Nerd Tour Japan 2014: Day Threeby Zac Bertschy and Hope Chapman, Mar 25th 2014
So on Day Three we were supposed to head out to the FujiQ Amusement Park with the rest of the tour, but upon seeing how much work we had to do (and how much prep we had left for AnimeJapan on Saturday) we wound up taking a day off from PacSet and calling it a work day.
Doesn't mean we didn't sneak out and hit up Shibuya.
Last time I was in Japan I spent most of my time here. My hotel was on the left of this famous intersection, in fact. Really, I've spent enough time in Shibuya, but hey, Hope hadn't seen it and it wasn't a tour stop, so better cram it in, right?
HOPE: Shibuya is busy-busy-busy and every corner of the place is trying to sell you something. I guess that can be said for most of Tokyo, but Shibuya seemed like the most “uptown commercial” district of them all. The streets were wider, but busier too, billboards stretched in every direction, and there were tons of fancy megastores like Loft and Tower Records to visit. It reminded me a lot more of New York than Harajuku, (which in some ways is clearly imitating New York,) and to wit, I think I prefer the more cramped and colorful streets of Harajuku or Akiba by comparison. It was still a great morning full of neat sights, though! (And some shopping, of course.)
FEDERALLY MANDATED HACHI STATUE PHOTO
HOPE: Here sits the forever patient Hachi. He was a good boy. Also if I understand correctly, seeing his memorial un-garnished is a little unusual. He gets dressed up and decorated a lot.
This is the creepy basement Mandarake. It's down as far as you can go and is basically a series of narrow passages full of dusty ol’ anime stuff, kaiju toys and American falderal. Last time I was here there was a massive porn section but that seems to have been replaced. Unfortunately it wasn't quite open yet when we got here, so we went to kill some time in Book Off.
Hahahaha. Look at that price. For Ryu Knight. Hahahahahaha. Oh Book Off. You slay me.
What was open in the same building as Mandarake was this Animate store, which was totally fresh, brightly lit and absolutely brimming with the shiniest, latest anime goods… and I'd say 80% of this particularly expansive and open location was dedicated solely to fujoshi stuff. I mean, HUGE displays everywhere for everything a fangirl could possibly want.
HOPE: I'm striding for the Free! and Uta no Prince Sama walls in the back, but the Attack on Titan wall directly behind me was always surrounded by fangirls when I passed it. Levi is just as coveted here as he is in the west, it would seem.
Except Sonico, she was here. But she's everywhere. You just accept that if you go somewhere in Japan, Sonico will be there, and something will be spattered on her somehow.
Samurai Flamenco stuff! They actually made Samurai Flamenco stuff!
HOPE: Ha ha, one of the few stray pieces of Megane-bu merch floating around on the bottom right.
Yowamushi Pedal gear. I asked noted Yowapeda fan Bamboo if there was anything from this display she desired, and her response was “do they have anything for actual cycling?” and my response was “hahaha of course they don't”.
Here's what an Animate clearance bin looks like. Now you know.
So next we hit up Tokyu Hands, which is like a big Michael's (which is a craft shop for those of you not in the US) crossed with a Target crossed with a Loft. There's a bunch of fun stuff on the top floors, including the pet section. Pictured: kitty igloos.
HOPE: The little kitties slide up and down with a soft “whirr” on the poles in the “felted cat houses” here. It's both adorable and kinda creepy.
“Stay outta my igloo!”
HOPE: “YOUR PET WILL LOVE PLOTTING YOUR SLOW AND MERCILESS DEMISE WHEN YOU MAKE HIM WEAR THIS HUMILIATING DUCK-MUZZLE!”
They have a whole costume section here, complete with low-rent Lupin getup. Maybe I'll buy this and try out for the next season of Heroes of Cosplay.
Aaaahh! What is that?
AAAHHHHHH WHAT IS THAT
WHY WON'T IT STOP
HOPE: Mandarake was full of dolls like these, although many of them less chintzy-and-old and more horrible-and-creepy. Filled with pop culture goods lost to time, it looked and smelled like a forgotten attic, probably by design. There was some neat stuff about, including a lot of Penguindrum falderal and the only Gendo Ikari figures I saw in Japan, but also a lot of musty junk. Definitely a “one man's trash” situation, though.
Average Mandarake aisle. It's a tight fit, but people make it work by awkwardly smashing themselves up against the aisles and stepping back smelling like old paper and dust.
This is the only Haruhi anything I saw in Tokyo, period. This ol’ statue, just sitting in this basement. The mighty fall, my friends. The mighty fall.
Like Hope said, lots of unwanted Penguindrum stuff down here too. Can't say I'm surprised by that.
They had a bunch of these (aforementioned) Gendos for $10 each. It's just a statue of Gendo, so the price seems right, as does its unsold status.
Hey, it's time for Loft! Loft is basically Target, if Target were a little nicer and a bit more expensive.
HOPE: I was told Loft had a lot of high quality “weird Japan” goods, but I guess it's been homogenized more in the past few years, because what I saw was a little more Pier 1 Imports meets a craft store with some common licensed mascot and childrens' show stuff smooshed in-between. It's a very nice-looking store, though. It's just a little bit “fancy”-feeling, with a smattering of “dignified curiosities” in between all the flatware and art supplies.
Up on the top floor they had an entire section dedicated to merchandise based on the work of famous artists through history. These are Magritte plates. Speaking as a big Magritte fan, Hope can attest to my gasps of disbelief and joy, followed by immediately trying to decide what to buy and what I could get home without fear of it breaking. This was some really neat stuff.
But, the real charm of Loft is one floor down, where all the zany toys are. They had a big collection of these plastic guys, which are sold in scale in all manner of settings, both modern and historical. So you could buy this Egypt set and populate it entirely with housewives and gas station attendants if you wanted. The T-Rex adds historical accuracy.
Well, at least someone's having fun up here.
Here's Shibuya's super opulent Disney store. Amazing façade, immaculately themed interior, stocked entirely with generic bullshit merchandise (meaning the same 12 giant Pixar hats and my nemesis "Duffy the Disney Bear") you can buy in any Disney store inside. You'll see a continuation of this theme when we give you our full Tokyo DisneySea report here in a day or two.
Didn't work for Japan, ain't gonna work for you, Mickey.
“I've been touched enough!”
HOPE: Snacks continue to be pretty great in Japan. I thought because these were licensed munchies, they'd taste like garbage, but they're actually fairly tasty gummies! They're individually wrapped with (often violent or upsetting) screencaps from the show on each wrapper, and the gummies themselves look like hunks of raw meat and have little fruit globs inside for texture. Yum!
NEXT TIME: Ghibli Museum, Nakano Broadway… and BOTH BUNNY AND KITTY CAFES, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!
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