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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 7: “A Well-Adjusted World”

    Posted on September 15th, 2009 keving 3 comments

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    “You were never part of it in the first place. Besides, could you really say the game industry had it right, ever? Every hardware maker having their own network? No synchronization between development and sales? Huge gluts of titles; top-brand games all coming out at the same time and eating into each other’s profits? There’s a lot to gain from stabilizing distribution, even if means a little more regulation than what they had before. The industry’s never enjoyed anything like it. A lot of them are looking forward to it.”

    Here is chapter seven (“A Well-Adjusted World”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    The move to regulate and control games and otaku culture, a mission led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is rapidly approaching its final stages. Secretly, behind the spotlights, the government has acted to take over game distribution, the central core that makes entertainment an economically viable industry. Ryohei Takamizawa, the hero, has made contact with Saeko Kanoura, an informant (?) within the ministry, to get to the bottom of this operation.

    Happy readin’.

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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 6: “Endless Game”

    Posted on August 7th, 2009 keving No comments

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    “So you’re cosplaying and everything whenever you go undercover like that?”
    “Yes, sir. I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off past thirty, but it keeps people’s eyes off me all the same. In fact, it’s gotten me a lot of side benefits. People brag to me; they reveal details; they give me their life stories.”
    “What were you dressed as?”
    “I’m sorry, sir; that’s kind of a personal question.”

    Here is chapter six (“Endless Game”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    On a visit to the twice-yearly underground Comic Market, illicit used-game broker Ryohei Takamizawa runs into the shadowy owner of Sofmap #666, a “game buyer” he’s known for his entire career. The man is neck-deep in the underground game business, and he has bad news: the Japanese government is set to clamp down on every aspect of otaku culture, from what it can depict to how it’s distributed. If they succeed, then otaku-dom has no future, and Ryohei is sent by the man to meet up with a certain someone and figure out a way to stop them.

    Happy readin’.

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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 5: “Like the River Flow”

    Posted on July 16th, 2009 keving 4 comments

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    “You know how I’m helping out with the Comiket down below, right?”
    “Uh-huh. That, and how you worked with the closet otaku in Urban Planning to keep it from attracting any attention.”
    “Yeah, well, the honeymoon’s just about over with that. I think they’re gonna do away with Comiket, and they’re gonna take down every damn store in this building along with it.”

    Here is chapter five (“Like the River Flow”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    With an economy in shambles and a nation in chaos, the Japanese government has forced peace and goodwill upon its people — a movement that dovetailed all too well with media’s tendency to censor itself, starting in the 1990s. With all the “poison” sucked out of their popular entertainment, how can Japan’s game nerds continue to exist…if they can at all?

    Happy readin’.

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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 4: “The Blindfolded”

    Posted on July 6th, 2009 keving 4 comments

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    The publishers, meanwhile, throw millions into each project, the price of staying ahead in the industry. There is simply too much at stake for both creator and consumer to do anything creative. No. Games aren’t creative works of art. Deep down, both sides of the bargain know that games are products of precise engineering, like a car or your washing machine.

    Here is chapter four (“The Blindfolded”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    With an economy in shambles and a nation in chaos, the Japanese government has forced peace and goodwill upon its people — a movement that dovetailed all too well with media’s tendency to censor itself, starting in the 1990s. With all the “poison” sucked out of their popular entertainment, how can Japan’s game nerds continue to exist…if they can at all?

    Happy readin’.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 3: “Taboos”

    Posted on June 13th, 2009 keving 4 comments

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    The history buff sighed. “What does freedom of speech mean, anyway? Is anything okay as long as you claim that it’s fiction? Or as long as the opposition groups don’t find you? Either way, the developers never bothered facing facts. Any form of entertainment’s going to offend someone, somewhere out there, but they kept on revising and recalling their work whenever any crap popped up. That’s why we’re all in this pile right now.”

    Here is chapter three (“Taboos”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    In a collapsed Japan where all the “poison” has been removed from mass media, the otaku culture of the past finds a way to survive in the wreckage. Ryohei Takamizawa’s job is to find rare and out-of-print games for his nostalgia-happy clients. What’s he up to this chapter?

    Happy readin’.

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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 2

    Posted on May 13th, 2009 keving No comments

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    Looking back, I was amazed I holed myself up in there, ten hours or so at a time, open to close, despite how unhealthy it all was. Odd how it didn’t bother me at all. I was knee-deep in that realm on a daily basis. But the hours spent playing filled me. The feeling I got with every cheer that leapt from the audience when I landed an extended combo, with every complimentary wry smile I shared with my opponent regardless of who won or lost, was indescribable.

    Here is chapter two of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa that takes retro games and uses them to weave a tale of suspense and post-apocalyptic sullenness. In a collapsed Japan where all the “poison” has been removed from mass media, the otaku culture of the past finds a way to survive in the wreckage. Ryohei Takamizawa’s job is to find rare and out-of-print games for his nostalgia-happy clients. What’s he up to this chapter?

    Happy readin’.

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  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 1

    Posted on May 8th, 2009 keving 14 comments

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    “I don’t care what it takes. I want to play Teitoku no Ketsudan from Koei. The first one,” the man said, as if confessing his darkest desires. “I’m not talking about the console port, either. The PC-8801 one. First printing.” With that, he fell silent. Now I knew why that envelope was so thick. I had heard stories about that one.

    The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER is a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa and published in 2002-04 over eight issues of YuGe, a Japanese magazine devoted to games old and new (now called GameSide). Illustrations were provided by Aki Shimizu, a manga artist who I don’t think has done anything that’s attracted a Stateside fanbase yet but is still a pretty talented dude.

    This is almost certainly the only apocalyptic SF novel themed around used video games that has ever been written, and its mere existence shocks and enthralls me, and so I’m translatin’ it, starting with this first installment. I’ve included a decent amount of links and footnotes so you’ll be able to understand all the Japan- (and Akihabara-) centric references. If something still seems obtuse to you, please let me know.

    Happy readin’.

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