An American in Akiba – April 2011 Edition

While I’ve actually been to Akiba a lot more than I was expecting after to moving to Osaka, I’ve not really found much that I’ve wanted to blog about.  Usually it ends up with me and GaiGun drinking more and less of the checking out of stuff.  That and I don’t usually have my camera with me on business trips, so I don’t have much to take pictures with.  But it just so happens that I had my camera this last weekend when I was staying in Tokyo, and while drinking with GaiGun was the purpose, I still took some shots.  Now, first off, as we all know, Akiba looks like the below generally.

However, in light of the energy crisis following the earthquake and whatnot, Tokyo is well… dark!  As to conserve energy, a majority of stores and buildings have turned off their lights.  Leading to the below.

In  actuality, as time passes, Tokyo-ites are starting to use more power as life gets back to somewhat normal, so there are probably more businesses turning their lights on now then right after the quake, but it is still a strange thing to see.  But aside from the lack of neon, and the slight tension in the air as people worry about when that next aftershock might hit, life was surprisingly normal in Akiba.   But at the same time, this time got me thinking about the changes happening.   One of the most surprising changes was Asobit City.  As some may know, Asobit City is no where near what it was back when it opened in 2004, and has gradually dwindled to the small offshoot of Laox that it is now, but the one saving factor was the Dengeki Factory.

Home to Dengeki Hobby Magazines workshop, you could see new kits built before release date, along with a variety of kits and dioramas featured in the magazine.  Imagine our suprise this last weekend when visiting Asobit City to find out that the Dengeki Factory had cleared out and was gone.  When asking what happened, I was told that they simply left in March, and that was it.  Checking the website as well I note that there is no notice of leaving or moving at all, simply the website is gone.  As we walked the streets of Akiba, we talked about how things had changed, but it really feels like Akiba is going through a “Shibuya” transformation, as more and more of the hobby shops are replaced by things such as clothing shops like Aoki or Jeans Mate, and new business office towers grow out of the back streets…

But it’s not to say that all points of mecca are gone.  There is still Radio Hall, home to Kotobukiya, Kaiyodo, Yellow Submarine, and other shops.  Which brings me to cool stuff like this:

Limited edition revoltech Vash


Pimped out Deathscythe Hell

Upcoming Saber kit from Kotobukiya

Racks of after market parts

Of course, while Yodobashi is most likely taking quit a bit of business away from the small shops, the Akiba branch is definintely trying to bring in the latest kits, and having models on display that are featured in Hobby Japan.  In particular, I was blown away by the below 1/35 Core Fighter.

But overall, Akiba is really kind of just turning into the place I visit to drink with friends, more than it is the place to check out the latest kits and other otaku stuff.  Yeah, there are more opportunities to pick up parts, or import games, and stuff like that, but it feels different, and the loss of the Dengeki Factory really made me pause.  Of course that won’t stop me from visiting, since I stay at one of the hotels in Akiba.  Still, it seems to be a sign of the times, and perhaps the winds of change are blowing…

HGUC Unicorn (ANA Color Version)

Well, they say that pictures speak a thousand words, and I’ll let the below do exactly that.  But if I had to sum it up “Beautiful in Blue” would probably be how I’d do it.  To best honest with you, I’m going to have a hard time going back to the regular red/pink color…  While a costly kit, it’s very well worth it if you are a fan of either the Unicorn, gentei kits, or the color blue.  Or all three, whatever works right.  The downside is this kit will be hard to get….