The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'akihabara'
A Washington Post article looking at Akihabara, and how the Tokyo electronics-retail precinct has become transformed into the world's first geek ghetto:
"We have been discriminated against for being different, but now we have come together and turned this neighborhood into a place of our own," said Yamagata, nursing his tea as he sat with a portly computer technician friend at Akihabara's Cos-Cha, one of a dozen "maid cafes" in the neighborhood. Here, the waitresses' uniforms are inspired by the French maid-meets-Pokemon outfits of adult manga. At other cafes, waitresses greet patrons at the door with a curtsy and the words "Welcome home, master."
Tetsu Ishihara, 34, a computer programmer whose three-room apartment in west Tokyo is filled from floor to ceiling with comic books, does not want to be associated with such charges. Ishihara maintains a growing collection of 130 life-size pillows of female anime characters -- both purchased and self-designed. His favorite is Mio-chan, a female character from a love-simulation computer game in which a high school boy builds up the courage to ask a girl for a first date.
"There are some people who do lose their grip on reality, but that is not me -- or most of us," said Ishihara, a chubby man with glasses who this year started dating a woman steadily for the first time She's an anime artist. "For me, the pillows have been my source of unconditional love, a reminder of when I used to be hugged by my parents. There is nothing strange about it."Don't expect Gwen Stefani to commercialise this any time soon.
The Tokyo area of Akihabara started out as a mecca of electronics shops (think something like Tottenham Court Road, only bigger); gradually, as a subculture of otaku evolved around the area, its focus has mutated from being just about electronics and computers to anime costume shops and venues catering for the bizarre, quasi-sexual fetishes of the truly hardcore:
Psychologists say these "otaku" or geeks are regressive, have poor social ability, and have never fully matured as adults. "Therefore, they are not good at communicating with others, cannot date real human beings, and instead adore an imaginary character," said one.
Self-confessed "super otaku" Tetsuto Fujiyama says, "There are five different kinds of geeks in Akihabara. The oldest denizens are the electric appliance geeks, who come to purchase electronic parts and other equipment. Next are the PC geeks, who like to build their own original computers that run as fast as possible. Third are TV animation geeks whose brains can't distinguish between reality and the animation. The fourth group are the magazine geeks who have made original animation fantasy stories influenced from TV and game animation and publish them in small magazines circulated among themselves. The last group are those geeks who love to play video games in which erotic animation is used."
"They are not ImeCla girls (Image Clubs in which you can act out your fantasy in a situational setting as nurse-patient, teacher-student, commuters in packed train and so on). Nor is it a a 'no-pan' cafe (where mini-skirted waitresses with no panties serve customers). These shops at Akihabara are not in the sex business because for geeks, fantasizing is much more important than actually doing anything with girls."
(via bOING bOING)