TOKYO - At Edelstein boarding school, the schoolboys wear lip-gloss, the headmistress has a weakness for manga comic books, and there is only one subject: how to serve female visitors.
Welcome to Tokyo's first schoolboy cafe, the latest in a flurry of eateries in Japan where customers and waiters role play themes from manga comics.
In keeping with the schoolboy theme, waiters with manicured hands and soft voices pretend to be teenage students, chatting and flirting with well-dressed Japanese women playing the roles of benefactresses visiting the school.
On a recent Saturday, the cafe, which opened late last year, was packed with giggling customers.
'Most of our customers are office ladies in their 20s and 30s, women who are fashionable but normal,' says Ms Emiko Sakamaki, Edelstein's 27-year-old manager, herself dressed in a loose mini-dress over skinny jeans and knee-high boots.
Edelstein is based on one of her favourite comic books, a 1970s cult classic about romance at a German school.
Its visitors are united by a passion for such 'boy-love manga' romance for female readers - a genre that is currently undergoing a huge revival in Japan.
As these manga comics feature dreamy, feminine-looking male characters, Ms Sakamaki uses the same yardstick when she selects the waiters who talk about their pretend homework and studies at Edelstein.
'I'm in the flower arrangement club,' whispers one girlish, long-haired waiter at the cafe, looking up from the book of German poetry he is reading.
Role-play cafes for men have long been popular in Tokyo.
Most revolve around waitresses dressed as French maids and target 'otaku' - geeky fans of comics and animation movies.
According to anthropologists, one of the reasons that role play and dressing up are so popular in Japan is that they allow people to briefly escape the extreme social control and rigid norms of everyday life.
The otaku market, from animation movies to computer games and accessories, totalled 187 billion yen (S$2.5 billion) last year, according to entertainment research firm Media Create.
But recently, businesses have discovered another type of free-spending Japanese consumer: the female otaku, who tends to be better-looking, trendier and more sociable than her male counterpart.
'There are two reasons why this place is so popular,' says Ms Sakamaki, who also invented Tokyo's first 'butler cafe' for females.
'Firstly, this kind of cafe environment for women doesn't exist much in Tokyo. And secondly, there are now a lot of girls who like animation movies and comics.'
Ms Kana Satomi, a 28-year-old gallery assistant, recalls a recent visit to the Edelstein cafe.
'I went there with a group of friends, and we were talking to the waiters and to each other, saying 'did you see that, that was cute', that kind of thing,' she says.
Male otaku, on the other hand, tend to avoid communication as best as they can.
Mr Takashi Kudo, a 30-year-old magazine editor, shares his own theory about the sudden excitement over female otaku.
'Male otaku became a huge business, and then that kind of marketing reached a limit. So the marketing companies wondered what they could do next. And then they discovered that fujoshi (Japanese for 'rotten girls') can also be big business.'
Ms Sakamaki, meanwhile, is already onto her next idea: a cafe modelled along 1920s Japan. That would match another big trend among Japanese youth: nostalgia for pre-war Japan.