Gundam Front Tokyo

As most are aware, the 1/1 Gundam is standing tall again in Japan, and this last Sunday I got the chance to swing by and see it with Gaigun as I was in Tokyo.  To be honest, having seen it twice already, there is really not that much of an incentive to see it again, since there isn’t really any new gimmicks.  Still, once you get there and it does it’s little steam and head moving thing…. yeah, it’s cool.  Now they need to try and get other parts to move!

We also went in to Diver City to check out Gundam Front Tokyo, but since my trip to Tokyo was a sudden thing, as all work related trips tend to be, we didn’t have the tickets to go in the main area.  Still the history of Gunpla was quite cool, as they every non-gentei kit ever produced on display.  Even more interesting, they had coming soon boxes marked off for stuff that hasn’t been announce/released yet, like the MG Blitz for example.   We looked at the Strict G shop but it was overly priced clothing that only super skinny Japanese people can where so we didn’t stay long.

While I hadn’t planned on picking up any gunpla, I ended up getting the HG GFT Gundam in a moment of weakness.  Yeah, I still haven’t built the Shizuoka Gundam yet, but oh well.  Afterwords we headed off to Akiba where I was able to get lucky and snag the 7-11 GFT Gundam.  I was thinking I would have to go through GG or Genteikits.com, but luck struck out for me.

Overall, seeing the Gundam again was great, and it’s nice to see the drawing power it has, even among younger people who aren’t familiar with the original Gundam.  Still, I hope that eventual 2013 version or next version starts bringing some new ideas to the fold.  Adding more decals and calling it new is starting to get boring…

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

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…

Tohoku/Kanto Earthquake

As the world knows, there was a massive earthquake on Friday off the northeast coast of Japan.  There are no words for the shock caused by this, and the awe in the power of mother nature.  Even though I’m in Osaka, several hundred kilometers away, I felt this earthquake, while on the 8th floor of the office building that I work in.  The building started swaying slightly, and people were just laughing it off.  Then a worker who was on the phone with the Tokyo office said “Tokyo’s shaking bad”  At this point, people stopped laughing.  Then, “There’s a massive earthquake in Sendai!” and the swaying started to get worse.  Woman started screaming, and grabbing their emergency helmets and getting under their desks.  Ironically, we had just had our fire/earthquake drill on Wednesday, and so what to do was fresh on our minds.

I headed back to the 3rd floor, where I work.  I didn’t use the elevators.

The 3rd floor was shaking, but not as bad as the sway felt on the upper floors.  Pulling up Yahoo and CNN, people started realizing how bad this was.   We couldn’t get a hold of offices north of Tokyo, the trains are out in the Kanto region, and then there is the video of walls of water washing away houses, cars, boats, and most likely in all that liquid, people.  I thought about my wife, who was at home,  on the top floor of our ten story building and called.  I couldn’t get through.  I called our home phone, and no one picked up.  Thankfully she got back to me within the hour.  She had simply gone to the dentist, and hadn’t even felt the quake.

We try to continue with our work, but no one can focus.  I get pulled in to write up an emergency announcement in English to be broadcast to our Osaka offices informing employees to check public transportation before going home because of the earthquake.  My manager, who goes home each weekend to his family in Yokohama, realizes they’ve stopped the bullet trains and he can’t go home.

I think to myself, I’m suppose to be in Tokyo on Tuesday next week.  I was going to be in Yokohama on Thursday and Friday next week.  Saturday, GaiGun and I were planning to meet up for our monthly drinking in Akiba.  And I think, if this earthquake would have happened this time next week, I’d be right in the middle of Tokyo.

I came home Friday night to do what the rest of the nation was doing, sitting in front of their televisions, watching the images of what happened hours previously.  It was on every channel.  There was nothing else to watch, but the shock and awe.  And Saturday too.  Sunday as well.  Yet, for west Japan, life outside is simply that, regular life.  It’s so depressing to see nothing but the news and video, and the rising death toll.  Currently the missing and dead total over 3,400 people.  Yet there are reports that this will top 10,000 people easily.  So we went out today to the movies.  And yes, life goes on, because it seems like everyone in Osaka was out today.  And I can guess why.  Who wants to sit at home and watch death and destruction?  Yet that too, is going to be part of regular life now for Japan for the next day, weeks, months, and most likely years.

I realize that this is just depressing, sad and that I have only felt this way twice in my life.  The passing of my mother, and the day the twin towers collapsed.  Despite being hundreds of kilometers away from the affected areas, it’s still a part of the country that I live and work in.  And I feel nothing but shock, and awe.

At this point, I’m really not in the mood to post about Gunpla, so my apologies for the lack of posts on that.  Eventually I’ll get back into it.

For an even more first hand account, I recommend that everyone read GaiGun’s post about the day of the quake.

Some amazing, and saddening shots of the earthquake and it’s aftermath can be seen below.

In Focus – Earthquake in Japan

In Focus – The Aftermath

Information and Donations.

Google Crisis Response (with link to donate to the Japanese Red Cross)

GAF Quake Appeal – Gunplars unite

Gunplar Meet-up 2011

As you all may be aware, Buster Beam of Plamo Addiction has decided to make his next move in life, and head back to Canada.  Having met with him twice last year, in Akiba and the 1/1 Gundam in Shizuoka, I knew how much of a great guy he was, and couldn’t just let him head home without getting together one more time.  A quick email to GaiGun of Gaijin Gunpla to see if he was on board as well, which he was, and the ball started rolling for a Gunplar Meet-up.   This past weekend was a three day holiday in Japan, and we used that to get together one last time in Japan for drinking, gaming, and of course Gunpla!

I just happened to be in Tokyo on business on Friday, so I used that to stay in Akiba for the night and catch up with people before meeting up with GaiGun in Akiba Saturday evening at our usual pub, to get the party started.  After hitting back a few rum & cokes to get us nicely toasted, we headed off to Yodobashi Camera and Asobi City before jumping on the bullet train to head back to my new stomping grounds, Osaka.   Upon arriving in Osaka, we proceeded to my place to continue the drinking combined with online split-screen COD: Black Ops, until about 4:30 in the morning.  The plans for sight seeing a little before Buster arrived were put aside for the more needed sleep, and after sleeping most of the day away, we headed off to Namba to pick up Buster. We did some quick sight seeing around Nipponbashi, the Akiba of Osaka, but soon moved to the drinking.

The Dotonbori area of Namba

The Glico running man

After some drinking at Namba, we moved back to Tennoji to hit up a local izakaya, or Japanese style pub/restaurant to continue the drinking.  All three of us just happen to be fans of Z’s posts about food, so we thought we’d share with you some similar shots.

The 270 yen Izakaya, everything is 270 yen!

Starting out with beer and edamame

Gyoza!

Cucumbers covered with eatable raiyu sauce

Don’t forget yakitori and takoyaki!

Several beers, cocktails, and sake bottles later…

Of course, we didn’t just get together to drink, we got together to game and gunpla as well, and we got together a bunch of kits to work on.  At least to the best of our drunken ability, we had been drinking for about five hours…

Gunpla loot

And don’t forget about Call of Duty!

But still, we’re here to build gunpla (while drinking)

Gundam UC in the background while we build.

The results of the gaming, drinking and gunpla

You could say the excessive drinking, along with Call of Duty, Gundam Musou 3, and Gran Turismo 5 kept the number of completed Gunpla down to 3, but we all had a hell of a time doing it.  We really got to work off each others synergy this weekend, and had a hell of a time.  Gunpla is great, but Gunpla mixed with alcohol, gaming, and friends at the same time is priceless. While Buster will be missed as he takes his next step back in his home country, his spirit will still be with us as one of the original 3 foreign Gunplars in Japan.

An American in Akiba – July 2010 Edition

While July is not over yet, I probably won’t be heading back to Akiba for a while so here is the photos for this month. First off, lets start with our Gundam updates.  As you recall last month, we got a chance to see the O in it’s test form, but this month we get to see the new Deathscythe in it’s completed form.

Deathscythe on display

Deathscythe

Looking at it, I have to say I’m actually a little underwhelmed by it.  Maybe it’s the head, or the colors, but something just doesn’t hit me like it should be.

Next up, Asobit City, which births a lot of awesome kits you see in Dengeki hobby magazine.  While GaiGun and myself were there, they just happened to be doing the RG Gundam.  By the looks of it, the colors seem to be a mix of Okawara colors and FA Gundam Colors.  They also had some really nice looking metallic/extra finish style kits on display that looked amazing.

Building the RG

Musha Gundam Extra Finish Version

Extra Finish Zeta, Quebeley, and Rick Dias

Closeup on the Quebeley

Next up, scouring the back streets to look for cheap gunpla, and in my case, to gawk at my favorite things, the gentei kits.  And this time we found pretty much the everything.

Gunpla going for cheap

Stacks of old kits

Limited kits

Even rarer limited kits

Yet more

That Full Color Plated Version PG Gundam is going for 43,800 yen!

More stuff, including PG Astray’s bonus runners.

PG Gundam Animation Color + Weapons – 19,800 yen

PG Gundam Okawara Colors – 18,800 yen

PG Gundam Casval’s (Char) Use – 25,800 yen

PG G-3 Gundam(!) – 25,800 yen

PG Zeta Gundam Multi-Coating Version – 48,800 yen

MG Zaku II – Tri-star Gaea Use – 34,800 yen(!)

Yeah… that’s a lot of expensive model kits there.  Nearly 500 dollars for some kits.  And I was surprised to find a G-3 PG Gundam.  Needless to say, that one was gone when I went back a couple days after I saw it the first time.   While I did look mainly at Gundam kits this last month, I did swing by Kotobukiya as I wanted to see the Rockman kit.  Unfortunately they had already taken it down and put up the new mini Hoi-hoi-san in it’s place.

Mini Hoi-hoi

Regular Hoi-hoi pimping Kotobukiya

Other than that, I treated myself to a new lens, and am having fun taking pictures of the same places all over again.

Akiba in the day

Akiba at night

A gathering of Ita-sha

Gundam Cafe

And a really tiny car

That’s all for this months addition.  Next up on the plate is a new kit review for HLJ, followed by the revival of the monthly State of the Gunpla Union, which will catch you up on my situation.

Gunpla Keitai

First post on the fly from my new iPhone4 here, but while out and about today I happened to run into that Gunpla keitai due out in September. I managed to get a couple of pictures, so I thought I would share them with you. I would have tried to get more, but the large number of people prohibited that. Better some than none though, and as the new iPhone has an excellent camera, look for more on the fly posts in the future.