Japan is the land of the “boom” and every year something new seems to come out of left field and become really popular here. One of the keywords for 2005 so far has been Akiba-kei, which literally means “related to Akihabara” and refers to Tokyo’s mecca for electronics and, increasingly, for general otaku culture. “Otaku” are people who love anime and manga, can appreciate beauty in a bishoujo game character (the dating-sims that J-List sells), and may know something about the subtleties of maid uniforms. As Akihabara has lost its importance as the place to buy electronics in Tokyo, it’s been morphing into a haven for fans of doujinshi (Japan’s famous amateur comics), high-end anime shops and maid cafes, where beautiful girls in Gothic maid costumes will bring you coffee. It seems everywhere you turn these days, people in Japan are talking about good, wholesome geek culture.
Part of the reason for this new interest in otaku-dom is the hit drama Densha Otoko, or Train Man, the story of an introverted man who loves anime and video games. When he saves a beautiful woman from a drunkard on a train, she shows her thanks by giving him an expensive Hermes tea set. He’s smitten by her beauty, but too shy to do anything about it, so he goes online and asks for help on a popular Internet BBS. Before long, their budding love is being followed by a million otaku throughout Japan who take part in the discussions about their relationship. The drama, which is a few episodes from its end, is based on a true story — a real member of the popular Japanese BBS 2ch did find love by getting help from thousands of otaku. The show is incredibly popular, commanding upwards of 20% of viewers here.
Otaku culture has also made its mark on a popular Japanese television show, TV Champion, which normally challenges teams of artists to create amazing works out of trash, or design sprawling creations using legos, or bake cakes in the shape of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This week’s episode was Akiba-kei all the way, though, with geeky contestants doing things like listening to clips from anime and identifying who the voice actor/actress was, answering obscure trivia about anime, and dressing normal Tokyo girls up like their favorite anime characters. In the end, the contestant with the most votes was awarded the title “King of Otaku.”
We’ve got a new announcement for fans of our English-translated PC dating-sim games: many titles are now available via Internet download! Now you have a choice when you purchase selected G-Collections games, ordering them on CD-ROM as you’ve always done, or downloading the new Download Editions. As always, CD-ROM versions will be standard packaged games that you can install in your PC normally. The Download Editions make use of Virtual Mate 2.0, which is an updated activation system that requires an Internet connection when you load the game. G-Collections has worked hard to improve V-Mate with the new version — you get a license to install on up to five computers, with the ability to manually “de-register” a machine, for when you upgrade to a new computer. Best of all, V-Mate is optional, since you can opt to buy the full CD-ROM version instead which has no internet connection requirement. There are currently fourteen games available for download.
The availability of the new download versions means that several of the popular games we’ve been out of stock of for a while are available again, including The Sagara Family, Come See Me Tonight, and Do You Like Bunnies? 2. All are on the site and available for immediate purchase as download versions (and the Virtual Mate-free CD-ROMs will be posted as soon as they’re back from the duplicators).