Otomate Cafe

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OtomateCafe_1No new art book review, instead I thought I’d share my experience from earlier this year at the Otomate Café.

There are two Otomate cafes in Japan, one in Osaka and one in Akihabara.  I went to the one in Akihabara (located inside the Pasela Resorts Akiba Multi Entertainment on the 2nd floor).

You can make reservations by getting tickets ahead of time (I don’t speak Japanese, so I have no idea how to do this, but there are websites that explain this) or you can do what I did and try your luck and see if they have a table available the same day you visit (I stayed in the Tokyo area the whole trip so I had time to do this). They keep tweaking this process, but when I went, you lined up at 10am outside the café in the stairwell, they open the stairwell door at 10am to let you in to the café area and will let you know if there are any seats available that day. I would suggest going in the middle of the week since people are in school/working. Also I think a group of 4 or less is probably the biggest they can accommodate this way. The café staff do not speak English, but they try really hard to help you.  They are really nice.

When you walk in to the Pasela Resorts building walk past the elevators and there is a door to a stairwell, go up two flights and you’ll see a sign that says the door will open at 10am to let you in to check for available seating that day. Get there early (we were in line by 9:30am, but give yourself plenty of time to figure out where to go too!).  We went with a group of 4, middle of the week, and were able to get the 1st seating possible (which was lunch!).

The staff will ask you to arrive a few minutes before your seating so they may go over some rules and lead you into the café.

When you sit down, you are given an iPad which is used to order your food.  The table has a placemat face down and when you flip it over it’s a poster for an Otomate game!  I noticed people at the cafe who had these large plastic books which they could store their mats in! Very cool, I have no idea where they purchased them. Here are the placemats we received at our table:

Every time you order an item from the menu, you are given a coaster which also has an Otomate game design on it.  Here are the ones I received:

I took pictures of the menu, but they aren’t that sharp.  The Otomate website has the menu posted, but you can see what was available when I visited.

There is also a raffle draw each day at each sitting. I don’t know what you win, but I’m sure it’s some cute merchandise.

When you leave, they give you pins based off every ¥1000 (~$10CDN) you spend on your bill.  They are cute.

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Final Thoughts
The food was really good.  The experience was wonderful. The merchandise is really cute and a neat souvenir. For someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, the hardest part was figuring out how to get in. I will definitely be back again. If you’re planning on going, let me know if I can help.

Happy eating!

Natsume Yuujincho (Natsume’s Book of Friends)

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Natsume_1I’m sorry again for the lengthy delay between posts. My trip to Japan earlier this year was bittersweet. My father passed away a week before my trip and I haven’t really thought about posting here. I was recently organizing my bookshelf and saw all my pretty art books sitting there. I decided to start again with a show that is close to my heart.

Natsume’s Book of Friends is my favourite anime.  I’ve pretty much watched the show in a loop over the past 6 months as it is relaxing, comforting, and has the right amount of sweetness.  It’s also beautifully animated with a wonderful soundtrack.

The story in short: A boy with the power to see spirits learns more about his grandmother through them. It’s a slice of life about friends and family. Natsume Yuujincho started as a manga series running in the shojo magazine LALA DX (2005-2007) and then in LALA (2008 onwards).  As of today’s date, 22 volumes have been released in Japan, and 20 volumes have been released in English by Viz Media. Around 8-10 drama CDs have also been released (I’m finally teaching myself Japanese and these are a fun way to get familiar with speech patterns and learn vocabulary). There are 6 seasons of the anime currently released on Crunchyroll.

Season 1 – Natsume Yūjin-chō (July 2008): Episodes 13
Season 2 – Zoku Natsume Yūjin-chō (January 2009): Episodes 13
Season 3 – Natsume Yūjin-chō San (July 2011): Episodes 13
Season 4 – Natsume Yūjin-chō Shi (January 2012): Episodes 13
Season 5 – Natsume Yūjin-Chō Go (October 2016): Episodes 11
Season 6 – Natsume Yūjin-chō Roku (April 2017): Episodes 11

I can only hope a seventh season will be announced soon.  Seasons 1 through 4 were released in beautiful premium edition box sets which also contained art books/episode guides (I’ll review them at a later date).  I hope Seasons 5 and 6 will be released in a similar style. These images don’t do the box sets justice.  They are very much worth it.

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I picked up this book on my second trip to Japan in February 2015. My friend found it while we were scanning the shelves at a Bookoff in Akihabara.

This book contains 100 glossy colour pages.  The first page is a pull out poster:Natsume_2

The book also has various promotional pictures, episode summaries for the third and fourth seasons, and discussions with the voice actors. There are also sections for an in-depth look at each of the characters and reference photos for places in the anime.

The book ends with some promotional merchandise pages because who can resist Nyanko Sensei!


Final thoughts
Obviously I love this book. Objectively, it’s best suited for a fan of the show as someone not familiar with the show will not feel that it stands out. The best medium for this show is animation as the music, voice actors, and ability to pan across the landscapes really enhance this wonderful story.
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Price: ¥1500   (paid ¥800  in Japan – Bookoff)
Publisher: PASH! ANIMATION FILE Vol.10 (Seikatsu Series)
Artist: Yuki Midorikawa
Pages: 100
Date: June 1, 2012
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4-391-63278-1

Jewelic Nightmare

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jewelic_1Jewelic Nightmare is an otome game released by Otomate in December 2013 for the PSP. The game in short: you meet boys in another world that you know in real life with a different personality.

I picked up this book on my second trip to Japan in February 2015. I remember sitting on the floor going through each shelf carefully at the Mandarake in Akihabara and finding it on the very last shelf I was looking at. I was so happy I found it! This game uses gems as a theme!  In the real world the boys work in a café.  I love sparkly things and pastries so it seems like it was designed for me! This was one of the books on my must find list that trip.

This book is 143 pages and contains the traditional sections. The first is the art gallery which has full page spreads of pretty pictures. The second section is the event CGs from each of the routes you can take.  The third section is character designs and finally we have rough drafts/notes/designs ideas.  Otomate’s  website for this game also has a bunch of pictures and media for you to view/download.

Final thoughts

I love this book!  Mostly because it combines gems and baking.  I love the artwork. The eyes for each of the boys are so sparkly! I’m also a fan of the chibi artwork! I’m definitely happy I found and picked up this book for my collection.

Price: ¥2800   (paid ¥1800  in Japan – Mandarake)
Publisher: HIFMI SHOBO
Artist: Kana Yamamoto
Pages: 143
Date: March 28, 2014
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4-89199-237-8

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Musketeer Official Fan Book

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musketeer_1Musketeer Le Sang Des Chevaliers is an otome game released by Otomate in July 2011 for the PSP. The game in short: after her father has been killed by monsters, D’Artagnan decides to become a musketeer to find out why her father was killed. At her new school she meets 3 musketeers to aid in her revenge.

I picked up this book on my first trip to Japan in February 2012. I bought it at this awesome store called Lashinbang in Ikebukuro.  If you ever get to go to Otome road, don’t miss this store!

The art book is pretty, but already feels dated to me. The artwork is angular (weird angles so everyone has the same pointy nose) and the pictures don’t convey any warmth or life to me when I look at them. To me everything feels distant or clinical and not inviting.

This book is 111 pages and contains 4 sections. The first is the full page spreads of pretty pictures. The second section has 2 pages for each character with their profile/character information as well as a picture of their various expressions, outfits, and chibi version!  There also seems to be a question/answer area for each character but I’m not sure what it says. The third section is pictures of each of the routes you can follow.  Finally we end with the voice actors, background images, other character costume designs, and an answer guide for each route if you were to play the game!

Final thoughts

Overall, I’d probably purchase this book again. I like having it on my shelf. It’s not my favourite art book but the story seems fun. I do appreciate revenge plots. The art just isn’t my favourite style. I think the chibi pictures are the cutest (but I do have a preference for them when done well)!

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Price: ¥2800   (paid ¥2200  in Japan – Lashinbang)
Publisher: ASCII Media Works
Artist: Kiriya Takashi
Pages: 111
Date: December 22, 2011
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 4942330050491

FANTASTIC ART OF WINGFIELD

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Sorry for the delay between postings.  I do have some good news!  I’m going to Japan early next month for vacation and excited to pick up some new art books. I’m trying to make my list.  Let me know if there are any books you’re looking for me to review and perhaps I’ll see if I can find it! I’m hoping to post more often and make this site look better over the next year.

Tsubasa no Oka no Hime ~ A red & blue moon -finite loop- (Princess of Wingfield) is one of my favourite books in my collection.  It’s from an otome game released in 2011. The art book came out in 2012.

The story in short, our heroine is reincarnated every 19 years and has a battle with her nemesis. Please note this is an R18 rated game.
wingfield_3I played a bit of this game with a bunch of my girlfriends and we had a lot of fun time. We appreciated the fact that there was some ethnic diversity for one of the leads, rare to see in otome games.

The art work is beautiful.  I love the art style and colours. I love the use of pink and green together.  The book is well organized.  The index is in English which is helpful for me! It starts with a bunch of two page full colour spreads and then continues on to each character summary and images from their route. The last 20 pages includes 11 different stories.

Final thoughts
As I said, this is one of my favourite books in my collection.  I must have a thing for pastel colours. It’s rated 18+ and does have nudity throughout the book.  It’s nice seeing a woman who’s happy with her sexuality and looks like she’s actually enjoying herself.
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Price: ~$50CDN (ordered online through CD Japan – retails for ¥2800)
Publisher: Vac creative
Artist: Akutsu Yoshiya
Pages: 112
Date: May 30, 2012
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4-7767-9606-0

SNOW BOUND LAND OFFICIAL ART BOOK

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Snowbound_1I love fairy tales.  Snow Bound Land is based off the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen. This otome game came out in 2013 for the Playstation Portable (PSP), the art book a few months later in 2014.  There were also three drama CDs which came out between 2013-2014, and a 280 page light novel was released in 2015 in Japan.

I picked up this book in 2015 in Akihabara at Mandarake.  I have had a lot of luck at that location for finding art books.

As usual, this art books starts with a full page art gallary. The art work by Aya Murasaki is beautiful:


Next is the event gallary for each character’s route. The images in this section are half a page in size and include some text in Japanese which I’m assuming would be the text from the same scene in the game. After that is a chibi gallary which is super adorable and also includes a chibi comic in Japanese. The last section has various images for each character such as each of the characters various facial expressions, wardrobe, and design sketches.  Finally there is an index of where all the full images in this art book were originally printed/released.

Final Thoughts
I love the use of soft muted colours in this book. The images give you a feeling of everything being cold but without resorting to using only greys and blues.The colours used feel like they would be used in a fairy tale book. I’m also a big fan of chibi art work and this book has a whole section on it which I love!  This was one of the art books I had my eye on before I headed to Japan and I’m so happy I was able to find it for my collection.

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Price: ¥2800 (I paid ¥1800 – used in Japan at Mandarake in Akihabara)
Publisher: Hifumi Shobo/Office Six
Artist: Aya Murasaki
Pages: 153
Date: January 31, 2014
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4891992316

Amnesia Official Visual Fan Book

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IMG_4346Amnesia has a ton of art books! Makes sense since there are a number of related games:

  • Amnesia (Released in Japan 2011)
  • Amnesia Later (Released in Japan 2012)
  • Amnesia Crowd (Released in Japan 2013)
  • Amnesia Memories (Released in Japan 2013 and North America 2015)
  • Amnesia World (Released in Japan 2014)
  • Amnesia Later x Crowd V Edition (Released in Japan 2014)

I am currently playing through Amnesia Memories. I hope some of the others are translated. This art book is from the first game.

I picked this book up in Japan in 2015.  I can’t remember where.  Likely in Akihabara. The book has a lot of pages and is quite heavy.  The paper quality is nice and thick to showcase the beautiful art work.

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There are lots of sections in this book. There’s a gallery which has full page images; Character profiles for each character including our heroine; Next are the story pictures for each characters route.  These images are roughly half page and are a nice size.  Finally we end on Special Contents which includes voice actor profiles, a short story for each character, pencil sketches, and finally a game guide.

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Final thoughts
I bought this book prior to playing any of the Amnesia games. I liked the cover of this book and couldn’t stop flipping through once I had my hands on it. I like the art style and the use of bold colours.  I also enjoy all the pictures of the desserts.  They all look so tasty. I am happy I picked up this book for my collection and considering getting some others.

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Price: ¥2835   (I paid paid ~¥1800 in Japan )
Publisher: Enterbrain (September 30, 2011)
Artist: 花邑まい
Pages: 143
Date: Sept 30, 2011
ISBN: 978-4047275805

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Pandora Hearts ~odds and ends~

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This is one of those art books that I had pined over for quite a while but couldn’t justify spending a lot of money to have it shipped from Japan. So, I went to Japan in February 2012 and picked it up myself! I bought it new at Animate in Ikebukuro. You can now buy it on Amazon.ca  or at Indigo for like $40 in English. Pandora Hearts is a manga series which ended in 2015.  There are 24 volumes. An anime was created in 2009 with 25 episodes. In short, it’s a story about a boy who has a really bad 15th birthday party. Actually, it’s about a boy trying to unravel a mystery.

This art book covers volumes 1-10 of the manga, some art work from the Pandora Hearts Official Guide – “Mine of Mine”, and has some original art work from the Pandora Hearts world.  There is also some art work from Crimson Shell which is a one-shot manga story from artist Jun Mochizuki.

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This is a heavy book with a lot of glossy pages and thicker paper than I’ve seen from most art books. There are full page or double paged images from the various sources as I listed above. Next are images from the manga series, and then a lot of rough sketches which are really detailed. There are some notes and comments from Jun throughout.

The art book comes in this nice black slip case.  The cutout on the front is something that is seen through out the book to emphasize the art work or to be playful as you can see below.

Final thoughts
This is a beautiful art book that is put together really well.  It would look wonderful on your bookshelf and a welcome addition to any collection. A second art book for this series has come out and I plan on picking it up sometime.

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Price: ¥2800 (I paid ¥2800 in Japan Ikebukuro Animate)IMG_4340
Publisher: Square Enix
Artist: Jun Mochizuki
Pages: ~168
Date: Sept 26, 2009
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4757526747

 

 

Beast Master and Prince Official Visual Fan Book

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IMG_4004Moujuutsukai to Ouji-sama (Beast Master and Prince) is an otome game that came out in Japan in 2010.  A fandisc (additional content to the game) called Moujuutsukai to Ouji-sama ~Snow Bride~ came out in 2011. There is currently a Kickstarter to localize the game for the English market called Beast Master and Prince ~Flower and Snow~ (this Kickstarter is a compilation of the original Beast Master and Prince game (2010) and the Beast Master and Prince ~Snow Bride~ fandisc (2011) game).

I have not yet played this game. I’m hoping they will reach their goal, so please support this Kickstarter if you can so we can have another game to play! It ends March 12, 2016. They also have a new art book that you can add on to one of the pledge tiers. I look forward to seeing it! In short, it’s a story about a girl and animals.

I bought this art book in Japan in February 2015, used at Mandarake in Akihabara.

The book starts with about 7 full sized pages of images. Lots of group shots here.

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We then move in to the Character Profiles and story event images. This section actually has a flow chart of the game and highlights the correct answers you should make to unlock the images as you progress through the game. Each character gets a section and this is the longest section of the book.

We end with a special content section. All the text is in Japanese, but it looks like a short story and staff interviews. There are also rough sketches of some of the event images. Also included are the background images and comments for each of the illustrations that we saw at the beginning of the book.


Final thoughts
I recommend this book. It’s colourful, it’s bright, it’s beautiful. I love to flip through this book and look at the pictures. I look forward to playing this game and finally having some context to the pictures. There are nice sized images throughout this book.

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Price: ¥2400 (I paid ¥2200)
Publisher: ASCII Media Works
Artist: Hifumi Shobo/MIKO
Pages:  111
Date: September 15, 2010
Language: Japanese
ISBN: 978-4048688420

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Vampire Knight DS-Complete Guide

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Vampire Knight_DS_1Vampire Knight came out with an otome game in 2009 for the Nintendo DS. You play as Yuki. There are 7 chapters in the game and you unlock images as you move through the story. There are also several mini-games to play:

  • Confiscate forbidden items from school bags;
  • Catch students sneaking around campus at night;
  • Peek through the windows of the Night class dorm without them noticing;
  • Sort letters/gifts for the Night class as they are thrown by the Day class;
  • Learn to dance with one of the boys;
  • Dress up the boys in various outfits.

A Complete Guide to the game also came out in 2009 which contains character profiles, a section for each route Vampire Knight_DS_2and the images you can unlock for each boy (including the secret route), a guide to show you how to unlock all the images in the good route and the bad route, and some pencil sketches of the images. The game and the guide are both in Japanese.

Final thoughts
This Guide contains all the images from the game. There is also a map in this Guide for each area which is a helpful resource since it can be a little confusing navigating the game. There are nice sized images in this Guide. The DS screen is pretty small but the images in this Guide are large and crisp for you to enjoy.

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Title: Vampire Knight DS – Complete Guide
Price: ¥2100   (I purchased for ¥1260 – used in Japan at Mandarake in Akihabara )
Publisher: Enterbrain – B’s Log Collection
Artist: Hino Matsuri
Pages: 119
Date: June 1, 2009 (I purchased the game and the guide in 2012)
ISBN: 978-4757748675