Before I went to Tokyo in 2003, I spent months searching the Internet for maps and tips about how I would spend my time in the city of my dreams. I ended up lugging around a 3 ring binder loaded with inside info about Akihabara, Shinjuku and other otaku hot spots. If I only had Cruising the Anime City An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo back then, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble.
Cruising the Anime City An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo is a guidebook to all of the major toy, anime, game and other fan boy hotspots in and around Tokyo. Authors Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama take you inside animation studios and down the dark alleys of what some people call the greatest city on earth.
The book covers a broad range of subject matter, including Anime, Manga, Toys, Games, Idols, and even Cosplay. Each subject area is presented in a general fashion. Hardcore otaku will find little information they don't already know about their particular obsession, but it's a good way to learn about other forms of Japanese culture that they may have missed. I am a toy collector, and I found the toy category to be very brief, focusing mainly on gashapon, dolls, and the Bandai Museum. No mention was made of Chogokin, Jumbo Machines, Sentai, and many others.
Despite the light toy content, there are some great interviews, articles and stories in this book. Some highlights:
- Interview with Masuzo Furukawa, Owner of Mandarake
- Tour of the Toei Animation Studio
- The true meanings of otaku, moe and doller
- Tips on Fast Food in Tokyo
- Locations in and around Tokyo featured in Anime
- Maps and overview of Comiket
- The story of Plastic Model King Chimatsuri
The really valuable things in Cruising the Anime City An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo are the maps of Akihabara and Nakano. They actually mapped out the entire Nakano Broadway Mall, all 4 floors of it, detailing each store and what kind of goods they sell. This map alone is worth the price of the book. The map of Akihabara is great as well, but there are some omissions, namely smaller toy shops such as Fly-Ya. Locations of other famous toy stores around Tokyo such as Kiddy Land and Forest Gang are absent as well.
If you are contemplating a trip to Tokyo, or just want a primer on the many facets of otaku culture, this book is for you. It is well-written, easy to follow, and is a good size to fit in your backpack. It is not, however, the only book you will need if you are a Japanese toy fan. In addition to this book, pick up current issues of toy and hobby magazines in Japan and use the maps on the advertisements to find the majority of shops. You can also check out our report on toy stores in Tokyo.
Cruising the Anime City An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo
PATRICK MACIAS AND TOMOHIRO MACHIYAMA
144 pp, 7 X 9"
100+ color photos, maps
ISBN 1-880656-88-4, $16.95
Patrick Macias is the author of TOKYOSCOPE: THE JAPANESE CULT FILM COMPANION (Cadence Books), a contributor to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and a columnist for the Japanese toy magazine Figure King.
Tomohiro Machiyama is the author of BOOK OF THE OTAKU, which helped to popularize the word 'otaku' in Japan. One of Japan's most respected cultural commentators, Machiyama is also the founding editor of Eiga Hi-Ho (Movie Treasures) magazine.
Stone Bridge Press, publisher of books about Japan, offers over 20 guides to Japanese pop culture, including anime, manga, film, TV, and lifestyle. Other books include those on language, design, culture, history, literature, and business. PO Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707 -- p 800.947.7271 -- f 510.524.8711 -- www.stonebridge.com