Robot Restaurant Review
Review by: Geek Girl Mistress Zelda|
Last year, I was lucky enough to go to Japan for a late honeymoon. My husband and I are both very into geek culture as well as history and were excited to see the birthplace of so many franchises and genres we love (heís an anime fan, Iím a Japanese fashion fanatic, we both love Japanese music, games, television and cyberpunk).
Of course, Japan is also known as being home to many of the weirdest, most outrageous things in the world Ė and for good reason. The fashion, entertainment, architecture, mythology, music, food, arts, cars, games Ė everything is made with extra time, care, love, whimsy, tech and artistry. The country is simultaneously set in the ancient past while also being technologically and artistically decades ahead of the rest of the world. Everything is over the top and almost has a cartoonish quality about it. Iíve always been told that ďEverything is bigger in Texas,Ē but it is even truer about Japan. You like arcades? Theyíve got 3 of them, each 8 stories high, within a block of each other. You like toy stores? Theirs are 6 stories tall, each floor a separate theme. You like Disney? They have the most beautifully intricate Disney in the world, Disney Sea, which cost TEN TIMES the amount of any other Disney to open. It is MASSIVE. And BEAUTIFUL. And SO. DETAILED. My husband and I both have worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for over a decade (he in fabrication, myself in video game development), and have been fortunate to be part of some incredible projects on a very intimate level. In fact, my husband often works to build set pieces and rides for various Disney parks around the world, and he said Disney Sea was incomparable to anything heíd ever seen. Everything is cranked up to an 11 in Japan, anything and everything is magnified until the scale is almost too much to take in. Yet their culture is rooted deeply in tradition. Although I live and work in Los Angeles Ė one of the other greatest meccas for art, entertainment, and culture Ė Tokyo was something entirely different than what I have experienced before.
I tell you this only so you know when I say that despite everything in Japan being a complete sensory overload, nothing comes close to comparing to the experience that is Robot Restaurant
, located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. For about $75 US, you can pick up a ticket to one of their nightly shows (with an optional dinner or drink purchase). Even the building is an absolutely psychedelic technicolor cyberpunk nightmare! Their electricity bill must be absolutely outrageous. Cyberpunk is one of my all-time favorite geeky passions, and being in this building and witnessing this show was so surreal, I actually cried when the show first began.
The building is decked out from floor to ceiling in LED lights, high-vis colors like something off a Lisa Frank notebook in the 90s. There are talking robot servers, walls lined with changing screens built into them, glittering chandeliers, and servers in traditional Japanese garb. Itís like someone mashed the most garish Vegas buildings with Disneyís electric light parade. Not a single surface is untouched.
The guests are led upstairs through several flights of stairs Ė each completely covered in weird, 3D, glowing art Ė to a staging area before the show. Here, several robot servers invite you to purchase drinks and hang out in giant lush chairs with mirrored tables. After spending some time chatting with the robot servers, the guests are again led down several flights of stairs to the stage. The building is labyrinthine, the experience is disorienting, are we dreaming? Is this real life? Iíve never experienced something that made me feel like I was on another planet like this Ė no drugs needed!
Even the building canít prepare us for the show itself. The stage consists of one long, center runway, surrounded on both sides by 3 rows of stadium style seating. Behind the seating the walls are lined with screens which change setting depending on what is happening on the floor. The show starts with tycho drummers rolling out on the stage in elaborate costumes on what appears to be a parade float. The drums and the dancers are imposing and the auditory and visual impact is almost deafening and blinding. What is this place?
The show lasts for about an hour and a half with a small break in the middle when a robot server appears to once again sell drinks. Again Ė my husband has worked in building sets and machinery and theme parks for almost his entire adult life, and he is a bizarre mad scientist when it comes to the toys he builds in his free time. And he AINíT SHIT compared to what we saw here. I donít know how many contraptions, robots, dancers, parade floats, giant mechanical animatronic vehicles and monsters roll out on stage during the course of an hour and a half. Nothing stays out there for more than maybe 3 minutes at a time. To spend so much time building these marvels, only to be seen for a few short minutes! There is a giant bird shooting smoke at a dinosaur breathing flames, now a warrior is riding a mechanical dragon, now the room goes totally dark with light up dancers performing amidst laser beams, now there are people on stilts, guitarists on bungee cords, I canít keep up! There are martial artists and weapon battles, dancers, musicians, aerialists, all performing on moving, light up monstrosities while the story unveils on the screens that line the walls.
Holy shit, I am literally in tears as I write this again. Itís amazing. Itís the single greatest thing Iíve ever experienced, and Iíve had a remarkably interesting life. As I leave the building I know nothing will be the same again. Iím a changed person. Iíve seen the future, and the future is good. This is the neon cyberpunk utopia Iíve been waiting for.
Robot Restaurant Website
By: Geek Girl Mistress Zelda
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September 01 2016