The Guns of SHAFT (1961)

Monday, May 4th. 11:30. First day of Golden Week. Generally establishments are closed during this series of holidays, so as a precaution I ring up SHAFT’s “Filming and Digital Division.” After just one ring, a man answers.

“Yes, this is SHAFT.”

His voice is heavy with fatigue–as if he had just woken up, and this ringing phone had disturbed his much needed rest. Nothing but death comes through the receiver. I almost think it’s an answering machine.

“Uhh, yes. Is SHAFT open today?” I ask.

“Yes, we are,” he replies.

“Thank you,” I say in my horrible, horrible Japanese accent. Of all the words I can’t say correctly, it has to be 「ありがとう」.

After a quick errand in Ikebukuro, I find myself in the meandering maze that is Shinjuku Station. After exiting from some exit I’ve never been through before, I start searching for buildings that kind-of-sort-of look like the Prince Hotel. After being lead in the wrong direction more than few times, I finally find a public map to reorient myself. The course is now clear, and my sights are set on the Prince Hotel.

After a ten minute walk and a can of Grape Soda, I finally appear below the grand shadow cast by the Prince Hotel. Beneath its ritzy, five star rooms lies the Seibu Shinjuku Station. After walking around in a circle like moron upon buying my 200 yen ticket, I finally find my way to the trains.

Being used to JR’s typical setup, the Seibu Station is a touch off-putting. After some intense kanji reading, I manage to find my way onto the right train. It’s a rapid, so I have to switch to local somewhere along the line, since Iogi station isn’t really a happening destination, sad as it may be.

After about twenty minutes of sitting along with one train transfer, I am suddenly within walking distance of illustrious Studio SHAFT.

Once out of the station, I try my best to orient myself so the map provided on SHAFT’s site can at least be somewhat useful. The site only gives you their office address, but with the power of the internet I found out where their actual studio is, as well. As you can see, it does look like it may be some old guy’s garage.

Despite wanting to go towards the office, after about ten minutes of walking I notice I’m actually heading in the direction of the studio. Me being anal about the order in which I do things, I turn back and head towards the office. However, I do get a good opportunity to see the neighborhood in which SHAFT is located. Lots of nerd locations, such as this one. Their prices kind of suck, though. My dudes at SHAFT probably know where all THE GOOD SHIT is.

Once back on track, I find the Family Mart noted on SHAFT’s map, and moments later I manage to find the building itself. I am in awe. I can’t speak. My animal tendencies take over. I whip out my camera and take as many pictures as possible.

While snapping a shot of their information desk, and I hear a man’s voice coming from behind me.

“Uhh… who are you? What are you doing?” he asks in a puzzled, but not angered tone.

“Oh… this is SHAFT’s office, correct?” I respond.

“Yes.”

“Oh, I am a big SHAFT fan!” I say with a touch of enthusiasm.

“Oh… is that so.” He still sounds puzzled.

“Is Shinbo Akiyuki in?”

“He hasn’t come in yet.” Still, sounds puzzled.

“Ah, thanks!” I run off. Partly out of fear, but mostly because my next target is the studio.

With the aid of SHAFT’s map in conjunction with some scribbles to help me find the studio, I walk about twelve blocks until I come across the seedy garage pictured on Google maps.

While blown away by the idea that SHAFT may just be run out of some guy’s garage, accepting it as reality is yet to set in. I approach the building slowly, and once I walk past the first door I hear a man screaming in rage, then a crying baby.

I leave.

I walk about two or three more blocks looking for similar garages, but none are as dead-on as the first one. That has to be STUDIO SHAFT.

I go further in than I did last time into what appears to be an apartment building. I take a quick look into an empty studio with some slippers on the floor, and then look towards the mail boxes.

I see it.

「シャフト」, written in marker on the oldest, most disgusting piece of paper I have ever seen, against a stupidly rusty mail box. I lack enough guts to actually ascend the staircase, and instead decide to head back to the office.

I am lot more worried on this second visit–it’s around 15:30, and the building looks way more active. People are walking in and out. I suppose they just woke up. Furthermore, I’d feel awkward if the same guy who caught me taking spy photos saw me again, so I retreat to the park right across the street to think things over.

After about thirty to forty-five minutes of sitting, pacing in front of the studio, walking up and down the street, then sitting in the park again, I finally decide that I have nothing left to lose and push open the doors of heaven.

Once in, I hit the bell after some more seconds of hesitation. A man approaches.

“Excuse me,” I utter in a small, worried voice.

“Yes,” replies the man. He looks fairly young–probably in his late twenties or early thirties.

“I am a big SHAFT fan!” I exclaim once more.

“O-ok.”

“Do you know when Shinbo Akiyuki will be coming today?”

“Oh, sorry. He’s not coming in today.”

“Oh, is that so. One more thing–can fans like me go into SHAFT?”

“Ahh, sorry that’s a little…” He makes a cross with his fingers.

“Oh, ok. Thanks!” I rush out.

While somewhat anti-climatic, upon reflecting on it I’ve found the trip to be worth while– I got see where SHAFT works, and interact with two random staff members. Sure, I didn’t get my Tsukuyomi DVD signed, but maybe I’ll save that for when I appear in front of Shinbo’s apartment. Also, during that forty-five minutes of indecision, I noticed a SHAFT staff member photographing some of the swings in the park, so… look out for swings in Bakemonogatari, or something.

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27 Responses to The Guns of SHAFT (1961)

  1. omo says:

    thanks for the detail writeup. it was cute but you gotta be more pro at it if you want to make it more productive :3

  2. Seiya says:

    Yes, but WHERE DOES THEIR TRASH GO

  3. Alex says:

    This is absurd. To the max.

  4. Sub says:

    A-plus anime reportage journalism GOODO JOBU

  5. Hinano says:

    dude you’re stalker freak. keep this up and you’ll be arrested in no time! =D

  6. Cage says:

    Awesome. Too bad Shinbo wasn’t in. I can only imagine how you would have reacted if he was…

  7. Smankh says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  8. mt-i says:

    My hat off to you, sir! :)

    If you do it again, you may want to try the gaijin journalist approach. Get yourself some business cards (you’ll need them for other things anyway) and explain that you’d like to have a feature about SHAFT on your personal news site (which is entirely true).

  9. Smankh says:

    This is the third time I read this post. I’m rolling on the floor laughing with manly tears in my eyes. Don’t lose hope, wah.

  10. Shii says:

    That’s some serious wabi-sabi going on with that mailbox

  11. Momotsuki says:

    Too awesome for my eyes.

  12. Link says:

    Yeah, you need to be somewhat more professional and less fanboy next time!

  13. digitalboy says:

    A whirlwind of emotion swept through me as I read this. Like I was right there. Such a beautiful experience. I think I might be crying.

  14. TheBigN says:

    I wouldn’t mind if the next attempt was pro in the approach, but fanboy as it is here.

    I’m glad that you attempted to do this at all, though I feel like I’d be the same way once I was inside the studio, albeit more nervously. :P

  15. GONZO JOURNALISM, HIGH ADVENTURE, BORDERLINE STALKING! This is some serious shit, man! [/HunterThompson]

  16. Dr. Who says:

    Truly a great day for science! Animation studios never take a day off, the employees are one cigarette away from being a slave. That mailbox is to throw people off. Normal mail is picked up inside the office. A clever rouse!

    It takes serious ballz to do this, and I applaud the effort.

    Still want to see inside? Email the studio and ask if they could give you a tour at their convenience. Specify in the email that you are interested in the animation process itself, not a crazy stalker to the animators. This may work. Also probably not. Worth the chance, however.

    IF you are still looking for studios to check out, AIC animation isn’t too far away from that area as well. They have given tours to gaijin crazies in the past.

    As for now, get back on your language studies. Your head will start to give you serious headaches soon from the language transition in this climate. Try to tolerate them for a few days and afterwards it will soon get easier for you to speak the nihongoz.

  17. schneider says:

    That was a HEROIC EFFORT

  18. Is this situation going to translate to the comic?
    Rets: “I am a big Tina fan!”
    Tina: “O-ok…”
    Rets: “Can fans like me come into Tina?”
    Tina: “Ahh sorry that’s a little…”
    Rets: “Oh, ok”

  19. Jeff says:

    like other said need to go more in a business way. so next time go in a suit make some fake business cards. have your hair done like a businessman will. try to know if it going to be the same guy you be talking to when you go back be bad if it the same guy. have the fake business cards have your name fake if you like real email and a phone # both being real be the best. then for what you do just have like reporter for www.(someanimesite).com. go in take out the fake cards give them one. say who you are and you been ask by what ever site you said to get a interview with one of there withers or like that. then say if they cant today can you ask them if they can make time and email/call you if they can make the time to do the interview. yea i mixing in what other people said as well. just put it all into a like how to scam your way in post ^^

    oh yea if you some how do get the interview take a notebook with all your going to ask and take notes of all they says so you dont look like you lie you way in.

  20. Jeff says:

    look like the spam filter block what i tried to post ><

  21. I.Z. says:

    Wow. haha nice

  22. tomoyo says:

    Hehe, love the little Natsu no Arashi sign they had at the office as “today’s menu”. Last episode’s little hair-color-mixed Char/Amuro cameo in it was awesome. Of course Char’d be macking on the reverse trap loli…

  23. ETERNAL says:

    Now this is what I call awesome. This battle isn’t over, though; appear in front of Shinbo’s apartment and conduct an interview of epic proportions! :P

  24. Momotsuki says:

    I’m reading this again.

    Man, this post is awesome.

    I’m laughing and crying at the same time.

  25. Spiritsnare says:

    Respect to you, good sir, and great reconnaissance work.

    I was thinking of doing the same thing to Q Entertainment when I went to Japan on vacation – I probably would’ve broken down and started stammering English instead!

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