I visited Ai My Maid at Tutti Frutti in Covent Garden yesterday for the Pokemon themed maid cafe. This marks the company’s first stand alone event. Ai My Maid have previously held a pop up cafe at London Anime Con and had a stall at London Film Comic Con.
Unlike other maid cafes, Ai My Maid are based on Japanese mikos, translated as shrine maidens in English. The traditional attire of a miko would be a pair of red hakama (long, divided trousers) or a long red skirt tied with a bow and a white haori (kimono jacket) with white or red hair ribbons. The Ai My Maid custom designed uniform reflects this, with some pink added in for for extra kawaiiness!
The extra services offered by the maids at the event are also miko inspired. For example, at this event Maid Mei was offering clow card readings. Mikos are traditionally known for their cognitive abilities and connection to the spirit world. Previously at London Film and Comic Con the maids hosted a bow and arrow game, a bow is traditionally a shrine maidens chosen weapon. For obvious reasons this game could not be played at Tutti Frutti!
As well as traditional shrine maiden games there were other extras available from singing, drawing and even nail art! Our serving Maid Emi serenaded our table with a beautiful rendition of a popular J-pop song and I even indulged in a clow card reading!
To celebrate the release of the eagerly anticipated Pokemon X&Y, the event was themed accordingly. Guests were given four free Pokemon cards (rare cards guaranteed in each pack) and a raffle ticket to be in with a chance of winning the new game (sadly I didn’t win). Every attendee was also given a gym badge card, giving attendees the chance to become a real Pokemon master! For 50p per game you could challenge each maid to a classic board or console game, once you have defeated your opposing maid, a gym badge is awarded. Once all eight gym badges are collected, you win a chekki (decorated polaroid photo) with all of the maids. I loved the concept and the attention to detail that had gone into this planning this.
Tutti Frutti is self service so although you do have to go up and make your own froyo, (the maids may be able to see into the future but they are not mind readers) your serving maid brings all of your food and drink to the table and is attentive to your needs!
Ai My Maid has successfully worked to build their own brand and identity with matching uniforms, personalised menus and even a loyalty card. What makes them stand out the most is how personable and approachable they are. I felt that they had taken their own personality and added a spoonful of sugar, rather than creating a character that they must adhere to while serving. Many of the other attendees commented on this and agreed that by playing the one on one games it made them feel more comfortable and sociable, especially as many people I spoke to had come by themselves and didn’t know anyone.
The majority of people who attended were male but I would recommend this event to all. I would have loved to have seen more families attend. With the variety of family board games on offer and the relaxed atmosphere, this would have made a great afternoon as well as providing a taste of Japanese culture without the crowds of conventions.
Ai My Maid have certainly made an impression and I look forward to their next event *Sailor Moon themed event to celebrate the new anime next year perhaps?*
View pictures from the event here