“See you space cowboy.”
“See you space cowboy.” Most adult anime fans will know exactly what those words mean the moment you say them - Cowboy Bebop! The anime was incredibly popular when it released and has maintained its popularity even today. And today, Cowboy Bebop is 20 years old! Of course, it deserves something to celebrate its 20th anniversary, so what better than a cafe? Cowboy Bebop may have never had the same level of popularity and influence in Japan that it did in the West, but it was still big enough to warrant an Animate Cafe collaboration this year.
Running for one month in Akihabara, the Cowboy Bebop Animate Cafe is an exciting opportunity for fans of the anime. With little to no merchandise available for the anime in Japan these days, it’s a rare opportunity to be surrounded by Cowboy Bebop, listen to the music, pick up some goods, and hang out with other fans. The vibe is decidedly different from other Animate Cafes, with a more mature and relaxed style that suits the anime. But let’s get into the details!
Cowboy Bebop Cafe Info
|Place / location|| Access – 1-Chome 7-6 AKIBA カルチャー ズ ZONE 5F Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo-to, 101-0021|
Train Lines –
Yamanote Line, Chuo-Sobu Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Sazanami Line, Nikko-Kinugawa Line JR "Akihabara” Station 8-min. from Electric Town Exit
Subway Hibiya Line "Akihabara” Station 8 min. from Electric Town Exit
Tsukuba Express "Akihabara” Station 8-min. from Electric Town Exit
|Cost of Admission||Type – Food/Drink Cost (at least one main dish or drink per person)|
|Hours of Operation|| Open 11 am – 9:30 pm, May 15th, 2018 – June 10th 2018|
Official Website - https://cafe.animate.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
The Cowboy Bebop Animate Cafe is a themed cafe in Akihabara created to celebrate the anime’s 20th anniversary. It has a wide selection of themed foods and drinks, including desserts and alcohol. Most of the foods are targeted at an adult pallet, though there are a few more whimsical choices specifically themed after the anime’s only child character Edward. Each person who attends the cafe is required to order at least one food or drink item, but it’s hard to stop once you get started and realise how delicious everything is!
Instead of deep stories behind each dish like at many themed cafes or pictures of the characters, the Cowboy Bebop Cafe went more for capturing the feeling of the anime itself with its food. Most of the food choices are bar foods, and we started with a plate of prosciutto, bread, olives, and raisins. On the side, we had roasted potatoes with sour cream and a ham and tomato salad. Everything tasted great, and it was good to go with a friend to be able to order more foods and try a lot of things from the menu.
We also ordered drinks and desserts of course! Since it was a work night, we went with some of the non-alcoholic drinks. They were all named after the different ships in Cowboy Bebop, so we had the Swordfish II and the Redtail. If you like drinking, there is one alcoholic drink for each of the main characters to choose from too (including a martini and olive for Faye) and a Cinderella non-alcoholic cocktail for Edward. Finally, we finished with dessert. After a lot of mature, salty foods, it was fun to end with the cute and sweet-tasting parfait that was offered to end the night on a fun note.
Ordering anything from the menu meant that you get a free collectible coaster with each item. These coasters are given at random from eight different designs, each with original Cowboy Bebop art. Drinks and food both come with coasters and even the side dishes, too! It’s easy to collect a lot, especially if you go with a friend. Conveniently, the small store in the cafe also sells an album that you could use to store all your Animate Cafe coasters safely inside, as well as a holder to turn your favourite coaster into a keychain. The shop also has a few small Cowboy Bebop merchandise items based on the cafe, such as file folders and plastic small figures. You won’t leave the cafe without a souvenir!
Finally, the Cowboy Bebop Cafe is decorated with a few cardboard cutouts and posters of the main characters wearing their finest clothing (Ein included!). Two large TV screens play still images and art from the show as well, and along one wall are 20 different small framed pieces of art to look at. The music is all cool jazz themes that were featured in the anime, played at a volume that lets you enjoy them without feeling overwhelmed by them.
One nice feature is that each table is also themed after a character, which alters the colour and design on the table. Ours was a sexy red for Faye. Most of the other customers enjoying the cafe alongside us were fans in their 20s and over, with a mix of both men and women, foreign and Japanese. Everyone was just there to relax and have some good food, helping to preserve the calm and laid back vibe of the entire cafe.
Unlike many Animate Cafes and other limited time pop-up cafes in Japan, the Cowboy Bebop cafe doesn’t require reservations and doesn’t have limited seating windows. All you need to do is head over to the cafe during its opening hours and you can grab a table if one is available, or queue for your chance like a typical restaurant. When we went on a weeknight, the cafe was pleasantly busy without having any waiting time. The rules of the cafe did state that at busy times, you will be asked not to linger too long at your table. But during calm periods, it’s okay to take your time and enjoy the atmosphere!
The prices of the food and drinks at the Cowboy Bebop Cafe are average. Most of the meals cost between ¥800 to ¥1000, sides at around ¥500, and drinks around ¥600. It’s reasonable enough that you can order several different things to try, collect quite a few coasters, and still keep within your meal budget. We ordered a main dish, side, dessert, and a drink for just over ¥2000 per person. The merchandise available for purchase is also a normal price for anime goods at any Animate store in Japan - though if you’re a big spender, be sure to check out the reservation-only collaboration Zippo lighter for ¥10,000, set to release in August.
While the rules sheet for the cafe is available in both English and Japanese, the menu itself is entirely in Japanese, as is the order form to get the food. If you aren’t comfortable reading Japanese and are particular about knowing the ingredients in each dish, we recommend checking the website in advance and using translation software so you know what you want to order. There are pictures of all the items on the menu, though, so if that is enough for you then you shouldn’t have a problem!
The Cowboy Bebop Cafe has a distinctly different vibe than the other Animate collaboration cafes we have visited in the past. There are no cute character-printed cookies on everything and brightly coloured foods with strange flavour combinations. Instead, the food is mostly bar-themed, the desserts (aside from the parfait) aimed at an adult palette. And there are quite a few more alcoholic cocktails to pick from than usual. The anime isn’t playing on repeat constantly in the background with loud voice overs, and the decor isn’t over the top and bright.
All of these factors give the Cowboy Bebop Cafe a more relaxed and mature atmosphere that is laid back and quiet, complimented by smooth jazz music and genuine food. Of course, there’s still the fun of receiving free surprise coasters, and the drinks are still inspired by characters and elements of the show. But nothing is in your face, and the overall effect is a subdued level of fandom fun. It really suits the style of the anime, considering Cowboy Bebop is all about the charming but relaxed characters and great jazz soundtrack. Fans of Cowboy Bebop are likely to be in their 20s or 30s at the youngest rather than high schoolers, and this is the kind of cafe that appeals to them.
Fans of Cowboy Bebop will feel right at home at the Cowboy Bebop Animate Cafe. It’s a great place to unwind after a long day with a good drink or enjoy simple and delicious food with your friends. The soundtrack playing is amazing, and the Cowboy Bebop theme is there without being overwhelming. Animate did a fantastic job preserving the feeling of Cowboy Bebop when they made this cafe and menu, and the end result is a chill place to relax and have a good time. So once more, see you space cowboy - hopefully at the Cowboy Bebop Animate Cafe in Akihabara!