I recently acquired a rare and unlikely import on my Playstation Vita - a quirky little modern culture romp called Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed.
For those that don't know, Akiba's Trip (or 'Akiba Strip', as you like) is a video game featuring an open city environment recreated from modern day Akihabara. In it, you are tasked with exposing undead monsters hiding amongst the populace. Since you are a normal person and not some soldier of fortune hero type we all can't relate to (a refreshing concept), you accomplish this by attacking your targets and stripping off their clothing, while they try to do the same to you. Once they are sufficiently exposed to the sun they disintegrate, much like a vampire.
I must say, I'm quite entertained. Though I never visited Akihabara while I was on study abroad in Japan, I did frequent enough shopping districts on the Keian line between Kyoto and Osaka for the environments in this game to feel nostalgic, right down to the pitiable street walkers whose job it was to divert attention to the store that employed them by whatever means necessary. I consider myself a rather agreeable person, but as I was very obviously foreign they tended to leave me alone (and made a habit out of directing me to the handicapped toilet).
Me: (in broken Japanese) "Excuse me, but where is the ________?"
I found many handicapped toilets in Japan. Oh well.
Back to subject at hand. When I purchased this game, the salesperson commented that he was surprised it was ever imported. I had to agree with him, though lamentably so. My original interest in traditional Japanese culture went as far as a major in college, but considering my background, it was only a matter of time before I discovered pop-culture about 17 years ago. I haven't looked back, and I suppose that may have to do with why I would immediately gravitate towards a game like this, and not see it as the slightest bit odd. But, the salesperson did have a point. Here's one of the reasons.
The Most Despicable Game Ever.
Before I make my point, I should hope I don't have to bring up the fact that I'm as much a supporter of equality of the sexes as any other forward-thinking, reasonable-minded person. Those who know me should already be aware of that, and those who don't, well, I just told you. I'm proud of the business my wife has built and have every intention of encouraging my two little girls to be all they can be when they grow up. I'm still going to say my peace.
Obviously there is no full nudity in this game (underwear is as far as it goes), nor is there any blatant sexuality apart from a few innuendo comments on the level of primetime TV, but as you can see the game has received criticism on our sexually immature side of the globe through claims that it exploits women, since there are a few screenshots circulating showing a male character removing articles of clothing from a female character. From even a short time playing it, I find it quite clear that as usual, the criticism can mainly be chalked up to ignorance. Despite the concept, the game has very little to do with titillation. It's more a mix of action and comedy, and you strip as many men as you do women (if not more). Later into the game you can also choose to actually play the game as a female character. I suppose the aforelinked article would find it acceptable if said protagonist went around tearing the clothing off of hapless men.
Haters who are just looking for the next cause, I offer you this thought: Calm down, unplug from the social networking for a few hours, go get some coffee or something, and let the people with interests that differ from your own enjoy themselves, as you would like us to allow you to do the same. I might also advise you to explore cultural diversity. Japan's history is centuries longer than that of the United States and was not built upon rigid Puritanical morals. People bathe together. People are less afraid of their bodies. People also expect you to be responsible for your own conduct, rather than feeling a need to police you and save you from yourself. As far as the exploitation/objectification argument is concerned, I'll fight that battle right alongside you - but I won't open fire without a legitimate target.
Peace said. Clicks bated.
(In case you're wondering, I believe Akiba's Trip is rated 'mature'. That should be helpful enough for most of us, but if you're really worried about your kids getting hold of this title, not to mention the oodles of titles portraying extreme violence that are only rated 'teen' (which for some illogical reason we seem to be more accepting of in the states), try doing some parenting now and then, rather than letting society do it for you. A million points to the first person who can explain to me why even taking about, much less providing education on, parts of the body we all have is so taboo, while extreme gore, violence, murdering of people in all walks of life, genocide, etc is considered a 'must-see' film, or perhaps a cop drama.)
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