Japanese companies have transformed everything from ramen to beauty products into anthropomorphized boyfriends, but the Tabegoro Kareshi Ikusei Setto marks the first time I’ve ever seen everyday vegetable seeds marketed as cute anime boys. Aimed at encouraging women to start their own home gardens, there are six different seeds available, each with their own male mascot. So, who’s your type?
I’m not usually very savvy when it comes to things like high-end jewelry and cosmetics, but Q-Pot has always been on my radar for their amazing sweets-inspired collections. But since the vast majority of their items carry a hefty price tag, I’ve been able to stay away… until now. Their upcoming Sailor Moon collection, due to launch June 30th (Usagi’s birthday), contains some of the most gorgeous pieces of jewelry I’ve ever seen!
|Waiting in line at the Pokémon Café|
Greetings, Chic Pixel readers! This is Sarah (@everydayfoxlife), one of Anne’s newest correspondents in Japan. Recently Roy (@kotowari) and I had the opportunity to visit the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Café Anne wrote about recently in our neighboring city of Shibuya. Was it worth the 7 hour wait? Let’s see…
Getting into the Café
First, we had to wait in line to get tickets in order to make reservations. The process went like this:
- Line up for the entrance of the café. We arrived a half hour after it had opened, and the line went down several flights of stairs. It was maybe a 45 minute wait in total, which wasn’t bad.
- While you wait, staff members come along and ask how many people you have in your party so that they can create tickets ahead of time.
- Once you reach the café entrance, a staff member gives you an assigned ticket with a QR code that you scan with your mobile device, and proceed to actually make the reservation. We hit a snag with this because our QR reader couldn’t open the URL, and we realized that there was a specific app that the café requests you use to read the QR code (geez!). We just got a new Japanese phone plan, which was a life saver because without it we wouldn’t have been able to make reservations. We scanned the QR code and sent off an automated email, which confirmed that they would email us when it’s near time to for us to be able to get into the café.
- We once again lined up with the rest of the group who were called around the same time. This wait felt pretty long because it depended on people being done – a lot of times people will hang out and talk for a while after their meal. While we waited, staff members came by and let us review the menu and order ahead of time.
- Finally, time to eat!
|Our view waiting in line. There was a little photo set where a staff member would take your picture. You could use whatever props you wanted, which were just Pikachu dolls and ears.|
Roy and I both unabashedly love food, so we were extra excited to try out the menu items themed after the game. We decided to each try out one entreé dish and one drink.
|Reviewing the menu while waiting in line.|
First came the drinks. I ordered the “Voltekka Soda,” which had a Pikachu-shaped mango sorbet on top of crushed ice with some rosemary and lime. It came with ginger ale and pop rocks, which you mix to make an especially fizzy drink. The ginger ale, despite being called Wilkinson, is actually a product of Asahi, and has a surprisingly strong ginger flavor – the menu actually goes as far as to have a small warning for younger children.
|The pop rocks came in a tiny plastic bowl which had the pokéball button taped to it.
A laminated Pikachu tail was taped to the spoon handle.
The drink itself didn’t taste like anything special (which doesn’t mean it was bad – the ginger ale is becoming a new favorite for me), but being able to add the pop rocks to it was a lot of fun and I am easily amused. The sorbet was kind of hard to eat, so I let it melt a bit, but then became a goopy mess inside a ton of ice. Guess I should’ve made more of an effort to eat him.
Roy ordered the mix au lait, which is modeled after an in-game item. The presentation was less than thrilling as it was merely a piece of paper taped to a jar.
Roy said the drink tasted similar to a lassi – fruity and creamy – but with too much crushed ice. Maybe the café was anticipating little kids to take their time with the drinks, and not a grown man drinking it down like the world is ending. Who knows.
After hanging around a bit and enjoying the drinks, our food finally arrived.
Roy ordered a mabo tofu dish, which is a spicy tofu and ground meat mixture served alongside rice. The café decided to reinterpret the dish after Groudon.
|The Pokéball-shaped tofu sitting a ground meat mixture next to the red rice.|
|The salad had a “dai” character cut out of a carrot, which resembled the bonfires that are lit on the mountainside in Kyoto during summer.|
Roy initially thought the dish was too sweet, but it became clear that he was supposed to dump copious amounts of spice onto it to increase the heat. After that the dish was pretty good (although he found eating bright red tofu a little unnerving).
I ended up getting the Pikachu omurice (folded omelette with flavored rice) and “aqua” sauce. It came with a complimentary cup designed to look like a Pokéball.
|The black parts of Pikachu’s face were made with dried seaweed sheets, and the rest were cut out of radishes. His ears were the omelettes, and the blue sauce tasted like curry.|
The rice part was a little disappointing because it was room temperature, but as was the case with Roy’s dish, everything became increasingly tastier when mixed together. The omelettes were nice and melty on the inside, and pouring the sauce over everything made it addicting. The salad was refreshing and had a simple vinaigrette, which makes me think the café put some thought into the adults that would be dining in.
I was anticipating the portions to be a lot smaller since the menu is presumably aimed towards kids, but I left the café feeling really stuffed – which was nice after such a long wait.
After we ate, we headed towards the joint goods shop to get some souvenirs. There was a lot of pining after items we didn’t have any use for, so we did the next best thing: take pictures.
|12 year old me needs this.|
|Roy’s purchase: a miniature Farfetch’d doll (sorry – “Duck Onion”)
Special Café Pikachu
Whether you were waiting in line to get in the café or just walking by, you could download a special café themed pikachu as an in-game gift simply by hanging around. This was a nice incentive for people to hang around and create buzz for the event.
So was it worth the arduous wait? I’d say so just for the experience alone! The food, while nothing extraordinary, was still surprisingly good, and the atmosphere was a lot of fun to be in. I will definitely keep an eye out for more Pokémon Café announcements in the future (most likely via this very blog!).
Wow, thanks so much to Sarah and Roy for the amazing coverage of the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Café at Shibuya Parco! I was sad I wasn’t able to go, but these photos made me feel like I was right there with them! And what’s this? They even sent me a little souvenir!
I know what you’re thinking: “American Envy? I thought this column was about promotions and merchandise exclusive to Japan!” Well, in a very strange turn of events, North America is receiving a special House Foods tofu campaign in honor of everyone’s favorite Japanese blue robot cat, Doraemon! 2015 marks Doraemon’s 45th anniversary, and House Foods is not only celebrating by plastering Doraemon all over their advertising, but with a sweepstakes, as well.
If there’s one thing I still regret about my trip last July to Japan, it’s that I never got to go to one of The GUEST cafe&diner’s themed café events. Unfortunately, even if you are lucky enough to be around Shibuya, Tokyo during one of their exciting collaborations, you’ll still need to line up for anywhere from one to three hours… And they don’t take reservations! Still, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can continue to drool over their adorable food items and exclusive merchandise from the comfort of my home in Australia. While their collaborations have usually tended toward specific characters, this time they’ve opened none other than a Pokémon Café!
I love that rather leaving the scouts in their every day attire for the above illustration, chip company Koikeya decided to amp up the camp by having the inner scouts getting ready to gorge on bowls full of tortilla chips while in their sailor uniforms. Makes total sense!
Unfortunately, there’s nothing Sailor Moon-y about these chips aside from their packaging, but that certainly won’t stop me from lamenting that Sailor Moon tortilla chips aren’t something I can buy at my local grocery store. The above avocado cream cheese flavor is one of three in the Sailor Moon Crystal collaboration, along with Bagnacauda anchovy and garlic and Balsamico grilled pork.
Each flavor will come in one of six package designs featuring the five inner scouts and Tuxedo Mask. In addition to the cute packaging, Koikeya is offering special wallpapers for mobile phones with each chip bag purchase:
|Click the image for a close-up of these cute designs!|
On one hand, I’m a little sad they aren’t offering these as stickers, but on the other, exclusive wallpapers are a great alternative to additional clutter around my house, so I’ll take it! I really like the checkered effect on their clothes!
Luckily for folks like me outside of Japan, Jlist is already taking preorders for all three flavors. While the package design they send out will be at random, they say they will try not to send duplicates if you want to order more than one. Of course, it’s only natural that I’ve already preordered one of each for myself! I can’t wait to see what designs I get…
While the rest of the world struggles to grasp how to market niche media to woman (and whether it’s a viable market in the first place), Japan continues to be leagues ahead in catering towards fans who want something a little different than the usual mainstream anime/video game fare. New otome games are released nearly every week, and the success of anime like Free! shows that there is definitely a large market outside the straight male demographic that is more than willing to spend oodles of money on series that make the effort to appeal to them.
As such, it’s no surprise to see events like the Animate Girls Festival, a two day celebration of everything from otome games to BL manga. Taking place on November 8th and 9th in Ikebukuro Sunshine City, the festival is now five years old, and is even hosting a special “Real Otome Game” for attendees to celebrate the occasion!
While there are a variety of events held on the main stage, such as voice actor appearances from series such as Photograph Journey and World Trigger, a Sailor Moon Crystal special event, and even a fashion show from the anime/manga-inspired label Super Groupies, the main draw of AGF is undoubtedly the company booths and wide variety of exclusive merchandise they bring. There’s no way I could possibly cover everything in one post, but here are a few (personal) highlights:
Perhaps one of the biggest figure-related announcements will be the Makoto figma, which Hobbystock plans to unveil at AGF. Fans are hoping to see the preliminary sculpt for Rin’s Altair figure as well, but since there’s been no word on it so far, we’re unlikely to see it at this event. [UPDATE: Turns out Rin was unveiled after all!]
Mink may not be the most popular DRAMAtical Murder character, but his new drama CD will be debuting at the event. You’ve got to admit, the cover art is nice! Nitro+Chiral has a number of other merchandise from their BL games that they’ll be bringing to the event, as well:
There are also these AGF-exclusive merchandise sets that feature the characters of DRAMAtical Murder dressed up as their AllMate familiars. Be sure to head over to Nitro+Chiral’s AGF 2014 site to see the full adorable series!
Broccoli will be touting a new line of themed Uta no Prince-sama merchandise called Shining Circus, which seems to be catering especially to fans who like vests. I’m certainly not complaining! They’ll be selling everything from clear file folders to phone straps and pouches that will likely go for insane prices on the aftermarket following the event. If UtaPri is your thing, you can drool over all the exclusive items on their website.
In addition to more merchandise than you can throw your wallet at, Animate Girls Festival will be holding a “Real Otome Game” in honor of their 5th anniversary! What is a Real Otome Game, exactly? According to their site, attendees can participate in the game, titled Koi suru AGF (Love AGF), by purchasing a game book for 550 yen at the event. By reading through the book and going to different locations depending on how you want the story to progress, you’ll be able to “fall in love” with one of the three characters pictured above, each with two different endings!
While I can’t imagine how busy it will be if there are actual actors playing the men in the game, this sounds like a really fun idea in the vein of the otome game scenario reenactments that were at Tokyo Game Show this year. Hopefully attendees will be able to take photos so us poor souls outside of Japan can see what it’s like! I know I’ll be scouring the AGF2014 hashtag on Twitter throughout the weekend so I can live vicariously through everyone there…