Despite kicking off the new year with a plethora of anime merch, something felt amiss for our Japanese-language reporter’s fukubukuro experience.

Typically offered during the new year, fukubukuro, translated as “lucky bags,” are bags containing merchandise that supposedly cost more than the actual price to buy the fukubukuro itself. While a bit of a gamble, fukubukuro buyers can sometimes land a wicked deal or be sorely disappointed when the content of their fukubukuro isn’t up to their expectations. However, SoraNews24’s Seiji Nakazawa was looking for something more than just saving a few bucks at the start of the decade.

Reflecting on his past fukubukuro endeavors, what Seiji seeks at New Year’s isn’t the ultimate deal but the satisfying experience of standing in solidarity with hopeful shoppers who wait hours just for a fukubukuro. Especially moved from his experience at a previous Animate fukubukuro roundup, Seiji has long-waited the opportunity to once again experience the zeal and cheer of diehard shoppers and anime fans alike.

This time Seiji decided to try his luck at the Kichijoji branch of Animate—a quick train ride away from our Shinjuku office and located in a Parco department store a few blocks away from Kichijoji Station. In their own gamble to shorten the line this year, Kichijoji’s Animate offered, for the first time ever, fukubukuro aimed towards male anime fans. However, their gamble failed as Seiji was greeted with a massive line despite arriving one hour ahead of the department store’s opening.

▼ The line even snaked back into one of Kichijoji’s alleyways.

Though this wasn’t the most extreme fukubukuro-waiting experience, unlike these folks waiting in the middle of a snowstorm, all was quiet except for the purring engines of passing cars and people shifting in line. The atmosphere felt strange to our gallant reporter and he wondered: where was the energy? The anticipating enthusiasm which grows as the department store’s opening draws closer?

At last, the department store opened, but instead of applause or any degree of fanfare, the only thing that followed was a solemn silence as those who lined up shuffled into the building under the directions of a store employee. Seiji followed along with a sinking dread, realizing that maybe in the end it was too weird to expect any kind of fanfare for a fukubukuro event.

With no more deliberation than an auntie picking out daily necessities from the neighborhood market, Seiji grabbed a fukubukuro and promptly headed back to our Shinjuku office to examine its contents. Despite the lack of zeal at the Kichijoji Animate, his mood was lifted when opening the bag. Compared to the last Animate fukubukuro, there were less starry-eyed pretty boys and for only 2,000 yen (US$18.42), Seiji nabbed 25 items total.

▼ Fanboys rejoice! From RE:Zero to Madoka Magica, the fukubukuro’s goods covered a wide variety of anime hits.

Seiji was particularly happy with this cup of Suzaku, Lelouch’s childhood homeboy from Code Geass, and this Dragon Ball Z-themed hair wax.

▼ Now fans can start off the morning with Suzaku’s refreshing mug printed on the side.

▼ One down, six more to go!

Though Seiji wasn’t able to savor the euphoria of shoppers at a long-awaited store opening during fukubukuro season, at the very least he had an eventful 2019 with antics such as becoming the face of baldness on Japanese Google and sampling secret menu beer in the heart of Akihabara.

Photos © SoraNews24
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