Friday, January 12, 2007
truth about maid cafes....
Sarusuke, a reader from japan has written in and has detailed his experiences with maid cafes.....:
I think you're going to end up being a bit disappointed as far as the cafes are concerned.
I've been to about 16 different maid cafes in Akihabara, Kanda, Ueno, and Osaka. They're really just theme restaurants where the waitresses are dressed as maids and the customers are greeted with "Okaerinasaimase Goshujinsama!" translating to "Welcome Home, Master!" or "Okaerinasaimase Ojousama!" meaning something more like "Welcome Home, m'Lady!", depending on the customer, rather that the usual "Irasshaimase!" heard at any other restaurant.
The costumes vary from place to place, usually having a knee length or longer black dress with an apron. Some places differ from that concept. Cafe Pinafore's uniform has a vest and a much shorter skirt (I have a hard time calling Pinafore a maid cafe because of the lack of maids). Merry Heart has a Wa Loli style uniform, Raspberry Dream uses gothic lolita.
@home cafe Saboh's uniform is designed to look more like a Meiji era Japanese style maid's uniform (kimono with apron). Most of the staff working at maid cafes as waitresses are high school/college age girls, it's sort of like any other girl working at a diner except she dresses as a maid.
For most cafes the maid dresses are typically more like the ones for sale on this page from this site: mia.shop-pro.jp except for the midriff baring one.
I haven't seen any western girls working at any of the cafes I went to. It's really not likely that there would be any though, since the girl would have to be ideally between 16-25, fluent in Japanese, pass the hiring test, pass the interview, and study the cafe's rulebook. They only tend to pay about the equivalent of $8-10 an hour so the salary would likely discourage foreign women from pursuing the jobs.
Masking isn't used in maid cafes that I'm aware of. It would make it tougher for the girl to do her job, I would imagine. It is a common cosplay type though and at anime conventions in Japan there are usually a few people using mask type full bodysuit cosplay.
There is a pair of cafes owned by the same people called Cafe Doll. I've been to both of them, the Osaka one I've been to many times. Neither have much of anything to do with dolls other than the name, however. The "storyline" of cafe Merry Heart, involving maidroids, is also something that doesn't translate into much of anything in the cafe itself other than hearing the word maidroid from time to time. A few of the girls working at various cafes have rather dollish makeup, but that's more because of current fashion trends here than anything else and is more common outside of the cafes than it them.
I can't say with 100% certainty that there is no doll suit cafe, but if there is, they don't do any advertising. The mainstream maid cafes do a bunch of advertising via flyers, collectable toys, and keychain toys.
Most cosplay is just the person trying to look like the character they are portraying, but there is a considerably smaller, but normally present at major Japanese anime conventions, group of people who make animegao ("anime faced") costumes. Animegao cosplay involves full body stockings or flesh colored zentai suits, plus the character costume and a mask and wig. It's so they can look as much like the character as possible, but they often look more like the toys based on the character (the animegao, or more commonly called kigurumi, cosplayers are sometimes called dollers as well).
Outside of cosplay, some people create their own original characters and have costumes based on them as a hobby. For an idea of what it looks like, here's a set of pics of a girl in her costume in Wakayama prefecture (far away from any convention) here. The pics are hosted on the Iruka Workshop site, a group that makes animegao masks for people's original characters. As for the loli dresses, they don't necessarily factor into cosplay unless the character cosplayed dresses in lolita fashion. Since Rozen Maiden, a series about magically powerful sentient wind-up dolls, has become very popular, it has become more common to see lolita dresses used in cosplay patterned after the ones the dolls wear.
Many Lolita fashion followers outside of this don't tend to consider what they do cosplay, since it's their everyday clothing, however. Parts of the lolita fashion movement, especially the Sweet Lolita variation (brands include Metamorphose, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and Angelic Pretty), do emphasize a doll like appearance with the clothing, often with the makeup, and especially the hairstyles which are rarely seen outside of on porcelain dolls anymore. Angelic Pretty recently ran a magazine ad featuring a girl so dolled up, so to speak, that my initial reaction was that she was a doll.