Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: Popopure



I'll be honest - I had a specific motive for visiting Popopure for my first maid cafe for this blog. The Metropolis (the weekly English rag in Tokyo), had run an interview with a Spanish woman working as a maid, and on a hunch I decided to follow the URL given at the end of the article. Their website billed themselves as an "animation studio and maid cafe". Being a fan of a wide variety of animation from different countries, I wanted to know more. So, last Wednesday, when I had a little time before the start of work, I swung by, half-ready to call the whole thing off. But, it was close to 6 PM and I hadn't had lunch, so "why not".


(The front of the building, with ad banners.)

A tall blond woman in front of the cafe's building was holding an advertising card for the cafe, and it turned out that she was from New York. One of the selling points for Popopure is that several of the staff speak English. She guided me inside, and I was showered with the expected "welcome home, master" in Japanese. The maids largely have a black dress with white lace uniform, smile a lot, and are very friendly. My maid ran me through the routine, brought me a menu and told me about the day's specials.


(More of the ad banners.)

Popopure, on the second floor of a building one block west of Chuu-ou Dori, is fairly spacious for Akihabara at maybe 30'x50', able to seat up to 30 people. It's relatively new, having opened around the Summer of 2008, but in a different location. It's well-lit, clean, and has wooden tables and chairs. There's framed animation artwork on one wall, and the two big flat panel TVs play the three short anime titles created by the staff themselves. Two of the titles are limited in movement, while the third (featuring two super-hero-style maids) is very well-drawn and runs about 5-10 minutes.


(Main entrance leading to the elevator to the 2nd floor.)

The food is pretty typical, including rice omelets (actually a pile of rice with a scrambled egg placed on top), curry rice and rice pilafs, coffee, tea, various soft drinks, and some deserts. The main dishes are in the 1200 yen range; the drinks are 600 yen, no refills; and the desert sets (a slice of cake and a drink) are 1200 yen. The prices are on the high end for a regular restaurant, but in keeping with the other maid cafes. I ordered a coffee and the omelet rice, plus a photo with one of the maids for an additional 500 yen.



I was told that I could have any kind of design drawn on my omelet, including hearts or some kind of kanji. Not realizing what I was getting myself into, I asked if it was possible to have one of the cafe's anime characters drawn on the plate. After some agonizing, one of the girls ran into the kitchen and brought out "sensei" - another young woman who was apparently one of their main artists. Immediately, I had 5 other maids standing around the table, watching "sensei" at work. 5 minutes later, I had a pretty catsup drawing of one of the characters. I thought it was cool.



Beyond having English-speakers on staff, one of the selling points for Popopure is that for 1500 yen, you can voice one of the characters in the anime, and get it burned to a DVD. I settled for just getting the photo. I could ask any of the maids to join me, and was told that the three standard poses were: forming a heart with our hands (the one I picked); to form a heart with our arms over our heads; or, placing our hands up near our faces like cat paws. After having the photo taken, I returned to my table and waited while my maid added her embellishments to the picture.



When I left, I was guided to the door and told, "master, be careful". In total, it came to 2,300 yen. I was also asked if I wanted the points card (pictured above), and I answered "sure". It's 1 point per 500 yen spent. 10 points gets me an "Ichigo-chan poster print" and a free drink. 20 points is a free drink and a maid photo. 30 is a free entree and drink plus maid photo. And the big prize is an anime DVD, maid photo and a free drink for 50 points.



Some of the cafes have wireless service, but I didn't check if that was the case here.

Summary:
Location: 1 block west of Chuu-ou Dori
Price: Moderate
Food: Standard food and soft drink selection, and quality
Service: Very friendly and outgoing
"Love": Drawing of your choice on the food or on the plate
Outfits: Black maid dress with white frills
Photos: 500 yen, with one maid
Wireless Internet: (?)
Specialties: Native English-speakers; staff makes their own anime, DVD with your own voice-over available for purchase
Recommendation: Recommended. I had fun.

9 comments:

  1. yey \o/
    a friend of mine works there *-*
    it's really good seeing something like this from popopure ^^

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  2. Tell her to visit MaidRunner and leave a comment! As soon as I cover all the other cafes in Akiba, Popopure is one of the places I'd like to go back to.

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  3. Oh, my friend left that comment!! I didn't know!! ^^
    Ok, I'm leaving one too.

    Yes, Popopure has some good and unique points, like the animes (afureko) and us, the foreigners maids. But the food, the plates, tables, decoration, everything there (in my oppinion) is so ordinary, you can eat better food in better places. And the system of Popopure is too bad for us, the maids. You could talk about it too, what do you think about it? "The dark side of maid cafes"! =P Can you imagine how hard is to stand outside, in this winter, for 1 hour or more, just for spreading notice about popopure and trying to acquire new customers, wich if we don't, our boss scolds us? >.<
    In Popopure, almost everyday, girls come to do interviews of job, and every week maids quit. Some months ago was there 5 foreign maids. Now only one girl left, and she will quit next week! I quit 2 weeks ago, and I can draw (omrices) more tan "sensei". I used to draw people faces in manga style, and just me could do that. The animator doesn't draw in omrices, because they don;t do maids job, you was lucky that day. So, can you see? Popopure is losing its good points.

    About the food, they don't cook there, it's everything microwave food. If you pay attention you can hear, from your table, the microwave bell. Isn't too expensive for microwave food?? Ah, and no-wireless internet there.

    I have worked there. I don't know another places but I tell you, if you have better choice, don't waste your time going to Popopure. Just for afureko I could say "go there", because in Akiba, until now, we have no choice.

    Well, if you want to know more, just ask me. Will be a pleasure to answer it.

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  4. Thanks for the comment and the background information, Veru. I appreciate it. I replied to you in e-mail.

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  5. This is a message for Veru:

    I'd like to know something more about Popopure and Maid's cafè because I'm looking for a job!
    Do you have any contacts? thanks!

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  6. I like your blog. It gives an honest description of maid cafes. Most of the writeups on maid cafes in guidebooks make it seem like some sort of weird perverse culture!

    I went to popopure and had a fun time. Our 'maid' spoke English and was bright n perky. And I'm glad the maids were all Japanese at the time I visited. No offence to anyone, but after all, I came to Japan to see unique Japanese culture ^.^

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  7. AMI - Thanks for dropping by. Part of the reason I created this review blog was to give a more balanced look at maid cafes, because of the "weird perverse culture" image being projected by the English press. Glad you liked Popopure. Let me know if you decide to visit other cafes.

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  8. hey its Brandon again.
    after the the disaster that was "Mermaid Cafe" i decided to check out "PoPoPure". it was recommended to me by our local tour guide.
    Maid(s): #1 didn't get her name, but she was very nice and friendly. She was my main maid. when i ordered something or had a question she kneeled in front of me. wasn't pushy at all. spoke good enough english to answer all my questions.
    #2 (Ayame) standard cute maid, didn't speak english, but was alright.
    #3 she seemed like she was in charge that day. wore cat ears and tail, blonde short hair and black rimmed glasses. very artistic and hilarious to hear the high pitched voice and then when she talked to the other maids her voiced changed back to normal. spoke wonderful english, as clear as day.
    location: sat at the "Backstreet Boys" table....was interesting...
    Cover: none (thank god)
    ordered: Melon Soda 700 yen
    pix with maids 500 yen (x3)
    total ~2300 yen
    overall: i kept it simple this time, i didn't know what i was doing or in for, but i had faith. Luckly the girls were nice and even before closing had alot of pep in their step. i was disappointed that there was no "face time" to talk. the plus side was that the pix i took with them they customized with their own lil drawings. i loved how maid #3 drew her self portrait on the back of the photo. that made the experience a whole lot better than the "Mermaid Cafe".
    recommend: Strongly. especially if your starting to get introduced into the maid cafe genre.

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  9. Thanks for your review, Brandon. Glad that you had a good time at Popopure. Hope you'll try some of the other cafes in Akihabara and let us know what you think of them.

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