Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Maid Photos

Maid Runner has been actively visiting and reviewing maid cafes in and around Akihabara for over a year. Other than a few bars that don't open until I have to be at work at night, and some reflex shops that I consider overpriced and have no interest in, there's really nothing left to visit in Akihabara that is maid-related. At the moment. New cafes are constantly opening, and there are a few that I've developed an attachment to that may have events worth writing up in the future. So, Maid Runner won't completely shut down. Let's just say "under renewal".

If you have suggestions for places to visit, add them in a comment to this post, or drop me an email.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Maids Point Cards

One year's worth of members, and points, cards. Ah, the memories.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Maid Misc.

Over the course of a year, it's easy to pick up stuff from the various maid cafes. This is what I've gotten that doesn't include regular maid photos and members/points cards.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Nagomi Style-cafe

Nagomi Style.cafe isn't actually a maid cafe. In fact, it's not technically a cafe. Instead, it's an internet cafe, which means that it's made up of a selection of small cubicles that you can sit in and play video games, watch movies on DVD or read manga on an hourly basis. There is a selection of chips for sale at the register, and a free unlimited soft drink bar in the back. You can even get gelato, if you want.

What sets NS.c off from other net cafes is the "nagomi-style" part. What this means is that the female staff wear kimono, and that the decor is designed to resemble an Edo-era house with garden. Soft music plays in the background, and you do the traditional "off with the shoes" thing.

Otherwise, NS.c is pretty much like other net cafes. Lately, because of problems of hackers working out of the net cafes, most places require that you show ID when you first sign up. For foreigners, this can either be a passport, or an alien registration card. You fill in the membership form (English is ok), and then you follow the staff member into the main cafe area. You take your shoes off at the entrance, and put them in a carry bag with you. You can choose smoking and non-smoking cubicles, and either western style chairs or sitting on tatami mat floors. You have your pick of the thousands of manga and magazines on the walls, the DVDs or the video games. Each cube has a PC, lamp, trash bin and phone. Any games or books you take out can just be left on the stack next to the drink machines for the staff to put away later.

As for the drink machines, you have your choice of hot or cold coffee and tea, grape and grapefruit juices, and a variety of sodas. There's even flavored syrups for the ice coffee. The snacks are a bit overpriced, but not that bad (think of the big snack boxes you find at the movie theaters, for 200 yen each). The best part though is that the price for staying at the cafe is just 300 yen ($3.50 USD) for 30 minutes. Granted, that's not a whole lot of time for playing, say, Monster Hunter or Bayonetta, but it is a cheap way to get a few glasses of Coke and tear through the complete set of Yaiba.

Ns.c is about 5 minute's walk north of Akihabara station, on the northwest corner of Chuu-ou Dori and Kuramaebashi Dori, in the basement of the building on the corner.

Recommended. No maid photos though. Sorry.

Name: Nagomi Style.cafe
Location: About 5 minute's walk north of Akihabara station, on the northwest corner of Chuu-ou Dori and Kuramaebashi Dori, in the basement of the building on the corner.
Price: Cheap.
Cover: 300 lets you stay 30 minutes.
Food: Just packages of snack crackers, chocolate and gelato.
"Love": No love.
Outfits: Kimono.
Photos: No photos
Wireless Internet: Yup.
Specialties: A net cafe with a very relaxing atmosphere.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a cheap way to kill a couple of hours reading manga or playing games within the Akihabara district, NS.c is highly recommended.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cleaning up the cafe

I started Maid Runner in 2009 initially as a way to change the public perception of maid cafes, and to record my experiences in them. As the blog turned into more of a review site, I was hoping to make it profitable by getting some kind of tie-in to one or more of the cafes, or at the least hosting some advertising. Unfortunately, that never panned out. And now, after 50+ reviews, I'm getting a little burned out. I'm also running out of new cafes in the Akiba district to visit.

I haven't really concentrated on maid bars, primarily because they don't open until after 6 PM, and I have to start working at 6:30. And, I don't get out of work until 11 PM weekday nights, which is about when my last train is running for going home. Basically, my work schedule doesn't fit visiting maid bars.

Places that I'm not going to visit in the near future are:

basicBar bB
Zoid Maid:Style
Little BSD
Little PSX
Dear Stage
Rea Uta

Mahjong Parlors (I don't play mahjong):

Boys Love:
Miracle Jump

A brief comment on this last entry, Miracle Jump. In Japan, there is a line of manga aimed at women, called "boys love", which is essentially guy-on-guy comics. Miracle Jump is a cafe based on the boys love concept (although, to be honest, half of the human cast are women dressed up in drag). The "cast" is divided up into "2D" (manga characters) and "3D" (the human servers). Worth checking out if you like this kind of thing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Granvania

I visited Granvania about a year ago. At the time, it was a regular restaurant that took up most of the second floor of a building making up part of the radio land section of Akihabara. No maids, and the cup of coffee I'd gotten was still 600 yen (which is $6 USD for one coffee, no refills). It wasn't a bad place, but being on the high side and not having much else to recommend it I wasn't planning on going back. But, I kept seeing the name on the "moe" and "Akiba guide" maps, and I was wondering why it was being included in with @Home and Mai Dreamin' as a moe spot. Then, when I was talking to a customer at Seiyu no Tamago (Voice Actress Egg), he also mentioned Granvania as a possible maid cafe spot for me to visit.

So, I decided to drop by on my way to work a few nights ago, just to check it out. Looking in through the window, I saw "maids!" Therefore, I made it a point to come back when I had more time for actually sitting down and ordering something.

Granvania was "repurposed" as a maid cafe in 2009, but with a twist. To find it, take the north Electric Town exit from the JR Akihabara station, and face the UDX building. You should see the Gundam Cafe ahead and to your right. Turn left and head towards Chuu-ou Dori. About 50 feet before you get to Chuu-ou, you should see a small doorway leading into the building on your left, mixed in with the little electronics shops. Take the stairs up and you'll find yourself in front of a wooden door to the cafe.

The cafe itself is big and sprawling, able to seat at least 100 people at the old dark wooden tables and counters. There's an European beer garden feel to the place, with the green walls and wooden molding and beams. Signs on the walls advertise food specials and weekly events. For the first half of the week, it was "princess night", when the maids wore princess outfits; the second half was "free-style cosplay". When I arrived, the maids had on big, puffy pink and white dresses, with variations on the tiara theme for headpieces. At the front of the cafe, there are some video games, primarily electronic darts. And, there's various stuffed UFO Catcher dolls and anime figurines all over the place.

Granvania has a full meal menu, with salads, main dishes and desserts. Pricing is in"G"s instead of yen, with entrees like garlic chicken and curry rice for 500-850G. Soft drinks for 500-700 G, and desserts for 480-600 G. Mixed drinks for 400-500 G. And dessert and entree sets (orders include one drink) are around 800 yen. I ordered an ice coffee and a slice of chocolate cake, and my total bill came to only 800 yen. So, $9 USD for the night was really cheap compared to just about everywhere else I've been to over the last year.

There's the standard "welcome home master" and "the master is leaving" chants, and writing on the food in catsup. No added flavor chants. When the coffee arrived I was asked if I wanted cream and sugar, but instead of giving me the little plastic servings, the maid gave me decent sized pitchers of syrup and cream. The coffee was good and strong, and the chocolate cake was a medium-sized slice of sponge cake with frosting in the middle and a thin chocolate shell on top. The cake was also very good, and fancier than what other cafes offer. For 800 yen at Tokyo prices, Granvania was definitely a good value.

There's no maid photos on the menu, and this is where the "twist" comes in. There are two kinds of points cards. The first is a regular card - 1 point per 500 yen, and a full card at 50 points gets you a maid photo. 3 or 5 full cards gets you branded items. The second kind is a members card that you buy for 300 yen. You then get points for completing various missions, where the missions can actually end up costing you points if you're not careful. This is much like a video game, and the prizes for filling up the members cards are much better, including more maid photos and branded goods items.

(Regular points card)

The place was quite busy while I was there, with about 20 people at any one time. The staff don't have time to stand and chat, but they do speak some English and there is an English menu and rules card. The customers were about 5-1 men to women, but a fair number of women were coming in on their own to eat. The food that other people ordered looked pretty good, and since it's not that expensive, I'm tempted to make this one of my regular eating spots.

Simply on a value-for-the-price rating, Granvania gets an A. They also have various anime and game tie-in events during the month, so check the online calendar in advance. Recommended.

Name: Granvania
Location: Take the north Electric Town exit from the JR Akihabara station, and face the UDX building. You should see the Gundam Cafe ahead and to your right. Turn left and head towards Chuu-ou Dori. About 50 feet before you get to Chuu-ou, you should see a small doorway leading into the building on your left.
Price: Reasonable.
Cover: 300 lets you stay 1 hour after 6 PM.
Food: A wide range of entrees, salads, desserts and drinks. In general, things are in the 400-800 yen range across the board.
"Love": Writing on the food in catsup, "welcome home master" and "the master is leaving" chants.
Outfits: The website shows a black dress over a white blouse, but various cosplay nights means that there's no consistent outfit all the time.
Photos: Only if you fill up the points cards.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: A regular restaurant-style menu, electronics darts games, and video game-style "missions" for those that have the members card.
Recommendation: The food's good, the prices are reasonable, and the "missions" might be fun. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Links to other websites from other websites

When you're done visiting a specific maid cafe in person, you can go on to visit their website. Occasionally, there are interesting things on the site that are worth checking out further. At a minimum, this is one way to learn about stores that don't advertise in the paper magazines, or only exist online. And at best, it's a way to discover PC games that you can play that are maid-oriented. What follows is a list of links I've accumulated by visiting the links pages of all the cafes I have URLs for. Of course, they're all pretty much only in Japanese but you can still look at the pictures.

Review and Events Pages
Boku no Akiba
G Para
Hagemaru Maid Link
Maid Cafe Maniax
Maid Cafe Times
Maid Kisaten Myahoo
Maid Kiss
Maid Kissa Journal
Maid ni Naru
Maid no Nikki
Maid Telephone book
Maiku Diary
Moeten Info
Moe Pota

Akiba Map Info
Akiba TV

Cosplay Supplies
M.I.A Costume


Maid Cafe (not in Akihabara)
Romeo + Giulietta

Maid Games
Melty Cure Games Page
Hiyokoya Game