Author: JPT staff, Illustrations by Makoto Nakajima
Age Rating: N/A
Page Count: 98
A manga guidebook to one of Tokyo's liveliest neighbourhoods.
Every otaku knows that Akihabara is the centre of otaku culture. It's packed with everything an otaku could need: electronics, games, anime, maid cafes and cosplay stores all full of wonderful things to see and buy. This is the guide to use to get the most out of a trip there!
Most Japanese guide books are not really aimed for anime and manga fans. They will only have a single paragraph on Akihabara as the electronics district in Tokyo and that it sells anime and manga. The Akiba is a more in-depth guide to the area. It was originally written for a Japanese audience as a guide to the otaku paradise and has been translated into English. It won't tell you how to get around Tokyo or how to get from the airport but it will help you find a maid cafe.
The book is divided into two sections, the manga story part and the Shop & Restaurant Guide to Akiba.
The manga story side of things focuses on an 18 year old Yoko Minamoto a temporary employee, whose boyfriend has gone missing. With the only clues pointing to Akihabara she sets off to find him, befriending a stereotypical otaku and running around a variety of shops along the way. The story is enjoyable although a little bit contrived, but then again it is hard to write a story that acts as a guide that will pack everything in. At just over 60 pages it might seem long for the manga section, but it's only after you've finished reading it that you realise how much you've learnt about Akiba, it's history and culture, plus what to go and see there. Manga really is a good learning tool! The artwork is sharp, crisp and clean, with some nice use of tones too. The translation by Leslie Higley is fluid and doesn't jar. Linear notes accompany all the effort sounds and swooshes, which remain on the page in Japanese. This takes a while to get used to and it's nice to see that everything on the page is translated although some readers may have preferred that they were airbrushed into English.
The shop and Restaurant Guide is in colour and covers a selection of the shops and eateries in the area. It has an excellent selection of Maid Cafes, along with a breakdown of stores you might miss if you're just wandering around the area, especially as Akiba can be overwhelming at times! There are also a couple of maps of the main streets in the area, which points out the shops making it easier to find the highlights in the book. I've noticed that a couple of shops aren't included in the book, such as the Animate Store, however you're unlikely to miss the shops not in the guide, as they're prominent in Akiba.
The book is a solid introduction to Akihabara and will help anyone visiting Tokyo get to grips with the otaku paradise. With so many great shops to visit while over there, this guide is perfect to make sure you won't miss anything. The book definitely does its job and we recommend it for every otaku heading over to Tokyo to make the most of their trip. It will pay for itself. Even if you're not going to Tokyo, it's worth reading it to learn a bit more about the otaku heartland and dream of the day you get to visit in person.