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Sailor Moon Crystal: A Season Review (it did end, right?)

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One arc ends, another one begins — that’s Sailor Moon Crystal’s 14th episode done. So do we consider it a season finale, or would that be the episode before it, with all of that big, bad final battle buildup (that really led to the greatest battle to ever make my eyes glaze over)? Is it a season premiere, despite the fact that a new enemy and a key character were introduced with about five minutes left? Are they really doing “seasons” in the traditional sense of the term, or is it just one big lump of a show? What, really, is going on here, guys?

When Sailor Moon Crystal was announced, I was cautiously optimistic. I was in favor of the promise of closely following the original source material, Naoko Takeuchi’s beloved manga, in both story and character design. However, I wondered if a new anime adaptation was even necessary. I have a personal beef with this trend of “rebooting all of the things!” that’s plaguing the entertainment industry as it is. Although it was loaded with gratuitous filler (including the entire SuperS season, OH BURN), the 90s anime continues to attract new fans and remind established fans what drew them to it in the first place. (Viz obtaining the licensing rights to sub and re-dub the original series in English likely plays a huge role in this.)

After a litany of delays and a bi-to-tri-weekly broadcasting schedule, one season (or arc? storyline? thingie?) of Sailor Moon Crystal is finally in the books. Was it a pleasant surprise, a monumental disappointment, or “other” (somewhere in between)? I see you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation, reader. Sit back and relax. You’re making me nervous.

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秋葉原 / Akihabara

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(I’ve been for Japan for several days, and yesterday, I finally came across one of these: A Colonel Sanders statue. This is from a KFC in Akiba. Also check out the photobomber on the left.)

猫曜日おめでとう! Happy Caturday! (Credit my boss for that great “hax0r” of “Caturday” in Japanese. It’s pronounced “Nekoyoubi.”

It is Saturday morning in Japan. I am up super early. It’s 6:40 am as I type this. The sunshine always makes me an early riser. It looks like clear skies in Tachikawa today.

I spent my Friday afternoon in Akihabara. (Warning: Lots of photos so if you’re on dial-up, you may want to turn away…)

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This is the Yamanote Sen train that took us (me, my brother, and two of his friends) to the famous Akihabara, the Electric Town. (Henceforth, I am going to call it “Akiba” since I am lazy.) For anyone who is into electronics and/or an avid hobbyist, this is considered the place to be.

I took lots of photos in Akiba, and I’ll let them do most of the talking here:

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Akihabara Station, our gateway to Otaku-dom.

Colorful buildings / signage amuse me: 

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3rd floor has a Manga Kissa, or “Manga Cafe.” There’s one in Tachikawa, also.  Akiba is loaded with such places.

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I’ve no idea what a “Papero-kun” is, but it was moving its head as I was walking by. Creepy-Cute. And how come its head and body are both smiling?

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We checked this place out; they offered plenty of used goods (books, DVDs, etc.)

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Nice selection of manga. (I used to read Nana…until it got stupid.)

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I got a little excited because I know of Shimura Ken. (He’s the “Ai~n!” guy.)

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This store had exactly what I was looking for.

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Then you had this guy…

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We stopped at a hobby shop that catered to train enthusiasts. Very cool stuff. (I kinda like trains…) This massive watch is a train schedule watch. It looks just like the boards you see on the platforms at the JR train stations. As you can surmise, this watch gives you up-to-date train schedules, so you’re (supposedly) never late. This particular watch is for the Chuo Sen, which is the line I always ride. 

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One of several maids we saw on the street, passing out fliers. (This one felt the need to cover her face.) Interestingly enough, I saw several foreign maids. (One of the girls we approached sounded French.)

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Gorilla Curry.

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One of Akiba’s large electronics stores.

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Gachapon are everywhere! Naturally, I bought a Chi’s Sweet Home gachapon.

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Many anime stores have floors dedicated to cosplay. After I snapped this photo, I realized I was surrounded by signs in several languages that read, “NO PHOTOGRAPHY!”

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We stopped for a snack at an onigiri stand. There were many kinds from which you could choose. I got one filled with bacon. And yes, it was NOM. (I could go for one right now.)

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The onigiri stand had a special set based on the members of the popular singing group, Perfume.  Naturally, the “lead” member’s flavor costs more. (Hers also appears to be the most loaded.)  I remember Perfume from many years ago, and now they appear to be as popular as ever. If you like hyper electro-pop, check them out. 

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Akiba is loaded with game centers. We spent some time at Club Sega. (The amount of money I spent there trying to win a K-ON figure from one of the UFO catchers is disgusting, and I will never disclose the exact amount to anyone!)

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This was my only successful attempting at winning anything at Club Sega, a kaomoji (“emoticon”) mascot.

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「イイ!」 “Good!”

The first floor of Club Sega was loaded with UFO Catchers. Nick informed me that if you ask one of the attendants to make an item easier for you to win, they will come by and move the item you want into a “winning” position. I wish I had known that before I spent (AMOUNTOFMONEYIWILLNEVERDISCLOSE) trying to win my K-ON figure. (At that point, I was out of “Wasteful Arcade Money.” I did want to eat dinner later.)

The second floor had arcade games:

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A table-flipping game. Yes. In the scenario I played, a father is disgusted with his family’s lack of communication. So, to get their attention, he flips the table over and yells, “BAKAYAROU!” (“Damned fools”!) You earn points (“yen”) for things broken, bruises, etc. I should have taken video.

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Third floor = PURIKURA. There was even a cosplay section, if you wanted to dress up and take photos. I think I should try it.

The fourth floor was…fighting games.

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Note the setup. American arcades typically make you stand up to play. Japanese arcades? You sit down, because your knees may buckle from all of the intensity.

I played the game on the right, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. It was going to be a fun, light-hearted affair…until a new challenger appeared. Another difference between American and Japanese arcades: Your opponent plays across from you, rather than next to you. The guy on the opposite side was SRS FKIN BIZ. Little did he realize he was playing some button-masher from America. I played him in three matches; he beat me in all three. According to Nick, while I was selecting my characters and their “fighting styles” (something I can’t even do well in English, let alone Japanese), he was staring at the screen with an intense look on his face, switching his players’ fighting styles according to what I chose. It was an honor to lose to someone like that.

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One of several “adult” shops. Not shown: The piles of RC helicopters for sale at the front of the store. I guess if you’re into that kinda thing…

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At Laox, a large duty-free department store. Darth Vader instills a sense of calmness, doesn’t he?

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Smorking is encouraged here.

And that was our day in Akiba! I wish we had time to visit one of the maid cafes, but overall, it was an interesting trip. I think 16-year-old, super obsessed anime fan Alison would have stayed put in Akiba for the remaining two weeks. But 26-year-old, super casual anime fan Alison still had fun. (Aside from Club Sega nearly making her declare bankruptcy.)

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Waiting for the Chuo Sen train back home at nearby Kanda Station. Still colorful.

I spent the evening at Tachikawa Station’s Lumine department store. I wanted to try something “different” for dinner, so I had okonomiyaki at Chibo.

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(Yeah, took it on my cell phone, not super great quality.)

I had the beef okonomiyaki with a oolong-hai. (I swear, I never realized how much I loved oolong tea, especially when mixed with booze.) You allow the okonomiyaki to cook at your table; each table has its own personal grill. You use the pair of spatulas provided (one big, one small) to cut/serve the okonomiyaki as you wish.

After dinner, I walked around the upper floors of Lumine. One of things I picked up was…

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(I left my face soap at home, and the one provided at the hotel isn’t really face soap.)

Phew! It seems as if these blog posts get longer each day, but since I have a solid WiFi connection now, it’s much less of a PITA. (I think writing this blog took 1/3 of the time it took to write my earlier, shorter posts with CrapFi.) 

I hope those of you reading are enjoying what you see so far. I’m keeping this account for all of you, since it’s the next best thing to putting you all in my pocket and taking you with me. (OK, if that sounded creepy, I’m sorry.) It’s also serving as a virtual scrapbook for me, so I want to record each detail as best I can so I can look back on these memories and smile (and maaaybe cringe).

Today, I’ll be heading into Shibuya. That may be supplemented by other trips, depending. Tomorrow, it’s NIKKO DAY! Monday…still up in the air, but I may want to take it easy, since it will be my last full day in the Tokyo area before traveling to Kyoto. (I’ll need to do a hella job packing my stuff up. I also want to reserve Monday as postcard day. Hope there is a post office nearby.)

‘til next time!