Monday, March 5, 2012

Cosplay Restaurant/Cafe, is it too weird for America?

Akiba (Akihabara, 秋葉原), Tokyo -- The mother planet of everything Otaku is the birth place of Cosplay themed restaurants.  This trend started around 1999 as a uniform genre Doujin gathering.  Eventually, restaurants and cafes that feature maids, butlers, and even Gundams started to appear in Akiba and other areas of Tokyo.
The topic of Maid Cafes has been talked about by various sources.  If you would like to find out more about it, I suggest reading this article on Wikipedia.  If you would like to know which Maid Cafe you want to visit while in Japan, read this article from CNN.  If you are stuck in a country outside of Japan, and would like to see what Maid Cafe is actually like, I suggest YouTube as a good source for videos.

Now, back to my topic for the day : are cosplay restaurants/cafes too weird for America?  The answer at this point is probably "No" for a convention or some places in California, and "Yes" for the rest of the country.  Even at a more otaku-friendly environment, such as an anime convention, the views on Maid Cafe are not always positive.  This could be caused by many reasons, but one reason definitely relates to the objectification of women.  It doesn't take a genius to realize the sexual implications behind maid cafes.  In a society where people fight furiously to end the sexual objectification of women, the concept of Maid Cafe can be anything but welcome.
If you have been reading this blog then you would know that we attended Katsucon 18 this year.  One of the con events at Katsu is a all volunteer Maid/Butler Cafe.  The particular Maid Cafe was featured in an article on Washington Post (HERE).  I thought the article was pretty well written, and definitely reflects some of the American sentiments toward Maid Cafe.

Obviously, in order to successfully operate a Cosplay themed restaurant in the US, one has to do some intense market study and make changes to how the place can be operated.  For example, Maids/waitress address their customers as Masters in Japan.  In the US, that is probably something to be abandoned in order to avoid protests (this cafe opened in California has done so).

The question that still remains in my mind is, how is a maid cafe any different from Hooters?  They both objectify women and provide food related services.  Additionally, maid cafe might even be cleaner and more kids friendly.  Anyhow, I'm going to stop here and let you formulate your own views about having cosplay themed cafes in America.  Would you go to one if it was opened near you?

Comment below if you have views that you would like to share!

1 comment:

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