And by “assaulted” I mean my senses were overloaded, stupefied, and confused by the bright laser-pew-pew lights, heart-pounding drums, music, and singing, and ridiculously clever routines that define the Robot Restaurant and its fiercely entertaining show. Quite a mouthful, right? Let me explain.
It was a rainy night. We had spent a good part of the evening strolling around the neighborhoods of Tokyo: Shibuya, Kabukicho (Tokyo’s red light district), and many other commercial areas. The rain didn’t deter the Japanese whose clear umbrellas with white handles filled the streets. So after seeing those sights, we thought we had seen the craziness that is Tokyo. Wrong.
We made it back to Shinjuku and Robot Restaurant, which no one could possibly miss. It seemed as though you could hear the synchronized Japanese girl voices screaming cute angry words from a mile away via its billboards’ loudspeakers. Meanwhile, the strobe lighting attracted people like bugs.
After getting our tickets, we were led to a side alley where we entered Robot Restaurant. Remember how Alice went through that rabbit hole and entered a whole new whole? That was basically what happened to us. I believe the owner got the funding to build this restaurant like this:
Investor: So, what’s the idea?
Owner: Hai! We will surround them with the brightest, most colorful, insanely strange things to boggle their minds and make them go into an uncontrollable seizure-trance. Then we will provide them with cheap booze and inadequate amounts of food so they’d be in such a state of weakness that when we show them the madness that is the show, they will shake violently, relinquishing all the money in their pockets for us to collect.
Investor: Here’s 120 millions yen. Build this place. NOW!
Yeah. Be prepared to be bedazzled in this bright and colorful world, with mirrors aplenty and things all glittered. The first area we entered was this wonderful retro lounge (still insanely colorful and glittery) where you can get beer and whatever else you’d like. Here, a band dressed like Daft Punk will entertain you with classics from the seventies and eighties. Towards the end of the lounge session, a singer dressed in sequin belted out Japanese songs to get you into the mood. Then we were led to the dungeon and to our seats.
No one knew what to expect. Or maybe they did. I didn’t. The audience sat on opposite sides with the middle of the room free for performers to prance around and do their stuff. The lights went out. Giant moving platforms moved across the stage via remote controllers (yes, like those R/C helicopter controllers). We were warned beforehand to turn our phones to airplane mode to not interfere with the signal. Stage lights came on, focusing on drummers high on platforms opposite each other. Silence.
Then… madness ensued.
I don’t really know how to describe what went on from that point. The first set was this rhythmic drums/yelling combination thing that made me so happy I wanted to cry. All this happened as platforms carrying performers moved in circles around the audience – needless to say, no seat was a bad seat.
The lights went out after the first set and we were too stunned to know what to do. So I guess we clapped. Then electric guitars filled the room. Again, drums pounded our ears. This time, dancers enthralled us as you can see in the video below. Note, this video was taken with my phone and does a gross injustice to the real experience. But you can infer from the video what kind of a show it was. I have to give mad props to the set and costume designers, although I don’t think the job would have been very difficult to carry out. I could have done it using this simple method: Is it crazy enough? Yes? Multiple it by 10. Bam.
The third act blew my mind and I was too feeble to record any videos. All I can say is that at some point Kung Fu Panda was involved, maniacal laser shooting alien demons were destroying magical mermaids, a gorilla equipping a dinosaur with a cannonball was electrocuted, and other wildly unfathomable events occurred. After this performance, we had intermission in a room filled with smoke and dazed human beings looking for answers.
When the show resumed, shiny robots came out and circled us for what seemed like half an hour blaring music and doing crazy things.
We left the show satisfied, horrified, and electrified. In conclusion, go see this show if you’re going to Japan. Just do it! Though… after the show we discussed what the experience would have been like if we had taken some form of psychedelics. Please don’t. I think you’d literally implode.
I took a few shots. It was dark so some of these pictures didn’t come out well. But… enjoy anyway.