Archive for the 'Anime' Category

Parakiss Shop + Venus Fort

Yukari/George, Paradise Kiss

Right, as I promised, I would write about The Parakiss Shop, which is located inside Venus Fort. It’s been a few days since I visited the site so the detail is kind of sketchy. But basically you can just walk from Odaiba to Venus Fort and it’ll basically take you around 5 to 10 minutes. You won’t get lost because all you have to do is to look where the giant Ferris Wheel is located. Once you find that, you’ll pretty much find Venus Fort. Venus Fort is basically a shopping mall for those who are interested to purchase good brand name clothing at a good discounted price. Well, when I went there, most of the items were discounted so I got that impression. But then again it’s probably because it’s January/February, the time when big discounts usually are on offer by most shops.

I actually didn’t have any intention to come here. But while I was inside Fuji TV building, I saw a brochure advertising Paradise Kiss. Upon asking the shop attendant, I found out that Venus Fort is only within walking distance from the building, so I set out to find the place. It was a good decision too because I was looking for a long coat since I didn’t have any warm clothing on me besides a jumper and a thin jacket and the weather was cold. Oh right, Parakiss shop. The shop is located on the ground floor, IIRC. You have to get deep inside the shopping mall and you know that you’re close to it because you’ll see a tree decorated with blue lights. It’s not really a ‘shop’ but more like an open exhibition. The place basically showcases Yukari’s, George’s, and Miwako’s dress from Paradise Kiss series.

Ferris Wheel on the roof of Venus FortBlue treeYukari's gown
Yukari and George's costumeButterfly ringAll costumes

Yukari’s showcase dress looks okay in my opinion. I think I was a bit disappointed with it because IMO the dress would have been better if it was darker in colour. But then again, I’m not the bloody author/designer, so what do I know? George’s shirt looks good for exhibition piece but is too over the top for my taste so I don’t think I’ll touch it with a ten foot pole. There is also a Blue Rose that Yukari wears in the fashion show being sold for 8,925 Yen (around $90). Last but not least, the butterfly earring that George gave to Yukari retails for around 39,900 Yen ($400). For visitors who just want less extravagant items to purchase, there are Happy Berry statue, notebooks, clear plastic files, etc. I’m not really a Parakiss fan so I decided to save my money for more Honey and Clover items.

Anyway, sorry for the lousy photographs. Just like anywhere else in Japan (except outside temple areas), I’m not sure if I’m allowed to take photograph. But there was no forbidden sign so I was in a hurry to take as many photographs as possible before the store attendant flashes the ‘Batsu’ (X) sign. After taking those photos, I moved on since I did need to buy a coat. As I said before, Venus Fort itself is basically a place for anyone who intends on shopping for clothes. So it was kind of lucky that I managed to get one quite easily before moving on to take some more photograph. There is this rather nice Venus statue/water fountain in the middle of the shop. Almost every single tourist that stumbled upon the area was busy taking pictures so it was hard to take a good angle. It doesn’t help that I’m not a professional either to begin with.

Venus statueVenus statueVenus statue
Exhibition AreaVenus fort shopping mallFor pregnant women, the elderly, and alien

Eventually I’ve had enough of everything and decided to go back to my hostel especially since I already promised a friend to meet later on that night. On my way back, I decided to take the subway and realizes that the special seating area (where pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly normally sit) is actually marked with a sign that looks like an Alien’s head. Okay, it’s actually a picture of a chair but for a second I thought it’s some kind of subliminal messages that it’s also special area for Gaijin. :P Anyway, I think I’ll talk about food on my next post since I realized that I have some eateries in Tokyo that I visited quite often. Maybe after that I’ll talk more about Akihabara and anime shops.


Hachikuro Cafe + Odaiba

Hachikuro Mascot
Hachikuro merchandiseHagu statue

Anyone who read Memento on a regular basis will know that I really like an anime series titled Honey and Clover. The series was one of the most popular series in Japan last year. For some reason, the popularity propels some people to create a cafe called, Hachikuro cafe. The cafe is located in Odaiba, in order to get to Odaiba, you can either take the JR Yamanote line or the Tokyo Metro’s Ginza line to Shimbashi station. From this station, you can take the Yurikamome Monorail which will drop you at Odaiba Koen. After this, walk towards a building called Decks. The building consists of cafes and shops and is divided into several areas. If you go all the way here with the intention of finding the Hachikuro cafe, you need to go the the 3rd Floor of an area called ‘Island Mall’. Near its entrance, you’ll find the cafe.

The first thing that I noticed is that this is a very small cafe which doesn’t have that many chairs/tables in it. After I took some pictures, I approached the souvenir sections. There are several goods on sale here but unfortunately I am not interested in most of them because they are the kinds of things that I don’t collect (stuffed animals, shot glass, mug, cell phone straps, etc). I did buy some clear files. I’ll try to scan them and post the picture on Memento once I go back home. The cafe is decorated with pictures of the characters (with signatures from the voice actors) and a big Hagu statue. There’s also a big stuffed animal in the form of Hachikuro mascot placed on the entrance of the shop so you can’t possibly miss the shop when you enter the ‘Island Mall’ area.

Inside the cafeFrom outsideMessage from Yuki
Hachikuro cafeRainbow bridgeMcDonald's Ebi burger

Unfortunately it seems the menu on the cafe has changed from the first time it was opened. I remember that it used to have a much more fun and diverse menu. Nowadays, however, the cafe only serves drinks and snacks. *sigh* I was so looking to have that blue-cheese/honey Pizza. Oh well. I ended up only ordering the lemonade since I wasn’t that hungry back then. The lemonade was pretty good although it is rather pricey for a lemonade (around 350 Yen). Since there’s nothing else to see inside the cafe, I decided to walk around the building and after a few minutes, decided to get out of it. There seems to be an interesting area on the top floor that tries to imitate the back alley of Hong Kong inside a shopping mall. I was too tired to do further investigation, however, so I didn’t bother to take any picture. Maybe next time.

Having said that, it’d be silly to come all this way just to see the Cafe. Odaiba itself is a landmark place. From the Decks’s observatory area, you can clearly see the Rainbow Bridge. Yes, this is the bridge where Seishirou and Subaru from X TV staged their final fight against one another. Since I took the monorail, I actually went through the bridge. The view was really good although I’ll bet it’s even better at night. If I have time, I think I’ll try to go again during night time. There is actually a Ferris Wheel nearby in Venus Fort. I don’t think this is the one that the gang from Hachikuro went to. However, I think Mayama mentioned about it in the series. Anyway, eventually I got hungry and I decide to have McDonald’s for a change. Besides, McDonald’s in Japan tends to be better than the ones in other countries.

Fuji TelevisionVenus Fort's Ferris Wheel
The view from the escalatorYour Shounen Jump friends

True enough, I actually managed to have a rather decent burger here. It’s a new one they introduced for the season called Ebi-burger. It’s a burger filled with prawns, topped with some kind of thousand island sauce. This and Teriyaki Burger has to be some of the better McDonald’s burgers, I’ve tasted. After lunch, I decided to head towards the Fuji Television Building, thinking that they may have some good merchandise there. The building itself looks really good. There is some kind of tower which you can go up to (after paying 500 Yen) if you want to take a good look at Tokyo’s Metropolitan area from a high place. I personally think it’s a waste of money though so unless you’re that desperate to see it, I suggest that you save your Yen to buy other things.

After the tower, I decided to go to Fuji TV’s shop, which I kind of hoped will sell either Hachikuro or Nodame Cantabile merchandises. Unfortunately, the shop doesn’t seem to have that many merchandise for Noitamina series or for that matter, the more mature series aired on Fuji TV. I did, however, see many One Piece and Dragonball merchandise so if you like both series, you’re in luck. There’s also some kind of exhibition on the new live-action Saiyuki starring Katori Shingo. Anyway, since there isn’t that many things to see inside the building, I decided to go to Venus Fort, where apparently Paradise Kiss shop is opened. That, however, will have to wait until the next post since I have to go now.


Anime shops


I’ve been wondering lately what I want to do with this blog. Personally I feel guilty for neglecting it. It feels as if the blog is incomplete. Because of this, I decided to continue blogging what I saw/experienced while I was in Japan. Of course since I am not in Japan anymore, what you read is no longer up to date. But I don’t think it matters, at least not for me. I simply want to turn this into some kind of journal which I can read back and reminiscence. Hopefully by the time I almost run out of things to talk about, it’ll be time for me to go back to Japan again. :)

With that in mind, I’ll just start with a post about anime shops. The first anime shop I visited was Soft in Akihabara. Since that was the first time I entered a full-on anime store, I was a bit shocked to see a store full of nothing but anime and anime related goods. If I remember correctly, the first level is dedicated to manga, the second level is for anime and games, the third level is for hobby kits, and I can’t remember what’s on the fourth and fifth or if those levels actually exist. Either way, it was one hell of an eye opener for me.

When I think about it, it’s weird that I didn’t buy anything back then. I was probably a bit overwhelmed by the sights and too busy looking for a PSP. In addition to this, I had to spent 2.5 months in Okazaki, so I was afraid that I’d run out of money unless I only buy what I really needed. However, during the four days of my stay in Tokyo, I went at least 3 times to Akihabara just to look around the stores. I managed to get some photos but since I was always in a hurry and tried not to use flash, the pictures ended up blurry.

Lamtara shopCapsule toys
Capsule toysBleach fans

My second visit to an anime shop happened when I went to Nagoya with a friend. We were actually looking for a denshi-jisho (electronic dictionary) and a digital camera. However, on our way to the electronic shop, we got lost and stumbled upon a big Animate shop. He’s actually not a big anime fan since the only anime he’s seen were Full Metal Alchemist and Honey and Clover. Nevertheless, he’s nice enough to put up with me when I told him that I want to see the shop for ’5 minutes’. In reality, we probably spent at least 20 minutes inside the shop since the shop is quite big.

The first floor contains mostly manga and I wasn’t in the mood to buy any so we went to the second floor which has a lot of Shitajiki (Pencil Board). Looking back, I really regret the fact that I didn’t buy the Yakitate!! Japan pencilboard while I was there. I wanted to buy the Tsukino and Kawachi one but once again, my tight budget forced me to think “I’ll buy it later before I leave Japan”. I never did. I saw a lot of Mai-Hime pencilboard but the pictures don’t look that special to me and I was still bitter from the ending, so they didn’t register on my ‘must-purchase list’.

Anyway, we then went to the anime section of the shop. I noticed a lot of Air boxsets. Who the hell said that this thing is hard to get? There were a lot of unsold Air boxsets in almost every anime shop I went to. There are also a lot of other rare boxsets there, but strangely, I didn’t feel the desire to purchase any of them. Maybe the amount of anime available in that shop took its toll on me. It started to become not special anymore. By the time we got to the figurine section in the third or fourth floor (can’t remember), I felt that I’ve had enough and we both exited the shop without buying anything.

DVD boxsetsIn front of Animate shopCapsule stations
Jump ShopJump ShopJump Shop

When we got out of the shop, we noticed that there are a lot of capsule stations lining up in front of the shops. Capsule station is basically a mini vending machine device that offers various mini-figurines/keychains. Some of these are quite cheap (around 100 Yen) while others can cost you up to 300 Yen. I noticed that there were some Range Murata-designed figurines inside one of those capsules. However, when I found out that they’re not painted, I decided not to waste my 300 Yen on it. I didn’t bother to check the rest of the capsules since by then, I felt bad for my friend who have been patiently following me around while I was browsing the shop.

I actually made a lot of trips back to Nagoya every week while I was in Japan. However, it’s not until the last few weeks before I left the country that I found this nifty little shop called Jump Shop. Judging from the name, I’m sure everyone can guess that this is a shop that specifically sells various goods related to Shounen Jump series such as Naruto, Bleach, and Death Note. One of the things that immediately attracted my attention was this nice-looking figurines of both Ichigo and Orihime. I can’t exactly remember the price but I remember it being quite affordable, had I still have a lot of money. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much left.

It was definitely not fun being in this kind of shop and not having much money. Unfortunately, after buying digital camera, PSP, electronic dictionary, and lots of manga, there’s not much left for other types of souvenirs. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop my spending mentality when I saw these nice-looking Zangetsu and Zabimaru keychains. There are a lot of keychains being sold inside this store but none of them looks like they worth the price that you have to pay. These two, however, look so detailed and exceptional that I ended up buying them despite the relatively expensive price (700 Yen each) in comparison to other keychains (which usually only cost around 200 Yen each).


Akihabara and PSP


One of the reasons, sorry scratch that, the main reason that I chose to stay at Asakusa was its close proximity to Akihabara, the one place where electronic, games, and anime fans gather to satisfy their expensive hobby. If you already have an addiction to any of the things mentioned above, it’d take a lot of willpower and restraint to stop yourself from going on shopping spree. I don’t know what actually stopped me from blowing all of my budget at once but I’m glad I managed to restrained myself.

On the weekend, some streets are purposely off-limits to cars so pedestrian can run around the area safely while spending their hard-earned money. This place is simply *unbelievable*. Here we have an entire suburbs dedicated to selling electronics, games, and anime. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this anywhere else in the world. Hell, there are many buildings that has nothing from its first to sixth level but anime, manga, and character merchandises.

AkihabaraAkihabaraMai Hime

The best thing about the place is that if you look hard enough and have enough luck, you can probably find one of those ‘limited edition’ anime box/DVD that the Japanese online retailers don’t carry any longer. Strangely for some reason there’s nothing that I want to buy at that point. I saw some Mai Hime DVDs but there’s nothing unusual about them so I don’t want to waste money buying them. I also think that this is because my mind was mostly on a ‘find the cheapest PSP available’.

So in the end I ended up getting a PSP and a game. I have to say that this thing unbelievably good-looking. I love the sensation of playing Ridge Racers on a moving Shinkansen. It has to be experienced to be believed. I also managed to re-encoded some of the anime that I have and put it into the memory stick. And the result, as you can see in the picture above, is quite stunning. It’s really fun to be able to watch Tsubasa Chronicle or Speed Grapher while I’m at a food court, etc.