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Alethea & Athena
The Black Butler Cafe 
1st-Feb-2016 06:07 pm
We're optimistic about this volume of Noragami not taking all week, which is good because we need extra time for the thing we didn't finish last week. Oh man, but this one is intense. But for now, we talk about Japan.

We were just getting to the Black Butler Cafe. The staff (who once again were very friendly; everyone in Japan was super friendly) put us in an elevator and sent us up to the seventh floor, where we came out on an area that was hung in black blackout curtains. From the light under the curtains, it looked like the wall was mostly windows, but I guess light isn't really a thematic element of Black Butler, hence the curtains. We went to a counter and showed a lady our tickets, she gave us the complimentary(?) items that came with our tickets, and then they showed us to our seats.

When we bought our tickets, we got to choose if we wanted the Sebastian Plate (quiche) or the Ciel Plate (scones). Anybody who's paying attention can probably guess we went with the scones, and the table was already set with our choice! The plates were covered in a conical piece of paper, kind of like those domes they have in all the fancy restaurants (or cartoons about them). Athena thinks they were calling them "cloches" on MasterChef Junior. We removed the cones to behold our meals, then sat for a little while as we got our bearings. In addition to the blackout curtains, the walls had been decorated with giant screens that were currently displaying Black Butler artwork. There were also some 3D art displays (as in sculptures/figures and other tangible objects), but we didn't get a good look at them, because it took us too long to figure out how the whole thing worked.

What we did figure out is that we could now go stand in line to order drinks and dessert! There was a Sebastian special parfait that looked delicious, so we were definitely going to get that, and there was an iced chocolate drink that was attributed to Ciel Phantomhive. The sad thing is that they ran out of parfaits before we could make our order, so instead we got the Phantomhive pancakes, which were more expensive but looked pretty good. And for ordering extra food, we got free coasters--one for a drink and two for a dessert. It was supposed to be random, but what that really means is that the guy who took our order had eight stacks of coasters that were face-down, and he grabbed one from the top of six of those piles, pretty much in order. The upshot of this is that we got the really cool Undertaker coaster that everybody was jealous of. But mostly we were happy because we got Finnian, who, we realized fairly recently, was voiced by our beloved Yuuki Kaji. (Has this inspired us to watch the anime? ...We're still interested in doing that, someday... The main sad part about that is we had to have Cecille identify the character. Eheh.)

Now that we'd placed our orders, it was time to go eat our scones while we waited for them. There were also little classy sandwiches, of which we were only able to bring ourselves to eat half. One had some kind of a pate, I guess, that mostly tasted like cat food (if you can judge the taste of cat food from the smell) and I don't remember the other one. I do remember that one that we didn't eat had ham and cheese, and the other had some kind of green plant matter. But the scones were pretty good, although very hard. They had nuts, which is a bummer, but they were so hard that the difference in texture was hardly noticed. Also, there was a drizzling of maple icing, and you can never go wrong with maple!

While we were eating, the screens moved from displaying still artwork to showing a step-by-step process of Yana Toboso coloring a very pretty piece of Black Butler art. In it, Sebastian had a jewel in his mouth, which I didn't really "get", but Cecille said she really liked it, so I guess it works for some people. Anyway, the demonstration was narrated by Sebastian, which was kind of fun, because he'd make comments like, "My signature color is black, but for some reason she decided to color my hair with dark blue." At first we listened to it so we could interpret it for Cecille, but then we figured it was mostly obvious ("Then she colors their skin..." yeah, we can see that) so we mainly focused on eating.

But then! they had a video interview with Daisuke Ono, the voice of Sebastian, so now we were a lot more interested. (He also plays such great characters as Daikoku in Noragami and whatsisname the main guy in Barakamon.) Let's see what I can remember, because it was a fun interview. That guy is such a goof.

First they asked him about how he first got involved with Black Butler, and he told the story of how he went to an audition, and it was a dark and stormy night, and on the way home, he walks by an alley and hears something crying (we think he said it was meowing, but neither of us remembers if he specified), so he went into the alley and found a box with a little Black Butler inside it, so he took him home and... Then he admitted to making it all up, and I think the real story is that he auditioned and got the part, and now it's become a really big thing so he's grateful to have been a part of it.

They also asked him what he hopes they do in the future of Black Butler, and he said well they've already had an anime, and a movie, and a stage play, and now they're doing a cafe, so really what else can they do, except go to England. I think he started justifying why they should go to England, and then said, "But I just want to go to England."

One of the questions was, "So Valentine's Day isn't too far off. Got any good Valentine's Day stories for us?" And he told about how he's always been a big fan of chocolate, so one year, since there was all this chocolate on sale for Valentine's Day, he just up and bought some himself. Then he took it home...and I really didn't catch part of this for some reason. There may or may not have been a mention of his parents running a cafe, but do not take our word on that because neither of us is sure we were listening right. Anyway, I think he said he decided to experiment and put the chocolate in with some miso that was cooking. I know I got the next part right, though, and that's that the chocolate exploded. I don't remember any of his description of the aftermath of the explosion, but there was a followup question, which was, "You like chocolate that much?" And he said, "Well... I was traumatized by the chocolate the one Valentine's Day, but...yeah. I like chocolate."

They also asked him to introduce all the special Black Butler merchandise that was on sale at the cafe, and he introduced the blanket first (it was a little blanket that looked like a chocolate bar wrapper, only it was partly unwrapped, so one corner of it looked like a chocolate bar) because it was his favorite, but whenever he pulled out something else to show it off, he would start looking at it like he never really looked at it before and say, "This is really nice!" He talked about how Yana Toboso designed almost all of it herself. And at one point he started talking about the chocolate bars that everyone got as part of admission, and he said, "This might be the best chocolate you've ever had in your life." I'm not sure I'd say it's the best chocolate I've ever had, but it was pretty good. It tasted a lot like Dove chocolate, actually.

By the time the video interview was done, we had our drinks and desserts. The iced chocolate was sadly very weak, but we weren't very surprised so that's okay. The pancakes, on the other hand, were amazing! They were ridiculously good. Maybe it was the real maple syrup, I don't know. But we even ate the strawberries that they decorated them with! The strawberries weren't that great. But there was a scoop of ice cream on top that was also very good! We did not eat the blueberries, but Cecille loves berries of all kinds, so it worked out.

We had just enough time to finish our pancakes before it was time to close that session of the cafe and kick everybody out, so we gathered all our things and off we went! As we were waiting for the elevator, one of the staff asked us where we were visiting from. I think they like to see people coming from so far away. He asked in Japanese, and we understood it, but since we were distracted, Athena asked, "What?" to confirm, so he asked again in English. Ha, ha, ha. (<--laugh of mixed emotions)

We considered hanging around Harajuku for a little while after that, since apparently Harajuku is a popular tourist thing to do, but we were damp and cold and didn't know what there was to do in Harajuku anyway, and besides we didn't want to deal with the snow anymore. So we went back to the hotel to recharge for a little while. We may have taken a hair dryer to our socks.

After taking sufficient time to recover, we decided it was time to take advantage of the fact that we were in Ikebukuro and the sun was out, so we headed in the direction of Sunshine City. But we never made it, because first we found Animate. Oh, Animate, how you could own our souls.

That's also where we came across our second anime cafe of sorts--it was more like an anime food truck. This time, the theme was Osomatsu-san! And because I'm a sucker for themed food, I considered getting a drink, but I have mixed feelings about Osomatsu-san because it has some stuff that I really like (including some of our favorite voice actors), but some of the humor is really crass (like really crass), which is why we decided to stop watching it. And if we actively decided to stop watching an anime instead of just getting distracted from it, we're not sure how much we want to support it financially. But it would be a super awesome cosplay idea for Athena and me to get all the sweatshirts and just trade them throughout the day to cosplay all six of the brothers. But the point is, we were always so eager to get into Animate (or to move on to the next thing after spending hours inside Animate) that we never really stopped long enough to sort out our feelings on the matter, and that's why we never ordered from the Osomatsu-san cafe.

But anyway, on the first floor of Animate, we found the most dangerous invention in all of Japan: the gachapon machines. It was bad. It was so bad. And it wouldn't have been so bad if there hadn't been a Noragami machine. After our first trip to Animate, we went home with three Bishamon/Kazuma keychains and a Yato. And oh my goodness, they're so cute! They're little acrylic things (if you've ever done Shrinky-Dinks, they're like that) attached to a plastic five-yen coin! Aaaaaaaaahh!!!

Meanwhile, Cecille was busy trying to get her beloved Cecil from one of the two Uta no Prince-sama machines. But our real gachapon sickness didn't hit until the next day. Today was a day for exploring the entire store. We weren't all that thorough with the first couple of floors, because for some reason we weren't interested in trying to figure out what kind of manga we wanted. I think it was some sort of subliminal defense mechanism--it was hard enough dealing with series we're already familiar with. Add the possibility of discovering a new favorite into the mix and the options are endless! And we couldn't handle that kind of pressure. Plus we only have so much money and luggage space.

Anyway, we did explore the merchandise and AV floors very thoroughly, but sadly (or perhaps fortunately) they didn't have very much by way of Noragami. They did have an acrylic Yukine keychain that we snatched up immediately to accessorize for our future trip to Disneyland. We did find the pencilboards with the anime-style Harry Potter characters. We thought about buying the Fred and George ones, but then forgot about it and the next time we came across that section guess who was sold out? Twins sure are lovable.

The harvest from that visit was still relatively small. We picked up the limited edition of Noragami 15 (the back of the box showed screen caps from the DVD that comes with it; we didn't look too closely, but there seemed to be baseball uniforms...), but Tenshi 1/2 Houteishiki wasn't on sale yet, so we did not get it. We found a couple of CD singles from our beloved Yuuki Kaji and had to buy them, of course! They were printed before the third Koe no Ouji-sama CD, which, according to the video comment that is no longer on the website, was the first time Kaji-kun claims to have ever really enjoyed singing. I think the lack of enjoyment comes across in the one single (we haven't had time to listen to the second one), but maybe that's just because I was already conditioned to listen to it that way. But anyway, we also found out that Animate was selling the character CDs for Seven Deadly Sins that you normally have to get with certain DVD volumes, so we bought those, too! We listened to those right away, and it was really fun to listen to King's song and compare it to Jun Fukuyama's Kazuma singing voice.

And I think that was about it for Animate. When we were done there, we went to Tokyu Hands, a department store we had explored the first time we went to Japan. We really liked it there, so we definitely wanted to see it again. They had feng shui calendars for luck and money, and we were like, "That's the one Yato would get!" It was even yellow. But oh man, the hobby department was amazing! They have puzzles and leather crafting, and fabric, and I think they even had, like, gem carving. And pre-made costumes! But it's amazing all the materials you can just buy in Japan. Like, you don't have to go find a specialty store. You just go to Tokyu Hands and buy a telescope or something. It's awesome and I'm so jealous.

We didn't buy anything there, because there was so much cool stuff we were too overwhelmed. So after checking the pet store on the top floor (they had hedgehogs!), we went to KFC for dinner. That's right. We were in Japan, and we had KFC for dinner. Many apologies to the people who travel for grand food adventures and want to live vicariously through our reports. But for people like us, who travel in spite of our finicky food habits, KFC in Japan is a huge blessing and we were very grateful to have found one so easily. And speaking of dinner, I think it's about time we got something to eat.

Today I'm thankful for getting to go to the Black Butler Cafe, fun video interviews with voice actors, those super yummy pancakes, the also delicious chocolate, and finishing our first draft of Noragami 13 without too much trouble.
2nd-Feb-2016 12:12 am (UTC)
Finnian!! One of my fond memories related to Black Butler is of the time I told a certain editor who loves the series that my cat's name is Finny, and she asked if they were related :D (they weren't, since I didn't choose the name and I'm pretty sure the people who did aren't manga readers). But ever since I've felt a certain affinity for the character, even though he mostly just seemed like one of the annoying background characters in the volumes I read. I'm sure there's a fabulous backstory somewhere in the later volumes. (also, now I have a nephew-cat named Sebastian, who looks like a short-haired my-Finny, which amuses me, but he's not a black or tuxedo cat so it's not perfect. But he's cute so whatever.)

That's Handa, not whatsisname!!!!!!!! (did you do that on purpose?) Sensei is also permissible. That's a really interesting array of characters he plays, though. The interview thingy sounds like fun too!! Thank you for remembering it pretty well :D

You mentioned gachapon and I was like oh okay cool i guess (i'm happy you enjoy them though!) but then you said Noragami and I GASPED. Hahaha. (ps if you don't have any other plans for that third Bishamon-Kazuma keychain will you sell it to your favourite Noragami letterer? :D :D :D) I think the Nora 15 DVD is supposed to be the story about the novelist at the ski resort. Hahahahaha, Yato buying a feng shui calendar, oh dear...

No need to apologize about KFC! Your Black Butler Cafe desserts were enough to make a Yuzan or a lys plenty jealous :)
2nd-Feb-2016 02:51 am (UTC)
Aww, that's sweet! He didn't seem like an annoying background character in the volumes we read, just not important at all. Then we had a curiosity about Yuuki Kaji's debut role, and what his first main character role was, and according to Wikipedia, he had three main characters in 2008, including Finnian, so I assumed it was just because the series is a little episodic and he's one of the few recurring characters. But then they had a coaster of him, so.

Eh heh heh, I only sort of did it on purpose. I remembered that his surname was Handa, but I couldn't remember if he had a given name that people called him by, and since I didn't want to bother looking it up... But Ono-san does have quite a range! He's also Llama in Polar Bear's Cafe, and Shizuo Heiwajima, and Sindbad in Magi, and Jyushimatsu in Osomatsu-san, and all kinds of different characters with different personalities!

I know, right? We saw it, and we were like, "Hey, that's cool." And then we saw the Noragami one and we were doomed. We thought you might like one of our extra Bishamons! So you can either come to Anime Expo, or email us your address and maybe we'll find some time to put it in the mail.

(There was also a machine that I didn't notice until we'd sworn off our addiction that had some neat Durarara!! figures for holding office supplies. Masaomi held rubber bands, and you could tie Mikado up with your earphones, and Shizuo would hold your pen like it was a lamp post that he was about to bash somebody with. I had to make a concerted effort not to try that machine, because if I didn't get Shizuo after the first set of coins, I was in trouble.)

Alls I'm saying about the Noragami 15 DVD is what I remember seeing when we looked at it. Someday we'll find time to open up our luggage and pull out all our souvenirs for proper admiring...

Aww, we're glad you liked reading about the Black Butler desserts!

PS: Your Kofuku icon is the most appropriate description of gachapon ever.
2nd-Feb-2016 01:11 pm (UTC)
Whoa, come to AX! That's a high hurdle... (not that I wouldn't want to... hmmm. would it mean cosplaying Noragami?) Oh noooo, the DRRR!!s too! Shizuo!! I found a picture of them and honestly his is probably the only one I'd get much use out of, but they're all adorable. Except Izaya, he's just entirely evil always. (also super weirdly, I googled "noragami gachapon" after drrr!!, and there were like two results that actually fit the search, mixed in with results for every other popular anime in the world. does google not know Noragami???)

Ahaha!! You're so right about the Kofuku icon. I forget about her eyes in it sometimes but they are perfect here. Someone build a shrine for her behind those gachapon machines. (seriously.)
2nd-Feb-2016 02:11 pm (UTC)
Ideally, Anime Expo would definitely involve cosplaying Noragami! But industry registration isn't available yet, so you have some time to think about it. That is weird that Google doesn't seem to know what's up with Noragami. I wonder if adding Aragoto would help. Or maybe people just don't care as much... *sniffle*
2nd-Feb-2016 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your experience in Black Butler cafe. The pancakes sound delicious. I'm glad that you wrote about the voice actor's interviews and his liking chocolate. I wonder what was in the miso soup that caused it to explode with the chocolate.
2nd-Feb-2016 09:30 pm (UTC)
We're glad you enjoy reading about it! I wonder why it exploded, too. I think it had something to do with the heat, but...
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