Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013 Japan Trip Highlights and Acquisitions!

In a brilliant attempt to circumvent me running out of steam doing a day-by-day recount of my trip, this time, I'll be writing just one post featuring only the juicy bits - Akihabara, Comiket (doujins) and more!

I'll organize this post by sections that go in chronological order. At the end of the recount, will be a section that is dedicated to all the acquisitions that I got during my trip.

Without further ado, here we go!

(Warning! Image intensive and somewhat NSFW. Also, the changing aspect ratio of the pictures is due to the fact that a number of them were taken with different cameras.)


The first few days of my trip were spent in Shizuoka on a homestay program that was part of a prize that I received for winning the National Japanese Speech Contest about half a year back.

What more can I say? After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

But, if I were to add something to that, I'd say that Mount Fuji was simply breathtaking. And I'm not talking about the view. The air there in the mountainous/countryside area was just unbelievably clean and fresh. Definitely an experience of a lifetime.

In addition, there were a myriad of sightseeing spots and activities that were prepared for us to visit such as shrines and traditional arts and crafts workshops.

Tenka Gomen? (^.^;)

Also, my homestay family were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Mrs. Iseki used to be a chef with her own cooking show on TV and the food was superb. I even had a chance to sample a Japanese musk melon during my stay.

Dreams really do come true! (^.^)


After that, the rest of the trip was spent mainly in Tokyo. A number of days were allocated to perusing the various anime stores that were sprinkled throughout Akihabara. Mandarake, Radio Kaikan, Kaiyodo, Kotobukiya, the works. I also visited the main Mandarake store in Nakano.

Regrettably, as I haven't had much time this past year to watch anime, I'm really out of touch with many of the recent series. What this means is that my purchasing choices were severely limited as I have a strict rule that I adhere to as a collector. That is: Only buy merchandise of series/characters that I know of and like. I do this for 2 reasons. 1. To avoid buying merchandise of a series I might despise later upon viewing and 2. To limit my spending. This being the case, I really couldn't shake the feeling that, to a certain extent, this trip was a wasted opportunity as most of the merchandise on sale were of recent series.

But, we must push on regardless!

I had no idea that the Tamashii Nations Akiba Showroom was located in Akihabara Station all this time. For the uninitiated, the Showroom is a small space where Bandai displays all its new and upcoming figure releases. After seeing pictures of this place on hobby news sites for ages, it's nice to explore it in person. Happened to be there just in time to catch a glimpse of a figure that I've been waiting ages for, S.H.Figuarts Auto Vajin!

As I don't think it would be a wise idea to inundate this entire page with pictures, here's a video instead (^.^).

One of the places that I knew I had to go to was the GSC Cafe. I've seen countless photos of it online and it was time for me to experience it for myself. The current promotion was for Infinite Stratos, which I unfortunately haven't seen much of. Still, that didn't stop me from enjoying the decor and intriguing character-themed food.

The blue stuff is just blue-colored butter.

I got Cecilia Alcott's Homemade Sandwiches.

Soon to be released DD Hatsune Miku. (Sneaked a picture, as photos weren't allowed.)


Not living in America can be disheartening at times. Especially when they get the third Madoka movie screened in theaters there. Fortunately, this trip was just in the nick of time as several cinemas in Japan were still screening the Madoka movie (even 2 and a half months after it's premiere). While I was there, I also managed to catch the yearly, obligatory Kamen Rider team-up movie.

Impressions? (Highlight to read spoilers.)

- Madoka movie: Phenomenal. Magnificent. Stupendous. Stellar. Brilliant. Marvelous. Sublime. Seriously. It was great.

First things first, you could really tell that the movie was written with the fans in mind. What do I mean? There were a ton of fanservice and fanwanks. Not fanservice in the ecchi/erotic sense, but stuff that fans of the show wanted to see in the original show. For instance, 5 member dance-themed henshin sequences with a different dance type for each girl? Gratuitous time-stop HOMU HOMU battles? Charlotte X Mami? Charlotte's Magical Girl form? YES, YES and HELL YES!!! These people know how to treat their fans. Save the convoluted, contrived and bizarre ending that didn't make a ton of sense character-wise to me (yet), it was superb.

- Kamen Rider movie: Meh. Same as the last one.

Both movies were seen at Shinjuku Wald9 Cinema. Sadly, I completely forgot to take any pictures of/at the cinema itself


Another place that I wanted to visit was the Tokyo Pokemon Center. With the recent release of Pokemon X and Y, the whole store was decked out in X and Y decorations. With regard to merchandise, the name 'Pokemon Center' did not lie. Shelves and shelves of everything Pokemon from stuffed toys to stickers to stationary as far as the eye could see.

As an adult collector however, I was looking for stuff featuring the human characters of the Pokemon franchise, which they were sadly lacking of. Still, I did manage to find something pretty evocative of both Pokemon and Nintendo there - check out the acquisitions section below to see what it is!


Finally. The main event had arrived. It was time to sharpen my sword on the battlefield that is known to otaku the world over as Comic Market, aka Comiket. Interestingly enough, if you guys remember, this isn't my first rodeo as I've actually been to Comiket before (, ).

This time however, I went prepared! Using the very handy-dandy from ANN (Why are all the series names in localized?!) and the (No need for thick physical catalogs anymore!) I marked down all the industry booths that caught my eye and the locations of my favorite artist circles. Essentially, the plan was to visit the industry section (West Halls 3 and 4) on Day 1 and the doujin artist section (East Halls 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) on Day 3.

Crowd at Kokusai-Tenjijo Station.

Crowd in the West Halls, Industry Section.

Queue for the Aniplex booth.

Crowd outside the East Halls.

Yet, all that planning did not prepare me for the absurd length of the queues for several of the industry booths and the limited stock of some doujins. The queue for the Aniplex booth alone was a whole 3 hours long and I could only get most of my top priority doujins before they began selling out within a couple of hours.

Lesson learned. When going to Comiket, unless you go with a ton of friends, like Konata did in episode 12 of Lucky Star, getting more than a handful of doujins is all you can physically manage.

All in all, it was a far, far, far more successful endeavor than the last Comiket I went to. Spoils of war in the acquisition section below!


Right next to Tokyo Big Sight, is Diver City. Home to the 1/1 scale Gundam statue! While I'm not a terribly huge fan of Gundam, it was still truly a sight to behold and a marvel of engineering. I hope to live to see the day when a life sized Valk from Macross, Arm Slave from FMP!, Eva from Evangelion or Knightmare from Code Geass gets built.


Whee! For a Lucky Star fan like me, you can't spend New Year's Day in Japan without having your hatsumoude (first shine visit of the New Year) at Washinomiya Shrine in Saitama - home to Kagami and Tsukasa.

Not to mention, that year was a pretty good year to go to Washinomiya as it was also the 10th Anniversary of Lucky Star! Honestly, you can never get tired of reliving your favorite anime.

Being the first of January, the temple was crowded and we had to contend with yet another long line when wanting to offer our prayers. After Comiket, that's pretty much the last thing we wanted to see.

A couple of hours later, after praying, indulging in festival food (cotton candy and candy apples!) and checking out the ever-intricately drawn emas (prayer plaques), I spent a bit of cash at a booth offering a Lucky Star Sega Kuji. Managed to walk away with the B prize (Tsukasa) and a couple of other extras. Once again, acquisitions coming up below!

Kagami Mochi? Kagami? Get it? Yeah


Last but not least, our final destination for this trip was the Bandai Museum in Omochanomachi. If Saitama was far away from Tokyo, Omochanomachi was an eternity away - 3 hours away from Tokyo by train. But it was all worth it as the collection of Bandai toys, merchandise and paraphernalia were astounding. While there were numerous exhibits at the Bandai Museum, the Japan Toy exhibit was undoubtedly the main attraction for me. It chronicles the evolution and history of Japanese toys and has a little bit of everything from wooden toys to Super Robots to Evangelion to Godzilla to Digimon to Kamen Rider to Sailor Moon to Cardcaptor Sakura to Precure (all Bandai, of course). Had an absolute blast there.

Here are some pics of my personal favorites:

A collection of posters of all the Precure series.

Collection of Sentai mecha.

Cardcaptor Sakura.


Kamen Rider (Faiz).


Sailor Moon.

Once again, instead of flooding the page with photos of a single venue, here's a video covering the entirety of the Japan Toy exhibit:


With that, the trip came to a close and it was time to return to home sweet home.

Time to prepare for the new school semester ahead (NOOOOOOO) and to sort through all my acquisitions. As mentioned in the beginning, I haven't been keeping up with much of the recent anime series, so my purchases this time round are (comparatively) rather scant.


Well, truth be told, it's still an impressive haul nonetheless, if I do say so myself. For this trip, we have (from top to bottom, left to right):

Kamen Rider Gaim DX Genesis Driver

Kamen Rider Gaim DX Sonic Arrow

Medicos JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Super Action Statue Kujo Jotaro

Sega Prize 5th Angel with Light-up Angel Core

Sailormoon Miracle Romance Nail Collection

Loose Precure Card Commune

S.H.Figuarts Kamen Rider W Hardboilder

Frog (Gekota-esque) Mini POCHI Coin Purse

S.H.Figuarts Sailor Mars

S.H.Figuarts Kamen Rider Blade

20th Anniversary Dengeki Heroines Figure Collection

Kotobukiya 1/7 Scale Kaiba Seto

Movic 1/6 Scale Takamachi Nanoha

Megahouse 1/8 Scale Tsuchimiya Kagura

Cu-poche Tomoe Mami

Device Metal Charm Collection 06: Klar Wind -Ring Form

Chibi-Arts Hanasaki Tsubomi

Choro-Q Evangelion 3.0 Trading Figure

Puchi Chara Heartcatch Precure! Trading Figure

S.H.Figuarts Kamen Rider Delta

Loose Petanko Mini! Akemi Homura

Romando High Quality Collection Doll Cure Black

Infinite Stratos Coasters X 2

Infinite Stratos Table Mat

Mattel Yu-Gi-Oh! Deluxe Winged Dragon of Ra Model Kit

Kamen Rider Gaim Gashapon Sound Lockseed Mango

Kamen Rider Gaim Gashapon Sound Lockseed Decade

Kamen Rider Gaim Orange Lockseed Lock

Kamen Rider Gaim Melon Lockseed Lock

Misaca Promotion IC Card Sticker

Gekota Strap Lawson Version

Loose Hirasawa Yui Soundrop

Loose Mahiro Inami Rubber Strap

Loose Death Note Key Chain

Loose Light-up JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Stone Mask Keychain

Kujibikido Light Novel Kuji E-Prize Suzumiya Haruhi Strap

Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku Clear File

Madoka Chocolate Bar Tomoe Mami (Banana Macadamia)

Madoka Chocolate Bar Charlotte (Raspberry Macadamia)

Heartcatch Precure! Volume 2 DVD

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Replica Can Coin Bank - Saten/Ichigo Oden

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Replica Can Coin Bank - Mikoto/Coconut Cider

Loose Niitengo Key Memorial Set Tsukimiya Ayu Trading Figure

Loose Kamen Rider Wizard DX Kick Strike Ring

Madoka Magica Wafer Snack X 2

Evangelion Wafer Snack

Kamen Rider Gaim Orange Gummy

Holding Hands Madoka/Homura Mascot Plush Set

Lucky Star Line Art Collection 2nd-Year Students

Lucky Star Line Art Collection 3rd-Year Students


From the Madoka and Kamen Rider movies, I managed to snag these premiums:

Madoka Movie Pamphlet

Kamen Rider Movie Coloring Book

Kamen Rider Movie Pamphlet

Madoka Movie Signed Board Madoka X Homura Version

Madoka Movie 'Witches Artwork' Booklet

okay, you caught me. I got that signed board from Mandarake.


Didn't really manage to catch them all, but I caught some pretty sweet Pokemon merchandise:

Monster Collection Thunder (Zapdos)

Pokemon Stamp

Framed Pokemon Hanafuda Cards

Mei (Rosa) Metal Key Chain

Pokemon Kid's Can

Pokemon Macaroni

While I would have preferred Hanafuda cards that could actually be played (as I play with my friends quite often), they only had a framed set and I could not resist. Why? Nintendo as a company started out with making and selling Hanafuda cards. Pokemon is also something that they are exceedingly well known for. So, what better commemorative set to get than Pokemon Hanafuda cards?

Honestly, I got the Pokemon Stamp and the Pokemon Kid's Can (badges and finger puppets inside) just for the Poke Ball/Master Ball packaging. The Poke Ball one is a pretty decent replica.

Yes. Pokemon Macaroni.


My winnings from the Lucky Star Sega Kuji. Really glad that I at least managed to get one of the top prizes.

B Prize - Hiiragi Tsukasa Kimono Figure

D Prize - SD Figures X 5

E Prize - SD Key Chains X3

F Prize - Artbook X2

From the line-up, it would appear that I have a thing against Kagami. This is a complete misconception as everything Kagami-related was already gone by the time I got there.

Other stuff:

Charms from the Shrine

Lucky Star Soy Sauce Ramen


Long queues and heavy books do not make for a good combination. Industry booth loot is as follows:

Steins;Gate UFO Catcher Doll Makise Kurisu

Steins;Gate UFO Catcher Doll Okabe Rintarou

Cardcaptor Sakura Animated Artworks Artbook

Cardcaptor Sakura Revised Key Frames by the Animation Director Artbook

Cardcaptor Sakura Animated Character Designs Artbook

Kill la Kill Inflatable Ryouko's Scissor Blade

Inoue Toshiyuki's Uchoten Kazoku Original Collection Artbooks + Signed Board

Rozen Maiden Pin Set

Shingeki no Kyojin Opening "Jiyuu no Tsubasa" Deconstruction Book ~The Memories and Documents~

Shingeki no Kyojin Clear File

Ano Hana Movie Revised Animation Collection

Kill la Kill 3 Star Badge

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai Animation Production Sourcebook

Shingeki no Kyojin Animation Collection Volume 2 (The clear file comes with this)

+ a shit-ton of Upa gachapon figures. Seriously, the normal variant (the one I wanted) just refused to pop up. Threw in the towel after 12 tries.

Kinda sad that I wasn't in to/haven't seen quite a number of the series that they were shoveling out exclusive merchandise for at ComiketOnce again, can't help but feel like it was a wasted opportunity

Whatever the case, those CCS artbooks () were unequivocally the cream of the crop. Being a die-hard CCS fan, these books that feature detailed drawings, setting material and line art are just phenomenal.



and finally.

The pi ce de r sistance, the one you guys have been waiting fordoujins! And look what planning ahead can get you. For those who are interested (and I know you are), here's a list of circles (in no particular order) I bought from:


Da Hootch


Alice no Takarabako

Kossori Kakure Dokoro

Yami ni Ugomeku

Ohkura Bekkan

Yoru no Benkyoukai



Studio PAL


Hakueki Shobou



Daikan Kyohougumi

Abarenbow Tengu

There's a manga by DATE that I got at Mandarake, but I put it together with the doujinshi for obvious reasons. (^.^;)

and no, don't ask, because I will not be scanning them. Scans will pop up sooner or later.IN CONCLUSION!

I realize that I haven't been posting much over the past year and I sincerely apologize for that.

For those of you who have been sticking with me through the thick and thin, thank you guys very, very much. It means even more to me now as I've left many anime forums and communities, where much of my traffic came from.

Hope you have enjoyed this little recount of my 2013 Japan Trip and hope you'll enjoy the stuff that I will be posting in the future.

Here's to a splendid 2014.
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