Hidden inside Afflecks is a magical Japanese anime-inspired maid cafe where you can watch films by Studio Ghibli and buy drinks inspired by famous anime characters.
First opened in 2019, the cafe is the only one in the UK of it has kind and has had various different iterations over the years – first starting life off as a shop downstairs before moving onto the second floor.
Based inside its current unit for two years now, in the past few months, its owners have expanded the space to add on a proper Japanese-style sakura cafe behind the shop – complete with upside-down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and its very own sakura tree.
Neon lights and anime murals cover the walls, there’s a stage covered in plants, ring lights that customers are welcome to use for filming, and, in one corner, a bookshelf filled with anime books that the maids have found in charity shops.
Customers, the maids tell us, are welcome to pick any of these up for a read whilst visiting. The cafe also offers a service to customers to come in and resell their old anime comics to the cafe for a much better price than they might get elsewhere.
On our visit, we meet two of the cafe’s seven resident maids – Ria and Gia. Both are dressed in cosplay Japanese maid outfits, Maid Gia also has furry black and brown cat ears on her head, whilst Maid Ria is sporting black and red dragon wings.
They are keen to stress that, whilst the cafe does draw its inspiration from Japan’s maid cafe culture, unlike in Japan in no way are they wanting to be fetishised.
Over there, customers commonly call the maid’s “Princess” and vice versa are called “master”. Here at Affleck’s, the focus is more on having fun – not on sexualising the intimacy between customer and maid.
“In their cafes, […] master and princess is like kind of like fetishist names […] we don’t want any aspect of fetishising anything, we don’t want any Asian fishing or anything like that because it’s just disgusting.”
“We just want to have fun and dress like maids and sell Japanese merch without hurting anyone,” adds Gia sweetly.
Both maids’ enthusiasm for Japanese anime and manga culture is infectious – and as they start to explain more about the fantastical worlds that are created within it, where people are born with pink hair and devil horns, where someone might be half-cat, or have superpowers that see them shoot stars out of their hands – it’s easy to see how you could become immersed.
It’s pure fantasy at its very best. They tell us about Death Note, where you write someone’s name in a magical notebook and it kills them, and about another character who has the power of being trans – where they can inject themselves and change gender.
It’s all brilliantly weird, “the weirdest stuff you can think of” says Gia.
As well as selling food and drink inspired by their favourite anime characters, which includes a list of milkshake specials loaded with the likes of chocolate, raspberry, fruit pearls, tapioca and cream, the cafe also sells authentic figures that are collector’s items in their own right.
“All of our stuff is straight from Japan which we feel like gives more of an immersive experience, so if you could never travel to Japan you’ve literally got it right here,” says maid Ria.
The shelves are packed with boxes of different figures from the comic worlds, as well as Japanese snacks from the likes of Hello Panda. There’s also a fridge filled with different flavoured drinks that pay tribute to some iconic characters, including a blue-haired Sonic.
For now, the food offering is limited to snacks that you can buy to eat in the neighbouring cafe – but the maids tell us they’ve got plans to introduce hot food as soon as possible and hope to start selling bowls of ramen and cookie dough, adding an immersive element into the service.
Ria tells us, “In Japan, they serve little omelettes and then the maids come over and like draw in your omelettes like smiley faces, that’s the kind of stuff we really want to do in the future.”
“We’re getting this kitted out as a proper kitchen, we’re going to do cookie dough as well yes omg we have a red velvet flavour, a death by chocolate flavour, birthday cake flavour – I’m really excited for that – bubblegum. It’s like a cookie dough ice cream and that will be the first kind of food that we serve instead of just like a snack you buy off the shelf.
“We’re just looking to put it somewhere.”
“In this cafe it’s just always like gradually growing. A lot of places open and it’s like BAM! But yeah we’re always growing and that’s what’s nice, taking new ideas and that’s what’s fun about it,” adds Gia.
The maids also tell us about their plans to have a proper maid cafe in the future out on the street, where they can stand outside and welcome customers in “with like the windows all pink and frilly, like a little castle.”
Designed for like-minded people with a shared interest in anime, the cafe has been set up to be suitable for all ages where fans can socialise and initiate new friendships,
All of its maids are anime fanatics and experts too, and with their help owner Rio has created a safe space for anime fans where guests can watch anime, play video games, and transport themselves to cosplaying heaven.
Over the Halloween weekend, the cafe will be hosting a special event to tie in with the annual Manchester Anime and Gaming Con.
Peter Kay Live at Manchester AO Arena – times, tour dates, tickets and more
Peter Kay will finally make his long-awaited return to the stage this week with a massive UK tour.
The beloved Bolton comedian is set to play a whopping 42 dates here in Manchester, as well as a monthly residency down in London at the O2.
His AO Arena dates begin on Friday 2 December and will run all the way through to 2025 (yes, really).
According to Ticketmaster, this will be the seating plan for the AO Arena for Peter Kay’s gigs.
It’s a fully seated tour but every block is set to be in use.
Venue security and requirements
The show is strictly for people aged 15+.
The AO Arena has a few strict policies to keep gig-goers safe, so make sure to check entry requirements carefully before you travel.
For example, only one small bag per person is allowed, and bags like backpacks, travel cases and laptop bags are not permitted inside the arena.
All bags are scanned on entry to check for prohibited items like laser pens, flares, projectiles, weapons, drugs and alcohol, and even selfie sticks.
Featured image: Publicity picture
Man uncovers long lost photos in charity shop depicting historic suffragette march
Whilst digging away in a charity shop, a man has uncovered a set of old Victorian era glass slides depicting what appears to be Women’s Sunday – a suffragette march held in London, organised by Moss Side’s own Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Amongst a heap of slides that appear to be taken sometime around the early 1900s, one depicts a large group featuring women in the signature stripy hats worn by the protest group.
What’s more their new owner, Ray Newman, has even suggested that one of the photos may depict Emmeline Pankhurst herself.
Writing on Twitter, he shared a thread of the images with his followers: adding short commentary to each one.
One the photo in question, he comments: “If you zoom in on the woman in dark clothing seen looking towards the camera from between two PCs she looks like Emmeline Pankhurst, or am I fooling myself?”
Others have chimed in with suggestions as to the date of the photograph, with one writing: “The boater straw hats plus mutton sleeves equals c.1910.”
Given that the Women’s Sunday protest was held just two years prior to this in 1908, it does seem possible that this incredibly old photograph has captured one of the biggest moments in the suffragette’s history.
The event, organised by Pankhurst’s WSPU, featured the organisation’s colours (purple, white and green) for the first time in public. In days leading up to the event, over 10,000 scarves in the colours were sold at two shillings and elevenpence each, whilst men donned ties in solidarity.
Held to persuade the then Liberal government to support votes for women, the march is thought to have been the largest demonstration to be held until then in the country – drawing around 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions.
Of course, the photos not being dated or marked in any way, it is hard to know if these really are images of Emmeline Pankhurst and the historic march but there are quite a few people online speculating that it could well be.
Several have pointed to the seemingly large police presence (and one person claims to have counted eleven officers), suggesting that that could indeed point to it being a photograph of a large suffragette protest.
Elsewhere amongst the collection of photos, images show a stately home, school or institution with flamingos outside, what appears to be a boy scout troop or group of cadets armed with rifles, boaters on the water at Alexandra Park, and a number of people posing in period dress.
Writing above a picture that depicts an old British high street, Ray comments on how the glass slides are tricky to scan adding that he had to “do it with my phone against a bright white screen.”
He continues: “This is a high street… somewhere… c.1910, I’d guess. I can see a sign for an inn with an ‘excellent motor garage’ but can’t work out any more than that.”
Above another, he said: “A stately home, school or institution. There are statues of flamingos on the left. Definitely haunted. (House and slide.)”
Offering a fascinating look into a lost world, some of the images are over 100 years old and taken when photography was something of a new art form. Unlike today, when everyone has a camera in their pocket, to own a camera was something of a rarity – making these images even more intriguing.
If you would like to see the full thread of pictures uncovered by Ray, you can do so by clicking here.