This weekend in Tokyo’s Akihabara, over 5 hundred folks lined up for Pokémon playing cards. In previous years there have been a number of examples of Pocket Monsters drawing lengthy strains, particularly in Japan. This could usually be a daily incidence. In 2021, it’s something however, with the nation’s Covid-19 restrictions making such sights deeply uncommon.
These playing cards weren’t new, however relatively a reprinting. Regardless of this, strains shaped throughout Japan, although a big a part of the nation continues to be underneath a state of emergency for Covid-19, together with Tokyo, the place strains like this really feel like a factor of the previous.
“As a result of numerous retailers are quickly closed in Akihabara resulting from Covid-19, this was completely excessive,” stated Kaztsu, a photographer and blogger who covers the geek district. By his rely, roughly 550 folks lined up on the Yodobashi Digital camera in Akihabara for the playing cards.
“The one factor that may make a line like that is pachinko and Pokémon playing cards.”
Beginning late final month and persevering with by the weekend, new printings of Eevee Heroes and Shiny Star V hit Japanese retailers. As YouTuber okJLUV explains, these units have already acquired a handful of recent printings since launch. For instance, Eevee Heroes bought a re-release in June earlier than its newest model. Shiny Star V final appeared in early February, late March, and now, late August and early September. As the most recent printings got here into inventory, retailers everywhere in the nation drew strains and noticed sell-outs, together with in Kawasaki, Miyazaki, Hakata, and Sapporo.
When these earlier reprintings got here in inventory, there were long lines—and never solely in Tokyo—however the strains appear to maintain getting longer. These strains is likely to be stuffed with diehard followers, however they is also full of speculators hoping to make a fast yen, or folks paid to attend in line. Bins of Shiny Star V, for instance, have been fetching as excessive as over thrice their recommended retail worth of 5,500 yen ($49.90), with fascinating single playing cards commanding rather more.
Some retailers have been shifting product with out restrictions, whereas others have been limiting clients to at least one field per particular person in an effort to discourage resellers. Yodobashi Digital camera in Yokohama really quizzed clients earlier than promoting them the playing cards.
(The pop query, nonetheless, was not tough: “Who’s the sidekick of the principle character in Pokémon?”)
Even in Tokyo’s Akihabara, the place folks would religiously line up pre-pandemic, the latest line on the space’s Yodobashi Digital camera stood out. In Japan through the age of Covid-19, it’s uncommon to see first-come-first-served strains like this—except they’re for vaccinations. Console gross sales have moved to raffle methods to keep away from giant gatherings. It appears Pokémon playing cards haven’t.
Photographer Katzu factors to earlier this summer season, when the world’s largest Pokémon store opened in Akihabara. Unsurprisingly, it additionally drew a big crowd—by his rely, a staggering 700 or so folks.
Pandemic or not, because the Pokémon card market heats up even in Japan, you need to anticipate the strains and sell-outs to proceed.
For extra of Kaztsu’s common protection of Akihabara, try his official website. Additionally, you’ll be able to follow him on Twitter for every day updates and images about Japan’s most electrical city.
All photographs and tweets used with permission.