Akihabara@DEEP was originally a novel by Ira Ishida that was also developed as a manga. The drama aired in 2006 on TBS in Japan.
I really liked this drama even though it has a lot going against it. It’s the sort of show that I can imagine many viewers criticizing.
Firstly, because the show was originally a book, there are comparisons with the book and manga. There was also a live action movie, so the show will always be compared to that. Secondly, the subject matter of the show is the otaku culture in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, a culture which is seriously looked down upon in Japan. Many Japanese that I’ve met seem to resent the popularity of the Akiba scene even though they’re aware that it has many adherents.
But, just like any good show, it grows on you. I thought that it started out a bit silly but as the show went on, I started to actually care about what happened to the misfits that make up the Akihabara@DEEP team.
The story is about six strangers that meet each other through an online help site that is run by a mysterious person named Yui. Yui helps each person through the depression and alienation caused by their otaku tendencies. When Yui dies suddenly, the six strangers decide to start a “trouble-shooter” group to help the other inhabitants of Akihabara.
Each member of the team has a unique skill that they bring to the table to help them in their missions: Box, a digital graphic-design guru; Akira, the tomboyish combat maid; Taiko, a computer musician and tech expert; Daruma, a cosplay designer; Izumu, a master hacker (played by Hatsune Matsushima 松嶋初音 who is so awesome that I had to include pics of her); and Page, the leader of the group who has a serious problem stutter.
The show ends up covering a lot of ground, from artificial intelligence and digital piracy to psychological problems and suicide; always with a background of the darker side of social alienation in modern Japan. But if that sounds too heavy, remember that this show is a comedy and its actually pretty funny.
I loved watching this show; Akiba is one of my favorite places in Tokyo and I’ve had a lot of fun there. Maybe that’s the reason that I give the show such credit. But I really think that it captured some of the characters and types that are running around Akihabara today.
I haven’t read the novel (I plan to), but I’ve read the manga and it takes a much more serious tone than the drama. If you want the whole @DEEP story, you should do all four: read the novel and manga, and watch the drama and movie.