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For the most part, Japan does a pretty thorough job of separating its video games from reality. Even after decades of Super Mario Bros., the country isn’t beset with inhumane monsters stomping on box turtles for fun, and while some dude did once take a swing at me in Shibuya Station, Tokyo’s sidewalks are almost universally free of would-be street fighters.

One notable exception, though, is Pokémon, in that people who love hunting for the monsters in the game tend to also like searching for cool merchandise based on the series in real life. But while fans have a mutual respect for each other’s dedication and efforts to catch ‘em all in the game, some were a little less impressed when they showed up to shop at Tokyo’s newest Pokémon Center, only to find some covetous shoppers had bought up all of the store’s special stuffed animals, with one individual spending the equivalent of thousands of dollars on Pikachu plushies.

Just in time for Christmas, last week saw the opening of the brand new Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo, a gigantic shop in the Ikebukuro neighborhood selling all things Pokémon-related. Since there are already seven other Pokémon Centers in Japan, though, the new branch decided to do something special to draw customers, and prior to the grand opening announced that the mega center would have something unique.

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The new branch’s logo features Pikachu riding on the back of a gold, dragon-like Pokémon, and is also the only place where you can buy the cosplaying Pikachu stuffed animal shown above. Except, unless you got to the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo store very early on opening day, you couldn’t even purchase on there, thanks to people like this.

It’s true that some hardcore fans and collectors buy multiple copies of the same toy, either to keep one in mint condition or simply to display them in different rooms. That said, unless the two shoppers above are planning to fill up their bathtubs with pocket monsters, that seems like more than they could ever use. Twitter user Holy Horimaru, who snapped the photo, says one of the individuals’ total came to a whopping 530,000 yen (US$4,490), a sum large enough to buy about 44 copies each of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, the two most recent games in the series.

The men pictured above weren’t the only ones buying in bulk, either.

So why were some people running up such huge totals? Because they weren’t shopping, they were investing. Ikebukuro’s new Pokémon Center may be the only place you can buy the toys new, but those single-person stockpiles immediately fed into an online resale market, as they unloaded their vast supplies of spares on Amazon Japan and other Internet shopping sites.

Online commenters weren’t pleased by the aggressive hoarding though, which meant that by the time many arrived later in the day, the special items were sold out.

“Ugh, those guys are the worst…”
“Resellers are just garbage.”
“They’re plain monsters.”
“And yet the Pokémon Company and [Pokémon creator] Game Freaks didn’t do anything to prevent this.”

The last commenter brings up a valid point. In cases like this, stores often enact a policy limiting how many of the same item a single shopper can buy. By not capping purchases at a certain number of units, some felt it was unfair to blame those who saw an opportunity to flip their limited edition merchandise for a quick profit. Still, morally justifiable or not, it’s a little hard to look at this photo and not have the reseller’s attitude rub you the wrong way.

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“Selling Pokémon you captured? That’s a good way to lose your Pokémon Master credentials,” said one commenter in chastising the resellers, and while we haven’t been able to find the exact passage in the handbook prohibiting it, we’re assuming flipping off the camera is a similarly serious offense.

▼ Where’s Pikachu’s powerful, hopefully painful electric shock when we need it?

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Related: Pokémon Center
Sources: Hamster Sokuho, Pokémon Memo
Top image: Twitter
Insert images: Pokémon Official Website, Twitter, Wikia