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The Asian ApertureCruising The Anime City
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, March 6, 2011    Share

Taking that first trip to Japan can be a bewildering experience and most guidebooks carter to the tastes of the general populace. Those boring people who conformed to society and are content to see tourist spots and indulge in the bland. But what about the traveler who wants something off the beaten path? How are hardcore fans suppose to get the most out of his or her hard earned dollar on a trip to Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world? The answer is an easy one. Just pick up a copy of Cruising The Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo by Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama and that special itch will be scratched.

Patrick Macias does a great job of breaking down all the Otaku staples into short, interesting chapters. The topics include manga, toys, idols, anime, games, movies, cosplay, and the Otaku Mecca, Comiket. There are even “break” chapters, sandwiched in-between, covering fast food and convenience stores like the popular 7-11. As Macias points out, “Unlike the 7-Eleven in the U.S., where the frozen cheeseburger will take years off your life, the eats at a Japanese convenience store are actually pretty good.”

Speaking from personal experience that is true, just walk into a 7-11 and try a bento box, (a lunch with healthy ingredients that is always fresh,) or oden, (a Winter dish with many different foods in a soup broth,) and you'll be well on your way to better eating.

Cruising The Anime City contains a valuable shopping list, off to the side, that has items ranging from the common to the uncommon like the movie section that has Cockroach Cop listed. Reading the description, Cockroach Cop is a Japanese style Dirty Harry movie on VHS that is out of print and a score for that hardened fan seeking something off the radar.

This guidebook does more than just list a bunch of stores and how to get there like the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide series, because that would be boring. I was glad to see that interviews with real people are included and sprinkled throughout certain sections. This ranges from normal fans like Jan Kurotaki to the extreme fanatic, Chimatsuri. Jan Kurotaki is a professional cosplayer who started out as a shy fangirl and slowly began to attend cons dressed up as her favorite video game, anime, and manga characters and came out of her shyness. Chimatsuri owns hundreds and hundreds of plastic model kits and is an expert. He has so much stuff that when Patrick Macias asked to visit his bathroom, the door would barely budge, due to the amount of plastic model boxes that where stacked to the ceiling. Also, the staircase can't be seen and no inch of floorspace remains. That is just insane no matter how obsessive a collector you are.

The real treat to Cruising The Anime City is the detailed maps of places like Akihabara, the electronics district that has so many stores, the average traveler would be overwhelmed. You just can't get to cool stores on a short trip over without consulting a map and a detailed map in English does not exist.. Also included is the layout of Comiket. Comiket is a three day event where no one can visit all the booths. Comiket is a huge manga (Japanese comic book) con that showcases Dojinshi, amateur fan made comics. At this particular Comiket in 2003, there were over 35,000 booths. The con took up 4 huge halls that no American comic con including the San Diego Comic Con, can compete with for sheer size. The variety is astounding. The quality ranges from bad photocopies to glossy produced books that rival professional products. There is the right fan manga for you, you just have to dig it and take a fast trot through the halls that are jammed packed with crazy fans.

If everything I have just written about isn't enough to pick up this book, then why are you a fan? Despite the fact that Cruising The Anime City came out in 2004, and some of the stores have probably changed names or locations, there is still a wealth of information about the major areas of Tokyo, entertaining shopping lists, and knowledge from a real Japanese otaku in the quick two page articles by Tomohiro Machiayma. This book is a labor of love for all fans no matter if you like Japanese stuff or American stuff better, because deep down inside, the enthusiasm from Patrick Macias and Machiyama about the Otaku subculture is a raging fire that will consume the reader. Pick this up whenever you can find it. I broke down and found a cool used bookstore online.

Highly Recommended to all fans everywhere.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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