Posted by psgels on 20 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

Bishounen-series are in a way much like bishoujo-series. It’s just too easy to just treat the fanboys or fangirls to a lot of fanservice and get things over with, but of course the real challenge is to put them in interesting situations, develop them properly and flesh them out like real characters, otherwise you could just as well start selling paper bags. Antique Bakery is an example of how to do this right, although it’s rather unconventional.

I’ve said this before, but the series of the past spring- and summer season often had theme of fooling the viewer. Quite a few series defied expectations by focusing on something different from what you’d expect them to. Antique Bakery for example, looks all the way like a yaoi-series. Instead, it’s just an iyashi-kei series with a bit of mystery, where one of the characters just happens to be gay.

It really knows how to handle its cast of characters. At first, it starts out like a rather cheesy series, but very soon the cheese turns into genuine drama. Every character gets enough attention to show what he’s got. Because the series deals with such an original setting of a cake-store, the characters really have the ability to move away fro the stereotypes, and develop in the way they want. There’s this strange bond that develops between them as the series goes on, and it just seems to fit perfectly.

The mystery-part of the series is also delightfully unpredictable. How often do you see a guy with a trauma, because he had once been kidnapped in his past by someone who forced to make him eat cakes all the time? At first, it might seem like a bit of good cheese, but interestingly enough as the show goes on, this develops into genuine drama, with an actually very nice ending that prefers logical progression over a sensational ending, and yet puts a satisfying conclusion to everything.

There’s one character who feels a bit out of place in this series. This series is mostly about adults, but there’s one teenager amongst them, but he just doesn’t feel as part of the cast as the others. All attempts to flesh him out feel a bit shallow, and the moments that focus on him are mostly the less exciting of the series. An ex-boxer who loves cakes may sound good on paper, but the creators just didn’t use his character well enough.

This also isn’t a series for everyone. The fact remains that one of the characters is gay, so if you hate gay people with the intensity of one thousand suns, then you’re not going to like this series, even though the fact that the guy’s gay is used very nicely to symbolize the anxieties of gay people in the modern society. There’s also one particularly wrong scene where the guy carries his fantasies a bit too far, but apart from that the creators nicely balanced his feelings, to prevent the shounen-ai tones from getting too big of a focus.

Overall, though, Antique Bakery is another example of why Noitamina rocks. It comes with the most unconventional premises that actually work out somehow. It’s an inspired series that’s sometimes relaxing, and sometimes it shines with powerful drama, and the creators showed that they knew exactly how to use their limited time of 12 episodes. While it’s not going to break any records, it’s another good example of a nice quick watch.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

3 Responses

  1. Sapphire says:

    What’s “iyashi-kei” ?

  2. psgels psgels says:

    I think that that link explains best. It’s a “healing”-type genre, which pretty much describes the quiet parts of Antique Bakery.

  3. Starss says:

    Terrific spot on review, Antique Bakery was a big surprise for me and I didn’t know what to expect but it was brilliant and also surprisingly comedic. Some of the most dramatic scenes were the funniest while also feeling so wholeheartedly genuine, it just feels unexpectedly cruel to laugh.

    I really hope that scene about Ono’s fantasies refers to the one scene in the rain, which so perfectly demonstrated his nickname while being that much over the top you can’t take it seriously.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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