How nice of Shirokuma to
stab give Penguin a shoulder massage.
Reviewer’s note: After some contemplation and some convincing, I’ve decided to review Shirokuma Cafe for the season. This is also why the review is up a bit late.
It’s hard to explain, but all of the seemingly unexpected outcomes and payoffs from gags and scenes in Shirokuma Cafe have not been all that surprising in a WTF kind of way. That is because this show is able to balance nonsensical and realism well, so much so that you’re able to view it within the strange context provided and understand and accept exactly what is going on.
The image above is a prime example of that and is a prime example of what makes up Shirokuma Cafe’s essence. After unsuccessfully asking Sasako for a shoulder massage (she’s unsure of where exactly a penguin’s shoulder is located), Penguin turns to Shirokuma who happily obliges. This results in Shirokuma stabbing Penguin with his claws. While hilarious, through a realistic perspective it’s perfectly understandable that Shirokuma’s attempt at massaging ends with claws through penguin flesh.
Episode 2 was made up of two halves and two separate narratives. The first half finds the the gang doing what I’m going to go out on a limb and assume they’re going to be doing most of the season: shooting the breeze inside Polar Bear’s Cafe. Eventually a discussion about whose vision of their own cafe is best is had between Panda, Penguin and Llama (who pleasantly receives considerable screen time).
Panda envisions a cafe drenched in panda decorations and serves an assortment of bamboo dishes. Penguin’s version of a cafe is decked in traditional Japanese styling and serves nothing but raw fish and alcohol, which, according to Penguin is
precisely like comparatively different from a sushi restaurant. Llama’s imaginary cafe gives customers the opportunity to tend to, groom and even take llamas for “walks”, like some bizarre combination of a petting zoo and escort service.
In the second half, the gang have themselves a good ol’ fashioned cherry blossom viewing party, which is basically a picnic centered around watching cherry blossoms fall. This is highlighted with Penguin becoming belligerently drunk and confessing to the group his inner-most feelings for Penko, a lady penguin who works part-time at a bakery.
So far, Shirokuma Cafe is carried by character interaction and timed humor. If you’re expecting a show with some semblance of fast pacing, you need to look elsewhere. It’s a very stationary show that uses lots of stills and imagery. If you’re interested in oddly charming animals and oddly charming animal humor, then by all means, dive right in.
The best part about the show is how it explores animals in human-like scenarios. It asks the hows and answers them in their own subtle and amusing manner. For instance: How would one give a penguin a shoulder massage? How would a llama serve coffee to customers? How would a penguin react after drowning itself in alcohol? How long would it take a sloth to travel to a convenience store and back? Episode 2 provides these answers.
Since Shirokuma Cafe seems to like randomly living in the now, I’m not sure if it’s interested in telling any backstories. But a future backstory on how Shirokuma came to own a cafe (instead of reading about it through a synopsis), would provide a good touch for his character, and a good touch for the show.
For now, the show has done well introducing the characters and their personalities and the core dynamics between them. I’m looking forward to more of the weekly offbeat tangents that are sure to be had inside Polar Bear’s Cafe.
GO Rating: 3.5/5