Rec of the Week: Shirokuma Cafe

Released: April 2012 – March 2013
Episodes: 50
Starring: Sakurai Takahiro (Polar Bear), Fukuyama Jun (Panda), Kamiya Hiroshi (Penguin), Endou Aya (Sasako), Ono Daisuke (Llama), Nakamura Yuichi (Grizzly), Konishi Katsuyuki (Full-Time Panda), Morikawa Toshiyuki (Panda Mama)

Synopsis

     The story is a slice-of-life comedy revolving around a NEET Panda who gets a part-time job at a zoo. He meets and befriends Polar Bear and Penguin, and, along with his zoo animal co-workers, they frequent a popular and well-kept cafe run by Polar Bear. In the Shirokuma Cafe world, sentient animals and humans co-exist peacefully. Despite its skeleton of a plot, the show was quite popular during its airtime, and racked up 50 episodes.

My Thoughts

1) Cute talking animals that sit around all day drinking coffee and occasionally snarking at each other doesn’t sound like much, but the show is wonderfully addictive with its smooth animation, engaging dialogue, and funny jokes (mostly at the expense of other characters – Penguin and Llama being the usual victims). Occasionally, the animals teach each other or Sasako (the human waitress of Polar Bear’s cafe) some fun animal trivia, which you can then show off to your own friends.

2) Despite the fact that the majority of the characters are animals and all they do is talk to each other, Shirokuma Cafe has an all-star cast, even for minor characters. Popular veteran seiyuu that have a supporting or one-off role in Shirokuma Cafe include:

  • Wolf: Sugita Tomokazu (Gintama, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, BlazBlue)
  • Businessman: Suzumura Kenichi (Gundam Seed Destiny, Ouran High School Host Club)
  • High School Girl: Kugimiya Rie (Shakugan no Shana, Fullmetal Alchemist, Zero no Tsukaima)
  • Porcupine Idol: Miyano Mamoru (Gundam 00, Death Note, Kingdom Hearts)
  • Tarsier: Ishida Akira (Gundam Seed, Gintama, Naruto)

3) The humour is, for lack of a better word, somewhat mundane. A lot of shows that belong in the slice-of-life genre get ridiculous a few times to mix things up (ex: Lucky Star, Nichijou, Azumanga Daioh…) but Shirokuma Cafe stays strictly on the side of normality. Well, as ‘normal’ as you can get in a world where animals can talk and drink coffee. They operate almost strictly within the constraints of the universe given to them, and so all the humour from Shirokuma Cafe is through the interaction between the characters, and the situations that their daily lives throw them into.

4) It is a very easy to watch anime! There is no extravagantly long or complicated plot to follow; the humour is fresh and simple; the characters are enjoyable and/or likable who develop enough so they’re not stagnant, but not enough so that viewers who miss a few episodes will be lost. This allows viewers who want something cute and (for lack of a better word) meaningless to jump in and enjoy.

5) Polar Bear’s love affair with puns and everything that came out of Panda’s mouth were extremely relatable on an almost spiritual level.

Overall

Story: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Music: 6/10
Animation: 8/10
Entertainment: 8.5/10

Total: 39.5/50

Barakamon #1-3

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     When I first read the synopsis for Barakamon on anime sites, I admit I wasn’t too interested at all. From the summaries, it seemed like a slice-of-life comedy that would rely on childish innocence and mischief for humour. I’m very happy to say that I was wrong about this. Barakamon is a cute and fresh anime that I’m excited for every week.

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