Toys! Toys! Toys! They’re all I really care about and probably what got me interested in Japan in the first place, so this week’s episode of OTAKU-VERSE ZERO is especially close to whatever black and shriveled thing there is that resembles my heart. For in this pulse-pounding installment of OVZ, I boldly break into Bandai headquarters and survey the stock on the legendary second floor where, like the surface of the moon, few have ever tread before!
As mentioned in the episode itself, I’d been to Bandai HQ several times, mostly on OUSA business with my buddy Matt Alt in tow. And while we made it into the Santa’s workshop-like offices and rode the elevators that talk like Gundam’s Amuro and Kamen Rider (I am not making this up), I always did wonder about that strange spiral staircase near the main lobby. It was an area normally closed off to the public.
As the OVZ guys were setting up cameras and such in the main showroom, I dared to venture upstairs to find a scene worthy of my wildest dreams: an entire room filled with vintage wonders from Bandai’s illustrious past! After surveying display case after display case of mint condition Jumbo Machinders and Popy Chogokin (to say nothing of “Cycling Daddy” and “Crazy Dancer”), I bolted downstairs to tell the crew that I’d found the mother lode and that we’d better switch locations fast! A few discussions with the Bandai suits later and we were in!
Speaking of locations, Bandai HQ is a semi-popular tourist destination of sorts, not for attempted raids on the company’s toy chest, but as a place to take wacky photos of yourself posing with the human-sized statues of Ultraman and Kamen Rider outside. And that’s just what a pair of off-duty construction workers did, followed by some office ladies, and then some little kids with mom in tow. Imagine that! Little kids somehow like this stuff, too!
Filmed on the same day as the previous Asakusa and Meigaza movie theater episodes, the Bandai HQ tour made for one of the longest shoots in OVZ history. Wow, did I ever need a soft drink afterwards! The studio segments were shot in a facility in Shibuya and was actually the second time Yuu and I had to do our thing in front of the cameras. Getting her to confess about her beloved Tamagotchi and school days during the height of Kinnikuman eraser madness was a sign that, while I wasn’t going to get the big sized Yamato at Bandai HQ, this journey into toy town wouldn’t be a total bust either.
See you next week with another super episode (and behind the secrets thereof) of OTAKU-VERSE ZERO!