Bamboo is really, really intelligent. There’s a thoughtful demeanor about him that conjures some mystery. He spent practically the entire time listening to my colleague Mori, rarely speaking unless a question was posed towards him. He was perfunctory.
That’s not to say he was a bad butler. In fact, just the opposite. He immediately sensed Mori’s gregarious nature and proceeded accordingly, serving the role of an engaged audience making succinct comments when suitable.
All proceeds from the Katsucon Cherry Tea Maid Cafe go to Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society. Even if it did not, I was perplexed by Mori’s reluctance to pay $1 per game. The maid cafe is the place where one visits to indulge. It’s silly to have money as an objection.
I played four games of Connect Four with Bamboo thanks to the generous funding from Mori.* Bamboo showed no pretense of letting me win. He won twice and we stalemated once. That was the highlight for me. The one raffle ticket from my sole win was just an added bonus.
The food proved better in appearance than taste but that’s never the focus at the maid cafe. The exorbitant prices mean the charity of choice benefit handsomely.
Katsucon changed venue from the bar restaurant upstairs to the Pienza located in the atrium of the Gaylord. The notable change in lighting may hold the most impact. Warmer and darker, it provided a more intimate ambience compared to the upbeat brightness of last year.
Unfortunately, the space seems to have shrunk. Located in the rear section of Pienza, it comprises roughly a quarter of all available tables. No doubt the parent establishment wanted to ensure it will not have to turn away regular customers. The section occupied by the Maid Cafe is fairly well hidden. Shrubbery blocks sight of the busy walkway infront while architecture elements does same from the rest of the venue.
The Katsucon Maid Cafe continues to exercise good judgement in requiring an advanced reservation. This allows the maid or butler to provide undivided service to the patron. It’s magical to have your very own servant all to yourself for an hour. And I am grateful that they honored our reservation, even when we were fifteen minutes late. That said, I was disappointed that we were not offered a choice of servant like last year. I really preferred a maid. Bamboo is still great though!
It’s a shame I only visited on Friday. Katsucon Cherry Tea Maid Cafe remains a mandatory stop for any attendee.
In America, simply no girl smiles at you. The only place where girls smile at you wholeheartedly is Starbucks. That’s why I always to go Starbucks, and see a girl smile at me, and have a very short term of instant gratification of being recognized.Yes, I perfectly know that they are trained to smile at customers, and I’m just a customer to her. But still, while no girl smiles at me in real life, I get to have a little humble pleasure from being smiled at this coffee shop, or this globally franchised cafe. I always smile at girls, but usually my humble favor is not returned or simply ignored here in the United States of America, or I should say NAFTA. Sometimes, I resort to a speculation that this might be due to racism because I’m an Asian boy, but that is hardly a case because racism was defeated by Obama’s historical election in 2008. So, since 2008, racism is dead. So, I would think that it’s simply that American services in general are DMV quality.
Now I’ve got used to dystopic America too much, where all shops except for Starbucks are like DMV. Yes, their service is really crappy. They treat you like cattle before being sent to slaughterhouses. Buta-don (Pig bowl) of Silver Spoon even got better love than us. I don’t think they see me as a valuable customer who is helping them to feed their family. When they say “thank you,” there is no emotion attached, and no smile at all.
With the Maid Cafe. And with my maid. You will fall in love too.
My Cup of Tea was the ichiban event I looked forward to at Anime USA since my magical visit last year. Like last time, I declined to choose my maid. There’s something about picking a person like a chattel that disagrees with me. It’s ironic really because I am completely enamored of the fantasy of My Cup of Tea. I take advantage of my hour as Master to its fullest. It’s just the one initial hurdle that irks me.
With the memory of yesteryear fresh, I was disappointed that my maid did not offer to take my bag. Can you tell I was spoiled? Then I realized that Shiori is love personified.
I could spend a lifetime attempting to capture the euphoria of having a maid address me as Goushiji-sama and probably fail. To attempt the same for my very own Shiori is certain failure. It’s simply something one has to experience. I can only say that each time her lips uttered that one word, my heart would skip a beat or ten because she wields the sole arrow to my heart. All the maids at My Cup of Tea are talented in her own special way, but…
Shiori plays the violin.
For those who are unaware, I don’t live for music. I breathe it. And violin was the one instrument I played before I realized I had the talent of a brick*. It took every atom of my willpower not to leap over the table and crush her in a hug. I didn’t even get to fall in love. I drowned instantly. Watch the video at your own peril.
The love continued. Shiori made her way around the cafe, proffering her lovely services and seducing everyone at each table that she stopped at. While I can imagine the courage it takes to do that, I do not want to. She wasn’t familiar with the “Moonlight Sonata” that I requested and inquired how it goes. I could only offer that it was three beats to a measure.
Did you see what she did there? Reminds me of my middle school violin teacher who penned “Happy Birthday” on the spot by humming it so that I could play it from the sheet. I must admit some jealousy. I would kill to be able to play something simply by hearing it.
Not skipping a note, Shiori immediately improvised with another piece that I regret not recording. Not that I could given that the only muscle capable of moving at the point was the thumping of my stolen heart.
The rehearsed turn of her wrist on each stroke and the rich agility of her fingers would’ve fooled anyone except I could sense a slight tremble behind the beautiful smile. Her display of courage only endeared me further. I won’t even bother depicting the sound because to call it love would still be a gross understatement.
The love deepened. She solicited for another request and we were at a loss when she revealed that she could play any Disney song. Mere notes into “A Whole New World”, time stopped. The clatter of the cafe faded. For those achingly precious few minutes, as I sat a kiss away, the only thing that existed in the universe was…
Upon reflection, part of my reluctance to choose a maid may stem from my wanting to be a kind Master. I don’t want her to be my maid by force. I would rather she serve of her volition. It’s in this vein that I wish maids may dine with patrons should they choose to (or ordered to). I will gladly pay for it. It will also be really, really awesome to have Maid Cafe run all three days.
I need to say something negative. Er, let me think. My colleague Shizuka thought the food was mediocre before quickly adding that no one visits for the food. Um, Shiori’s hair is too perfect. Well, that applies to all the maids! Uh, she didn’t tell me they had Battleship to play -_-
Actually, the same complaint applies from last year. A wall separates the performance place from the vast majority of the cafe which means most patrons are late to notice when dance breaks out. The logistics of the venue make this unlikely to change however. It’s ok. I will just order my maid to inform me of performances beforehand next year!
Speaking of which, why isn’t it next year yet???!!!
*Albert (I like to pretend I know Einstein personally) is my second idol and I wanted to imitate him by learning to play the violin then dropping it to become a nuclear physicist and change history. Instead, all I got to be was a Master. Which is better^^ Oooohh My Cup of Tea, how I heart thee~
Maid Cafe returns for its sophomore year at Otakon. In hindsight, my lack of excitement beforehand foreshadows my conclusions. I feel bad because in some respects, it isn’t exactly fair to make comparisons. After all, Zagat rates restaurants on individual merit and this should be no different. That said, my lukewarm feelings toward Otakon’s Maid Cafe stems from an inherent expectation that I felt went unmet.
The main selling point of a maid cafe lies in creating an illusion of a Master/maid relationship. Otakon fails to deliver this essential on multiple fronts. For one, patrons do not have the pleasure of choosing his/her maid. For another, they are seated together with strangers with eight to a table. The magical illusion cannot materialize without the possibility of an intimate rapport between patron and maid. It also creates a possible, albeit tiny, conflict when choosing a game to play. In short, Otakon’s Maid Cafe is merely a glorified café where wait staff cosplay as maid or butler.
Speaking of which, the service left more to be desired. I didn’t time the duration but for someone who didn’t even order anything, it felt long from the time of order to receipt of one’s drink.
The Maid Cafe suffers from a limited menu. While located in the Hilton, the space is not adjacent to a kitchen. This meant food choices were only of the dessert variety which is clearly publicized beforehand. It’s just that I am sure there are others like me who enjoy having a full meal at a maid cafe and are disappointed that cannot be part of their Otakon experience.
A larger venue could help bring the experience to more Otakon members. The ability to sit more people per session should translate into shorter lines (assuming demand remains flat). Because despite all of its faults, there is plenty to love about Otakon’s Maid Cafe.
The maids and butlers are charmingly cute! This is true in both appearances and personality as demonstrated throughout and at the beginning of each session where they introduce themselves. The contagious cuteness doesn’t stop there. The decadent desserts look so absolutely adorable that one might feel a sad sting in devouring them. Also goth maid<3
Hours of operations is an immense improvement from last year. Not only are there more sessions per day, the Maid Cafe is open on Sunday as well. This, to my knowledge, puts Otakon as the sole convention to achieve this feat that I am confident others will likely emulate.
Shizuka and I didn’t know what to expect when we opted for the surprise session. Turns out it was a birthday song to celebrate Crabby-chan’s 20th complete with cake and candle. Otherwise, patrons are treated to one delightful performance of song and dance.
Including a raffle ticket with the price of admission sets a festitive mood. Prizes range from the appropriately maid headpiece to decorative ornaments. While holding little intrinsic value, they certainly provide a priceless keepsake for three lucky patrons.
Those not as fortuitous will still leave with a framed photo of the lovely maids/butlers that is given to everyone. Patrons will treasure this special souvenir because each maid and butler take turns among all the tables to personally autograph the frame.
Those specifically hoping to magically transform into a Master/Mistress with a maid or butler will find Otakon’s Maid Cafe disappointing. For everyone else, it is a sweet time of fun and games sure to rot your teeth away! See more pictures here.
Katsucon’s Maid Cafe, only accessible from the elevators near the first floor lobby, used the Gaylord National Harbor’s 18th floor nightclub as its venue. The location of the nightclub offered a beautiful view of the harbor. These elevators were far away from the rest of Katsucon’s programming, making it a commitment to attend the Maid Cafe. In fact, The Paper and I reserved a table in advance. For those who weren’t as fortunate to reserve a table, the Maid Cafe accepted walk-in reservations.
We were quite glad to have made an advance reservation, as we were able to skip the line of attendees waiting to get a walk-in reservation. However, The Paper wished that the Maid Cafe would not accept reservations until Katsucon’s schedule is revealed to avoid conflicts with other programming. After checking in at the Maid Cafe’s ground floor lobby, we were quickly escorted into an elevator up to the Maid Cafe. I wondered what kind of atmosphere Katsucon’s “Cherry Tea Maid Cafe” would have, as each Maid Cafe is different, and this would be my first time at Katsucon’s.
As the doors of the elevator opened, a group of maids greeted us in unison, who had apparently been anticipating us. Unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated such a reception, so I failed to get a picture! We were asked whether we wanted a maid, butler/host, cross-maid, or cross-butler. While I didn’t have much of a preference, The Paper really wanted a maid. Katsucon’s Maid Cafe didn’t allow patrons to pick their maid, and so we were assigned Akiko as our maid at the Cafe.
Akiko mentioned that we had 45 minutes for our reservation, so we ordered our food rather early so we wouldn’t run out of time halfway through our food. The menu contained Japanese snacks and appetizers. I asked Akiko who prepared the food, as these were not the usual items on the Gaylord’s nightclub menu. She told me that the food was prepared by the Gaylord; apparently their chefs knew Japanese cuisine!
As we waited for our food, Akiko offered to play some games with us. Offered at a donation of $1 per game, The Paper decided to play Toggle, a game involving balancing plastic pieces on an unstable platform. I offered to take photos to record the game for posterity, and was informed that each picture taken at the Maid Cafe was $1. Raffle tickets for a chance to win manga and DVDs were also offered at $1 each. A cheery maid carrying a gigantic donation jar collected all donations. This year, Katsucon’s Maid Cafe contributed 100% of donations to Relay for Life.
The Paper won the game, although it was a long and drawn out battle of wits! The timing couldn’t have been better either, as our food became ready moments after the game finished. The Paper ordered gyoza (dumplings), while I ordered onigiri (rice cakes). For a few minutes, I waited for Akiko to leave our table before eating, but to my surprise, she continued to chat with us. A harp player for fifteen years who was into League of Legends, she was planning a very appropriate cosplay as Arcade Sona (a League of Legends character who plays a musical instrument).
It was around then that I realized that Katsucon’s Maid Cafe was different: the maids never left their assigned tables other than to get games or food, and each maid only served one table. A total of 85 maids and 8 butlers serve the 110 tables at the Maid Cafe. Since not all maids were working this shift, not all tables could be used, explaining the long queue at the Maid Cafe lobby downstairs. It also became clear why choosing a specific maid would have been difficult given how many the Maid Cafe employed.
After realizing I hadn’t touched my food yet while The Paper had finished eating, I hastily ate my onigiri… it tasted pretty authentic, although the portions were small. As The Paper and Akiko started playing a game of Connect-4, I realized that the character of Katsucon’s Maid Cafe was more about the service rather than performances or dances. Rather, the way maids served only one table at a time, leading to extended conversation with our maid, resulted in a less restaurant-like experience and a more personal, memorable experience.
But it wasn’t as if the maids wouldn’t do impromptu performances either! At one point of our stay at the Maid Cafe, Gangnam Style played back over the audio system, which had been playing various anisongs and popular Japanese tunes. Akiko found it irresistible to join an impromptu dance session with fellow maids and some patrons.
We tried to tip Akiko as we left the Maid Cafe, but tips to individual maids were not allowed. Instead, we could donate our tips to Relay for Life. Akiko was flattered even though she wasn’t directly tipped. I left the Maid Cafe a bit later than The Paper, so we didn’t get to discuss our experience at the Maid Cafe until after Katsucon. I didn’t realize that he was a little upset that he was never addressed as “Master” at Katsucon’s Maid Cafe.
Even with a mishap like that, my impressions of the Katsucon “Cherry Tea Maid Cafe“ were positive. I haven’t been in a Maid Cafe that focused so much on service quality to the point of dedicating a maid per table. The pictures that The Paper and I took are available here, and I would go again next year!
So, I took the bait, I went to Doki Doki Maid Cafe on Day2. What was the reason I went to the maid cafe? There’s only one reason; to be the master (ご主人様 “goshujin-sama”). Yes, that’s what Nietzsche talked about; Master Morality. The philosophy of Master. In other words, Meister philosophy, based on Richard Wagner’s Meistersinger (master singer). If you’re a cosplayer making your own great costumes, then you are a craftsman, thus meister. And meister’s most respected zokusei (attribute) is the singing ability, and this applies to any kind of meister in Germany. In order to become a meister, you not only need to become the master of the craft but also a good singer. So, if you cosplay well and sing well, then you are a meister-singer. But I’m no cosplayer nor a singer, God or intelligent designer didn’t give me that talent. So, I’m no way a craftsman, which means I’m not a meister/master. And usually cosplayers take at least 4 or 5 years or even a decade to be recognized as craftsmen. Similar to shakuhachi (Japanese flute), 3 years for accurate sounding, 8 years for vibrato. But that’s too long for me. I want to be the master right away. I want to be respected as a master rather than looked down upon as a loser NEET. And what’s the shortcut to be the master? The answer is simple and crystal clear. Maid-cafe!
The Paper’s awesome article about Anime USA 2012 Maid Cafe, the best Anime Diet article of 2012, inspired me to become the master of the universe. I want to build my own umwelt or weltanschuuang. And the only way I can think of with my weak (but not weak enough to be qualified for disability) intellectual faculty is Maid Cafe.
So, I went to Doki Doki Maid Cafe, a cosplay restaurant of AnimeLA. Yes, cosplay kissa (cosplay cafe). But alas, there was a huge line, and I had to wait more than an hour. During the waiting time, the boredom was unbearable. I tried to chat with people in the line also, but still, the waiting period was just too long. It drained a half of my energy. When I went to Miku concert at PMX, that was horrible too. But luckily, a gentleman before me handed me Wall Street Journal which featured Petraeus’ fall, so that sexual scandal was good enough to kill the time. But I didn’t have Wall Street Journal with me this time, and nothing exciting like Petraeus scandal these days, only fiscal cliff, so it was boring. And just before drowsiness kicked in, finally, a cute looking maid came to us and apologized for making us wait. And then, at last, we could go in.
It was 5 bucks just to get in. But a maid at the front didn’t address me as “goshujin-sama (master/meister/maestro).” My instant reaction was like, “Give me 5 bucks back!” And the room was fully packed, and there weren’t enough maids for the number of customers. We were guided by another cute maid (well, all the maids of this cafe were very cute) with an overly short skirt that emphasized a nice looking zettai-ryouiki, and she assigned us to a table. Actually I wanted to get a maid’s service only for myself, but since the room was packed, I had to share the table with other folks. And we didn’t get to choose the maid since they were short. So, already at that point, my meister-quest kinda failed. A group service isn’t that bad, a shared worldview is okay, it’s still fun, but this wasn’t what I wanted. You want to completely monopolize a maid all by yourself. Yes, ein maid, ein table, ein meister!
So, I decided to give them an order. Yes, as a master, that’s what you do to your maid. Yes, an order would make me a master! At least, while I was sitting at the table, I had the right to do so! It’s closer to Droit Du Seigneur. Well, not quite, but the concept is similar, you are the owner of the maids, i.e., Meister of the maids! That’s the true ownership society that Dubya talked about! So, as meister’s prerogative dictates, I ordered omurice with my name on it enclosed with a heart mark.
Meanwhile, maids brought several games to us like jenga while we were waiting for okazu (food) to be served. Yet, all maids were running around, so they didn’t have time to play game with us, so that was also disappointing. We didn’t get to choose our own maid, and we didn’t get to play games with the maids… Of course, janken was out of question. How can you be the master with this service?
And finally, omurice arrived to our table, but I was appalled by its tininess. 6 bucks for this much? Man, this is crazy. Carl’s Jr.s spicy chicken sandwich is a far better deal then. And what’s more, it wasn’t actually omurice but only the top of the rice was covered with the fried egg. “You call this omurice?” It wasn’t wrapped with the egg at all. It looked like a damaged product. Is this the kind of food they serve to the master? This was the most disappointing service I ever got in my whole otaku life. And no single maid called me “goshujin-sama (master)” for the whole time. How can I feel like a master? How can I brag this to my fellow otakus? All my otaku friends would be laughing at me. I would lose my face a big time. “How was your virgin maid-cafe experience at cons?” How should I answer that? I’m not creative enough to make up a lie, I’m not a creative writer. The intelligent designer didn’t give me that gift too. It’s just shameful.
Thus, my master-quest was an epic fail, well at least at AnimeLA. I hear a lot of people having a wonderful experience at con’s maid cafe like PMX and Otakon. I read several good reviews about it. But this one, oh no… What can I tell you? So, the result is, I couldn’t be the master. Or is this something you have to go through in order to be the master? Was this the same ordeal that Job went through when he needed to prove himself to God? I thought Maid Cafe was a fast track to be the master. Neither have I skills or talents to be the master with my intellectual capacity nor perseverance, which is unfortunately my pre-existing condition. The intelligent designer simply didn’t give me those. I’m always awed by cosplayers’ boastful costumes whenever I go to cons. And at this con, I actually went to Cosplay Panel presented by Rokken Island Meta Force, the winner of AnimeExpo2012 Masquerade (Best Of Show), and oh wow, their craftsmanship just blew me away. Yes, cosplayers will tell you that as long as you enjoy making costumes even though you suck at it, that’s all that counts. But to me, I want to be the meister, that’s what matters! Because if you suck, you aren’t the master, you get no recognition. So, the point is, I don’t need to be a genius to be the master if I go to a maid cafe. A maid will recognize you as her master. I can bypass all these requirements: skills, lifetime experiences, dealing with pre-existing conditions and handicaps. So, AnimeLA’s maid cafe could have been my salvation…
However, I failed to be the master. They didn’t recognize me as a master. This is more like a mission incomplete than ressentiment. Oh yes, a foolish koi swallowed a baited hook. Apparently, a koi didn’t become the dragon. Yes, it was a master-bait, much more miserable than self-consolation thinking about 2D girls. It’s supposed to be master-quest instead of master-bait. Therefore, my master-quest has to be continued at the next con then.
I like to thank My Cup of Tea and specifically, Melody and Toya, for granting me an interview before the never ending line on Saturday. The two lovely maids were irresistibly delightful as they chatted with me and between themselves. It felt more like a conversation than interview where answers often ran off in tangents and each would finish the other’s sentences or thoughts. They exuded immense joy in their work during our conversation where they revealed everything about the Maid Cafe. Well, almost everything.
I don’t recall the exact circumstance but shortly after we sat down, I was informed that maids are forever 17. They would have a birthday every year where they would magically turn 17 again. And apparently, I can be 17 as well!
The Paper: What led you to apply?
Melody: I fell in love with the maid cafe as a customer when I visited. I was inspired by the head maid.
Toya: I enjoyed maid cafe in Japan. I wanted to bring that feeling and experience to others. It’s also a good way to make friends. It becomes a sisterhood. [Melody nods in vigorous agreement.]
Melody: Yes, sisterhood is a good way to put it. In fact, it’s like a sorority…
Toya: Yes, definitely…
Melody: There’s an initiation process…
The Paper: Oh? Initiation? Tell me about that.
Melody: That’s classified. [I look at Toya but she’s not spilling it so I move on.]
TP: How many applicants are accepted vs those that applied?
Melody: We have 30 maids with one or two backups. I don’t know how many applied.
Toya: It’s not that many.
Melody: Right, it’s not 100 or anything. If an applicant is serious, she will likely make it. There are also lots of returning maids so that’s a factor.
TP: What advice do you have for applicants?
Melody: Being a maid is more than just cosplay and being cute. It’s a serious job. You need to act the role. You need to be a maid. [I can attest to the validity of this statement.] We also volunteer to visit other cons to promote the cafe.
TP: What’s the best part about being a maid?
Melody: The job itself is the best part.
Toya: When you see them have that first smile. A lot of customers don’t know what to expect [I nod as I remember my experience from the day before.] and they’re slightly confused at first. But as they grow into it, they break into a smile. That’s the absolute best.
Somehow we got into a tangent and they expressed disappointment in my menu selection yesterday because it didn’t provide a chance for Toya to draw on my food.
Melody: Having to go home. [She sounds genuinely melancholy.]
Toya: I forget to eat and drink. You’re so busy attending to others.
TP: Did the maid cafe meet your expectations?
Both (simultaneously): Better than expected!
Toya: Definitely better. I made so many friends. It’s something that will stay with me. I want to do this forever.
Melody: I want to go to each others’ weddings…
Toya: Oh yea…
[They ramble on about weddings.]
TP: Are there any differences in how male and female patrons react?
Melody: Hmmm. It’s a personality thing I think. Guys think it’s cute. Some are nervous. Others are into it.
Toya: You notice some guys who try not to stare. Others are skeptical at first but then warm up to it.
TP: I visited the Host Club last night. Why are photos allowed there but not at the maid cafe?
Melody: We have a photo service so it will diminish the value of that. And our contract does not allow photos. It’s a privacy issue. You can take pictures of the food.
Toya: By paying for the photo, it makes it special. Otherwise it’s just like any other picture you would take at a con.
Melody: We decorate the photos…
Toya: …it’s really pretty.
Melody inquired if I took a photo with Toya yesterday. I think they were dismayed at my failure to do so. [For the record, I don’t do photos.]
TP: Last question. Is there a rivalry with the Host Club?
Toya: No rivalry…
Melody: …it’s more of a friendly competition…
Toya: Yea, we’re like brothers and sisters. Some of the maids would study the hosts. We learn from each other.
Melody: Yea, we feed off each other. We’re all BFFs. We bond outside the con.
Toya: There’s a transition when the Maid Cafe turns into the Host Club for the night where we all mingle with each other…
Melody: …some of us get weak in the knees when the hosts arrive for their shift… the way they swagger in…
I think we went off onto another tangent but I felt I was overstaying my welcome judging by the bustle of noise from the cafe. It’s a real shame because I could have chatted all day and all night with Melody and Toya.
One needs to look no further than the line of merry maids standing at attention to greet patrons minutes before doors opened Friday morning. My Cup of Tea, the maid cafe at Anime USA, features thirty maids of your choosing.
Patrons are invited to pick from the photo board at the entrance. Some maids also offer to play a certain personality beyond the default moe such as tsundere. I declined to choose, leaving the hostess to pair me with Maid Toya.
It turned out to be a fabulous decision.
The magic began when Toya addressed me as Master which I found charming. She led me to our table and surprised me when she pulled out my chair. I have never had anyone do that for me. For those in the same boat, try it some time. It’s surreal like a boss. My surprise continued when she refuted my wanting to put my bag in the other chair citing her desire to sit with me. She then proceeded to chide me when I tried to hang the bag on the back of my chair which she insisted on doing. I wasn’t accustomed to such hospitality typically reserved for a master. In fact, I have to admit I was slightly flustered at the majestic treatment.
Toya played her role with absolute aplomb. She didn’t just play the role of a maid. Her actions and words channeled her role as my maid. With her delivery, I was able to grow comfortable in taking on my role as her Master. And therein lies the magic of My Cup of Tea. I am no longer at a maid cafe. I am sitting in my castle at my magnificent dining hall overlooking my vast territory beyond my alligator guarded moat.
While the menu offered variety, it lacked depth and nothing really appealed to me. And the prices will destroy your dealer’s room budget. I was hungry and under time constraint so I opted for egg rolls. Upon its arrival, my maid blessed it with a moe chant before my consumption.
I wanted to write a review from the perspective of a con attendee so I kept my press status hidden. In the same vein, I decided to play a game. I didn’t recognize some of the games on the list including Hungry Hungry Hippos which I chose because it sounded amusing. When Toya returned with the sealed box, I felt somewhat embarrassed at my juvenile choice and remarked as much. She brushed aside my hesitation and cheerfully explained the rules to me as she made preparations.
Starting to adjust to my role as Master, I had an immediate suspicion that she would let me win and voiced my concern. My servant vehemently denied the accusation. Mere seconds later, she beat me. Instead, she fished out the winning gold ball and placed it in my pile, declaring me the winner. I could only smile as I enjoyed the silliness of it all.
Toya surprised me one final time when she moved her chair to my right. I had expected her to sit across from me but the intimate gesture was welcoming. She talked a bit about herself and I was delighted to learn that my maid is incredibly intelligent and talented. And she speaks almost fluent Japanese.
I was sorely disappointed that she lied to me however. In listing her qualifications, she mentioned that she could flip. I demanded a demonstration not realizing her sarcasm. I remember looking at her shoes when she obediently stood, moved into position and conveyed readiness before she chastised me for making such a request while she is unsuitably attired.
“Go change and come back,” I retorted, really getting into my role.
“That would take too long,” she complained.
“I can wait.”
There was a lot of flirting as one might expect. In fact, she speculated that my notebook must be filled with phone numbers. I don’t think she believed me when I replied in the negative so I showed her.
“So my number would be the first?” she inquired with delight.
I wasn’t sure what to think at the time. Is she still in character or is she serious? Then I had my duties as press. What are the ethics surrounding such circumstances? Ultimately, I played along because flirting is a hobby for me but never did press for her number.
Of course it led her to question my notebook which I should have refrained from writing in. Thus I was able to pursue my hobby as we flirted about my keeping secrets.
It was an immense pleasure playing the role of a Master in possession of a maid. While it makes sense that maids are not allowed to eat or drink, I gave explicit permission for my maid to have water. I wish I had given more orders to add to the experience.
Toya served me perfectly. Upon noticing my interest in a passing cosplayer, she confirmed my desire for a picture and flagged down said subject on my behalf. Imagine if I had access to such a service throughout the con!
My favorite part occurred when she addressed me as something else and I had to correct her that I preferred Master. She was speechless for a moment but her expression said all that was necessary. I was having such a grand time that I thought we had achieved world peace.
Sadly, I couldn’t stay longer as my attendance was requested at a panel. I felt forlorn in having to give up my maid. The fantasy started to crumble. I divulged my secret at this point in order to set up an interview. Toya left me with a personal souvenir that she made which I am keeping all to myself by not posting its photo. I am unsure if it’s something all maids provide.
I have two minor complaints. The maid cafe should offer a goth/alternative maid. I am likely in the minority here given that moe is the main appeal. And current seating arrangements mean patrons on the other side of the divide may not be aware when a dance breaks out.
My Cup of Tea at Anime USA is magic personified. For the duration, each patron is transformed into a Master or Princess. This entails the sublime service of a maid. And when one’s maid is away retrieving food or occupied with another table, it’s not rare for another maid or three to stop by and keep one company. The magic is never disrupted and it lives on as a treasured memory.
The second of three guest articles about Anime USA 2011 by Sh1zuka. This one focuses on the maid cafe and host club! Photos by scout and Shizuka.
One of the advantages that AnimeUSA has is being held at a hotel with its own restaurants. During AnimeUSA, the Hyatt Crystal City’s two restaurants are converted into a wonderful Maid Cafe and classy Host Club, open on Friday and Saturday.
Since the introduction of the Maid Cafe and Host Club at AnimeUSA 2009, AnimeUSA has improved it every year. While the basic formula has remained the same, the logistics of meal tickets and accessibility have improved each year, making going to the Maid Cafe and Host Club less of a time and energy commitment. This is essential for an Anime convention with a very packed programming schedule.
Entry to the Maid Cafe and Host Club is done on the second floor, where a party can queue for entry to the perpetually busy Maid Cafe and Host Club. Food can be purchased using “tickets” bought for two dollars each at the respective location, and games can be played with the maids or hosts by paying cash. I’m not sure why food is required to be purchased with tickets, but I believe it is a regulatory issue.
The “My Cup of Tea” Maid Cafe
The AnimeUSA Maid Cafe, open during the breakfast and lunch hours of the convention, serves a variety of sandwiches, desserts, and Japanese snack food. All dishes are served by maids, who bless your food with “Moe~ Moe~ Kyun! ❤” before you’re allowed to eat!
The Maid Cafe also offers games that a customer can play with the maids, like Jenga or UNO. If a customer plays enough games, he or she can also get a picture with a maid of his or her choice. Well, it was mostly guys who wanted pictures with the maids!
If you’re not in the mood for games, that’s fine too; sometimes, a group of maids will suddenly burst out into dance! This made me wonder how much preparation AnimeUSA’s maids needed to work at the Maid Cafe. An application form is available on the website, but it does not go into detail about what kind of training is required or if talents are necessary.
So I asked one of the maids at the Maid Cafe. It turns out there isn’t much training at the convention. The training they do at the convention is about serving the customers’ food, as there is not enough time to train all of the maids to dance/sing at the convention. Thus, talents such as dancing, singing, or playing a musical instrument are considered big pluses for applying. So the “sudden outburst of dance” was only possible due to the dedication of the maids, who must have practiced popular Anime dances well before AnimeUSA.
The “Club Ikemen Paradise” Host Club
For dinner, AnimeUSA offers the “Club Ikemen Paradise” Host Club, located at the top floor of the Hyatt. This host club requires customers to be 18 years old or older to be admitted to the club, which is unfortunate since the average age of an anime convention attendee is less than 18 years old. As the Host Club serves alcohol to those of age, it may be a restriction due to Virginia law.
A queue to get into the Host Club, conveniently located on the second floor, allows potential customers to see how long the queue is before wasting an elevator trip. At the end of the queue, customers are allowed to ride the “Host Club Express” Elevator, which only goes between the second and the top floor. This is a major improvement for this year’s Host Club, efficiently using the few available elevators.
Upon arriving at the Host Club, you or your party is allowed to choose your host for your table, who will entertain you while you wait for your food. Although the food portions are small and rather expensive, the food is good and the Host Club’s service is excellent. Alcohol is even offered at the Host Club, although prices are extremely steep.
Activities at the Host Club are similar to the Maid Cafe, with games and photos available in exchange for cash. Unlike the hyperactive excitement of the Maid Cafe, the atmosphere of the Host Club is more tranquil and laid back, possibly because the Host Club caters to an older audience. While the food at the Host Club takes much more time to prepare than at the Maid Cafe, the skyline at the top floor is beautiful and the hosts seem to enjoy spending time at their tables entertaining customers.
At my table, my host played music, joked with my friends, and folded origami while our food was on the way. During my wait, I wandered around the Host Club taking pictures and noticed that almost everyone at the place was having fun: many customers played games with their host while waiting for food, and hosts would sit with their customers entertaining them if they looked bored. As with the maids, many of the hosts were very talented, knowing how to play music and engaging in fun banter with their customers.
Overall, I would say that AnimeUSA runs the best Maid Cafe and Host Club of the East Coast Anime Conventions. Although AnimeUSA is moving to the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in 2012, AnimeUSA intends to keep the Maid Cafe and Host Club running at the new hotel. If you skip these and you’re going to AnimeUSA this year, you’ll miss out!
You might wonder why AnimeUSA is changing its convention venue. Find out more on my next post, AnimeUSA 2011: Outgrowing the Hyatt—coming on Wednesday!
Report by guest correspondent Sh1zuka. First of three articles.
AnimeUSA 2011, held from November 17 – 20, 2011, is a cozy and moderately small anime convention held at the Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s registration rate was $58 at the door, and cheaper if pre-registered over a month in advance. If you know you will arrive on Friday, you can skip the long pre-registration line by registering at the convention, saving you lots of time.
Even though AnimeUSA is a small convention, it is still a full featured convention, with usual Artist Alley/Art Show, Dealer’s Room, Video Game Room, Video Rooms, Masquerade / Skit Cosplay Contest, Concerts, and Hall Costume Contest. The convention’s small size will have you constantly running into people you just met hours ago, perfect for making new friends!
Unique to AnimeUSA is the Themed Ballroom Dance. This year’s “Military Cosplay Ball” required dancers to follow a dress code of Western formalwear or Military-themed Cosplay in order to get in. AnimeUSA introduced “dance cards” for the ladies at the ball, letting gentlemen leave their names on a lady’s dance card for a guarantee that the two would dance together on the dance floor. I really wanted to go to this dance, but I was stopped at the door: I didn’t meet dress code.
AnimeUSA also has the best convention Maid Cafe and Host Club on the East Coast, and compared to last year, it has gotten much better. Be sure to check out the forthcoming AnimeUSA 2011: Maid Cafe & Host Club post for more details!
The convention can be best described as vertical, spanning five floors. The bottom two, B2 and B1, are dedicated to Main Events, the Artist Alley/Art Show, Video Rooms, and Dealer’s Room. If you are looking to lighten your wallet, you need only head down the escalator from the lobby and descend into the madness of beautiful fanart, handmade plushies, poseable Vocaloid figurines, and more!
The lobby, used only by AnimeUSA for registration, is usually filled with cosplayers during the day and offers a convenient shelter from the cold November weather. For attendees of age, the lobby also contains the bar (called the “Lobbibar” by the Hyatt), making it a popular destination at night when not attending raunchy 18+ panels. With a bar on the first floor and lots of 18+ programming, AnimeUSA accommodates older convention attendees rather well.
The floors above the lobby contain the bulk of the fan programming. Three panel tracks, two workshop tracks, and the Video Game Room are on the 3rd floor; an Events track, Manga Library, and the “My Cup of Tea” Maid Cafe are on the 2nd floor, while the “Club Ikemen Paradise” Host Club, located on the 20th floor, is only accessible via elevator from the 2nd floor.
All of the floors except for the 3rd floor are connected together via escalators. The 3rd floor is only connected to the 2nd floor via hard-to-access stairs, making getting to the workshops, panels, and the game room difficult.
Something AnimeUSA does that’s awesome and unique is nearly giving away medicine to attendees, for a nominal fee of 25 cents per packet. Apparently there’s a law in Virginia that prohibits them from giving away medicine for free, so they charge a quarter.
I can say from personal experience based on the instructions I was given at the con that the entire leadership of the con has one goal. That goal is [to] put on [a] great convention where every attendee goes home saying they had a great time.” –forum post from one of AnimeUSA’s Medical Staff
I’m not aware of any other convention that does something like this, and it’s a great idea to help attendees stay healthy and comfortable during the convention. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to get sick during a convention, having medicine is essential to being able to enjoy the precious little time you can spend at the convention.
Elevator Hell… No More!
I always made a point of never wanting to stay at the Hyatt for AnimeUSA because in previous years, attendees staying in the hotel rooms above the convention space fought with convention attendees who wanted to use the elevators to get from floor to floor.
This year, AnimeUSA disabled access to the lower floors (Lobby, B1, B2) from the elevators, an excellent decision that made elevators much faster and more efficient by reducing elevator demand. It’s really a blessing in disguise: you might make a few friends on the way up the escalators! The only downside is that getting to panel rooms requires more exercise.
Another welcome improvement is that access to the Host Club is only via one elevator on the 2nd floor, which only goes between the 2nd and 20th floor and is controlled by staff to prevent the host club from being full when you get there.
Overall, AnimeUSA 2011 was tons of fun, even though I wasn’t allowed to go to the Military Cosplay Ball. Check out the next post on AnimeUSA’s Maid Cafe and Host Club, the attraction that I consider the best part of AnimeUSA.
On May 1, 2011 Tomo Neko Maid Cafe held an event in which proceeds went to the Yoshiki Foundation. Luckily for me I got to experience the event first-hand. Lucky for you, though you may have missed this event, the Cafe is always planning something.
What you missed:
Maid Rachael met me at the door and ushered me into a front row seat just before the musical act, the Ajuku Girls began their set.
After the happy pop dancing and singing put the audience into a pleasant mood I was seated and introduced to my butler, Megaman X AND some super-awesome cat people who I’d be drinking tea with.
Several butlers and maids came to the table to play card games, let me hug emo-chu, and of course to bring out delicious refreshments inbetween activities.
Performances by comedians Anton Torez, Matt Johnson, and “G” were an absolute riot while the beauty of Miyuki’s Geta dance took everyone’s breath away.
During a slight intermission while raffle tickets were drawn and prizes rewarded many tried their hands at the gaming station (Marvel vs. Capcom and Smash Brothers) to win pictures with their favorite maid and/or butlers.
Several more performances from staff (Madam X sang while D Boy did a bit of comedy) kept the energy up though the most surprising was the Time Warp performed by just about everyone at the closing ceremony.
It was a great event from a wonderful Cafe for a good cause that left guests feeling as though they really were transported to a 2D world.
Maid cafe popularity in my area (Southern California) has risen exponentially in the past decade, with the rise in popularity of butler cafes following suit. These trends tend to boom with every release of a maid/butler themed anime. I felt it was time to take a better look at maid cafes and see what the hubub is all about. Please note; traditionalists realize that 99.9% of everything done in America will have an American twist to it!
I had a chance to shoot Maid Rachael some questions after finding out a pop-up Maid/Butler cafe was in the works as the main theme of an event.
California, especially Los Angeles has a few decent maid cafes. What separates Tomo Neko Maid Cafe from other pop-up-events?
At Tomo Neko, we pride ourselves most in our uniqueness and creativity. Traditional maid cafes are generally light meals being served by cute girls. For Tomo Neko we’ve decided to add a fun twist to this by incorporating other elements of otaku and geek culture such as gaming, comedy, musical performances, and a few other surprises. We’ve really gone all out and expect customers will enjoy this unique experience – even if they’re already a cafe veteran.
What made you want to get involved in a maid cafe? Was it difficult work putting this all together?
All of our staff members were just a group of friends first. Many of us recent college graduates. We all met as part of a local anime/manga fan group. At its start, the maid cafe idea was simply something to do for fun. Then the Japan disasters struck. That was when we realized that we could use our once informal event to help out. We got serious.
This is the first charity event we’ve ever organized! Which includes its own excitement and challenges. Many factors that appeared “easy” at first, very often proved themselves more complex and detailed over time. After completing one task, we’d discover 10 new ones yet to do. I don’t think any of us have slept much since March. ^_^;
What would you like as an outcome for the maid cafe?
First, we want everyone to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere we’ll be creating. If customers feel as though they’ve been transported to a different world, one more elegant, charming, and exciting than our typical lives, then we’ll have succeeded.
Second, we would love the event to be a total success as a fundraiser so we can support Japan in their time of need as much as possible. And if we can raise awareness and aid for Japan while simultaneously introducing folk to some of their culture, all the better.
A portion of the proceeds are going to a Japan earthquake and tsunami relief fund…
Our charity of choice is the Yoshiki Foundation. More about them can be found here.
How do you think the damages Japan has faced has affected the Otaku community? How do you feel it’s affected you?
The otaku community has of course been deeply affected by this. There’s no way it couldn’t have been. For many of us, the fandom has changed our lives is such a positive way. I know it has for me. Through that, we have formed a connection to the country and its people. To hear that the place of origin that has given us such joy through their creations is now in a time of need:
Now is the time for us to give back.
As a maid, what are you favorite activities to engage in with your patrons?
What a tough question! There’ll be so many thing to do that day, from board games, to sharing the home-made cupcakes I’ll personally be baking.
If I had to choose… I’d say it’d be introducing the talent that I booked. You’re all in for a treat. From our; LA J-pop group the Ajuku Girls , anime con winning comedians
the mesmerizing sword wielding Geta Dance, originally created by Miyuki – there’s some amazing things to see. I can’t wait to show you.
Sugar cubes or honey?
Honey, of course. ^_~*
Special thanks to Maid Rachael for allowing me to pester her with questions. If anyone is interested in the Tomo Neko Maid Cafe, check out their website. If you are in the Southern California area over the weekend the event is being held on Sunday May 1st in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles at the Miyako Hotel.