Middle East

Mickey Mouse meets manga at biggest anime cafe in Saudi Arabia


JEDDAH: Fans of Japanese animation are looking forward to the opening on Thursday of Geek Cafe, the biggest anime-themed cafe in Jeddah.

The venue has been designed as a dream location for admirers of anime and Japanese comics, or manga, as Arab News discovered during a sneak peek ahead of the official opening.

More than 1,000 anime action figures and 300 manga publications on display cater to the various sections of the otaku community — the Japanese name for those with an all-consuming interest in a subject, in particular anime and manga — while the cafe also includes a manga reading hall, a board game section and an action figure store. 

Guests arriving at the Geek Cafe are greeted by a life-size action figure of the character Zoro from the “One Piece” manga series. From there they have a number of seating options, including a bar-style area, couches, chairs and even bean bags for a more relaxed experience.

A huge 3-meter-high mural features famous characters from anime and manga hits such as “Pokemon,” “One Piece,” “Digimon” and “One Punch Man,” along with Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

Food and drink options on the menu are also Japanese-inspired, with names to match, such as Sakura, the cafe’s signature drink named after the manga heroine. The background music consists mainly of anime songs. 

“I was always into anime and games, and there was no place where people like us could gather, so I decided to create a place that connected the otaku community,” Mohammed Farahat, the owner of Geek Cafe, told Arab News.

“The vibe of the cafe is welcoming, like a stay-a-while environment where you can come alone and meet people with the same interests. We cater to all; we even have more than 100 board games for our board game society.”

One challenge Farahat faced when planning the cafe was tracking down limited-edition action figures to put on display, as in some cases that are only 100 of them available. Ensuring the figures passed through customs safely was another issue. 

The cafe plans to host workshops covering subjects such as cosplay, manga illustration and drawing for anime, along with special meet-and-greet events. Arab News was joined at the cafe preview by YouTubers, bloggers and other social media influencers.

“The cafe is very diverse,” Muhannad Hafiz, owner of YouTube channel Anime Ghost, told Arab News. “If you want to see action figures, play board games or just want to drink coffee and chill, you can do all that.”

Gamer and YouTuber TMFaisal, said: “This place has three great features: Good food, cool decoration and many activities. What I like the most is the mix of activities that it covers, and it has everything a person needs. There is a section for manga readers that is really chilling.”

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Bador Al-Hthiel, a gamer who live streams on Twitch, said: “I like how they went the extra mile by bringing limited-edition action figures to make the cafe special, and they put in extra effort when they commissioned a whole wall painting dedicated to our favorite heroes.”



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