1. February 2019. Welcome to Tokyo’s Gundam Café, a Mecca for fans of the Japanese anime TV series Gundam. Dating back to the 1970s, Gundam is a science fiction franchise featuring giant robots battling it out in a weary, militaristic dystopia. Dating back to the 1970s, there’ve been countless series, spinoffs, manga collections, novels, video games and model robots over the years that have all helped consolidate the Gundam legend. In all honesty Wonderboy and I knew next to nothing about Gundam, we were simply box ticking after a long and eventful day exploring Akihabara Electric Town.
2. February 2019. Having just polished off a fantastic dinner at Pepper Lunch, we’d come to Gundam for a round of revitalizing coffees before heading off for a night of gaming at the Sega Arcades. Dark, moody and futuristic, Gundam Café’s interior was pleasingly stylish but felt undercooked in terms of channeling any kind of Gundam vibe. I’d been expecting lots of memorabilia and references galore, but the whole thing was very understated. There were a few character cut outs, a section of signed artwork and a couple of model robots, while in the main room a Gundam episode played out quietly on the big screen.
3. February 2019. The coffees here come decorated with a Gundam character of your choice, crafted in either cocoa or cinnamon. With no clue who was who I simply picked one that caught my eye. My latte (left) was crowned by Mikazuki, a cold-blooded pilot who operates the Barbatos Robot in the series Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. A former child soldier, he’s described as “devoted to his comrades, but has a limited understanding of girls”. Wonderboy’s cappuccino was adorned by Wufei, who we mistakenly believed was a woman. In fact, Wufei is a pilot dude and the central character of the series Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing. Operating the XXXG-01S Shenlong Gundam Robot, Wufei is described as “fierce, conflicted and emotional”.
4. February 2019. For that cheesy but essential Gundam Café photo op, grab one of the free cardboard signs at the bar. Wonderboy ran his translation app over it and the blurb came through as: “Prisoned in the past and lost in the future”. Intense.
5. February 2019. I think we played it just right by coming to Gundam Cafe for a quick round of post-dinner lattes. With no investment in the actual series we weren’t really feeling the magic, so to speak. It also struck me that even if we had been big Gundam fans, had this café really done enough to channel the Gundam vibe? Honestly, I have my doubts. In any case it’s well worth a look if you’re in Akihabara.
Gundam Café is open every day from 10:00-22:30 and is located right outside Akihabara Station’s Electric Town Exit.
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