It’s no secret I love anime cafes, there is something incredibly exciting about spending a lot of money on subpar food and getting a surprise coaster to me. The judgment-free atmosphere where you can bring your plush to hang out with you is certainly a plus(h), and it’s not unusual to see girls set up entire shrines of merchandise at their tables to take pictures of their food.
I brought Ichimatsu and Osomatsu, my favorite brothers, along for the ride for a couple lunches at the Osomatsu-san Paradise Collaboration Cafe. If you are curious about what to expect at an anime cafe, I can tell you: don’t expect much. But there is something exciting about them all the same which leaves you coming back again and again.
With anime cafes you generally need to have a reservation, due to popularity, and the Paradise Cafe is no different. That’s assuming you can find the place at all, as this cafe was hidden in plain sight in Ikebukuro. Inside, the atmosphere isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s clean and modern and there are posters on the walls and window stickers. Perhaps most offensively, there are at least 4 TVs in the tiny cafe repeating the same 30-second loop over and over (promo for the ED1 single, promo for the blu-ray, promo for Shimamatsu… and repeat). Thankfully around the 83rd “sheeh” playing at full volume, you start to tune it out.
For my first lunch, I ordered Ichimatsu’s chirashi-don (think deconstructed sushi), Osomatsu’s strawberry soda, and Osomatsu’s “rare cheese mousse cake”. The total for those three items was ¥2750 ($25) and you get one coaster for every item you purchase. You don’t get to see who your coaster is, and I ended up with two different Jyushimatsu coasters, and one Osomatsu.
About a week later I came back again and ordered the sextuplets manjuu, an Ichimatsu berry soda, and Ichimatsu’s sweet potato tart. I was pretty hungry that day and the manjuu were far from filling, so I also ordered Karamatsu’s heart-shaped hamburger (which I have absolutely no photos of because I devoured it like a monster). The total for those four items was ¥3600 (about $33). I got an Osomatsu, Ichimatsu, Todomatsu, and Karamatsu coaster.
When it comes to anime food, I wish I could say you get what you pay for. Nothing is necessarily bad, but let’s just say you don’t come for the food, you come for the experience of being in a cafe dedicated to your favorite show, around like-minded individuals, and getting those free coasters. Although, I was genuinely impressed by Ichimatsu’s chirashi-don and low-key crave it a little sometimes.
Once well-stocked with exclusive merchandise, by the time I got to the cafe most of it was gone. But I went home with a few stickers, a full punch card for spending over ¥5000 that earned me free postcards (not sure if I should be proud of that), and leaving with the feeling that being able to love your weird shows completely openly really does feel like paradise.