Unbridled Cynicism

less bullshit, more often?

Single-8 and wandering in Akiba


Weather was crappy and rainy, but that wasn’t going to stop us buying a lot of stuff. We’d somehow avoided Toranoana thus far, so we went to hit them up for various non-doujin-book goods.

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Caption: Life-size Hocchan! She’s wearing the staff uniform, too, which is a cute touch. The sign on her shoulder says it’s okay to take photos. And Yune-chan is so cute! >_<

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Caption: You probably can’t tell, but this scroll is at least a couple of metres tall (it hangs in one of the stairwells between levels). I wanna take Inori home~

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Caption: Louise stands just inside the entrance at the bottom level of Toranoana. I-it’s not like I wanted to scan her QR code!

After we’d had enough of these shenanigans we hit up Sofmap to look for consoles and games. After wandering around half-blind for at least an hour, we asked the staff at the counter for an Xbox 360 and a pair of 3DSes. I think Trej dropped about 65,000yen on that transaction, if not more. I stuck with a cute-but-hard-to-get Tako-Luka for 1800yen.

We’ve heard stories about the 360 doing poorly in Japan, but usually they’re dismissed as fearmongering and sensationalism. I’ve gotta say, after this experience I’m inclined to believe them. The hardware is barely on display on the shop floor (there’s a booth in the corner demonstrating the Kinect), and the games section is a paltry couple of shelves, mostly with western titles. Sofmap isn’t exactly a small retailer, so it’s not like they can’t get the 360 on display.


After hauling all this stuff back to the hotel we set out for Kamezawa (closest station: JR Kinshichou), where Retro Enterprises is. Started in the mid-90’s, Retro specialises in Single-8 cameras and processing, and a few other things. I’m here because I need film for my recently-acquired Fujica cameras, and a battery as well for the older one.

It’s thankfully pretty easy to find, tucked away not far from the main streets. We were worried that the shop wasn’t open because the roller-door was closed, but it was business as usual, just that they don’t have a big open shopfront. There’s not much room to move inside despite being a pretty large space, as it’s filled with cameras, TVs, shelves and cabinets.

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Caption: The entrance is through the glass doors on the left, and the stacks of TVs are right behind me. It’s a bit messy, but it really gives you a feel for the type of place it is. Kohyama-san is checking the paperwork for a courier pickup, the guy in the orange jacket. On the very left of the frame are some laserdisc players, pro-grade rackmount stuff.

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Caption: This belongs to one of the big cabinet-style televisions, dating back to 1972. The internet tells me it wasn’t the first of it’s kind (that distinction belongs to the Zenith Space Command remote control), but this uses a mechanical action to produce ultrasonic pulses to change the channel and volume of the TV, no batteries needed! Apparently it had a lot of problems as the remote function could be triggered by environmental noises, like picking up a set of housekeys, and people thought their TV was posessed by a ghost.

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Caption: One of the many stacks of old TVs near the entrance. It kinda scares me that these don’t seem so unfamiliar, I remember relatives having TVs like this when I was a kid.

The assistant at the front of the shop doesn’t speak English, but thankfully the owner is around to help. As I was expecting, his English is very good and he’s great at explaining things and telling stories.

They have the Fuji R25N on hand, as well as Cinevia stock in ASA 50, 64 and 100. I don’t really know what I’m going to be shooting yet, so I get one cartridge of the R25N and two of the Cinevia 100. It’s not “cheap” at 3200yen per cartridge (about 37 AUD at the moment), but it includes processing as well, which is a great convenience. It’s not like you can really do it yourself, so you were going to pay the price one way or another.

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Caption: Both films are rated for daylight illumination, which should hopefully do the job for my purposes. I don’t yet know if it’ll turn excessively blue in cloud cover or deep shadow.

We spend probably a good hour in there chatting about the various stuff in the shop and confirming how things work. The cameras really are as simple to operate as I’d hoped, with exposure taken care of automatically. Apparently the viewfinder of my P300, which I thought was pretty grubby, is actually in good condition. He still advises against trying to focus by sight, and instead make use of the distance scale on the lens itself. In bright light you can rely on depth of field to cover for you, and snap the focus to 5m.

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Caption: One of the display cases near the front counter, you can make out a few Fujica models and an underwater housing for the AX100 camera.

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Caption: The AX100 itself. It’s a tiny little camera, designed for carrying in your pocket and shooting in low-light with an f/1.1 lens.

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Caption: A stack of C-mount adaptors, basically one of the features that makes the ZC1000 camera awesome.

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Caption: A couple of Fujica P2 variants. I think the one on the right is the Zoom model with a 10.5–27.5mm lens, while the one on the left is a non-Zoom model with a Nikon-made 0.66x wide-angle converter attached to the filter threads.

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Caption: More of those delicious fishbowl televisions. One of the things Retro does is gut the internals and replace them with modern panel displays, so you can watch shiny high-definition content on a TV that looks like it came from the 60’s :D

While edging past the televisions I noticed a Minette S-5 viewer/editor machine sitting on one of the cabinets, what luck! There’s not enough detail in the animation to be certain, but this is very close match for the machine Kaito is seen using in NatsuMachi. Kohyama-san was kind enough to plug it in and run a bit of film through it so I could see it in action. It’s a little bit fiddly, but it works very well.

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Caption: The S-5 was apparently a big upgrade on the S-4 that preceded it, thanks to the big bright viewing screen.

More shopping

Seeing as we had some time to kill, we visited the Book Off near Kinshichou station to look for second-hand copies of Idolmaster for the 360. While we didn’t find any IM@S, we did come across Dream C Club and its sequel. Get!

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Caption: Book Off also deals in second-hand DVDs and CDs. I’ll let you figure this one out.

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Caption: While looking around Yodobashi Camera’s software section I spotted this 3D modelling software on the shelves. I’m sure they’re not licensed, but it’s pretty clear that they’ve replicated SeeU and Luka for the box art. )


Agi pointed out that today is Miko no Hi (because of the date, 3/5), so we were obliged to visit a Shinto shrine. It’s not like we had anything better to do, so we went for a stroll to Kanda Myoujin, which is a little way west of Akiba.

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Caption: Yup, that’s the one. I like that Kanda Myoujin is open pretty much 24/7, as far as I can tell.

On the way back we encountered a kinda scruffy looking guy in a red jacket that identified him as a wotagei practitioner. After watching him go into a FamiMa next to the Akiba Crane Lab, it seems we kinda tailed him all the way across Akihabara, but eventually lost him somewhere near Mogra. Mogra wasn’t open this evening, but I bet he was going to a bangin’ party or something.

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Caption: The writing says “Wotagei Dancers”.


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Caption: After losing the guy in east Akiba I went up a shady flight of stairs to what looked like a half-finished building. There’s all these empty carts lying around, not sure what the deal is with them, ‘cause they sure as hell didn’t come up the stairs.

There sure is a lot of drunk people wandering around after dark. Like, I know it’s a fairly common thing to go drinking with your salaryman-coworkers after you knock off for the day, but it’s only Monday! They were seriously meandering over the footpath and speaking a bit dopily.

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Caption: I think Geoff would like this place, it’s near Mogra and they serve Hoegaarden.


Time to unwind. We headed back to the hotel, setup the Xbox, and fired up Dream C Club to check it out. For all the shadiness of the premise, it’s kinda nice.

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Caption: We didn’t go straight back to the hotel, we had to get some beer first. This Nodogoshi stuff is pretty good. We spotted a cute schoolgirl in the konbini, too. But hang on, why was she out at like 11:30pm anyway?

So the premise of Dream C Club is that you get roped into visiting this hostess club. You work on weekdays and the club is open on weekends, which is convenient. You choose a part-time job so you can make money during the week, then visit the club and spend time (and money) with a girl on Saturday nights. It looks like better jobs and buyables will become available as you level up your protagonist skillz.

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Caption: Reika is a dead-ringer for Chihaya from IM@S. Man, I’d never noticed before but the Osaka dialect can be really hot :>

We also discovered what the gauge in the top right of the scren is for - it’s how drunk you are. Trej managed to fill the bar while drinking a whisky, which causes you to pass out and ends the session.