Monday, February 13, 2012

Anime Review: Antique Bakery

Sorry again for no post yesterday guys, I've just had a weirdly odd time finding tv shows/movies for me to watch, especially legally, but things seem to be in order now so I don't foresee anymore problems there.

On the other hand, there is no shortage of legal anime to watch out there and I've been rather pleased at how Nozomi has really been making an effort at putting their shows up on their youtube channel lately. I've read all of Antique Bakery before but I really wanted to see the show since it was shown on the noitaminA time slot which I (generally) adore. As is the case with Nozomi's shows, only the first couple of episodes are up now but it's enough to give you a taste for the show.

Antique Bakery

Summary: Tachibana, the only son of an well-off family, decides one day that he is bored of his office job and wants to start a bakery. His family supports this idea and gives him the money to buy a shop, get the best pâtissière avaliable (who turns out to be an old classmate of his, Ono), get an assistant to help with the baking (Eiji, a young man who can no longer wrestle and wants to pursue his other dream of making and eating sweets all day long), and his old family servant Chikage. They may all be adults but there is still character development to be had, especially for Tachibana who still has reoccurring nightmares from the time he was kidnapped as a young child.

The Good: I was rather curious how the show would be structured, not because it was only 12 episodes, the original manga is only four volumes long after all, but because each volume of manga was structured so that all the characters introduced in that volume were connected. It was really well done in the manga so I was curious how the anime would handle this, essentially the episodes were a bit less connected than their manga counterparts but the story still felt whole and conclusive in the end so it works as an adaptation. It's one of the few stories where I would prefer people to see in whichever medium they prefer, manga or anime, instead of favoring one over the other, the adaptation was that solid. Some things were actually made clearer in the anime for me, such as the reason behind Tachibana's homophobic slurs to Ono back in high school (it's subtle but there is a real reason there which is rather tragic). As with the manga I'm really happy with how Ono was portrayed, he's gay, perfectly fine that he's gay, his "gay demonic charm" is supposed to be amusing, and the characters are okay with all of this (which is the most amazing part sadly, occasionally anime makes it seem like all of Japan is homophobic). All of the characters are great but Ono's characterization stuck out to me the most. 

The Bad: Parts of this show is set on an unbelievable premise (Tachibana's real reason for setting up the shop and the fact that it works) which still continues to bug me and makes me wish that hadn't been so, over the top dramatically. Other than that, not all of the characters got equal development so if the show had had more time that would have been nice but I still feel like this was a solid story and the anime really knew how to pace itself.  

The Audio: The show made a smart move with not having a J-pop song for either the opening or ending sequence and I liked how both of them were done by male singers as well (since the main cast of the show is male it would have just been a bit odd to have a female singer in my opinion). Both songs fit the show well and Nozomi has included subtitles for both songs as well (many streamers these days seem to leave the songs untranslated so I appreciate the shows that do translate them even more now). All of the characters were well voiced and I really can't imagine the show dubbed in English, it's atmosphere is just so different from the average anime, and with much more natural voices, that it's hard for me to imagine most American VAs doing these kinds of roles*.

The Visuals: The show continues with an un-official noitaminA tradition by having an opening that isn't traditionally animated (here with animated cut-outs of characters in a mock-up of the cafe) which looks rather clever. The character designs remain mostly unchanged from their manga counterparts and the show looks fine. There are some odd moments where the animators opted to use CGI instead of traditional CGI, mostly for architecture, which shows (the show is from 2008 so it isn't terribly old but CGI gets so much better each year that it's understandable why it's obvious).

I'm not so sure I want to get the special edition of the show that Right Stuf is currently selling of the show but I can certainly see myself getting a plainer release of it some years down the line. And with this show I have now seen 19 and a half noitaminA shows (dropped Guilty Crown halfway through) so I am certainly making progress in my quest to try out (almost) all the noitaminA shows. There are a few I don't think I'll go around watching but I still have a lot of shows to look forward to!

*this is in no shape or way an insult to American VAs, I'm just so used to hearing a certain kind of acting from them that it's hard to imagine them doing something which is almost the complete opposite.