by Chris MaGee
I remember wandering around and marvelling at the otaku glory that is Akihabara last November. Maids handing out flyers, a million and one manga and anime stores, retail shrines set up to J-pop and gravure idols and video game parlours assaulted my senses from all directions. After meeting a film-maker friend I found my senses needed a bit of a break, so we thought we'd grab a quick coffee and chat. It turns out that we ended up at a "Mobile Suit Gundam"-themed café to rest ourselves in. Not really the break from all things otaku that we were hoping for (then again, if we were looking to get away from otaku we should have got out of Akihabara). The point to this random story is that any and every business in this anime/ manga/ gaming and maid-worship mecca of Tokyo have adapted themselves to attract the otaku clientele in the area... even blood banks.
That's right, according to Asahi Shimbun's English website The Japanese Red Cross has opened a new blood donation facility in Akihabara dubbed Akiba:F. The "F" in the name stand for "future", and while the facility isn't designed around any specific sci-fi anime series, the whole interior has been designed to resemble a futuristic space station. Not only can you help those in need by donating blood at Akiba:F, but you can also down free beverages and browse the facilities manga café. There are even sketch books available for visitors to draw their favorite manga characters.
It's true, this story is more pop culture than cinema, but it's bloody interesting (excuse the pun). You can take a virtual tour of Akiba:F by checking out a video here, and if you're not squeamish about needles and you live in Tokyo you can visit The Japanese Red Cross' Akiba:F facility here.