Posted by psgels on 31 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

If I said that a really good comedy for the past year was a show about a Penguin and a Panda walking into a bar, would you believe me?

Polar Bear Cafe is an interesting beast here. Series that combine slice of life with comedy are nothing new, but this series does it in a way that has not been done often before. For one, its characters stand apart in their simplicity,and how they try to stay away from often used cliches. One, by being a bunch of talking animals, and two, by focusing not on teenagers, but on the working class adults.

Most humour in anime is energetic. Polar Bear Cafe though, is all about deadpan. If you enjoy that kind of humour, then you should give this show a chance, because on one hand, it contains really every day conversations between its characters, and on the other hand it is really creative in how it delivers its jokes. It constantly pokes fun at itself and its silly concept and contains more running jokes than you can shake a stick at. The self-referential humour is what I liked best about this series: it spends so much time carefully creating its setting, yet at the same it’s also constantly breaking it down and poking fun at it.

50 episodes is long, but I have to say: during the best episodes I really fell off my chair laughing. For me, they were the Penko episode, and the Bar MC episode. Beyond that this series also made me laugh numerous times, but there were unfortunately also plenty of episodes that failed to raise a laugh, or that were just plain dull. Like I said, 50 episodes is long.

It’s a bit of a dilemma for this series. Ideally its length would be at 39 episodes, but the long length does lead to some really good character building. At the end of the series, you really feel like you know these characters. The “people” you see hanging around in bars, cafes that you sometimes talk to and hang out with. The ones who are constantly trolling each other, who don’t try to get others to like them, yet get their charms from that.
One-Sentence Review: Random slice of life combined with deadpan comedy: that’s what makes this show work although it is too long with 50 episodes; plus Polar Bear is a great character.
Suggestions:
– Excel Saga
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

5 Responses

  1. Avatar a kuma says:

    What are the best episodes of the show? Can we skip the rest and still enjoy them?

  2. Avatar Leon says:

    lol, last episode showcase 14 Penkos, penguin got out of their way fast.

  3. Avatar Emma-hime says:

    I’m happy to see I wasn’t the only one who kept up with this little comedy gem. Even in its lower output moments it still got a laugh out of me. I would like to see more deadpan comedy anime in the future getting made.

  4. Avatar Joumi says:

    I would personally give this series a 92/100, in concept, plot, characters, music and animation, so that’s pretty much everything. Just for an idea, I’m a super picky watcher who would only decide to watch a series after having been given a good lot of (non-spoiler) reviews and recommendations from trusted sources. Of course, the first impression is important too. I enjoy these kinds of anime, when you can’t really guess/ don’t have to guess what will happen next.

    In every way possible, I would like the watchers to be more aware of the fact that this is a Josei series, not intended for pure humour and all (that being sad, not being funny doesn’t necessarily mean dull, don’t you think?). While the whole picture looks simple and “nice”, vivid and peaceful – but it takes some certain senses of both maturity and… dreaminess (?) to really get through its colourful layers. What is generally considered “deadpan comedy” within this series sounds just fine as normal speech manner for me – oh of course people don’t talk like that and demonstrate puns in real life but who knows, until someday you’d just happen to walk into a peaceful-looking cafe crowded with people who easily break through your personal thought bubbles… for they are just as ‘different’ as if belonging to some different species. And as you grow to love the foods and drinks and the atmosphere around the place, you’d find yourself getting along with those people too. It’s something you can’t possibly find at a local Starbucks but such place has to be around somewhere, closer than you think it should be – maybe just around the corner…

    If you find yourself loving all of the episodes, that’s the spirit! I’d personally say that I find a particular message in every episode, and perhaps it’s safe to think that one of the more prominent lesson is how to care for every little thing that could make yourself bigger. And Shirokuma-san is one of the biggest heroes in my life.

    Should have been careless to not mention that this anime has an awesome OST collection, the OPs and EDs are just wonderful – in a way you rarely see in other anime series (I won’t spoil the fun, but yes, the OPs-EDs are definitely the biggest joy to expect). You don’t need to be a gourmet to point out one of the strong highlights in Shirokuma Café: foods and drinks! – but here calls for some percentage of being one to fully appreciate the brilliant attention paid to have built up the menu of Shirokuma Café. The animation doesn’t need to be amazing for this being a slice of life series… but it is, it’s visually perfect.

    It’s hard to put into words all the love I have for this series. Shirokuma Café is one of the very, very, very few series when I feel personally attached to the characters. The series ended beautifully though I can’t help but feeling more than just a little bit sad, and thankful, but still somewhat sad… 50 episodes isn’t long at all of you just take each as a weekly visit to an organic cafe, where many types of different “people” discuss things you can’t seem to care less about but there is the mood you genuine enjoy and can’t seem to find anywhere else.

    Shirokuma Café is not that type of easy-watching comedy series it looks like. Delicate and sophisticated, mature and relaxing, funny at times and lots of joys to sum it up… Totally recommended to any general café lover rather than some typical anime geek ; )

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