Beware! The Claw is Targeting Otaku!: How I got Swindled by an Inanimate Object

It was a windy, rainy, stormy, no good, very bad weather day. It was my day off and I kind of wanted to go for a walk, meaning I only had two options, either I stayed home and watched anime about being more active (Yay, this is my preferred option!) or I went to the local mall to walk indoors. Oddly enough, my brother actually managed to talk me into going to the mall. Thankfully, it was about 10 in the morning, so it hadn’t become crazy crowded yet, and we actually had a pretty good speed walk as we lapped the building. Then we spotted it. I don’t go to the mall often, so I don’t know when such a thing was put there, but there it was near the end of our trek.

An Arcade! Oooo! I hadn’t seen an arcade in years! All the arcades in my area had closed down quite a while ago, and I didn’t think they would ever come back. It was so bright and blinky! It had cheerful music and fun looking games we didn’t know how to play. And then I saw the real surprise, the true lure to draw in any unsuspecting otaku. They had claw games with anime figurines as prizes! What!? It was about $25 USD to buy one of those figurines online, but at the arcade I could win one for just 13 points. I didn’t know how much 13 points cost, but surely it was less than $25, right? I haaaaaadddd to get one of those figurines!

pondering a claw game
first they lure you in with adorable anime prizes

So we picked a machine that had the figures I wanted, but the game didn’t take money or credit cards, we would have to buy a special game card. Okay. But the game cards came in fixed point amounts and none of those fixed amounts were in multiples of 13, so there was no way around it, there would definitely be some unusable points left over. Um, not ideal but, okay. And then I actually tried to retrieve my anime themed reward.

“Wait, the game was timed?! And I’m only allowed to press each of the directional buttons once?! And the claw moved in jerky starts and stops so it was hard to line it up with the prize?!”

strategizing at a claw game
we thought team work was the key to victory

After 4 completely failed attempts at fetching my rightful bounty, I enlisted my brother’s help. We each stood on opposite corners of the machine, so working together I could properly triangulate the position of the claw over the prized. Aaannnddd, I still couldn’t seem to pick up the figure. Dubbing that game much too hard for our amateurish skill level we moved on to a stuffed animal claw game. The prize was a giant fluffy pink squid plushy. Yyyeeeessss! I needed that fluffy pink squid! After a few more failed attempts to snag my squishy prey, I talked my brother into giving it a try. He had been playing video games since before I could even walk, surely a pro like him could definitely win.

Like the seasoned gamer that he is, my brother perfectly lined the claw up with the giant squid. Yes! He perfectly swooped the claw down and scooped up the plushy. Yes! And the prized was merrily on it’s way to the drop shoot. Yes! Mwahaha! Those adorable little tentacles were mine! And then the claw just randomly lost it’s grip and dropped the squid. Wait, what?! No! We totally should have won! And by we, I mean my brother, because he was doing all the work, but that prize was supposed to be Mine!

winning at a claw game
don’t count your squid before they’re in the shoot!

Deciding that the squid game was horribly unfair, and with only a few points left, we moved on to a mini game that offered little Lunas from Sailor Moon, aaaannnddd, that also didn’t go well. The Claws had won! They had successfully gobbled up all my spending money and hadn’t even coughed up one figurine! Game pointless and empty handed, we trudged out of the arcade. And right around the corner of the arcade was . . . an anime merch shop with all of the prizes I had tried to win at the arcade!

But surely they were super expensive so I wouldn’t have even been able to buy one with the spending money I had right? Right? Nope! If I hadn’t bought the game card I would have totally been able to just buy one of the figures! And that’s when I learned the hard lesson that the world is a cold, cold place filled with claw games that eat up all your money and very inconveniently placed anime merch shops! My brother took pity on me and my amazingly bad luck and bought me two of the figures that I had tried to win in the first claw game. After handing over these wonderful little parcels, he shrugged and said that I should tell people that I got them after playing a claw game. Though technically true, I feel that it would be quite misleading.

losing at a claw game
I feel your pain Li kun!