Sunday, July 31, 2011

Antique Bakery, Episodes 1-4

            I really cannot keep up with current anime series.  I’m still working on seeing stuff that came out ages ago.  I only saw The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya last summer.  Code Geass, Lucky Star, Gurren Lagann, the new Full Metal Alchemist series.  Haven’t seen any of them.  I always have this shock when something suddenly emerges with a huge fanbase and I get this feeling of “Guess I should really see that sometime”.  Antique Bakery is never going to have a huge fanbase.  And any fanbase it has will love it because it’s hilarious.  Unfortunately, it’s hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
            Keisuke is a businessman who decides to drop his high corporate lifestyle (or something, I’ll freely admit I missed the first few minutes of the first episode that explained this) and open up a bakery in a former antique shop.  Across the first three episodes, he picks up his employees.  There’s Yusuke Ono, a pastry chef who’s also the Gay of Demonic Charm, since he ends up attracting straight and gay men, which has gotten him fired from his previous jobs.  Episode 2 has the assistant to him, Eiji Kanda, a former boxer who’s recently gotten a detached retina, forcing him to stop his boxing career.  Finally, we get Keisuke’s childhood friend, Chikage, who ends up falling for Ono.  He also hits his head on the door frame a lot.  This is a running gag that you want to run off a cliff after about the second time.  Especially since the perspective makes it hard to tell if he’s even taller than any of the other people on the show.
            The show’s problems are many.  The biggest might have to be the very awkward snaps from comedy to drama.  The comedy is…ok.  There’s some funny moments, but a lot of the comedy comes too much from “See, it’s funny because Ono is gay” or “Eiji really likes cakes”.  It’s single character traits that end up reducing the characters to nothing.  Eiji doesn’t really seem to have any pain about losing his boxing career.  Ono got harshly rejected after declaring his love for Keisuke in high school, but it’s only brought up when the show wants to try to force drama down your throat.  And any time it does, it suddenly becomes wonderfully bad.  All the drama is so overwrought that it’s impossible to take seriously.  The worst moment is at the end of the 4th episode, when Keisuke is asked about the kidnapping that happened to him as a kid.  He says he can only remember one thing.  Are you ready for this?  The kidnapper liked…cakes.  I pumped my fist and cheered because I completely predicted that this would be the revelation.  I want to see how this works out in future episodes.  Are they going to go profile everybody in the city who’s eaten a cake?  My God, anybody could be a suspect!
            The animation of the show is passable, I guess.  It didn’t exactly scream out to me as wonderful.  There’s a lot of CGI which doesn’t fit in with the traditional animation of the rest, and just makes the show look bad.  The main problem is the pacing.  It spends long shots on complete filler.  Did we really need a 10 second shot of the rain falling outside the bakery?  Did we need to spend any time at all with this character?  You’d think they could’ve spent a little more time per episode actually doing something.  Instead, it seems like they were stretching to fill those 25 minutes.  The DVD even played the end credits twice, in Japanese and English.
            The show’s just bad, but in such a great way.  Come for the comedy that sometimes works, stay for the drama that’s always funny.  The only way to watch it is to snark your way through it, and it is prime material for the snarking.   

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