Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Raid on the Blood Bank

BloodBank (24 of 34)
Even Godless heathens can get into the giving spirit this holiday season. We at TSB mustered up the last lingering traces of compassion from our coal-stoked hearts to visit akiba:F, a Red Cross blood donation center located in the otherwise morally bankrupt center of cloying consumerism, Akihabara.

We rolled up our sleeves, ready to make our first positive contribution to the country even as our minds raced with uncertainty. Assuming that our precious bodily fluids met Japan's regimented standards, could the nurse navigate her needle through the thick underbrush of our barbarian forearm hair? What if the recipient turned out to be a hard-line right-winger that chose death over race contamination? And would our fat gaijin hemoglobin fit through IVs intended for skinny Japanese blood cells? 
Such concerns are, in fact, behind the times. The facilities and philosophy driving them are ultra-modern, if not Apple-futuristic, wrapped in warmly curving white plastic backlit by soft neons. It took until 2012, but we finally have a functional model of the spaceport from 2001.

After signing in at the reception desk, we were led to ergonomically-designed Martini glass seats and asked to read comics until it was our turn. With baskets of snacks and an open drink dispenser, the room felt like a manga cafe on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Tea. Earl Gray. Hot. An issue of AKIRA open on my lap to kill time. Factor in vacuum-tube display cases housing figures and merch—currently a tie-in with the new Evangelion film—and it's easy to see why the center would be packed, even on a Saturday night. Otaku space has expanded into outer space, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

The actual interview and needling process are strictly by the book and hardly worth mentioning—unless you were alive in Europe during the 80's, in which case you'll be turned away as a potential carrier of mad cow disease. Apparently infection is undetectable. Japanese ability is also a plus, if only so you don't accidentally sign-in as a needle-sharing junkie carrying Hepatitis B.

While you wait for the initial feeling of gee-whiz excitement and dizzy anemia to wear off, be sure to thumb through community sketch books filled with doodles and messages from past doners. Like trash blowing down the shoulder of the information superhighway, these journals last are the last scraps of organic communication in a digital age. Soon enough these spiral-bound pages will be replaced by drawing tablets prepped to instantly proliferate the illustrations across your choice of social media at the tap of a pen. Until then, you'll have to make do with our photographs.   
Blood monster fan art.
The fear of needles manifested as a Hakaijyu-looking monstrosity.
German Nazi Hound tank illustration.
A safer and more hygienic forum to advertise to like-minded individuals than scribbling graffiti on bathroom walls.
Madoka and Homura fan art in watercolors.
Some also use it as a way to pimp their dojinshi circles. The blood banks overflow in the weeks leading up to Comiket.
BloodBank (30 of 34)
Of course, certain artists would be better off selling their creations to private collectors.
BloodBank (26 of 34)
All this piece of modern art is missing is the glass-paneled frame.
BloodBank (1 of 3)
The only thing railway otaku love more than trains is the use of forced perspective.
BloodBank (9 of 34)
You have free access to my veins under the stipulation that you be an amnesiac junior high school girl with an otherwise incurable disease. And call me "Onii-San."
Kenketsu-Ken Akiba:F Bloodbank
"Give me your blood!" The Ministry of Welfare mascot Kenketsu-Kun reveals his true intentions.
BloodBank (16 of 34)
Pizza of Death fan art is always welcome.
BloodBank (17 of 34)
Probably also from the artist above, known only as "Unko."
Sunset city beyond Kadath in the cold wastes.
The magical sunset city beyond Kadath in the cold wastes. Check out those arabesques! 
BloodBank (20 of 34)
Throw in the kanji characters "献血" for "donate blood" and BAM, instant parody!
Moe rock and roll.
Kyun-Kyun Rock here is a fine example of collaborative works.
Initial D fan art.
Proof that INITIAL D still has fans, somewhere, somehow.
Each Red Cross branch in Tokyo is customized to fit the color of its neighborhood. Kichijoji is an earth-tone hippie paradise. Shibuya offers hand massages for your sore metacarpals after a long day of carrying shopping bags. The new center in Shinjuku is lined with mannequins sporting concept fashion. Once you run out of gimmick restaurants and wacky Japan tourist traps, the only thrill left comes from sticking a needle in your arm. At least you know where these ones come from.

1 comment:

  1. Alas, not even my glowing love of Japan could ever hope to conquer my crippling aversion towards sharp slender objects penetrating my veins.

    If the futuristic setting ever lives up to its time worn prospects and a method of extracting blood that foregoes the current barbaric and obsolete methods is provided then I shall give those precious drops gladly.