Japan is definitely different from the west in terms of the games that you can find on the shelves: visual novels are still extremely popular, and not only your usual games often include titillating imagery and fanservice, but eroge (games for adults featuring erotic content) are a definitely widespread niche.
That said, featuring that latest category on giant billboards on the front of some of the most popular video games shops in Tokyo is rare even for Japan.
Yet, that’s something you can witness right now in Akihabara, with large billboards of Illusion’s Sexy Beach: Premium Resort covering the front walls of both Sofmap stores in Akihabara, showcasing sexy ladies in beach wear right in the open, on premium advertisement space.
As a matter of fact, the second Sofmap isn’t even just a specialized game shop, but it’s one of the largest electronics stores in Tokyo.
You’d almost think that you’re looking at Dead or Alive: Xtreme 3, but Sexy Beach: Premium Resort is similar only on the surface, as it’s not just your usual Japanese game featuring fanservice, but it’s a full fledged erotic game including strong sexual content and fully displayed intercourse aplenty.
As a mater of fact, it’s almost the whole point of the game, which is actually the fifth installment of a series that has been running for over a decade.
For reference, Illusion is the same developer that released the controversial Rapelay back in 2006, causing media outrage in the west and prompting the company to tighten its policies about the distribution of its games outside of Japan.
This isn’t even a brief promotional stunt, as Sexy Beach: Premium Resort was released on September 11th, and the billboards have been drawing gazes from the crowded street below ever since, in the same space that is normally used to advertise mainstream games like Bloodborne and Destiny.
One thing is for sure: in Tokyo, and even more so in Akihabara, stores are absolutely not ashamed about displaying games that many in the west (and some even in Japan) would consider questionable.
Ultimately, Japan has its own share of problems, but it’s definitely an interesting country, and Akihabara is even more interesting for a gamer, and not just because it’s full of games in every direction your gaze might turn.
Whether you approve or not of titles like Sexy Beach: Premium Resort, it’s hard not to notice that in Akihabara, no matter what your hobbies are (as long as they’re legal, I guess), there’s at least one (or twenty) place where you’re accepted and welcome with no question.
There’s no skulking around in shops, trying to avoid gazes while you buy a game that shows some skin (or a lot of it), pretty much like most would do with porn magazines or movies in the west.
You climb to the 5th floor of Sofmap (or to the dedicated area of any store), you grab what you need with no skulking involved, go to the cashier with no need for hesitation, and then walk out no worse for wear. No one will give you strange looks, and you won’t even need to hide your bag.
Come to think of it, in the west I often get strange looks just by telling people that I pay my bills by working on a gaming website.
Call me crazy, but I’m definitely ok with this.