[Anime Culture Monday] Honey's Anime Hot Spot – Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale Café at Animate Café Ikebukuro

Sword Art Online was a popular anime not only in Japan but across the world - and is still popular and well-known now! Its recent movie called Ordinal Scale was also popular and had good reviews, which lead to it not only having released in Tokyo and Osaka with English subtitles but also released in theatres outside of Japan, too. So of course, when anything is popular, Japan takes advantage of it and creates a concept cafe. Thus the Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale Cafe was born, with limited locations in Tokyo and Okayama.

True to the nature of Animate Cafe, the SAO: Ordinal Scale cafe had plenty of food, drinks, and desserts based on the movie's characters. It also had exclusive merchandise and fun decor! So come with us as we step inside this limited time pop-up cafe and see what it has to offer.

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale Cafe Info

Location
  • Access – 3 Chome-2-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0013
  • Train Lines –
  • Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Tobu Tojo Line JR "Ikebukuro” Station 7-mins. from East Exist
  • Subway Yurakucho Line, Fukutoshin Line, Marunouchi "Ikebukuro” Station 7-mins. from East Exist
Cost of Admission
  • Type – Food/Drink Cost (one main dish or drink per person)
Hours of Operation

The Experience

At first, it was a bit difficult to find Animate Cafe 2 in Ikebukuro where it was located because of a general lack of signs and not showing up on Google Maps, but we did find it at the end located near the Animate main store. We were greeted by an unassuming door but a cute welcome sign decorated with the cafe versions of all the main SAO characters. All the ladies were dressed in maid uniforms, and Kirito was dressed as a butler complete with a suit with tails. We immediately knew we were in the right place.

The Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale cafe was small but well decorated on the inside. Every table was themed after a certain character, and while we didn't get to pick which one we had, we were lucky to get the Kirito table. All around the cafe were large wall scrolls featuring the characters both in their cafe outfits alongside their outfits in the Ordinal Scale film. The outside of the menu featured a very nice artwork of Kirito and Asuna wearing their cafe uniforms as well. There was also a small featured area which had cosplay outfits for Kirito and Asuna's Ordinal Scale clothes - though they were displayed only and not for sale.

The menu featured food and drinks based on the leading characters in the movie. There was one food and one drink item for each, all with something that connected them to the character either with a small story or a similar colour scheme. The featured characters at the SAO: Ordinal Scale cafe were Kirito, Asuna, Leafa, Lisbeth, Sinon, Silica, and Yuna (a new character from the movie if you don't recognise her name). Some of the items available were hot matcha milk with marshmallows for Leafa, beef stew and a sandwich made by Asuna, and a special pineapple and melon parfait featuring Yui. The menu even had non-alcoholic beer if you wanted the flavour without the alcohol, or are too young to legally drink.

We ordered Kirito's peperoncino, which was very simple looking and meant to represent his general inability to make fancy food (though in reality, the dish did have bacon and asparagus hidden under the unassumingly plain pasta). In keeping with the Kirito theme of our table, we ordered the black lemonade with mint chocolate ice cream, also based on the Black Swordsman, which turned our tongue black! We also tried the melon soda with unique black vanilla ice cream based on Sinon's colour scheme. Finally, we couldn't leave without some dessert, and luckily the cafe had a dessert set called the "Clear Bonus." It had raspberry cheesecake, raspberry pie, and strawberry sponge cake. It was a great sampler to share - or enjoy on your own of course!

With each order of food or a themed drink (there are also normal drinks available on the menu such as plain soda, coffee, and tea at cheaper prices), you also receive a random coaster. These coasters feature the art of one of the characters either in their movie outfit or cafe uniform, and one also has Asuna with fan-favourite Yuuki from the second season of Sword Art Online. The coasters are presented face-down on the table and are entirely random, so you never know what you're going to get.

When we paid our bill, we also got two random postcards featuring either Kirito in his Gun Gale Online outfit or Sinon in hers. Finally, there was a chance to win a small contest! The waiter let us each choose our favourite character to "cheer" for, and then drew a random one out of a box. If it matched, we won a small sticker! Luckily Asuna was a match and we left with a huge stock of free gifts from our cafe experience.

In addition to the food and drinks, the cafe also has a small shop of exclusive merchandise open for cafe guests. It included a lot of merchandise featuring the characters in their cafe uniforms, as well as some Ordinal Scale products. There were mystery can badges and key chains where you could take a chance to get a random character, mini wall scrolls, clear files, and small plastic standees of the characters for your desk. The produces featuring the cafe uniforms and cafe logo was limited in availability to only the cafe and only for one month, making them awesome souvenirs for any Sword Art Online fan or collector! Everything was reasonably priced and what you would expect to pay for any similar anime merchandise in Japan.


Additional info

The Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale cafe was part of Animate Cafe. Animate Cafe is a concept cafe system operated by the well-known anime merchandise retailer Animate. The themes at these cafes that are in most major cities in Japan change every month to two months, usually to something that is timely and new - or continues to be extremely popular. With the successful release of Ordinal Scale in cinemas across the world only a few months ago, it was only natural that Animate Cafe would make a cafe themed on the movie.

The SAO: Ordinal Scale cafe was featured at one of the three Animate Cafes in Ikebukuro, Tokyo in August (this is the one Honey's Anime visited), and in Okayama in September. The cafe-themed exclusive merchandise was also available in Kyoto in August, although the cafe experience itself was not. The best way to guarantee yourself a seat at the cafe is to enter the lottery system when the cafe is announced, choosing approximately when you would like to visit.

After the lottery system has been completed, you can attempt to make reservations via the website for any empty tables. If you visit at a less popular time, such as a weekday, you may be lucky enough to be able to simply walk in and sit down. We were very fortunate to have that experience, but be forewarned it is rare!

The experience at the cafe is mostly in Japanese as a warning to those who cannot speak it. The website and reservation system is entirely in Japanese. Be aware that you not only need your reservation number, but also a legal form of ID with a name that matches the one you used on the form (so no using fake names to reserve seats). The menu is also completely in Japanese, though in Ikebukuro they did show us a menu in which someone had hand-written an English translation over the original menu. They did a pretty good job of listing all the ingredients! They also conveniently provide an English copy of the rules sheet, though most staff speak little or no English. It's a great chance to practise your reading and speaking skills if you're studying Japanese, though!

There are a few rules to keep in mind at the Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale cafe. While you are allowed to take pictures of your food and the decorations (once they are finished with the initial explanation and welcome speeches), you cannot take photos of the staff without permission. If there are cosplaying staff present, be sure to ask them as well if you want to post their picture anywhere on the internet. There is no video recording of any kind allowed. Everyone at the table must order something individually, so you cannot just share a plate with someone else. Finally, because all free gifts are random, it is okay to trade with other patrons of the cafe. However, selling the goods or harassing other customers are not allowed. And always be aware of your time limit at the table, especially, last order for food and drinks!


Final Thoughts

With themed food and drinks based on the movie's characters, exclusive merchandise only available for a limited time at the cafe locations, special artwork and decorations, and free gifts to take home, the cafe is an obvious choice for Sword Art Online fans! Not to mention the prices are reasonable and comparable to other similar food and drinks across Japan (around ¥900 for a main dish and ¥500 for a specialty drink). And the flavour of the food and drinks isn't too bad at all! Concept food cafe is never known for being the most delicious because it is more focused on presentation, but everything we enjoyed at the SAO: Ordinal Scale cafe was good and easy to eat.

Would you be interested in visiting the Sword Art Online cafe? What would you like to order? Have you ever visited Animate Cafe before? Did you make it to this one? Do you have any questions about how to make reservations, enter the lottery for hard-to-get seatings, or how to order? Let us know your questions and comments below and we would love to help you!

Jet Nebula

Writer

Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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