Akihabara is featured in many anime, but I think it’s safe to say that none of them have been as effective at advertising the otaku hub as the science-fiction adventure series Steins;Gate.
The way that Okabe, Mayuri, Daru et al. are situated so well in the locale has gone a long way in making the area an integral part of the series. This, along with the excellent storytelling and character writing, has been an excellent advertisement for the otaku hub since the original game’s release to critical praise in 2009. For me as well, experiencing the same locale as the characters of Steins;Gate and being able to feel the spirit of the series in the area is a key part of why I love it so much.
That being said, with the new Steins;Gate 0 anime beginning it’s broadcast this season, it seems only fitting that the whole city mobilizes to advertise it. And so it has – not just with billboards on the Sofmap and Sega buildings, but with a multitude of collaboration events and goods also.
Running until May 31, the first major collaboration is with the AR app “Butai Meguri,” which will be using Akihabara as it’s playing field for a new Steins;Gate themed adventure titled “OPERATION;HEPHAISTOS.” This is actually the second time the app has crossed over with the series, previously running an event in Saitama. By using the app and visiting iconic Akihabara locations such as Chuo-Dori and Animate, players will receive a free badge set featuring Kurisu and Maho. There are only eight locations to visit, and anyone familiar with the area will probably be able to do it in no time, so it definitely seems worth giving a go.
During the time of this event, there are also plenty of food-related events scheduled. Firstly, Cafe Mailish is holding a special event to in honor of the “Supa Hacka” himself, Daru. It will feature a special themed menu as well as a gallery for the loveable otaku himself. An odd choice perhaps, but not when you realize that Daru’s birthday was actually on May 19 – so I’d like to think that we’re throwing the often unappreciated Daru a birthday party.
Kanazawa-style curry chain GOGO Curry will also be serving up a special collaboration curry and clear file in their Chuo-Dori store. The curry utilizes fried chicken – an ode to Mayuri’s own love for “Juicy Karaage Number One” – which is in turn drizzled with a yellow sauce, named “Gelsauce” after the “gelbananas” of the first series. I was able to sample the dish, and as usual, the curry was excellent, but what made it even better was the clear file that came with it. The humorous design features Okabe holding some GOGO curry and Kurisu with one of their signature forks. This collaboration curry will set you back 1200 yen, a little expensive but definitely worth it.
Even if you’re just walking around Akihabara, not aiming to participate in any of the above events, it seems almost impossible to escape the series at the minute – many of the vending machines have been adorned with Steins;Gate characters, Dr. Pepper is doing a crossover with the series, and even without any explicit reference to the series, it seems as though Steins;Gate has once more entered into the soul of Akihabara. As it should be.
For more details on collaboration events, check out the official website.