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. a kuma says:

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

  2. Leon says:

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

  3. 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. 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 ; )

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 3-6

So far the focus has been pretty heavily on Tsumugi, the chimera. Who is strangely moefied. Its really odd to see what is essentially a giant  tentacled monster display the characteristics of a innocent cutsy little girl. Still she is to me one of the better characters of the show. Untainted by the negative aspects […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 19

Oh my god, I can’t believe that Archer is the future Shirou Emiya!….said no one who watched this episode. But yes the cat is out of the bag. Archer is Shirou turned cynical and jaded after playing executioner for a couple of decades. There was a small bit showing how he contracted with the world […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 18

Well here it is. The name drop. The very thing the route is called after. And its….its…kinda bad. Of all the places to make the first visual blunder, why did it have to be here? Well Archers reality marble/noble phantasm Unlimited Blade Works was unleashed and Ufotable thought the best treatment would be to render […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 1-2

Even after a long break its nice to see that Sidonia hasn’t lost its edge. The story is still engaging and CG robot battles dynamic. However…was the CG this bad before? I remember it took some time to get used to the CG animation of the last season but this seems especially stiff. The easy […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 16

So at the start of this episode featured the big moment of Gilgamesh ripping out Illya’s heart and it was surprisingly underwhelming. It is true that in context this makes more sense and fits his character better. But it is a little disappointing. Strangely this wasn’t how it was in the visual novel and this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 15

The word that encompasses this episode in a nutshell would be brutal. Whether you love her or hate her, I say few would believe that Illya deserved this fate. The tragedy is ever more pungent if you know the full details of her past. Anime only viewers may not get the most out of this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 14

As a reader of the Fate/stay night visual novel I can confirm that the majority of this episode was anime original content. However instead of being about castors history like I thought, it’s of his backstory with her first master. In all honestly making the episode be about her history with Jason would have been […]

Some Quick First Impressions: DanMachi, Denpa Kyoushi and Arslan Senki

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Short Synopsis: Our protagonist wants to be an RPG pimp I am getting SAO reminders already. Let me talk about something for a moment. You see when I first played the game dark souls I was frustrated and angry at myself because of my own […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Gunslinger Stratos, Seraph of the end and Yahari season 2

Gunslinger Stratos Short Synopsis: Our protagonist falls into an alternate world full of trigger happy people. I am fairly certain that Gen is not writing this. You can see part of him in the concept but not anywhere else. The episode gave me a mixed impression. I hate the characters and find the main to […]

Latest Reviews

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]