Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cute Shit: The Kawaii Monster Cafe

Something I'd been wanting to check out for a while was the カワイイモンスターカフェ across from La Foret in Harajuku, to see exactly what they had going on in there. The windows are completely blocked out with a sort of Disney's Alice in Wonderland Plot Hole Disaster Featuring CG Johnny Depp black and white swirling pattern, the same one used on their business cards, and when our friend Patrick was visiting from Seoul, curiosity finally got the best of me.

I suggested going across the street to take a look after we'd eaten our delicious but of course overpriced Australian-Mexican lunch at Gomez y Guzman. This kawaii shit really isn't Patrick's thing, but the only other specific attraction on or around the world-famous fashion street he'd been interested in - a weirdly run-down synthesiser store - had been closed that day.

So, to the more adult version of Peter Piper Pizza sans arcade and prizes we went!
(Aw, man.. it just sounds sad when you take out the games and prizes.)

Outside they make you choose which section you want to sit in, which is honestly just needlessly confusing, because it suddenly gives you the idea that they're separate, though that isn't the case. Asking people whether or not they want to awkwardly bask under the lukewarm embrace of the giant luminous plastic jellyfish straddling the bar is one thing, but that's the only bit that has any reason to be differentiated. Because, you know, alcohol. Kids. Math. Algorithms. 
A couple of the drinks on the menu are bar-only.

Shiny and chrome forever!

Baby Bottle Pop, Baby Bottle Pop..

The menu is an iPad embedded in a big, chunky, plastic cake case.

"Sprinkles on my grape juice?! This is madness!"

I liked that they had non-milky drinks, though! This mad scientist one was good, 
some kind of sweet sugary ginger ale thing. Whether or not these even contained any alcohol remains under debate.

After adding the mixers

It was a Monday afternoon so only two of the monster girls were there, and their dance routine on the melty fear and loathing candy carousel was very sexually suggestive, but so lacking in general genki-ness that it didn't really come across that way. The over-sugared little kids running around loved it. Awkwaaaard.

Scroll to the end to see the video.

I think this is my favourite bit, the big creepy animal heads with the blank eyes permanently attached to their bottles. Do these represent the patrons of this ridiculous establishment? Oppressed dairy cows and unicorns the world over? Only the most discerning of customers can decide on a suitable metaphor.

"Woo, fresh out of genki today, wooooo."
(I managed to smile by laughing out of awkwardness and sympathy, but come on.. 
she knew what she was signing up for.)

So anyway, when we were first standing outside waiting for a couple of people in front of us to make up their minds and trying to decide if we felt like paying the table charge, I approached the weird metal podium the seating hostess was standing behind, which featured four small lighted images of the different seating sections, each with a large red button next to it. There's a sticker that reads something about English information available, so I thought that maybe pressing the buttons yielded information or more pictures for each section. I pressed one, and the screen turned off.

"Ahh-hh. Noo." The hostess said awkwardly, waving her hand at me weakly. 
She turned it back on.

Why would you put giant red buttons on there, and why would they be facing the waiting customers?!

The two seating hostesses were decidedly unfriendly, their demeanor closely resembling that of minimum wage food service and movie theatre employees everywhere. The two on-duty monster girls and various waitresses weren't any better. This is truly one of those restaurants that places 100% of the success of its business model on its elaborate gimmicks, as opposed to also relying on half-decent, friendly service, or quality ingredients, or other apparently unnecessary things like that. I think it's safe to say that no one who works there gives a single fuck. The giant plastic leaves and lips are doing all the work to pull in and keep customers.

Our waitress was doing absolutely nothing - I think she was literally doodling at one point - while we waited for our check, and she made a serious effort to avoid eye contact for as long as possible, as I tried to make it every time she aimlessly wandered by. I never actually called to her or anything, but they were reeeaallly not busy. The patrons on either side of us were literally schoolgirls - one as young as about seven. 
I don't know about you, but I wish I could have finished up one of my many very tiring days in the 5th grade and gone to a super trendy new cafe in the center of downtown with my several-hundred-dollar lolita outfit and backpack to spend more of my parents' money on a colourful novelty drink and some rainbow spaghetti. Jesus.

All in all, I don't know if I'll go back. The smell of baby powder (possibly emanating from the giant rabbit head) is unappetising, the hyperactive kids running around are annoying and make it feel like a tacky McDonald's PlayPlace instead of a cafe, and like with everything else in Tokyo, the prices are too high for the little you get. 

Check out the video I took of the hilariously uninspired melty carousel dance and decide for yourself:

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