Get ready for love, justice, and the moon — in cafe form. New York's first Sailor Moon cafe is popping up at Hanamizuki Cafe on January 31, 2016. The women who are running the cafe see it as an opportunity for fans of Sailor Moon to truly immerse themselves in the culture of the anime. Sailor Moon art will be on the walls. Pastry chefs will be making Sailor Moon-themed desserts. And service staff will be in cosplay, or costumes that depict characters, and they will act like their characters for the duration of the pop-up — all in the name of Sailor Moon fandom. Organizers Tiffany and Barbra —who did not want to offer their last names and asked to be referred to by their cosplay aliases Akiran and Kou — say it's just a creative and interactive way to bring together people who love Sailor Moon. Everybody is a volunteer, and ticket sales will go toward venue rental and food costs. "We hope people like the idea of being served by characters they really looked up to, and talk to them, and feel like they’re a kid again," Akiran says.
It's not Akiran and Kou's first time running a pop-up cafe. Kou organized one in the Bay Area based on Haikyuu, a volleyball anime. Like the planned Sailor Moon pop-up, cosplayers acted as wait staff, interacting with guests as their characters, serving food, and playing games. When Kou moved to the east coast, she and Akiran decided to recreate it in New York. It was a hit. Tickets sold out, and more than 50 people submitted videos to apply for the five to ten cosplay waitstaff positions. "We stayed up until six or seven [a.m.] in the morning reviewing them," Akiran says.
People soon begged for a cafe with Sailor Moon, a popular '90s manga and anime series about a goofy student who can save the world with the power of the moon. The fan cafe is a concept that's popped up in Japan before, too, complete with omurice decorated with a star on top. So far, only a few applications have come in for the New York Sailor Moon cafe staff, but the organizers are expecting far more people to apply to this one. Already, more than 6,000 people have expressed interest in the event on Facebook, while more than 2,000 people have marked that they're attending.
The 80 people who nab tickets to the event itself can expect an intimate experience with Sailor Moon characters, Akiran says. Each $25 ticket gets each guest an hour in the cafe, with 20 people per block. Sailor Moon characters like Sailor Moon and Chibiusa will be wearing maid and butler outfits in the style of Japanese maid cafes, perhaps under the pretense of hosting a maid cafe at school, Akiran says. "We're looking for people who are looking to add their own flair to their maid or butler outfit," she says. "Like for Chibiusa [a younger character with pink hair], making their outfit pink or adding little strawberries, which would make it more like a Sailor Moon cafe." Besides serving desserts, the waitstaff might play games with guests, or talk to them about their life, Akiran says. "She can tell you about her daily life, how much homework she has, how she saves the day," Akiran says. "It's to be immersed in Sailor Moon culture." Similarly, desserts will be themed to the different Sailors, though the exact menu will depend on what the baking applicants decide. A Chibiusa dessert, for example, might be a strawberry parfait with rabbit ears, or strawberry macarons, to mimic the look of Chibiusa.
Akiran and Kou will continue planning pop-up cafes for different animes, always as a volunteer gig. Akiran is a student in Massachusetts, while Kou works as a media planner, and both use their free time to organize the events. It's not always easy to just walk up to people in the street to talk about fandom, and the cafe is a cool way for them to connect and chat with others about their interests. "It's pretty much just for fun," Akiran says. "We really like organizing events. Why not add a little spice to it?"
Tickets for the Sailor Moon pop-up cafe go on sale at midnight on Dec. 15. Cafe applicants and ticket buyers are encouraged to read instructions carefully.