Monday, March 19, 2012

Gundam Cafe and AKB48 Cafe in Akihabara

Both of these cafes are havens for their respective fans or everyone who wants to experience something a little different.  You can either decide to enjoy the ambiance of the Universal Century with its giant Gundam mecha, or the thrills of being in a themed cafe for AKB48, a very popular JPOP singing and performing troupe of young ladies.  Both cafes will be covered in this post.  It is also kind of interesting that both cafes occupy space under the train tracks - making good use of it.  I know I'll be visiting one or both of the cafes during my next trip to Tokyo. 
 Gundam Cafe   Flickr / vaneea

Gundam Cafe
The Gundam Series (ガンダムシリーズ Gandamu Shirīzu) encompasses a whole set of anime created by Sunrise studios that features giant robots (mecha) called Mobile Suits (MS). Usually the hero's MS will carry the name Gundam.  The RX-78 was the first Gundam manned robot introduced in 1979 in the series Mobile Suit Gundam. In the series, it is a testbed weapon for the Earth Federation (EFSF) when it falls into the hands of Amuro Ray, the son of a weapons designer, who goes on to pilot it in the Earth Federation's war against the Principality of Zeon. Amuro is an implied Canadian (go Canada!) as he was born in Prince Rupert, who is a Newtype human and a electronics tinkerer who also designed the basketball-sized talking robot Haro.

The success of this original series spawned a whole series of anime, with a successful reboot of the series occurring with the release of Gundam Seed.  If you haven't seen any Gundam, it is a good bet to start with this series.  The latest Gundam series are Gundam 00 and Gundam Unicorn at the time of writing.

The Gundam Cafe is a good stop for Gundam fans that is Gundam themed inside and outside.  The food and drinks were themed and the staff wear Gundam uniforms from the Earth Federation.  You can get a Jaguro blend coffee in a commemorative Gundam Cafe mug that you can keep if you pay more.  There are also desserts such as a Gundam Shaped Taiyaki pasty. There are many displays of Gundam figures along with other memorabilia. TVs there are showing Gundam ads and other Gundam film clips.  The Gundam Bathroom apparently has special effects that happen when you flush...  Check out the movies below!

The map below shows the location of the Gundam Cafe and the AKB48 Cafe which are adjacent to each other as the pair of faces in the center of the map.

View Akihabara Highlights Map / Akihabara Guide in a larger map

AKB48 Cafe

AKB48 is a Japanese female idol group produced by Yasushi Akimoto. This jpop group has achieved enormous popularity in Japan that is also one of the highest-earning musical acts in the world, with 2011 record sales of over $200 million in Japan alone.  Its twelve latest consecutive singles topped the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart. In 2010, "Beginner" and "Heavy Rotation" placed, respectively, 1st and 2nd in the list of Japan's best selling singles for the year, while in 2011 AKB48 occupied the whole Top 5 of the Oricon Yearly Singles Chart. The band has sold over ten million records.

The group is named after Akihabara area of Tokyo where they have a theater on the 8th floor of the Akihabara branch of the Don Quijote store. Akimoto's idea, later advertised as "idols you can meet", was to create a theater-based idol group whose fans could see the girls live daily.  AKB48 still performs at the theater every day, although, due to great demand, tickets are now distributed only via a lottery.

AKB48 fans can go to the cafe, which opened in 2011, to enjoy a cup of coffee in a themed themed environment full of the groups memorabilia too.  They can even imagine having a cup of coffee delivered to them by their favorite member.  The waitresses here dress in identical outfits worn by the AKB48 stars, but the stars themselves are not usually here. The varied menu had the assistance of the AKB48 members in its design.  A theater section that shows recent recordings of stage footage filmed in the AKB48 Theater at the Don Quijote.

Some AKB48 Songs
  • "Aitakatta" (会いたかった - I wanted to meet you) is Japanese idol group AKB48's third single, and the first major single released in 2006. The song is regarded as the signature song of AKB48, remains as AKB48′s most recognizable tune among the public.
  • Heavy Rotation Live- One of their more recent popular songs.
  • AKB48 - Baby! Baby! Baby! - Another of their songs that is full of energy.

Other Tokyo Anime / Otaku Highlights Worth Visiting

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