that the women's doujinshi sections of Toranoana and Mandarake both had Madoka Magica yuri doujinshi. (I also noticed some BL doujinshi covers for other series that included some Madoka parody.) I didn't see any other yuri doujinshi. Boo. I especially wanted some for Marimite. (Btw, my reasoning is that the women's doujinshi sections are going to have a much, much smaller yuri selection than the men's, if any, but what they do have is less likely to make my blood curdle.)

The most interesting store for me was Mandarake, since I didn't visit it last time I was in Japan. I love their used manga selection. They have every type of used manga under the sun from every time period. They even have issues of popular manga magazines from past decades for sale (*swoon*), along with artbooks and other memorabilia.

The men's doujinshi sections all looked the same to me- in retrospect, they've melded together into one bleary image of spurting body fluids.

I didn't visit a maid café, but I want to eventually. (I found a maid café review blog that has some great-sounding recommendations.) I visited a couple last time I was in Japan. One that was forgettable (I don't remember its name) and the main location of @home (I forget which floor), which was fun enough for me to visit twice. @home is one of the cafés where they let you take photos with the maids, for 500 yen each.

For lunch and dinner, I went to the type of restaurant where customers A) put money into a machine that shows different meal options, B) select a meal and receive a ticket from the machine, and C) hand the ticket to the kitchen staff. Then customers sit and serve themselves water, and the kitchen staff hand them their meals when they're ready. It sounds plain and fast food-like, but it's nice for when you want something hearty a.s.a.p. (I got curry rice for lunch and tonkatsu with curry rice for dinner. I looooove tonkatsu.)

I also want to check out a dansou café (where women dress up as butches men) and visit the famous Swallowtail butler café in Ikebukuro, to see what all the fuss is about. (The way they make ice cream sounds incredibly cool.)

I didn't take many photos in Akiba. ^^; Here's the exit from the JR line platform in Akihabara station.

And here's something I thought was cute in Gamers.

Yesterday I went to Otome-dori in Ikebukuro. I went into Animate, Mandarake, and the different K-Books. There was plenty of merchandise from fujoshi fan-favorites, like Hetalia, Hakuouki, Starry Sky, and the Shounen Jump properties. (In the Akihabara Mandarake, the Hetalia characters have their own individually labeled doujinshi sections. Like "America", "England", "Italy", etc. I knew Hetalia was popular, but...whoah.) Ao no Exorcist, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, and Durarara are also popular. And of course, more yummy used manga. But contrary to most of the commentary I've seen on Otome-dori, there's a ton of merchandise for non-yaoi-ish series, like K-ON and Madoka Magica, and basically everything else. I like Ikebukuro's Animate more than Akiba's because it has, imho, more variety and less that I find icky.

The Animate in Ikebukuro has the best Yuri Hime selection I've seen in a store so far. (Surprisingly, in the two non-otaku book shops I stopped in, Libro and Sanseido, I didn't see any Yuri Hime besides Yuru Yuri.) They also had a good Tsubomi selection, and copies of Rakuen ~Le Paradis~. (I don't remember seeing Rakuen anywhere else.)

The best find in Ikebukuro's Animate, though, was a Hourou Musuko clear file. (There was only one left.)

Here's the outside of Animate.

Here's Mandarake.

And the first K-Books I came across.

I finally found Marimite doujinshi when I went to my last Otome-dori stop, the K-Books above the Swallowtail café,

 which had a small selection of Madoka Magica on both floors. (The Marimite selection was on the second floor.) The second floor of the K-books above Swallotail has a lot of rare doujinshi displayed behind glass, like collections by Yoshinaga Fumi and Ono Natsume.

Here are the doujinshi I have so far.

Toranoana and the first floor of the K-books above Swallowtail helpfully provide one page samples of their Madoka doujinshi, on the backs of the copies that are at the top of their respective stacks. As seen here, in K-Books.

I chose this Marimite doujinshi because the cover shows Sei hitting on Shimako and Noriko getting jealous. XD

The ghost story theme for this one looked neat. (Definitely different.)

This one has an Alice in Wonderland theme. (Sei as the Mad Hatter = WIN)

The cover art for this one just intrigued me. (Especially the back.)

After Otome-dori, I went to Sunshine City for an udon dinner,

then explored an epic-looking Book-Off.

Then went back to the share house and shared some K-ON manjuu with my house mates, which they got a kick out of.

And that's it for my first two full days in Tokyo. (Today was more of a general "explore Ikebukuro" day. Especially nice, cool Sunshine City.)

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