Alright. Somehow I managed to miss the plain old Cosplay cafe fascination, only to find out that most of the early enthusiasts moved on to something new a long time ago. Granted, I don’t live anywhere near Akihabara, which is the mecca for all things Otaku, but I felt like I was five years behind the times today when a student explained the Tsundere phenomenon to me.
For those of you who don’t know what Tsundere is, it’s a female character type that alternates between tsun-tsun (cold and cranky; combative) and dere-dere (sweet and affectionate)– usually turning soft only when she’s alone with her romantic interest. This personality type is so prevalent in manga and anime culture that the term Tsundere was coined as a necessary point of reference.
OK, so how do you tease a cafe theme out of the Tsundere archetype? That’s right, you guessed it: the staff at Tsundere cafes are all women who throw serious attitude at the customers only to turn sweet on them before they leave. Many manga and anime otaku just can’t get enough of their selfish, unpredictable behavior.
Minus the disturbingly kawaii lolita/french maid costumes, this sounds a lot like the way objectified females act pretty much everywhere. Hmmmm, let’s recap: female ‘objects of desire,’ who generally dish out abuse but just might give up a smile or a pouty face if it will get them what they want……. these guys could just as easily find this kind of self-serving attitude in the club scene (though I suspect the smiles they receive would be fewer and farther between!).
Having said all that, I have to admit that we checked out a Maid Cafe in Nippombashi last week. Very tame, shockingly interesting (from an anthropological standpoint, of course!), and a brilliant business concept! Customers walk into a maid cafe expecting to get food and/or refreshments and pay for lots of extra services like board game companionship, light shoulder rubs, or ear cleaning (echhhh!), etc. all by the maid of their choice.
Now, before anyone jumps on my case about the objectifying women issue, the male version–Butler cafes–are getting more popular by the day.
I have an opinion on everything, but I am at a total loss about what to think about this entire sub-culture. Apparently Maids and Tsunderekkos tend to LOVE their jobs, so it’s hard to find fault in any part of the Cosplay cafe world. For now, my verdict is: no harm, no foul; what’s good for the economy is good for you and me; let the the otaku enjoy their (incredibly expensive, undeniably weird) fantasy cafes and keep all that yen in circulation!
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