If there is one media export coming from Japan that is watched all over the world then that is anime. Anime has become a staple part of Japanese culture and is one of the many ways that us dweebs become fascinated with Japan. There is no doubt about it: anime is enjoyed all over the world by all sorts of people.Anime is everywhere in Japan; on tv, in comic books (manga), on ads in the train and you even have “adult anime”. Anime is so popular that there are even people who dress up as their favorite anime character (also known as cosplay) littered throughout Tokyo.
With this growth in popularity there has also been a growth in different genres of anime; fighting, romance, school, horror etc…. With this there has also been an exponential growth in the variety of anime characters and different kinds of fandoms. The characters in an anime are the most important thing about an anime, because this is what makes people relate to the anime and enjoy the characters progression and story. Manufacturers know this and have created an immeasurable amount of anime figures of our favorite anime characters.
In Japan you can find anime figures everywhere, in crane game stores, in anime stores, in the convenience store and in gacha machines to name a few. This has led to a few specialized figures stores scattered around Japan. Here, Akihabara takes the proverbial crown as the king of all things dweebus.
Akihabara is 1 of the 14 districts of Tokyo and it is notorious for its anime / manga oriented shopping streets. Akihabara is the dream of every so-called ‘otaku’ (anime / manga fanatic), because it has the most anime stores in all of Japan and with this it also has the most amount of figures. This makes it great to go shopping for anime / manga related goods and is the main reason why Akihabara is visited so much by Japanese people and tourists.
Is there only anime / manga?
Most of Akihabara is either anime or manga related things: shops, exhibitions and showcases, but there are also some other shops like electronics- and convenient stores. Besides those few shops there are also some restaurants, but there are surprisingly few restaurants where you can get a good meal (besides ramen and Japanese restaurants). Another unique thing about Akihabara is the seemingly endless amount of maid cafes: these are basically cafes where you get served by a maid and where everything is really cute and loud, but those deserve an article on their own.
Now let’s talk about what everyone came for: the anime stores in Akihabara. There are countless massive anime stores that sell manga, T-shirts, accessories and the most important of all: anime figures. Anime figures are the main selling point and reason why people go to Akihabara, and let me tell you: it is insanely hard to choose only 1 figure out of all of them. And that is why I have come to the rescue: I will give you detailed and amateur instructions on how to buy an anime figure.
The first thing you want to do before even going to Akihabara is decide what kind of figure you want from what anime, if you don’t do this you will get lost in the ocean of anime figures that is Akihabara. This will result in you buying more anime figures then you anticipated which leads to your bank account going extinct.vOnce you settle on an anime you need to decide (if you can) on one character you want to get a figure of, this is the hardest part of the process and this is where I frequently fail. I had a very clear goal in mind when coming to Akihabara: I wanted a figure of Leone Abbacchio from part 5 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (this is a really popular anime in Japan). This was something that I wanted since watching the anime when it came out.
And so I went, starting my search for an Abbacchio figure, I searched all of the stores thoroughly and went from floor 1 to the top of every single one. But no luck, I did not find 1 Abbacchio figure with his stand that wouldn’t cost me my liver. So I had to settle on another figure from Jojo and I chose Cujoh Jolyne from part 6 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (same anime). I figured this was a bit easier since this part of the anime just got released to the public.
I searched and searched and then finally, I found a cool Jolyne figure. Once I found it I didn’t hesitate for a second, I immediately pulled out my credit card to spend my precious money on a toy that I can only look at. When I bought her I had her wrapped in bubble wrap so that she wouldn’t break. The fear of her breaking and thus wasting my monthly salary made me feel almost maternal. On my way home all I cared about was protecting my newly acquired figure and so I did. I shielded her from all the dangers mother earth throws at us and when I finally came home I unpacked her. After unpacking her I put her on display so that everyone who entered my apartment could see in pure astonishment, that I make poor financial decisions.
Many people who never bought an anime figure may criticize you from wasting so much on a useless figure that you can (according to them) only look at. But you must stay strong. Some people decorate their homes with all sorts of paintings that serve the same purpose. My counter argument for these uncultured individuals is that paintings are usually more expensive and lack the superior appeal of anime figures
My favorite thing about figures in Japan is that there are so many options you can think about not only what character you want, but what kind of pose you want them immortalized in. After buying it and stalling it you can look at it and think back of the fun you had watching the anime / reading the manga and relive those moments of joy. This is exacerbated if you won this figure in a crane game as it doubles as a trophy of the time you beat the machine. The beauty is that it will also remind (in my case) me of the great times I had in Japan and how much fun it was to scout out all the stores searching for that hidden gem you always wanted.