Our staff writer, the fleshling known as Chris, recently visited Tokyo, Japan. When I heard he planned to attend the Robot Restaurant there, I downloaded a copy of my personality matrix onto his mobile device so that I could attend as well. Following is my review on what you can expect from a show all about robots. How is the level of entertainment? How is the food? The value? And do they accurately capture the robotic experience? Read on, faithful fleshlings.
The Robot Restaurant is really more of a show than a restaurant. You can eat while you watch the show but you can also just watch the show. It’s in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo, Japan and has about 4 shows a night and it pretty much always sells out. So it’s best to buy a ticket ahead of time, as Chris did. After you pick up your ticket (at least 30 minutes before the show or your reservation is canceled and they’ll sell your seat to someone on the street waiting in their standby line), you enter the building and walk up 2 stories to a lounge. There, a robot plays the piano while a human girl in a bikini-esque suit sings songs. Some songs are in Japanese and some are medleys of American songs like Disney animated films.
Spoiler. I believe the robot playing the piano could be a human in disguise. However, there are two other robots upstairs that allow you to push their buttons and talk to you. In English. In fact, almost everything in the show is in English. And most of the patrons were white, not native Japanese. That may tell you what sort of bizarre show you will experience. It appeals to tourists a lot more than locals. But all I care about is robot representation. There is a bar upstairs where humans can ingest alcohol to prepare for their experience.
The show is 90 minutes long but only a bit more than half of that is actual show. At the designated show hour, the humans go down the stairs (so many stairs! why not allow robotic escalators or elevators for all humans, not just handicapped ones?) into the basement. There, they filter into seats with trays. Four rows deep on either side in a long, rectangular room with high ceilings. There are four parts to the show and before and between each, you can go to the floor to buy snacks, beer, or robot souvenirs. These are not true robots but stuffed plush robots or robot banks. However, there is a robot that looks like me advertising soda. He was handsome.
The four segments involve a mixture of humans and robots. And lots of lasers. I like lasers. The first segment is mostly drums and small robots dancing about.
The second segment reminded me of Power Rangers. It was about “evil” alien robots attacking a peaceful world full of girls and mermaids. They defeat the robots. There are, admittedly, some really massive robots so that was cool. I knew they were acting but I wish these robots had thought about how they appear to the human world! It made us look cheesy.
The next segment is mostly humans in robotic gear dancing to techno music and many, many lasers. It is perhaps the most coherent and entertaining segment for humans.
Finally, everything goes insane and the zeroes and ones stop computing properly. Massive robots and bikini girls and people with horse heads begin dancing about to pulsating lights and loud music. It is insanity whether you are robotic or human.
I don’t ingest food but I will allow Chris to share his opinions on it. I had absorbed all the solar radiation I needed that day and was performing at 100% efficiency.
Chris: Thanks, Herman. Yeah, so they give you three options on what to eat. Their online menu, where I bought the tickets helpfully described the options as beef, seafood, or ginger “food.” The ginger food was also beef. I ate the first beef dish and my fiance had the seafood. We both agreed that it was fine. Nothing special. I’d probably recommend eating before or afterwards instead. It wasn’t bad though. My beef dish was something like a thin flank steak cut into bits, put into a sweet sauce and placed over some rice. It tasted good. Not a massive portion but enough. There was also a side dish that I couldn’t quite figure out. Something like coleslaw with some elbow noodles. And another side of some cheese and vegetables and I think a little fish? My fiance’s meal was a simple sushi platter. She liked most of it. She said the salmon and eel were good. She ate about 70% of it. Two of the fish she skipped. One she said was too fishy and the other was rubbery. You’re eating more or less in the dark aside from the flashing lights so it isn’t super easy to tell what is what.
The snacks they offer are small bags of chips and Doritos. Asahi beer in normal and tall sizes (I got a tall). Cotton candy. Popcorn and caramel popcorn. One person in the audience wins a snack, a large popcorn. It was number 101 for us. I suspect it often (or always) could be, since that’s a front row seat and easy to hand something to.
It costs 8,000 Yen for the show. That’s about $80 these days. Maybe a little less. And if you want to add the meal, that’s another 1,000 Yen ($10). That’s for a pretty loud and silly show that adds up to around 45 minutes of showtime. By my calculations that is a reasonable price for such a show with the notable exception that you must enjoy light shows, loud music, weird costumes, pretty girls in bikinis and of course, robots. It is not really Japanese so much as an American idea of what Japanese culture is. Now that you know what you can expect for your money, you are able to make an informed decision!
Of the performers, only about half are robots. The other half is girls, ninjas and centaurs. Or mixes of all of that. However, the robots do come in many varieties. I judge it to be just enough robot to be worth the human monetary units required to experience it. I would give it one robotic gripper but the humans that run this site would give it two out of three thumbs.