Image source: AcquireChannel on YouTube
When I first arrived in Japan in 2011 for my high school graduation trip, a new game had just come out on the PlayStation Portable, and it was causing quite a stir because of its crazy themes. This game–Akiba’s Trip–follows a boy who was beaten brutally in an alleyway by a thug, but is brought back from the brink of death by a mysterious girl. There’s only one catch: He’s now a vampire, and he has to defeat other vampires by ripping off their clothes and exposing them to the sunlight. The biggest selling point of this game for me, however, was that it took place in an extremely faithful replication of Akihabara, Tokyo’s geek central.
[This article contains major spoilers for the original Japan-only PSP game Akiba’s Trip.]
Unlike the currently-broadcasting anime, while it does have some comedic elements, this game features a more subdued tone. At the very beginning of the game, the silent protagonist of the game is kidnapped by protection agency NIRO, who tells him he needs to fight these vampires–called the Kageyashi–or else be extinguished as one of the enemy. With no choice, he begins his extermination of the “vampire scum.”
In the anime, the majority of “Bugged Ones” have the impurity removed from their body when they are exposed to the sunlight. However, in the game, the Kageyashi turn to ash and die when their clothes are removed. This puts the protagonist in a bit of a pinch, since the girl who saved him–Rui Fumizuki–is also a Kageyashi, albeit half-human. After reuniting with her, he learns that, rather than there being just a conflict between the humans and Kageyashi, there is a third side: Rui and her best friend Suzu, who wish for coexistence between the two races.
And this is where the story of Akiba’s Trip splits into three different paths: the NIRO route, the Kageyashi route, and the consistence route. Depending on your choices, you can decide to stay with the agency NIRO, not doubting their intentions for a second, and end up killing Rui, the very girl who saved you. In the Kageyashi route, you get to work with either the vampire twins in the band Dirty Bloody Princesses or Rui to defeat the NIRO agents stationed around the town.
And finally, the coexistence route has you working with Rui to make a town in which both Kageyashi and humans can live alongside each other. In this final route, Rui is forced to kill her own mother in order to stop her evil plans of sucking the vigour out of humans to make them into shut-ins and replacing those humans with Kageyashi under her control to make society belong to the Kageyashi.
While this all sounds extremely serious and dramatic, the first Akiba’s Trip doesn’t lack humor. From the very beginning, you are taught your combat moves by “Shishō” (lit. Master), a lingerie-clad woman who can only be seen in silhouette form dancing in a window. She only agrees to train you if you bring her a “cherry.” And she doesn’t mean the fruit–it’s only when you bring her a young man with his virginity intact that she teaches you anything.
Near the climax of the game, the player also gains access to the Samurai*Kitchen mini game to play with Rui. Most likely a reference to Acquire’s previous title Way of the Samurai, this mini game involves no actual cooking and is instead just a one-on-one fighting game featuring two samurai beating the ever-loving crap out of each other with giant butcher knives. The referee does shout “Cooking!” when the matches start, though.
Released for the PSP in 2011 with an updated port in 2012, this game was never released in the west. Its sequel–Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed–was released in North America and Europe as well as Japan for the PlayStation Vita PlayStation 3 and 4, as well as for PCs via the Steam platform. The PSP is region free though, so if you’d like to take a look at where the Akiba’s Trip franchise all began, look no further than Akiba’s Trip for the PSP.
AKIBA’S TRIP The Animation–an anime with an original story separate from the games–is currently airing in Japan. Crunchyroll is streaming the series with subtitles, while FUNimation is producing an English dub for the show as it airs.