Pop Culture Bigotry

By Robert “Rob Base” Greenwood

Look into the mirror, what do you see?
Are you a fanboy, geek, nerd, otaku, weeaboo, a social outcast?  Or are you just simply a fan?
Labels define who and what you are. I’m a New Yorker, a Brooklynite, a collector and a pop culture lover. Yet, if you ask me who I am I’ll just say I’m Rob.

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Labels help the huddled masses understand things they never could. You’re a slacker, a loser, fat, ugly, or, simple enough, you will never be accepted as one of the chosen. The elite group, handsome, beautiful, sexy, or in their eyes, important.

So, when conventions come around and I see sub-factions of the pop culture fight amongst each other, it saddens me. It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. In the end, you are a fan of Star Wars and the other is a fan of Naruto. She cosplays as She Hulk and that guy there reads Yaoi. We love comics and you are a video game junkie.

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It’s all in or all out. I don’t expect anyone to suddenly love things you normally wouldn’t, but just be cool  about what other people like. We band together as a sub-culture and here we are judging others who are (if you strip down the facade) the same.

It becomes clear that no matter how “different” we think we are, the minute you mock another fan base, you are no different than the people who mock you.

In this new year of 2014, we need to try and start a movement. To truly accept each other and all of our differences. Let’s make it a stellar year for pop culture.

I hope that at least a few who read this can truly look into themselves and make that change. Let’s be the bigger person.

Ok, I am going to get off the soap box and watch my wife play GTA 5 while I read Mouse Guard to my 2 year old daughter.

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Maid Cafe New York Grand Opening

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On August 18th, Maid Cafe NY officially open to a packed crowd.
But have they given the fans the true Maid Cafe experience? Or at least made changes that we had so desperately asked for?

Lets first explain what an actual maid cafe should be: Maid cafes (メイド喫茶 / メイドカフェ Meido kissa / Meido kafe?) are a subcategory of cosplay style restaurants found predominantly in Japan. In these cafes, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as cafe patrons.

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Maid cafes come in all shapes and sizes. Most provided a vivid depiction of master and servant without crossing the ecchi line (creepy). Usually, the cafes aren’t about the level of food but more about the experience. It’s a little weird to Westerners because you’re basically waited on hand-and-foot.

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Here’s a link to a bunch of sample maid cafes:http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2133810394961862001

So, our correspondents attended the grand opening only to find that nothing has changed at all.

Still no awning…

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Still no TV screens…

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and no actual “Maid” service.

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They had J-Pop music and girls on stage but this was just for the event and held in a separate restaurant above. Plus, there was a 5 dollar cover charge, for a cafe grand opening?

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They did nothing to bring the true experience of a Maid Cafe to life. Most of the girls looked as if they didn’t even want to be there. This is a grave mistake and we feel the owner, who is Japanese, is “phoning it in” just to make a quick buck and figured Americans wouldn’t even know the difference, but we do.

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The Japanese Curry was sub par and the lack of decor was still uneventful and empty.

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If they would have called this an Express Maid Cafe or something else, fine, but making a Maid Cafe without the interaction is like going to Disney and not meeting Mickey or Goofy or riding on any rides.

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In the end, we were hoping to recapture the unique and wonderful experience we had in Tokyo, but all we got was a watered down sweet shop with some young women dressed in maid outfits. This is not the same thing as an actual Maid Cafe.

So to all the Otakus and Japanese fans looking for something you only read about in Manga or seen in Anime and J-Dorama, look somewhere else. The best thing to do is to buy a plane ticket and head to Akihabara or Ikebukuro.

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Final thoughts: Hopefully, if Maid Cafe NY wants to keep their doors open for a long time, they simply need to add something truly authentic that could only be found in Japan. Unfortunately, many other Maid Cafes have tried but could not keep their doors open for very long: click here

Agree? Disagree? let me know follow me on Twitter @AltMindz

Maid Cafe New York

On August 11, 2013, my wife and I went to Maid Cafe New York, the first attempt of trying to bring the very popular Maid Cafe’s from Japan to the States.

In the past, makeshift maid cafes have been set up at the Anime and Comic Book conventions.

We have personally been to ones in Akihabara so, for the most part in our minds, we have this expectation of what should be done.

Each cafe has their own unique take. Some host as a Manga/Anime place where you can read Manga and even do voice over work in a sound booth. Some treat you very mean. Yet, most have this very traditional style of the servant/master relationship.

Mixing all the awesome Otaku flair with this very hands-on approach makes maid cafes a must-stop attraction while visiting Tokyo.

I never thought in a million years something so different as a maid cafe could be brought to the States. Yet, here we are for our 13th wedding anniversary with the hopes of getting a little taste of Tokyo in our collective tongues.

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Now let me first point out that the shop has not done it’s official opening so we attended a “beta” test of the shop. They haven’t even officially placed an awning
above the shop yet.

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The decor is pink and white and at least one of the servers was actually Japanese (which we feel should be a must since this is an import specialty shop).

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The other two servers where not readily able to speak Japanese. The owner spoke Japanese as well, so we are thankful that the person behind the shop is Japanese (Is it necessary for him to be? No, but it helps).

The shop is rather small for a maid cafe (not all maid cafes are really that big anyway). This shop could only legally hold at max 25-45 people standing. The tables are made of solid wood with green chairs which gives a nature feel to it.

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I do feel at this stage of the game that maybe having a LCD screen showing Anime like Maid Sama or just cute Anime characters would add more to this experience. This could bring a lot more fanboys and fangirls to shop. Maybe even having some Anime or Manga artwork of the Maid Cafe girls around the shop would boost the atmosphere.

Also, the music playing was smooth jazz while we where there. Once again, to get that awesome feeling, adding Anime soundtracks or famous J-Pop music or any modern Japanese music would add a new level of fun. I believe it would showcase the shop as something more than just a sweet shop and something very modern Tokyo.

With the decor aside, how was the food?
Unfortunately, I can’t speak about the Japanese Curry since it was not ready at the time we arrived. So my wife had a matcha green tea cheesecake with a green tea flavored bubble tea.

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I ordered a crepe with bananas and ice cream while drinking a famous Japanese soda, Ramune. The menu also consisted of shaved ice, hard boil eggs, different cakes and yogurt.

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With all this in mind, we shall wait until the official grand opening to give a full verdict as to how Maid Cafe NY measures up.

Follow me on Twitter @AltMindz