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Angel's Anime Review - Bartender
Bartender (Oct 15, 2006 – Dec 30, 2006)
Director: Masaki Watanabe
Key Words: Slice of Life, Bars, alcohol,
Studio: Palm Studio
Ryu Sasakura is a bartending prodigy who is the best at figuring out what type of drink would be the perfect one for you. He works at a bar named Eden Hall, hidden within the Ginza district in downtown Tokyo. Normal people cannot find Eden Hall, they most be invited by the host. As the show goes on, those who are invited share their troubles and heavy burdens to Ryu who then makes them the perfect drink that caters to them, giving them hopeful advice to make their life a little happier.
In each episode, the story line stands alone, nothing you have to remember from the last show unless you want to know what the other side characters are from and so your full attention is on the show right in front of you, giving you the same feeling as what the bar is like, where nothing from the outside world should interrupt you from enjoying the special drink. In my mind, our drink as the viewers is the show in front of us like the drink in front of the customer is the one they talk about. And like all good drinks, the show does not leave a bad taste so you can enjoy the slow easy going nature. It’s a good show to watch right after watching a high action packed show as a way of winding down.
There is almost no point in this story where it feels off-key and fantasy like. The stories are very real, everyday problems that normal people would have. A woman who wishes to help break the tension between her father and grandfather; a man who works on creating bars but doesn’t like them; a man who came to the bar after seeing a ‘shining star’ walk in, these are the fears and dreams of so many different people, not just in Japan but all over the world. This anime seems to speak to you as an individual, not just to a wide number of people. They even go so far as to address the watcher, breaking the fourth wall as though you are with these people.
Like almost every anime out there, this one has a Christmas episode but unlike all the others, it doesn’t feel like it was forced into the show. It actually feels perfect with no ‘hot girl’ showing off what she’s got in a scandalous Santa outfit. In fact, there is really no Santa outfit at all and no talk of what Christmas is. They only give you the warm feeling that would make you smile, much like how a drink would warm you up slowly.
The animation is so beautiful. There is a lot of CG when it comes to the bottles and glasses but it never feels out-of-place. It feels a part of this art and never gets distracting from the characters. As for everything else though, the only other ‘CG style’ things could be the liquor and the glass when they stand alone. It doesn’t get in the way of the artwork at all though or make it feel out of place as they merge it well. It’s interesting that at first glance, you would never really see Ryu as anything special, just pretty much a standard Japanese character in a bartenders outfit. I truly love that about this show, the very simple and gentle feeling. They have a lot of scenes that loop or are taken from other shows but I never saw it as a eye sore except for one instance.
The ending of each episode is surprisingly very simple live action of a bartender creating a drink, mixed with a little CG and music video. This is one of the most beautiful and gentle ending I have ever seen and they made it different for every single episode, the drink being different for each one. It’s so calming and gentle that I actually wanted to keep watching the ending, not speed past it. The cinematic camera angles add to the somewhat surreal feeling of just being in the current place at the special time. The music for the ending as well was so sweet that I want to get a single disc of it and play it as I fall asleep.
Now, when we get to the opening, I do have my problems. The opening animation is beautiful and amazing but the music seems to put me off a bit. I watched a couple of these in line and the music unfortunately felt a little too upbeat. It’s not that it wasn’t any good; it was just that it didn’t seem to fit the feeling of the show.
At no part is there really a time that has no talking or music and only silence. All the music is orchestrated well and fits perfectly. There one song for every drink and each of them seem to reflect the story of that drink.
The voices, while expertly done by the Japanese actors, seemed a little off for me but I believe that was only because I am really not into subs. I will read subs while watching the English dub and see how close they were to the original but mostly. But when they give me subs, I have a hard time with them since I have to read a little to fast. I fell into that with this show and so the Japanese voices felt distant and hard to get close to but I feel if I was a native Japanese speaker, I would be much more into loving it. This is one that I really hope comes over to America to be dubbed and not ‘fucked up’ with a lot of script changes and high vocals. PS I think J. Michael Tatum would be a great Ryu. Just my thoughts on it. ;)
Five stars all the way! This is one that if you like slow shows and ones from the heart, I say watch it. If you’re more into mechs, gunfights, fan service, and large explosions, you might want to stay away.
Link to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartender_(manga)
Glass Reflections – http://blip.tv/glassreflection/gr-anime-review-bartender-5944652
T.H.E.M. Anime Review - http://www.themanime.org/viewreview.php?id=1168
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At times you will see characters like MAK and Kai who are characters of a friend of mine. We sometimes review anime and such together to create a fun little storyline for everyone.