Akihabara, were people look for ways to escape their loneliness

Article published on March 10, 2009
community published
Article published on March 10, 2009
The further we go, the more interesting it gets. Akihabara offers a world with everything drawn by a skillful hand: sadomasochistic scenes, European counts and Japanese princes, Lolita exploitation, gay porn for women, and tons of ways of peeping into the secret office life. It's all out there, just a few steps from the main street.

I ask my friend S. to take me to Akihabara, were I want to get a plug converter. People in the stores  around are advertising their discounts aloud: I have no idea how it helps, because their voices disappear into the background noise created by the many advertisers. It’s difficult to notice anything amidst all possible kinds of noise – voices as well as visuals.

We proceed to one of the streets in Akihabara. S. asks me if I know what Akihabara is famous for. My only guess is electronics, but apparently it’s anime and manga. We go to look into several stores – S. says I could do good Anthropology here. He’s right. First, I take some photos of the posters, which I would call “Lolita exploitation”. Second, I snatch some really crazy and sick half-porn fliers, where anime characters have flower pots in certain places, or boobs about the size of their heads, or wear high school uniforms, or pose in samurai outfit with panties showing, with one arm cut and bleeding, katana in hand, and cloth falling off the breast. I realize that unlike real actors, anime characters can perform even the sickest tasks – I believe that’s the future of pornography, when so much is already created and it must be so difficult to impress the clients nowadays. I must admit that I have never fully watched a porno movie – not even out of interest. This stuff irritates my feminist mind, although my colleague Karlas has written on it from a different point of view, which I sort of accept. Anyway, the point was to say that I don’t’ really know – maybe actors perform things as sick as anime characters. The further we go, the more interesting it gets. Here’s the sado-maso division. And here’s a choice of European romantic stories vs. ancient Japanese stories, such as the Tale of Genji. Third, we check the next store, and S. points at an upstairs division called Games for women. We go to see it, and, apparently, women are supposed to take pleasure in playing gay erotic video games. S. points out what I wouldn’t have noticed: the characters are some sort of trans-gender. The features are drawn so that it’s not exactly clear whether it’s a male or a female. There are many covers depicting gay males unbuttoning each other's shirts, mostly in office settings. There is a DVD with “nice European boys to look at” – it’s called “Moments with desire”. There are two DVDs with European males, both were made in England in 1997. I get a book with two gays on the cover – should be about the level of Japanese I could understand. We proceed to a place where you pay JPY 800 and can spend half an hour playing with kittens. They serve some colourful drinks, too. There are maybe eight kittens, and you are not guaranteed that you will get one – you only get a table and some toys to try to attract the kittens. It’s forbidden to wake up sleeping kittens, and to post a photo of them on a website or blog one must ask for a permission and put a banner of the place. Hmmm... people pay to get half an hour to play with kittens... I think it’s a good business idea for cat lovers. The kittens are free to do whatever they want to. They don’t have to entertain the visitors – the visitors are here to entertain the kittens and try to attract them to themselves. The place is smaller than an average room, and there’s no need for much supervision. Visitors take their drinks themselves from the machines in the corner, and that’s it.

The stereotype of a maid or a schoolgirl is one of the most banal objects of desire around the globe.

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