White stockings and lace. Immaculate petticoat and frilly pinafore. Perfectly pressed black trousers. Spotless tailcoat and fitted vests. Sweet smiles and innocent eyes everywhere. You have just entered Cafe Kira Hoshi, a maid cafe at Metrocon in Tampa, FL.
Each guest has their name is announced and is greeted with a line of bowing ladies and gentleman ready to serve.
The greeting translates roughly to “Welcome home, master/mistress,” and that is precisely how the maids and butlers at Cafe Kira Hoshi intend to make you feel—like you are at home.
For those uninitiated in the ways of anime culture, the concept of a maid cafe may seem odd, but it is all about context.
What Is a Maid Cafe
Cuteness is one of the hallmarks of the anime genre and one of the themes of maid cafes. Maid cafes originated in Japan in the early 2000s, but unlike Japanese maid cafes that tend to be exclusively made up of young women dressed in maid costumes, Cafe Kira Hoshi had a selcetion of butlers as well.
As maid culture grew in Japan, American fans of anime and manga adopted it and created their own versions. You can often find a maid cafe at conventions, though they are generally a separately ticketed event.
Maid cafes, sometimes referred to as cosplay cafes, are generally staffed by attractive young people dressed in costumes serving their clients from menus that often feature desserts with cute decor. It’s common for the maids to visit your table to chat or play games. Often the maids will hand decorate your food with cute designs or even draw hearts in your coffee foam.
Unlike the sexual connotations of the “French maid” concept, the maids that appear in anime and manga are cuteness and innocence personified. This means there are certain rules of etiquitte that customers are expected to obey. While they are different rules than the ones for cafes in Japan, they are also similar.
- Don’t ask for a maids real name
- Do not ask questions of a personal or sexual nature
- No physical contact
- No sexual advances
- Have fun
Cafe Kira Hoshi
Once the food was delivered, the maids encouraged the customers to join in an incantation that, according to our hostess, would make the food taste better. At Cafe Kira Hoshi both the maids and the butlers had us make a heart shape with our hands over our hearts. Next, we moved our hands to the right and then the left before aiming our hands toward our food. Then our hostess had us move as if we were shooting a beam of heart energy toward our food. Think of a heart-shaped Kamehameha. The idea behind this to infuse the food with love. Whether it worked or not, the food was yummy.
More Than Treats
Often, maid cafes offer a variety of entertainment such as photographs, tabletop games, card games, and other activities that allow the maid to engage with the customer. Cafe Kira Hoshi was no exception. On top of tasty treats and activities, the maids and butlers put on three adorable performances.
The maid cafe staff also got the customers into the act with an impromptu dance routine and a rousing game of musical chairs. Interestingly enough, one of our customers was cosplaying head butler Tanaka from the popular anime Black Butler. The maids and butlers showed him a lot of deference, referring to him with proper honorifics. He played the part beautifully and even won second place in musical chairs.
A Must for Anime Fans
Whether you are a fan of anime that features maid cafes or not, if you get a chance to attend a maid cafe at an anime convention you really should take the opportunity. While it is definitely a different experience than it would be if you attended on in Japan, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate your inner otaku. Cafe Kira Hoshi served up a different theme for each of their many sessions throughout the convention. If I had the time I would have attended every one of them. Our maids and butlers were wonderful, fun-loving, and had the best sense of humor! Besides, who doesn’t love tasty treats?