Situated near the local zoo and owned by the charismatic polar bear Shirokuma, Shirokuma Cafe is a popular spot for animals and humans alike, allowing them to sit back and relax after a hard day of work. Whether it's a cold beverage or the latest item on his menu, Shirokuma finds joy in being able to serve his customers, often striking up conversations about various subjects.
Together with the sarcastic Penguin and the clumsy Panda, they form an odd trio who get themselves caught up in all sorts of misadventures with their other friends such as Grizzly, a bar owner, and Sasako, a human who works at the cafe. From dealing with unrequited love, outdoor camping trips, karaoke sessions, and even the secret to brewing delicious coffee, there's always something bound to be happening in Shirokuma Cafe!
#01: "Bamboo☆Scramble" by Jun Fukuyama (eps 1-5) #02: "Grizzly-san no G★ROCK (グリズリーさんのG☆ROCK)" by Yuuichi Nakamura (eps 6-9) #03: "Mizuiro (みずいろ)" by Aya Endo (eps 10-13) #04: "ZOO tto ne! (ZOOっとねっ！) " by Katsuyuki Konishi (eps 14-17, 44) #05: "Michinoku Shiiku Blues (みちのく飼育ブルース)" by Wataru Hatano (eps 18-22) #06: "Zokkon! Penko-san (ぞっこん！ペン子さん)" by Hiroshi Kamiya (eps 23-26) #07: "Kimama ni Panda Mama♥ (気ままに パンダママ♥)" by Toshiyuki Morikawa (eps 27-30) #08: "Llama-san no Llama Mambo (ラマさんのラママンボ)" by Daisuke Ono (eps 31-35) #09: "Largo (ラルゴ)" by Kishou Taniyama (eps 36-38) #10: "Bamboo rendezvous ♥ (バンブー・ランデヴー♥)" by Kana Hanazawa (eps 39-42)
#11: "PANDAHOLIC!!" by Tokuyoshi Kawashima (eps 43, 45-46) #12: "My Dear" by Takahiro Sakurai (eps 47-50)
Polar Bear Café (Shirokuma Café): A charming, puntastic show filled with memorable moments – 9/10
PLOT: Polar Bear Café is about the daily lives of a bunch of animals who frequent a café run by the titular Polar Bear, including a panda, a penguin, a llama and a sloth (among many others). There are a few random humans thrown in there too – the perma-smiling Sasako, the bumbling zookeeper Handa and the panda obsessed florist Rin-Rin, but the cast is mainly animals. Animals that no one bats an eye at when when they’re casually wandering about town buying groceries, or working in a bakery or running a bar – they’re fully integrated into society. And yet there is a fully functional zoo where a number of the characters actually work! You kind of take this strange setting for granted after a few episodes – it just works.
Polar Bear Café is a show I couldn’t watch without a smile on my face (trust me I desperately tried when watching the later half of the series on my own in public, being caught grinning and giggling like an idiot when there’s pastel renditions of wild animals emitting showers of sparkles and hearts on my screen is not fun); the show just thrums with feel-good vibes. It’s also consistently hilarious, and displays excellent use of puns, parodies, basic comedic timing and the usual tsukkomi/boke routines. The series uses all the run-of-the-mill s’life situations (festivals, onsen, road-trips, all the holidays you can think of) but simply having the characters be animals puts an interesting spin on things, as they have a unique outlook on things. I don’t usually get on well with s’life shows, but I adored Polar Bear Café – it just balances the mundane with wit so well.
The characters are probably what kept me coming back to the show so much – the central quartet of Polar Bear, Penguin, Panda and Sasako just have superb chemistry and play off each other brilliantly. The side characters are also wonderful and all get their own episodes to shine – my favourites have to be Polar Bear’s long suffering childhood friend and bar owner Grizzly and poor overlooked but utterly charming Llama.Polar Bear Café also has “The Feels” in spades – it just gets under your skin and forces a reaction out of you with alarming frequency. After 50 episodes these characters feel like old friends and I was desperately sad to see the series end, I do hope we get more at some stage.
ANIMATION: The animation is by Studio Pierrot and is very simple but serviceable. The animals are well drawn and surprisingly expressive given many of them lack the usual facial features humans rely on to determine emotion (just where are Penguin & Panda’s eyes anyway??). The over all look of the show is quite soft and pastel, and there is creative use of sparkles, bubbles, hearts, flowers and sweatdrops to punctuate gags or emotion. On the flipside the humans in general are actually terrifying in their inexpressiveness – Sasako in particular has completely dead eyes that are rather unnerving. The show also experiments with unusual visuals in its many EDs – stop-motion, live action, shadow-puppets and paper cut-outs all get a turn, and it is clear that the staff had a lot of fun making this series.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The cast of Polar Bear Café has to be one of the most star-studded I’ve ever encountered. Everyone seems to be a noteworthy name – the central quartet consists of Jun Fukuyama, Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroshi Kamiya and Aya Endo – but the extended cast reads like a who’s who of popular seiyuu! They all seemed to have lots of fun working on this series as well, as the chemistry is brilliant and the acting is really excellent on the whole. A few actors even voice a number of different side characters giving them completely different voices and displaying their range well.
Another thing of note is that there are a lot of different EDs for this series and each of them is an image song, sung in character by the seiyuu – resulting in some truly wonderful songs. I particularly loved Panda’s ‘Bamboo Scramble’ by Jun Fukuyama and Llama’s ‘Llama Mambo’ by Daisuke Ono, but all the song are special in their own way. Even the OPs are pretty damn good, but I’ll always like the first OP best.
Overall I just have to reiterate who utterly charming this show is – it’s a wonderful show to watch if you need cheering up (just avoid watching episode 44 for that purpose – it’s a proper tearjerker). When I first picked up the series last Spring I never would have imagined it turning out to be this good – always a joy when that happens. So yes Polar Bear Café is a show I’d highly recommend picking up – it deserves much more love!read more
I’m still a relative newbie to anime, but so far, slice of life has been pretty good to me. Polar Bear Café manages to continue this trend. It’s a pretty silly and stupid show. It may not be gut bustingly hilarious (I’ll explain why), but it’s still very entertaining. This is my review.
Contains Minor Spoilers
The story of Polar Bear Café is really simple as it just follows the daily escapades of a café run by a Polar Bear’s regulars. There is no overarching plot and the stories are broken up into two 12-minute segments like a lot of western animated shows. This show is clean. No toilet humour, no lowbrow humour, no sexual innuendo. The humour comes from the terrible puns Polar Bear gives in every episode, the goofy situations characters find themselves in, some slapstick and their banter and conversation. Comedy is incredibly subjective so someone might find this hilarious while somebody else might only chuckle in between certain scenes. I found the comedy to be very hit-and-miss. When the humour works, it’s hilarious, but a lot of times the jokes fall flat. It gets repetitive. There are only so many times you can take intentionally bad puns. However the individual episodic stories are varied so if you didn’t like the first half, you’ll probably end up liking the second.
I have to say the art looks fantastic. It’s really bright and fits the silliness of the show, like something out of a children’s book. The majority of the cast consists of animals and they’re drawn perfectly, resembling their real-life counterparts. The humans in the show look pretty plain. It seems more detail was put into the design of the animals than the people. Expect greatly exaggerated actions and facial features that provide for a lot of the slapstick.
The seiyuus of Polar Bear Café do a great job with the characters. I always thought that a Panda would sound like he does in this show if he could actually speak. I love the first OP. It’s catchy and upbeat and I listen to it every time. The ED’s change more times that I can count but there hasn’t been any that I particularly liked and I usually skip them. I watched the second and third OP’s and they’re catchy and fit the show, but it wasn’t up to the standard of the first.
The characters of Polar Bear Café are probably the anime’s standout and saviour. They’re funny, stupid, likeable and all have great chemistry. The way the regulars interact in the café seems like genuine conversation that friends have every day. The three leads are by far the best of the bunch. You have the oblivious Panda, the deadpan Polar Bear and the irritable and love sick Mr. Penguin. They play off each other well and their personality clashes always manage to put a smile on my face.
Like I mentioned, the show is very hit-and-miss. The clean humour can get repetitive and lacks bite, but the individual sitcom-like stories and the three leads always manage to be entertaining. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this show so much if Panda, Mr. Penguin and Polar Bear weren’t in it.
It’s very silly and goofy and not something I would recommend watching as a marathon, but if you give it a chance it might end up as something you’ll love.
Shirokuma Cafe is a slice of life, comedy anime and it doesn't try to be anything else. It does its job well and in appealing ways.
When talking to a couple of my male friends they were surprised to find out that I watched Shirokuma Cafe and I was surprised in return. I always thought of it as a kind of cute show with catchy tunes that was fun to watch. My friends watched it for the humor (it wasn't like I didn't, because I did, I just didn't think that would be their number one appeal).
Shirokuma Cafe is targeted at a wide variety of audiences and because of this, many can appreciate its strengths.
Shirokuma Cafe doesn't have an amazing plot and to be honest, it's not about the plot or the 'development'--it's about the characters, how the characters interact with each other, fun and the humor it presents. It simply wouldn't be fair for me to judge it based on story. Overall, I'd give it at a 7 or an 8, though.
Shirokuma Cafe presents a muted and refreshing palette with a surprising amount of care placed in backgrounds (ex. pay attention to the backgrounds in the opening). Scenery is very pretty and while character designs are basic (come on, they're animals) they are presented in such a way where they can stand out through other methods (shoujo sparkles for Panda, anyone?).
The ending seems to be made of some sort of stop motion thing starring panda. To be honest, I thought they were cupcakes, but considering the fact that they used the stop motion for the whole thing and did it on that area, it's pretty cool. My only issue is that it took me a bit to figure out what was what. Once you get it, though, it's enjoyable. I gave this section a 9.
The opening surprised me. It was very pop and while it wasn't what I expected (something cutesy and more bright) I certainly enjoyed it.
The ending is where I got cutesy. The ending (Bamboo Scramble) sung by Panda, or Jun Fukuyama, is cutey and holds a lot of personality. While it's catchy for the most part the effect does wear off after a bit. Overall, for this section, 8-9.
This is where Shirokuma Cafe really shines. Each character has a distinct personality and while much of the humor is based on running jokes or puns, each character is distinctly adorable with their humor and terrible logic. 9.
I check up on this anime every week. If you're looking for something cute and fun to watch (or if you simply enjoy pun based humor) Shirokuma Cafe is the anime for you. read more
This whole anime is pretty much just the silly things that happens when panda tries finding jobs and silly dialog between the characters. It is very similar to animes like 'Nichijou', 'Kill me baby', and 'Hetalia'. The anime has no real meaning but it does have better pacing and more of a story line than the animes mentioned above. In fact, this anime is a whole lot like 'Lucky Star'. A silly, pointless anime with a decent-at-best story line (again, its alot better than those crazy random animes that change what is happening every .5 seconds).
Probably the only reason people are watching this show is because of the voice actors. I think there is little reason to watch this show besides the fact it has the some of the most popular voice actors in it, but if you want to watch a random, 'slice of life' type show then I would recommend it.
This anime is not amazing and never will be, like most 'slice of life' animes, but it is better than others. If you like 'slice of life' anime, then this would be a good one to watch.read more
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