The event Animaga 2016 which took place at Melbourne Showground, Australia, hosted a Maid Café near the main stage. In this café, visitors can experience a Maid Café like the ones in Japan.
As the name suggests, in this café, customers can experience being served with maids (or butlers, if you prefer one). Maid café are a common sights in Akihabara, Japan. The waiters and the waitresses are cosplaying as maids or butlers and treat their customers as their Master and Mistress.
In Animaga, you can enter the café for a AU$ 5 Seating Fee. After you lined up in the queue, a maid or a butler will ask you how many patrons will enter the café. Before you actually enter the café, they welcome you with the famous “okaerinasai, goshujin-sama (or ojou-sama if you are a girl)” which in English means, “welcome back Master/Mistress.” Then the Concierge rings a bell. If there is an empty table, they will ask you to follow them to your seatings.
A Session of Maid Café experience takes about 45 minutes. Inside the café, you can play various games with a maid, like playing Uno cards, Jenga, or just a simple Janken. You can also chit chat with a maid. Usually, every one hour or so, a maid will do a performance, either a dance or a song. There’s also a small photobooth where you can take pictures with your friends. Or you can simply just order a food and a drink! It is a café after all.
Usually, a maid café is a place where otaku hangs out with other otaku. However, in Animaga, it was a Maid Café experience that can be enjoyed for everyone. When I entered the café, there were some table with families and their younger members enjoying the experience. Animaga Maid Café is designed to be enjoyable for everyone.
What made Animaga’s Maid Café different from maid cafés at other conventions is that they invited the president and head maid of the famous Akihabara’s @home Maid Café, Hitomi. It is pretty uncommon for a convention to invite a real Akiba maid, and in this case the President and the Head Maid itself!
I got really curious. My friend and I lined up in the queue. A few minutes later, a maid asked for our seating. I asked to the maid whether if we can get served by Hitomi herself. Fortunately, because she was on the VIP service, we were going straight to the café.
We sat down at the VIP Table (there’s a label there), then a maid showed us the menu. There were two set course that we can take. One was a Lunch Set Course, which contains one main dish of choice, one drink, one polaroid photo with Hitomi and a special gift from @home. The names of the main dishes have a moe-ish ring to them. The other one is a Dessert Set Course (I ordered this one). The Desert set course contains one dessert of choice, one drink, one polaroid with Hitomi, and souvenir set from @home. The desserts also have a moe-ish ring to them. So, my friend ordered the Moe Moe Omurice with a Dere Dere Raspberry. Meanwhile, I ordered the Rabu Rabu Chokoreto Parfait (which is a chocolate parfait, if you don’t understand) with a Shuwa Shuwa Hawaii. The price for the Main Course are AU$ 40 and the dessert are AU$ 30.
Before we got our orders. Hitomi came to our table carrying some origami paper with her. She was going to teach us how to make a Kabuto origami. Kabuto is a helmet that samurai wore when they go to a battle. They named it Kabuto because it has some resemblance with a kabutomushi, or in English: rhinoceros beetle.
Halfway doing the origami, our order arrived. Because my friend ordered a main course, Hitomi offered to do a ketchup drawing. He was having a hard time to pick what to draw on the omurice. Then we come to a light and it was a cat face drawing!
I was in an awe since Hitomi drew it with precision. I have visited many Maid Café on conventions but this was my first time having an Akiba maid serving me. The smoothness of her hand movement across the omurice is like watching someone doing a calligraphy, but in this case with a ketchup.
While we were enjoying our meal, we had a conversation with Hitomi. We talked about many things. I asked her about her impression of Australia. According to Hitomi, she really enjoys it, and that after the event, she planned to see koala. Then we talked about Anime Festival Asia in Indonesia. She said that she is going to attend it and really excited about it since she has never been to Indonesia. She asked me what anime I like and I said Macross. Apparently she likes it too, and asked me if Macross is famous in Australia. With my broken Japanese, I answered for some reasons, the show cannot be aired outside of Japan, but it’s still possible to watch on the Internet.
After we enjoyed our meal, here came the polaroid photo session. Actually, no one is allowed to take pictures. However, since I need it for the coverage, they allowed me to take some pictures. Thus, aside from the polaroid photo, I was allowed to take it with my phone. So basically, before any Indonesian can take pictures with her at AFAID, me in Australia had the opportunity to do so! Which is awesome! (sorry guys. I’m not even sorry.)
After we took pictures, we continued to make our origami. Halfway done, I realized that this was a Kabuto origami. She was surprised that I know the Kabuto helmet. She tolds us that the kabuto origami is a symbol of the parent’s hope that their son would grow up as strong as a samurai. She also cheered us to finish the kabuto origami. Finally, we did it!
At the end of the session, Hitomi gave us the special souvenir from the @home Maid Café that she brought from japan. Inside the Clear file there are one @home fan, and the polaroid photo we took earlier. Hitomi also decorated the photo! After that she signed the Clear file and thanked us for patronage, We left the maid café. Being served by a true Akiba maid, It was a quite exciting experience.
(KAORI Newsline | Written by Naufal B. Pawenang for The Indonesian Anime Times | Photos by Naufal B. Pawenang)