PHOTO BY KEN YU Senior and Vice President of Anime Anonymous Thanakrit Naisanguansri socializes with guests at his table. The café is an annual event hosted by the club, but the COVID precautions have relocated the café from its usual venue in the MPR to the pancake.

Anime Anonymous Blossoming Sakura Café returns after two-year hiatus

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Anime Anonymous hosted their annual Blossoming Sakura Café on April 19 at the Pancake. Admission was free; students and staff were encouraged to watch performances, play cards, and drink boba.

The event opened with the servers greeting everyone with the Japanese phrase “okaerinasaimase” which translates to “welcome back”. This was just one of the aspects of Anime Anonymous’s café that simulated cafés in Japan.

“We were trying to make [our café] kind of similar to the one in Japan,” Anime Anonymous president and senior Ryan Giberti said. “Obviously, we can’t get it perfect, but it’s kind of like this except there would be more food and performances. Mainly everyone in the staff would perform, but I understand that not everyone in the staff feels comfortable with that.”

The servers were dressed in costumes, the most popular being maid outfits. Senior Mickley Ngo embraces the cosplaying opportunity being a server in the café allows.

“[At the café] I get to hang out with friends more, and I get to dress up at school; when people ask, that’s advertising for the club,” Ngo said. “[Dressing up] is a special occasion. I do want to cosplay in the future, but right now, since I am dependent on my parents, I can’t do that by myself, so I have to have an excuse to do it. So, this was the excuse.”

Anime Anonymous’s café not only attracted current students, but also alumni. Kelly Loc, a graduate from 2019, wanted to check up on the club she used to be president of.

“I wanted to see how the club was doing and how they are handling the annual cafe we do,” Loc said. “With the pandemic going around, it’s pretty different because we usually go into the MPR, and we also had food, but this year we only have boba.”

The relocation and food restrictions due to the pandemic were only some of many issues the Anime Anonymous cabinet faced in preparing for the café. Despite this, Giberti is confident that they overcame these problems and that the café was a success overall.

“[The preparation] was pretty stressful,” Giberti said. “We were limited on a lot of things due to the pandemic, so we are lucky this even happened. Our biggest challenges were the paperwork, trying to get the right signatures for things, and trying to get the approval, [but] it was way better than I thought it was going to be, and I could not have asked for more.”

This year’s Blossoming Sakura Café was the club’s first in-person café in two years, since the pandemic began. Despite the challenges in preparation, the café was able to entertain its audience through a variety of performances and table games and hope to plan another next year.

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