I didn’t know I was a die-hard fan until Sailor Venus walked up to our table and thanked me for ordering a mango-flavored cocktail inspired by her bubbly personality.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is arguably one of the most popular franchises in the manga and Japanese animation world. It was the first exposure to Japan for many ’90s kids.
The Naoko Takeuchi classic is often referred to as the starting point of the “magical girl” genre. Walking through Akihabara’s shops, you can still see see entire aisles dedicated to this subgenre and see a few familiar faces from the Sailor Moon series, too. What started as a manga was adapted to the small screen before also inspiring live-action musicals and movies. Naturally, over the years Tokyo has seen its fair share of pop-up cafés inspired by the scouts, but this latest addition might trump them all. Better yet: it’s permanent.
Recognizing that the fanbase for Sailor Moon crosses borders, SHINING MOON TOKYO is designed to bring fans of the series closer to their beloved characters. During the regular performances you’ll see bashful Usagi waking up late for school and her love with Momo-chan blossom. You can watch a serious Rei flip her long black hair and the always excitable Minako/Sailor Venus. Every quirk and characteristic is exaggerated in a recognizable yet believable way.
Merging the delights of a themed café and a live show, this Azabu-Juban gem is sure to fill every fan’s need. Even those not familiar with the Sailor Moon series will be entertained and certainly won’t be left in the middle of a complicated story.
Of the show’s 40 minutes, 20 are dedicated to introducing the original cast: Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Tuxedo Mask. Taking the stage one by one, their signature moves are showcased in the form of choreographed dance and acrobatics. I was in awe at how many practical effects and light tricks, which never hit the stage twice, were incorporated, making this a better experience than tacky 3D projections or pure live reenactments.
The experience isn’t limited to the performance as it also includes a quick meal. The seasonal menu includes main dishes, desserts and a variety of drinks inspired by the characters. Drinks come with a matching coaster. Make sure to keep it dry if you want to take it home!
You’ll certainly want to bring back a little something to help you remember the experience. Located above the dining hall is a small gift shop stocked with official merchandise, including items that are exclusive to the restaurant. With keychains, plushies and T-shirts, fans can dress the part or subtly show off their favorite characters.
Speaking as somebody who isn’t the biggest fan of the series but rather dabbles in the occasional rerun, SHINING MOON TOKYO is a well overdue recognition of Takeuchi’s work and its role in exposing Japanese culture abroad. I would recommend attending with a group of friends. After all, the power of friendship is what Sailor Moon is all about.
Reservations are required. For more information and to reserve your seat, please refer to our Concierge listing.