Fan-focused food fun is a 30th-birthday party for the fantasy franchise, and also the only restaurant in Japan where you can DRINK jellyfish.

Slayers started as a novel serial way back in 1989, but it really started soaring in popularity with its first TV anime adaptation in 1995. That success led to multiple sequel series, theatrical features, and direct-to-video installments, and after an 18-year hiatus, author Hajime Kanzaka restarted the mainline of the fantasy novel series in 2018, breathing new life into the franchise with the latest book published just last October.

Now Slayers has come to its next spot on the comeback trial, with its very own themed cafes in Tokyo and Osaka!

Announced right after the start of the new year, the Slayers Cafe, officially called the Slayers Cafe Doramata-tei, is a collaborative effort with the Good Smile Animate Cafe chain. Naturally, the Tokyo branch is located in the Akihabara neighborhood, on the fifth floor of the Akiba Cultures Zone building.

▼ It’s right next to the cosplay supply department of the building, which is why there’s a shrine maiden mannequin near the door.

Several pieces of new art, featuring the cast of characters in waitstaff uniforms, were created by series illustrator Rui Araizumi to celebrate the restaurant’s opening, with autographed versions in a display case outside the entrance.

▼ The life-size standees really drive home how petite protagonist Lina is.

Because the Good Smile Animate Cafe regularly switches up its themes, they haven’t gone all out in recreating a medieval tavern. There’s plenty of artwork on display, though, with large banners, place mats, and monitors all proudly displaying beautiful sorcery genius Lina Inverse and her adventure companions.

▼ No characters from the oft-maligned third TV season, Slayers Try, to be found, though.

It should also be noted that the Slayers Cafe is an inarguable fan-pleaser with its musical selection, which is a non-stop rotation of theme songs from across the franchise, several performed by Lina voice actress Megumi Hayashibara. There’re even a few English versions of the songs thrown into the mix.

Everything on the menu has some sort of connection to the series. Most of the food items are connected to some world-building detail from the novels, since much like Japan, just about every town or region in the Slayers universe has a local dish they’re famous for (with Lina’s desire to eat them kick-starting many story lines). The drinks, meanwhile, are primarily visual salutes to their respective character inspirations.

For example, the Black Dragon’s Tribute (980 yen [US$8.90]) is a callback to the Slayers Special 4 novel. The dragon wafer is edible, and the meat is actually pork, stir fried with cabbage in a sesame miso sauce.

And the Running Mushroom individual-size hotpot (980 yen) references the Autumn Taste Competition chapters of Slayers Special 7.

While the Slayers theme is temporary, the cafe itself is constantly in business, and the chefs’ experience translates into incredibly tasty food that satisfies even if you’re not familiar with those specific parts of the franchise. However, should you be wanting a bit more atmosphere, a table at the front of the restaurant is populated with compact super-deformed standees of the core cast which customers are invited to take back to their seats for photo sessions.

▼ There are even two versions of Lina, in both her TV anime and newest novel costumes.

More so than the food, though, fans of the Slayers anime are likely to be drawn to the drinks, such as the Gourry Gabriev (600 yen), named after the dim-witted wielder of the Sword of Light.

Gourry is regularly said to be so dumb he must jellyfish for brains, and sure enough, the ingredients for the drink (which comes with a glowing ice cube) are listed as soda, blue syrup, hyuganatsu citrus ice cream, whipped cream, and jellyfish.

Haha wacky, right? Curious as to what kind of candy or confectionary they’d made the “jellyfish” out of, I grabbed a bit with my chopsticks, popped it in my mouth, and instantly solved the mystery. It turns out the “jellyfish” is…

…straight-up jellyfish. I swear to God, they whipped up a delicious ice cream float, then topped it with a pinch of marine invertebrate.

▼ I honestly didn’t know whether to be impressed or terrified, so I went with both.

Amazingly, though, the drink still tastes great. Jellyfish actually doesn’t have much flavor on its own, so it doesn’t get in the way of or clash with the sweetness of the other ingredients. Stirring it into the drink even adds some interesting texture. I’m not saying I think it’s going to become the next tapioca bubble, with cafes tossing it willy-nilly into everything they can, but “Whoa, this jellyfish desert drink is delicious!” is definitely one of the bigger restaurant surprises I’ve had in a long time.

Things are quite a bit more straightforward with the Amelia Wil Tesla Saillune, which is royal milk tea (because Amelia is the princess of the holy kingdom of Saillune/Seyruun) topped with strawberry whipped cream and dragée candies, colored like the orb the bare-knuckle-fighting white mage wears on her chest. There’s also a cookie with the crest of Saillune on it, which you can either eat by itself or scoop some of the whipped cream onto.

▼ Also up to you: whether or not you want to point dramatically and make declarations about the importance of love and justice before you take your first sip.

Along with more affordable prices than many other anime themed cafes, the Slayers Cafe has a particularly generous coaster policy, giving you a character art disc not just for drink orders, but for food ones as well.

▼ Lina and Gourry? Felt like I’d won the lottery.

If you want even more goodies, though, there’s also an in-cafe merchandise corner with exclusive items like plastic mini standees…

tea cups with the words for Lina’s town-leveling black magic incantation, the Dragon Slave, written on them

…even more coasters…

…and, if you happened to recently slay a dragon and acquire the serpent’s vast riches for yourself, the digital remaster Blu-ray box set of all the Slayers movies and OVAs, for the princely sum of 41,800 yen (US$380), or about 70 Slayers Cafe character drinks.

▼ Note to self: Ask boss for 41,800-yen increase in expense account.

On the other end of the wallet-busting scale: strolling around the restaurant to check out the autographs from Megumi Hayashibara

Rui Araizumi

…and Hajime Kanzaka.

There’s also a guest book where customers and encouraged to write messages and draw fan art, and, as always, coaster trading is an easy way to strike up conversations with fellow fans, and on this day, you could hear conversations among customers in Japanese, English, and Chinese, speaking to the Slayers’ international popularity. Touchpad ordering is also a snap, even if you don’t speak the local language.

Two things to be aware of if you’re planning to go: First, while the Slayers Cafe doesn’t take reservations, you generally can’t just roll up and plop yourself down in a seat. Instead, you’ll need to get a seating ticket from the staff at the entrance, which will let you know which 90-minute time block to come back at the start of. On my visit, I ended up with about a 50-minute wait, but the ticket means you don’t have to stand in line for that time, and I’m guessing if the idea of a Slayers Cafe appeals to you, your hobbies are probably such that killing an hour or two in Akihabara isn’t a problem. Second, the merchandise shop can only be used by customers eating at the cafe.

The Slayers Cafe runs until February 17.

Cafe information
Good Smile Animate Cafe (Akihabara) / グッドスマイル×アニメイトカフェ(秋葉原店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Soto Kanda 1-7-6, Akiba Cultures Zone, 5th floor
東京都千代田区外神田1-7-6 AKIBAカルチャーズZONE 5F
Open noon-3:30 p.m., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he learned the Japanese word for “human rights” by watching Slayers.