I’ve turned into quite a fan of the modern horeca-series, brought back and popularized by Bartender. It’s a genre with an atmosphere unlike any other genre, and one of those very few types of series targeted solely at adults. The latest installment is Ristorante Paradiso: yet again a short but charming and relaxing series about a restaurant somewhere in Rome.
From the outside, the premise of this series indeed looks quite shaky. It’s easy to think that this is just a harem, but this time the lead character being a female in her twenties and the male characters all being stereotypical bishounen in their forties or above. Thankfully, the series proves that it’s fully able to avoid this cliché. There is one lead couple, and the rest of the characters all have their own romances.
One of the things that makes this series so enjoyable is how well it manages to handle its limited airtime of only eleven episodes, and yet it manages to develop a relatively large cast of characters. Every episode is basically dedicated to one or two characters, but they’re all inspired and miles away from stereotypes. The characters here have realistic problems and issues, rather than those overdramatic ones you tend to often see in anime. Every episode keeps you guessing on what’s going to happen next; despite the next-episode previews, you’ll hardly ever find yourself able to predict what’s going to happen next, or what the next character’s back-story is going to be about.
And still the series forms a coherent whole in the end. A major theme is the past, and how it affects characters today. Surprisingly, most people in this series have relatively dark pasts, but unlike most other anime they hardly ever bear grudges or feel depressed. A major theme of this series is not getting worked up about what happened in the past, but instead using these experiences to enjoy today. It’s a theme that’s explored wonderfully throughout the series, and makes it feel complete.
Of course, you need to know that this isn’t the series for those who want action or lots of drama. Instead, it’s meant to be relaxing, while most of the drama is done very subtly without ever dragging on. Apart from that though, I couldn’t find any major flaws in this series, or reasons why one would not want to watch this. It’s not anything epic, but what it does it does really well: the creators really put thoughts into how they could make this show work best, and not let a minute go to waste. It’s a recommendation for those who are looking for a short relaxing series.