|Akihabara at night|
Between me politely saying “No thank you,” to the hoards of girls in maid outfits attempting to hand me flyers and my lusting after vintage Rolexes and Leica cameras, I occasionally visit the arcades. The first thing that strikes you when you enter a Japanese arcade is the overwhelming scent of cigarette smoke and tons of flashing lights…the entire thing is just a tad over the top. The first floor is typically full of “UFO Catcher” or, as I know them in America, “Claw Games”. The prizes are typically plushies or figures of video game or anime characters. Though due to the unique clientele that tend to frequent Akihabra the prizes are typically scantily clad female anime character figurines in inappropriate clothing.
As you escape from the cavern of smoke you will notice two things; One, clean air is wonderful. Two, in the two seconds you’ve been on this floor, you’ve permanently damaged your hearing for life thanks to the fifty rhythm games all trying to be louder than each other. The result of this one-up-manship is a cacophony of high pitched vocaloid screams, androgynous boy pop idol screams, and screaming guitar solos. The rhythm game floor is a cruel mistress, she does not hear the cries of the weak, though you really can’t blame her—you can’t hear much of anything up there. As the old saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but passionate J-Pop songs will obliterate my eardrums.”
|Rhythm game players!|
After you’ve come to terms with your brand new case of tinnitus and you take a look around you will see the highest level of arcades goers, the rhythm game players. Well you’ll also see me at the “Chunitum Air” machine playing “ok”. Of course you will also see the high level rhythm game players. What’s special about high level rhythm game players? Well there’s the fact that they are decedents of Ninjas. These people laugh in the face of “hand-eye coordination,” these people’s hands and feet move with such speed that their movements begin to look like something out of a loony toons cartoon! If I were to compare, which I will, the rhythm game players make the fighting game players look positively geriatric. I don’t think words can adequately express this, thankfully I have Youtube so I can save a few sentences of trying to describe the indescribable with descriptions and just post a video.
So, there you go, I hope you have enjoyed our magical trip through your typical Japanese arcade. I highly recommend checking one out if you get a chance! They’re like a lot of things in Japan— weird, bright, exciting, and full of cigarette smoke! Also, if you’re extremely lucky, you might wonder into the right one and see me flailing around on the Chunitum machine like a fish out of water!