Monday, November 29, 2010

Fancy Cat: Otaku Karaoke Izakaya in Kichijoji

Name: Fancy Cat
Hours: 10:oo PM-First train
Price: ¥2,100 for the first hour with two drinks;
¥520 for extension (30 minutes)
¥580 for beers and sours
¥20,000 if you puke on the carpet, so stay at home if you can’t hold your liquor
Events: Vocaloid Day, Cosplay Day, All Music Unlocked Day
Address: 1-22-9 2F, Honmachi, Kichijoji (Behind Yodobashi Camera)
Japanese Level: Good enough to prove that you're not a fanny pinching creep.

The Otaking have found their Camelot. Located a kingdom apart from the garish, pandering consumer culture of Akihabara, Fancy Cat is the ultimate secret base, the mom’s basement that earthquake-proof architecture never afforded to socially awkward youth. Here, the currency of conversation is karaoke, and the etiquette is simple: Only anime, game, and tokusatsu songs allowed!

Photography inside the bar is strictly forbidden. Stolen shamelessly from

Though ostensibly a cosplay Izakaya, the harsh bathroom lighting, bookshelves stuffed with manga, and waitresses rocking absolute territory would have you mistake Fancy Cat for an oversized maid cafe. Thankfully, any similarities are superficial. Gone are the prerecorded chirps of “welcome home master.” The espresso machine with its heart-shaped lattes has been scrapped for a beer tap serving frosty brews. Be thankful for the two drink minimum—The sooner you get liquid courage coursing through your veins, the sooner you can throw yourself into the throng of anisong camaraderie.

More intoxicating than the alcohol is the unquestioning acceptance and celebration of all aspects of fandom. SDF Macross has the same amount of street cred as Macross F. Heisei Kamen Rider and Showa Kamen Rider stand on even footing. G-Gundam is the butt of every mecha-related joke, but that doesn’t stop the entire bar from joining in during Flying In The Sky.

Audience participation is not just encouraged, it’s demanded. This wild bunch stands by an unwritten moral code. Song genres should combo until someone breaks it with a Vocaloid track, opening the floor to the next trend. Cat calls and glow sticks are the nomenclature of criticism—Pink for like it, blue for love it. Mad libbing the chorus is preferred, with even the most seemingly spontaneous comments being carefully orchestrated by the crowd. It’s like Rocky Horror for otaku, only with the cross dressing delegated to the third Wednesday of every month.

Photography inside the bar is strictly forbidden. Stolen shamelessly from

Nurtured in this carefully regulated environment, Iyashi-Kei has evolved from passive and noncommittal to proactive and hot-blooded. Despite the perky waitresses and alcohol, Fancy Cat makes it very clear on their signage that they are not a cabaret club. The maids serve to provide an audience, not entertainment, and there is more of a frothing demand to see your fellow nerds perform the latest fad single than the idol who pioneered it.

Livelier than a night at the Izakaya, cozier than any bar, and more accommodating than the neighborhood snack, Fancy Cat is for otaku supermen craving a fortress of solitude where they can revel in their hobby for the sake of pure love, passion, and nostalgia amongst their peers. With the current generation, whose idea of social interaction is commenting on live Niko Niko streams, it’s heartening to know that face-to-face bonding and reckless abandon still have their place in an increasingly fragmented and insulated sub-culture.


  1. I wish there were places like this over in the US. Barns and Nobles have coffee shops and you can read books but that's about it and it's not the same thing as this place.

  2. If they have Get Wild (City Hunter theme) I'm there like, yesterday yo.

  3. They have EVERYTHING. Want to go together?