San Antonio will soon have its own Japanese arcade, jam-packed with Japanese toys and games.
Named Otaku Café
, after the Japanese word for people who are obsessed with Japanese anime and manga, the arcade will feature 18 Japanese game machines, including popular titles like BlazBlue
, Street Fighter IV
, and Marvel vs. Capcom
. They will have Japanese games most people haven’t heard of, including Rumble Fish
, Melty Blood
, and Rage of Dragons
. They will also sell Japanese toys, pins, apparel, and other goodies.
Owners Ricardo Polendo and Richard Giron have a long history of fandom, dating back to 1996 as high school students. As teens, they bonded over video games and cartoons. When Polendo and Giron discovered anime – Japanese animation – they were spirited away to a new level of nerdiness.
And they amassed enormous collections of anime memorabilia.
Eventually, they got the idea to sell Japanese toys at anime and comic book conventions. They also began to buy Japanese arcade machines and bring them to events, like Mini Mini Con
and San Japan
Those machines were wildly popular. So much so, it helped motivate them to turn their part-time convention store into a full-time San Antonio shop.
Last fall, I tagged along with Polendo and Giron as they searched for a building to create this nerd haven. We looked at several locations, but none of them fully met their needs. They needed a space with sufficient parking that could stay open late for events.
"[The shop] has to feel like a convention, or what’s the point?" Giron says.
Fortunately for San Antonio, they finally found a place for Otaku Café.
Their grand opening occurs on Saturday, January 17 at 5525 Blanco Road. Fans and curious onlookers alike can expect raffles, cosplayers, and an opportunity to play any of their arcades machines for free.