It is my very great pleasure to welcome back Guest Reviewer, all-around amazing Okazu and Yuricon supporter and great friend Bruce P! This time he has made it to Asagaya Anime Street for the Maria-sama ga Miteru Anniversary Event and were are delighted to have him tell us all about it. Thank you Bruce, the floor is yours…
I was pleased that a trip to Japan I had planned for Christmas this year coincided with a Maria-sama ga Miteru special event in Tokyo, in Asagaya Anime Street, appropriately located close to the heart of Marimite country. The event was in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the anime, and was coupled with the release of the Blu-Ray edition of the complete series. I just had to see what it was all about.
Asagaya was a happy, bustling place when I arrived late afternoon on Christmas day. Shoppers were everywhere, as can be seen in this covered mall, which managed to contrive a Magritte Empire of Light kind of lighting effect. No doubt to make the experience more fun. And possibly to disorient you into more readily opening your wallet.
However, for reasons probably related to storefront rental costs, Asagaya Anime Street is not located in this heavy cash flow area. It’s hidden away in a slightly sad and depressing site under the Chuo railway line elevated tracks. Definitely not prime real estate. To find it I had to work my way along and under the tracks, through tiny streets and alleys and girders, like Gene Hackman in The French Connection chasing the el train. Though he got to wreck a Pontiac. I had to walk.
But the walk was a great opportunity to take in the local sights, like this display of grimy, broken eggshells in front of a rice shop. Apparently all the surrealists were in town. An eye-catch for a rubbish disposal center.
Finally, in the gloom under the tracks, there it was.
Asagaya Anime Street consists of about 15 small shops selling anime related items of one sort or another. It actually seemed to be a worthwhile attempt to transform a deserted waste area under the tracks into a retail space, though the crowds were somewhat lacking. It took some effort to find, but of course that’s just what anime fans are willing to do.
The Marimite event was in the GoFaLABO (Gallery of Fantastic Art Laboratory) Café and Gallery Space. Yes the place was small, and located in a relatively deserted spot under the tracks. And it rattled with every passing train. And the retail item shelves were mostly empty. But the thing is this – the event itself was downright fabulous. GoFaLABO consists of a small retail space with café counter, plus an event area containing five café tables. The event area was hung with about 60 beautiful framed copies of all the Marimite hanken illustrations used for the series. In addition, episodes of the series were being shown at one end of the space, which you could watch as you lingered over Marimite-themed tea and pastries, surrounded by all that gorgeous art. There were four people doing this when I entered, two guys at one table, and a guy and an exquisitely Lolita-outfitted girl at another. As I lingered myself, another guy dropped in and settled himself at a fourth table. Photography was not permitted inside the café, which was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
What surprised me most about the experience was that, when concentrated in one place and viewed as a whole, the official Marimite images demonstrated a striking, powerful, almost single-minded obsession with Yuri (Yuri in implication, Yuri in fact, and (mostly) Yuri in fan enticement) that was really not fully representative of the multi-faceted story itself. But I’m not complaining. The images were beautiful, they were Yuri, and there were 60 of them. More tea, please.
Eventually I had to leave to head back to Ikebukuro. There were two extremely lovely Christmas/winter themed prints of Yumi and Sachiko for sale that I would have liked very much (one at least was new to this event), but they were only available for pre-order. I did purchase all the goods that were currently available, except for the Blu-Ray series: two lidded drinking cups, a coffee mug, and a calendar.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience the GoFaLABO Marimite event. It was superb, an emerald under the tracks. And with all those cups and mugs my dehydration worries are a thing of the past. If you have the opportunity to visit GoFaLABO in Asagaya Anime Street while the Marimite event is still taking place (through January 25th), please do so. If you’ve made it this far in this report, you’ll just love it.
Well, except maybe for Ana, you freakin’ tough Marine. Ganbatte, CO!
Erica here: Ganbatte seconded. And of course I’m insanely jealous. I thank you again for the lovely calendar!
Thank you once more for your time and effort on our behalf! I’m glad you enjoyed the show.
In case any of you want a glimpse of the kinds of sweets they were selling, I’ve
stolen borrowed two pictures from YNN Correspondent and friend Jackie S. to give you an idea. ^_^
This event will have had a number of Okazu readers visit. We should do a travel special. ^_^