Final Review: Shirokuma Cafe

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Shirokuma Cafe is based off an ongoing josei, gag manga of the same name. It follows the daily lives of animals and humans living together where the animals can actually speak. The main crew features a polar bear, a penguin, and a panda. The series ran for a whole year consisting of 50 episodes between April 2012 and March 2013. Shirokuma Cafe was simulcasted by CrunchyRoll during its run.

Shirokuma Cafe presents itself like a 4koma-like comedy title. While I have no knowledge of the source material, the show is definitely well received among an older generation relative to younger generations. The set up for this show is far from bizarre. In fact, it’s a very simple and straightforward show with no real plot, which is certainly not a bad thing. That said, for a comedy title, it’s generally bland. Maybe I have stubborn sense of humor but for about 80% of this show, I often found the jokes lame, obvious, or dull. It’s lighthearted, but 50 episodes worth along with numerous repetitions really kills many of the “unique” moments that the series could have had. It doesn’t help to know that the mangaka also disagreed with some portions of adaptation mid-way through the series.

Art is generally simplistic yet detailed and colorful. Character designs are slightly above average as they really did spend quite a bit of time on the details of each of the animals. Animation is as basic as you could possibly get with little to no inconsistencies. I should note that Studio Pierrot is behind the animation, i.e. the studio behind many big hit titles, including Bleach, Naruto, Kimagure Orange Road, Fushigi Yuugi, GTO, etc… Coming from them, it’s a very simple title to animate and of course there are little to no flaws. The most notable errors, however, usually come from long distance shots where the budget seems to have skimped both from an art and animation perspective.

OP themes are generally sub-average though I am very surprised to hear Rie Fu since she rarely does anime titles. Some are memorable but mostly forgettable given the number of better titles over the last year. ED themes fluctuate too much to really be memorable. Most of them are silly animal puns that tie in with the visuals being shown but in terms of long-term memorability, these will be forgotten before long. Background music is filled with a mix of short, simple, and/or fluffy tunes or slightly longer jazz-like pieces. Sound effects are generally forgettable. Seiyuus are mostly experienced ranging from Jun Fukuyama to Aya Endou to Hiroshi Kamiya to Takahiro Sakurai to Kana Hanazawa, etc… Generally speaking the acting is above average for this show. Nothing really to say that’s particularly outstanding.

Enjoyment? The show is mostly one shots. Some half episodes are continuations of previous ones but even then, most can be seen as stand alone. Normally I don’t have a problem with this as it benefits those trying to preview titles but because of the large amount of repetitiveness across episodes, the material gets old fast. The characters are not really interesting and thereby leaving little to no hook on a weekly basis. It’s a nice, light-hearted title to kill time if you need a show to watch in a down season as it’s neither terrible nor spectacular but at the same time in an up season, it lacks any sort of thriller-like moments to really keep an audience engaged to want to watch more.

Overall, Shirokuma Cafe is definitely a show not meant for everyone. Action fans obviously should stay away. As for slice-of-life fans, even this show is a toss-up depending on one’s expectations. If you’re looking for drama or romance, this is the wrong show. Comedy fans may enjoy this depending on the humor they’re looking for. Shirokuma Cafe is like Hidamari Sketch in many ways. The former is cute animals doing cute things while the latter is cute girls doing cute things. You could take it one step further and compare it to Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou where you have cute boys doing cute things. That said, it all depends on what you’re looking for and Shirokuma Cafe only proves that point in a new dimension. At the most basic level, Shirokuma Cafe is not unique but its presentation and spin on its concept makes the show approachable despite being a 50 episode series. As noted before, Shirokuma Cafe is nowhere near a bad show nor is it a masterpiece. It’s different and because it’s different, it’s not for everyone though I respect and understand those who do enjoy it.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Simple but different to some extent
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Can initially feel retarded
  • Character Development (0.5/2): Shallow.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Cast names are easily memorable. Animal population does grow substantially large that it becomes difficult to remember how many animals there are
  • Pacing: (1/1): Episodic
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Fine
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): No problems but nothing to leave the series as particularly memorable.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Simple but detailed and to the point.
  • Character Designs (1/5/2): Detailed designs but again simple sketches.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Basic
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Very colorful
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): Cheap animation from Pierrot but gets the job done in a proper fashion
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1/3): Generally forgettable
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Above average
  • Sound Effects (0.5/2): Cutesy sound effects are the only thing memorable.
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Good line up with above average acting.
  • Total: 5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): Personally found most jokes too lame. Occasional good jokes got too repetitive for them to be properly enjoyed anymore.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): Generally none except for a couple weeks.
  • Presentation: (1.5/2): Episodic makes it very easy to pick up.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): As a series, no. Good time waster but too overly repetitive as a whole series.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Unique but really should only be watched in parts. Recommendation depends on type of comedy one is looking for.
  • Value (0.5/1): Unique in its own right. Trying something different is a plus but the show will likely not be memorable.
  • Total: 3/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 5/10

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