Anime Club Escapades: THE SUPER SPECIAL FUNTIME DELUXE JOURNEY TO LITTLE TOKYO

Us few at the anime club planned a trip to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. This 2-hour car ride is the closest Japanese thing to our campus, so it’s a hefty investment in time, resources, and money. The trip has to operate as smoothly as possible, and it’s more important than ever when it comes to this particular one: the Anohana movie premiers in an independent theater near Little Tokyo and is therefore the primary objective. Considering that we leave in the afternoon, getting to LA on time is crucial. We planned to leave at 1:00 pm.

Have a seat, and let me tell you a tale about how much that didn’t happen.

12:30 pm

The bus drops me off at the loop. I am on campus grounds now, and on my way to the ATM to stock up on some cash. I’m having a lot of happy thoughts right around this time because my midterms are not important for another week. Meaning that I’m not risking a lot by spending my entire afternoon in LA. I’m carrying a leather manpurse with me,  and in it contains my peacoat, my backup battery, a contact juggling ball, and a Bluetooth portable speaker. My cell phone contains all 256 songs from the Animusic Tourney. Needless to say, I came prepared for the long car ride.

12:45 pm

“The Rhythm Method” by Flobots blares from my smartphone. It’s Madarame-sempai.

“I’m sorry, I’m just so stupid. I don’t think I can drive you to Little Tokyo after all. You’ll have to find someone else. I’m so sorry.”

Which begs the question: what fucked up, and how did he fuck it up?

I should probably tell you more about our car before I continue. The university offers transportation services in the form of renting out campus vehicles. Students in a university usually fall under two distinct categories: unable to drive, or are without a car. Therefore, it is our responsibility to rent a vehicle for the day. Since the driver must be over the age of 21, we call upon Madarame-sempai to drive a white, windowless Astro van (since it’s the only vehicle they have that can seat seven people). Passengers were told to bring their own candy.

There is one accepted way to drive a rental vehicle out of the lot, which is through the automatic gate. Madarame-sempai did not know that the gate was automatic, and so assumed that the vehicle was locked inside the lot. So, he attempted another way out.

The lot is located at the bottom of a hill. There is an unlocked gate at the back, where the asphalt meets the undeveloped, offroad incline, and Madarame-sempai believes this to be the best way to get the vehicle out. Specifically, his plan was to drive the van alongside the fence and the incline, through the undeveloped foliage, and somehow make his way onto the road from there.

There are two things that sempai failed to notice about his situation. One: that gate is clearly not meant for vehicles to drive in and out of. Two: driving an Astro van offroad is about as effective as traversing across a half-inflated bouncy castle on a unicycle. Namely, it is completely ineffective.

So, here’s how he fucked up.

I am told over the phone that our planned ride to Little Tokyo is, at this time, stuck in a ditch behind the rental lot. He cannot maneuver the vehicle out, nor does he feel safe trying again due to the large amount of dead vegetation surrounding the exhaust. To top it off, transportation services does not work on the weekends. We cannot contact them for any sort of assistance. We are now without a method of transportation.

Contrary to my expectations, I didn’t yell or scream. I don’t think I even seemed the slightest disappointed towards our bumbling former club president. I didn’t really care that he was responsible for delaying our schedule at a considerable rate, and I say this despite my personal feelings towards this man; it’s just a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. His constant stream of apologies becomes background noise as I wonder about this predicament. Are we going to be blacklisted by transportation services? How was I going to explain this to the rest of the group? And, most importantly, how can I unfuck our situation?

I tell him to wait there and I’ll bring the group over to him.

1:00 pm

The group decides to meet at the now-stranded Astro. I consider calling a tow truck, but sempai informs me that he already called the police.

Fuck. That would mean that the cops would confiscate the keys and towing the Astro is no longer an option.

The deeply-rooted van is about fifty meters away from where we meet up. Within eyesight. Half the time is spent laugh-cringing at sempai’s poor judgment, the other half sorely disappointed that the trip was not going to go smoothly. If we did not find another way to LA and soon, we were going to miss the Anohana premier.

Much of this time is spent listening to the police going through procedure. They were really nice about their duties, giving us the benefit of the doubt by not assuming that sempai was drunk when he did this. I would have preferred he were drunk so that there would be actual justification for his terrible decision.

1:30 pm

This basically means that we need to acquire a rental vehicle from another service, namely the airport nearby. A few of us mull over our smartphones to check costs, the atmosphere amongst the group grows tenser.

Freddie and Haro are part of this group too, but Freddie is slightly notorious for both his disdain towards former president-sempai and his overwhelmingly negative outlook on life. As such, this setback is the most terrible way for him to start the day. He openly considers just going back to his apartment because of the inconvenience. It’s annoying to listen to as we figure out a new way to get to Los Angeles on a Saturday afternoon.

I’m personally used to listening to it because that’s all I ever hear from the guy, and we do make it a game to see who can be more negative about our situation amongst the three of us, but all I really care about is actually getting to Little Tokyo. Thankfully, he hushed himself once it became apparent that the trip wasn’t going to be cancelled.

2:15 pm

We are now boarded on another bus heading in the direction of the airport.

It turns out that the on-campus transportation services was special when it allowed a person under 25 to rent a large vehicle like the Astro. When it came to off-campus rental services, the only vehicles accessible to us were 5-seaters. Meaning, we now had to rent two cars. With one passenger willing to both cover the costs of rental and drive one of the cars, we were set to continue on our journey to LA.

We make small talk by discussing current season anime. I am mostly affirmed in my opinion that it would be more accurate to relabel Winter 2014 to “Fall 2013 part 2: Fall Harder”. And that Nagi no Asukara and Samurai Flamenco are lovely shows so far.

2:30 pm

One of our group members assures us that our car rental location is one stop ahead of the airport. That’s a bit weird and inefficient, but okay. If Google says so.

2:35 pm

We are supposed to find a National car rental building somewhere in the vicinity. I don’t see anything. Neither does our group member, and neither does anyone else.

2:45 pm

We resort to talking to people about where the supposed car rental place might be. At around this time, I notice that the bus heading back to the airport just left. The buses around here arrive at half-hour intervals.

2:46 pm

IT WAS AT THE AIRPORT ALL ALONG. AND WE MISSED THE FUCKING BUS

FUCK YOU GOOGLE MAPS.

GOTTA GO FAST.

3:05 pm

We are now at the car rental building, attached to the municipal airport. We rent two cars, essentially tripling our initial costs (as we already paid for our now-defunct Astro). We make the most out of the registration process by taking care of bathroom duties before the car trip. A piano sat near baggage claim, so we wasted some time playing our weeaboo music on it.

3:20 pm

Holy shit, after nearly two and a half hours of setbacks we’re finally on the road. Navigation predicts that it will take two hours to get to our destination.

The movie starts at 5:00 pm.

GOTTA GO FAST.

WOW THESE SONGS MAKE FOR TERRIBLE DRIVING MUSIC.

5:15 pm

SHIT.

At least they still let us in.

Okay, we didn’t miss much. They just finished outing Yukiatsu.

6:45 pm

We go to the Curry House for dinner. I ordered eel curry rice in a stoneware bowl. They had to carry it to the table on a wooden board because the bowl was basically still cooking the food inside. Inside was white rice, a raw egg, brussel sprouts, corn, carrots, and eel. The curry came separate, so that I could pour/mix it in as I liked. It basically became fried curry rice.

It was fucking hot, and it was also fucking hot.

It was, therefore, delicious.

We spend the rest of the night going through the bookstore and stocking up bentos at the market. And laughing about how much of a shitfest this day was. I have a photo of that poor Astro as my new smartphone background so that we never forget.

The curry song from Minami-ke pops up on the playlist as we drive home.

As much as we got set back, I enjoyed myself. Everyone else, hopefully, enjoyed themselves as well.

I just hope we don’t spend that much money again.

Addendum

  1. I still don’t know if we were blacklisted.
  2. Some say that the Astro is still there, as a warning to future anime clubs to never rent from them ever again.
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6 comments

  1. Aleksei Edison · · Reply

    Seeing as you went for the movie, I take it you missed the bookstore. For shame, where else can you buy metal kits to make sick bug models? We should have a little kumbaya trip to Little Tokyo, I’ll bring my nerds, you’ll bring your nerds, and we can all go get some sushi and Leninade.

    1. Perhaps not sushi, but the Leninade would be great.

      1. Aleksei Edison · · Reply

        You ever go to the Famima in California Plaza? That place is beyond cash, it’s the designated pit stop for all the thirsty moes that don’t want to walk too far to get some grub. I swear, AX is the thighmaster training that an anime nerd needs and gets yearly.

        1. We don’t really wander too far away from the village plaza. Would you happen to know more places we can walk to for next time?

  2. Aleksei Edison · · Reply

    I know of tons, and all of them are pretty much in the same spot near the Union Station. I know for a fact that the bookstore is only like a few blocks away from Union, and there’s all kinds of odd little shops around Little Tokyo, places like Weller Court, Japanese Village Plaza, etc. Go to Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle if you can, that place is fun.

    1. Aleksei Edison · · Reply

      Oh whoops, why did I say Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle lol? That place is in Arcadia. What I meant to say was Kotobukiya Bookstore, that’s near the station and a good starter for your excursion.

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