So the 2008 summer anime season is kicking off. I plan to check out several series to decide what I'll be watching this season, but to be perfectly honest, a quick over view of this season's shows didn't particularly impress anything upon me. But I like to do reviews of new series, so I'll be posting select reviews here for the next week or two (or three).
First up is Antique Bakery.
I'm not really sure what this anime's target audience is. It's shojo, but it's shonen-ai (boys love). I assume it's for pretty boy fan girls, but the animation style doesn't present the average "pretty boy" appearance (or it could be that I've seen too many Wallflower and Weiss Kreuz type shows).
I'm also having a hard time pinning down a genre, as in comedy, drama, thriller, etc. There's romance obviously, and it does have some funny elements, but there are some hints at dark pasts, some not-so-gay-friendly characters, and even some slightly creepy moments. I suppose it's a combination of several things.
So here's the run down based on the first episode.
Tachibana has decided that he wants to open a bakery. The chef that he hires is Ono, a (very much) gay fellow with "demonic charms" that cause any guy he fancies (whether they're gay or straight) to fall in love with him. The catch is that Tachibana and Ono attended high school together, and Ono confessed his love for Tachibana right before Tachibana graduated. Tachibana turned him down hard core style, saying that gay men (or at least the gay lifestyle) disgusted him, and telling Ono to die. Ono seems to have forgotten this incident, but Tachibana remembers clearly when he meets Ono again.
Ono, it seems, has not been able to keep a job longer than a year. Everywhere he goes, the employees he works with get into pretty vicious (and often bloody) fights over him, so he has to quit and find another job. Tachibana doesn't believe him, so Ono takes him out to 2-Chome, a gay bar district in Tokyo. At the end of the night he comes on to Tachibana, whom informs him of their previous encounter, and reminds Ono that Tachibana is the only man he hasn't been able to win over. Tachibana also assures Ono that there will be no problems at his bakery, as only the two of them work there.
However, we also meet Eiji Kanda, a top notch boxer. Unfortunately he has detached retinas, and can no longer fight. Tachibana's newly opened Antique Bakery seems like the place for him. Tachibana's perfect, drama free bakery will not likely remain so for very long.
The image above is a manga cover depecting (from left to right) Ono, Eiji, and Tachibana. The manga was also adapted into a live action drama in 2001, but the homosexual themes were almost non-existent. Ono is a straight man who simply has trouble with women, and he and Tachibana have no prior connections in the past. The anime on the other hand does not seem to be shying away from that particular characteristic.