A high school crush, a world-class pastry chef, a former middle-weight boxing champion... and a whole lot of cake!
Ono has come a long way since the agonizing day in high school when he confessed his love to handsome Tachibana. Now, some 14 years later Ono, a world-class pastry chef and gay playboy has it all. No man can resist Ono's charms (or his cooking skills!) but he has just found a new position under a man named Tachibana. Can this be the only man who resisted his charms, and if so, will the man who once snubbed the "magically gay" Ono get his just deserts? And how in the heck did a former middleweight boxing champion wind up as Ono's cake boy?
In which a man still has traumatizing memories of being kidnapped and forced to eat cake, so he opens up a cake shop in hopes of catching his long-ago tormenter. ...Seriously.
STORY - The absurdity of the above summary still surprises me sometimes, but if nothing else, I have to give Antique Bakery props for being unique. The bakery element is pretty original in itself, but I was more impressed to see an easygoing comedy/slice of life-ish series involving mostly-ordinary, adult characters in their thirties. That Tachibana has reoccurring nightmares involving cake is very, very laughable to me, but thankfully, even though that could be considered
the main plot of the series, it usually takes a backseat to the everyday shenanigans around the bakery, which I find infinitely more entertaining. I don't really think the series would have lost much if the kidnapping cake trauma had been left out, honestly, but I suppose that's one of the few things that makes this series stand out a little, and Tachibana needed some weird kind of reason to quit his well-paying job to start a bakery.
A lot of people label this series shounen-ai, but I really don't think it is. I mean, yeah, there's a gay character, but there is no romantic center to the story at all. Ono just happens to be gay -- he's a "magical gay," but whatever; he has a few one-episode subplots (including, unfortunately, the first episode), but it's nothing consequential to the rest of the story. Tachibana is insistently straight, so it's really not that important at all. Antique Bakery wouldn't be all that different if Ono was closeted or hetereosexual instead. I guess that's another thing that makes the series unique though -- a gay character without a gay subplot.
Beyond the cake, the shenanigans themselves aren't all that original or of a particularly high quality. They're passable, but that's about it.
CHARACTERS - Tachibana is the only vaguely interesting character in the entire series. Though I'll probably always find the source of his nightmares hilarious, the personality that results is entertaining enough. As a privileged son, Tachibana can pretty much do whatever he wants. He gives no reason for wanting to start a bakery, but those around him accept it. Really, even he doesn't think much about the half-hearted desire to catch the man who kidnapped him; it stems from his frustration at the gaps in his memory more than any want of vengeance or retribution. I think that lack of hatred towards his tormenter and his general easy come, easy go attitude is what makes Tachibana attractive as a character. Then again, his tormenter tormented him by endlessly feeding him cake.
The rest of the cast is pretty stereotypical. Ono is a flamboyant gay man who has the retardedly cheesy talent of making other men fall for him. Eiji is a simple-minded, ex-boxing champion who really, really loves cake. Chikage is the village idiot. All of them have backstory that's tossed around to spice up a few episodes, but none of it really interested me since they seemed more like excuses for the characters to be situated in the bakery than anything else. None of them have much in the way of lasting conflict, and none of them change, so at the end of the day, I just don't care.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - The art style's pretty generic, and I found the occasional transitions to chibi forms rather jarring. There are also random bursts of flowers and other weird shoujo backdrops, but you kind of get used to it after a while.
The opening animation is pretty original and cute, though I wouldn't think that "cute" really suits Antique Bakery. The ending animation is much more generic and rather unimpressive. The animation in the series itself surprisingly disappointing. All of the cake and fancy desserts and baked goods in the series are gorgeous, which is appropriate, but that's about all that's worth praising, sadly. From afar, the backgrounds don't look so bad, but closer inspection reveals many of them to be computer-generated and very clunky-looking. The character animation is cheap and flat and the shading is absolutely terrible -- I shouldn't be able to see all the Photoshop brush strokes, seriously. It's not clean at all. The characters and background don't integrate at all and the whole thing is just a visual mess. The cakes are pretty, but when they don't look like they belong in the same scene as everything else, something's wrong.
MUSIC - I'm not particularly fond of the opening theme. The bouncing, upbeat sound is appropriate for the silliness that encompasses much of the series, but I didn't really feel as if it fit with the accompanying animation for the opening. The end theme is a bit better though and provides a decent, thoughtful tone for the end of each episode. Despite this though, neither songs are very memorable. Maybe I'm just not a fan of CHEMISTRY? The score for the series is comprised mostly of piano and classical music. As a pianist, I suppose I'm biased, but I really loved the piano tracks in Antique Bakery -- for the calmer scenes, they're very soothing, relaxing and just all around nice to listen to; for the more dramatic scenes, they're loud and accompanied by urgent violins. Everything fits well.
VOICE ACTING - Pretty average, though I was surprised to find yet another credit to Mamoru Miyano, who does the voice of Eiji. The man has quite the impressive range and portrays his character well without invoking thoughts of the other (rather prominent) roles he's voiced. I was also pretty fond of Keiji Fujiwara as Tachibana, though it's easier to spot the similarities in the voice to his other roles.
OVERALL - Antique Bakery is not a great series, and it certainly isn't for everyone, but it isn't a complete waste of time either. Really, I don't think there's much to say beyond that.
Gay anime [shounen-ai & yaoi] in general get no real respect from the industry do they? That's the thing that has always irked me in the back of my mind when watching shounen-ai anime. The fact that they are either cheaply made or that they lacked any real story beyond being “gay gay gay and GAY!” From Gravitation right up to Junjou Romantica, it's always the same no matter what [All EXCEPT Loveless, perhaps, but that was incomplete]. Antique Bakery is probably the only gay anime in existence that has a significant story beyond the standard-stereotypical gay plot, For this reason alone Antique Bakery has
my utmost respect.
Just the OP sequence alone gets a 10! Because watching this series, it's pretty obvious they were on a tight budget but that didn't stop them from putting out what has got to be one of the most original and stylish opening credits I've ever seen for an anime. Using little “cardboard cut-outs” of the characters and placing them in a tiny rotating model of the Antique Bakery Shop...is just downright innovative and pretty fucking fierce you gotta admit! Watching it always puts me in a good mood. The ED sequence was also pretty good, I love how they played with the various character images, deconstructing and reconstructing them into little jigsaw puzzle pieces. It all matched the music 100%!
But one thing with the art I do have an issue with, and that's the choice of colors and the shading style. As much as I appreciate how much they have preserved the original character designs from the manga, I truly felt the coloring was a little too subtle and understated, and also, I wasn't too impressed with the shading which they seem to rely too heavily on smudging the colors. Artistically, you shouldn't really use smudging as your primary way for blending colors/shadows because if you use it for everything then aesthetically the work looks “smudgy” dirty or untidy. The smudging technique works great for some shadows or “tan-lines” but that's about it. Besides that, though I though was awesome was that the backgrounds were all CGI. But I'm still giving the art high marks...because I know they did not have the same budget as....say, Naruto or Inuyasha!
The music is great, I love both the OP and the ED theme songs, it could be because it's the same song, and the same band but sung differently [I thought that was very cool] It also be because of the art sequences used for each of them, I'm not sure, but I liked the music very much. I watched the show in Japanese audio, which was good.
This is one of the few gay anime series [if not, THE ONLY ONE that I've seen] out there that actually offers a good story that's not entirely about just being a gay man and/or dealing with the stereotypical gay issues. Yes, Oro is an openly gay person [I doubt I'd consider him "flamboyant" as he isn't walking around in stilettos and butt-less chaps or anything...but he's a little effeminate] and a few of the episodes do deal with the personal aspects of his life but the entire series was not exclusively dedicated to him and his issues. If you have ever watched Gravitation [which I also liked] then you will understand what I meant. Gravitation was very much about just being gay, at least a good chunk of the story is only about Suuichi and Yuki and them being gay men or whatever...and I found it tiresome sometimes. Yuki's story, about him killing someone when he was a kid [seemed a lot more interesting] and even Suuichi's singing career all seemed secondary and incidental compared to the OVERWHELIMINGLY gay theme.
With Antique Bakery, the gayness is not the main story,...it's actually one side story, the main story is revolves around Keichiro Tachibana, his insistence in opening up a pastry shoppe and the surrounding traumas behind his mysterious kidnapping over 23 years ago.
This is a wonderful story that's being told really well with a lot of humor, the time flies by and you're never left wondering what is the point of the show...and “why are you watching it?” Which is the way I've been feeling about a lot of anime shows lately.
I love a small cast! I love the intimacy between the characters. I like being able to fully appreciate each person that's introduced to me and you can only get that with a small cast. Especially if it's a 13 episode series, you can't afford to have a large cast because you won't fully develop the characters into believable personalities. Baccano! was a great anime with a very LARGE cast, however each character demonstrated only one side to their personality as if each character represented a particular emotion [and somehow it worked for that anime] but on the average a large cast in a 13 episode series usually spells disaster as far as character development is concerned. With Antique Bakery we get to fully enjoy all for main characters and their histories. With a small 4 person cast like this I can't pick a favorite because they all held a special importance and they each have something I like very much. The only gripe I have, as I have said in the Art-Section is that I think the designs were fabulous but the color and shading choices were not right. With a cake shoppe you want colors to be vivid [which the did for the desserts and the background] but the characters were washed out looking.
I first came across this title from the movie of the same title...and it was a great movie! Very funny and romantic with very nice F/X. The series is just as funny and endearing and I do like how they play with the backgrounds to convey a character's emotions. I recommend everyone to check out the movie if they love the anime...the move is awesome!
This, in my opinion, is the best shounen-ai anime title out there by far! It's two closest competitors "Gravitation" is kinda childish and "Loveless" which seems to have an awesome story but is incomplete. every other shounen-ai title I've seen is just very silly and not worth mentioning. Which is sad because there are some pretty good shounen-ai mangas out there.
I greatly enjoyed Antique Bakery. It was very refreshing to find a "light" comedy without the use of annoying, overreacting characters. The series started out very light-hearted and relaxing, and the darkness creeps up on you, hovering just a little while until the end of the series ends, and it takes off with a sigh. Nothing big, no major climax - save for the "fake" climax near the end.
I noticed some figure poses were drawn awkwardly - noticed in the first scene with the boy running. The series uses CGI background juxtaposed against the drawn characters. At first, this contrast seemed strange, but I
got used to it. The CGI itself reminds me of playing a point-and-click game that tries to make itself appear realistic; those end up being quite beautiful. The actual character art appears to be unpolished shoujo art style. The drawings give the impression of a casual webcomic - the lines are not thick or dark-coloured. The shading (especially on characters' hair) seems very rough and quick. It almost looks like original art found on a social media website (DeviantArt, Tumblr). I was surprised when I found out the show was made in 2008, as the art style seemed very old with its unpolishedness. The comedy "chibi" characters are amusing.
The OP is great. I never skip it. It's so upbeat and happy, although some might not appreciate the use of autotune. I, however, think it's awesome.
The background music is soothing. I was surprised to learn it was variations of classical pieces! The first time, it distracted me from the scene, as I was trying to figure out if it was actually the classical piece or not!
I enjoyed the humour. "I have powerful connections [to help you get a job]. Ramen shop, ramen shop, or ramen shop!"
Antique Bakery is one of those anime where they don't fully close with the final episodes. It's subtle and not jarring, just like the characters in the series, just like the episodes and the stories of each. This is okay, because as the theme song says, life goes on.
Though it was different from what I expected when I started to watch "Antique Bakery" it still couldn't save the whole thing in the end.
First of all - the characters:
If you rely on a gag to introduce one of the main characters, don't overdo it or it'll get repetitive; unfortunately, that was exactly how I felt about Ono. The first three times with his demonic gay charm were hilarious, but soon after that I seriously wanted to slap him in the face. Not because of his raging gayness but because of the obnoxious movements and reactions he tended to do.
It's not that there aren't any
fulminant gays out there but it feels like such a cliché in anime to picture them like that. Which was a bit disappointing at times.
Thank God, Tachibana got a more complex character where you are shown bits and pieces throughout the anime, indicating that there's more to him than just a happy-go-lucky dude with homo-issues.
I feel like a lot of people found Eiji irritating, but to me he seemed like the only one who truly acted like he felt. On the other hand, I get why some had problems liking his character, as he, too, appeared as the cliché delinquent that wants to be accepted kid. Still, his honest to God hunger for acceptance was kind of heartbreaking.
Although Chikage doesn't get much development, his character doesn't get pushed to the front constantly which makes him an adorable comic relief that helped me through some of the boring parts.
As for the story:
I mentioned earlier, how the last few episodes included most of the actual interesting stuff. If they'd only decided to move some parts of those into the middle part...
After the introduction, which lasts three episodes, the plot falls flat at so many points, I had to force myself to continue watching it in hopes there will be a turning point.
Not even the comedy parts couldn't save much until episode 9. From there, everything took a sharp turn for the better (except for the animation, which seemed to get worse every episode).
After such a lighthearted start, I really didn't expect it would get this serious but I was glad to at least get something worth watching in the end.
I'm a bit disappointed because I feel this anime had much potential after the manga seemed to have been a huge success. It's difficult to translate certain aspects on screen, but there would have been ways to make it work better - like a better balance between "action" and "daily routine at the café"
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