Tokyo’s Akihabara district fuses geek fantasy with Japanese pop culture. It’s the ultimate toy destination for male teens of all ages, from 15 to 50. 7-story shops sell plastic figures from the latest anime, manga, and video games. Other multi-story shops sell the latest anime, manga, and video games.
Smaller shops sold electronic gear, mange, and all sorts of geeky gewgaws. Multi-floor hobby shops sold countless model boats, trains, and planes, with row after row of RC car accessories. Ham radio stores were filled with the latest digital multiband receivers and pricey lowband transceivers. Otaka on parade.
I wandered around a tightly-packed multi-story store with countless cabinets filled with sci-fi figures dating back to the 60s. Dedicated fans could find dozens of different versions of Ultraman, from each year of their childhood.
Other floors, filled with DVDs, were marked 18 only. Japanese cartoon style is characterized by large eyes, small pert mouths, wildly flying hair, and gravity-defying boobs.
Japanese pop culture, especially when it involves 20-something male geeks, often tends toward the fetishistic. A male fascination with the Japanese school girl archetype (think Sailor Moon) is inescapably obvious, a phenomenon that is partially encouraged by 20-something Japanese women who dress in sexy school girl style.
This only partially explains the bizarrely popular phenomenon of maid culture.
Every street corner has one or more knee-socked, frilly-skirted, high-heeled, cutesy-poo young women passing out fliers on every Akihabara street corner.
The ultimate expression of maid culture is the maid café.
The patrons in a maid café are served tea and fancy desserts by young women dressed as French maids, with a Japanese twist of cutesiness. A sort of geek geisha, they serve as non-sexual companions to the mostly male clientele, deferring to them as a servant would to the laird of the manor, which must be a heady experience for a socially-challenged technologist.