Shirokuma Café – 19
「ペンギンにも色々あるよ／バイセンってナンダ!?」 (Pengin ni Mo Iroiro Aru yo/Baisen tte Nanda!?)
“There are Many Kinds of Penguins/What is ‘Baisen’!?”
First off, let’s name ALL the VA that premiered this episode, adding their names to an ever growing list. First we have the VA that probably was instantly recognizable, Shimono Hiro as Masaki, using his Akihisa voice. Second, we have two of three penguins Gentoo and Chinstrap, as Hirakawa Daisuke and Sugita Tomokazu, known for voicing Makoto (School Days) and Kyon (Haruhi). There’s also Furukawa Toshio as the kangaroo, known for voicing Piccolo (DBZ), and of course Hiyama Nobuyuki as the jealous King Penguin, known for voicing Viral (Gurren Lagann). Then of course, smaller roles include Miyata Kouki (also voices the otter and badger), Ai Nonoka, and Takeuchi Junko.
It’s ridiculous just how many VAs have come to voice various parts of this anime, but it’s definitely showed its merits in this episode! The dialogue, whilst being in itself humorous material, was only enhanced by the fact that it was done well by such a diverse cast. Penguins have never been this fine, or had so many lines, since Pen Pen in Evangelion! Good chemistry between the characters has always been my favorite part of this show, so with the addition of all these new voices, this episode was a field day. King Penguin and Penguin-san bickering, King Penguin beating on Panda, Masaki getting owned by squirrels, and of course the cutest thing to happen on the show–I laughed wholeheartedly as all these new characters lended their energy to the show.
But VAs are ultimately reliant on what’s actually happening in the episode, which itself was great. Although we may have been denied a lot of Sasako for you fans out there, everything else was in high energy. I appreciated how the anime played on the different species of penguin, being both educational and ridiculous at the same time! The Penkos also keep making their repeated appearance, making me glad that the Penguin arc hasn’t completely stopped, with its ridiculous twist haunting Penguin-san forever. It seems that the animal employment rate is 100% in this city, as Masaki, normal boy wonder, works under a kangaroo and his squirrel part-timers to make the best coffee in a treehouse–only Shirokuma Cafe can get away with this premise and not sound crazy. These ridiculously setup scenarios have definitely gotten better in the second half of the season, where the first half focused much on introductions and really mellow skits. Here we can see the author, Higa Aloha, definitely break into her rhythm. It’s actually fascinating to see how her skits progress in quality, considering how much of a novice she is compared to other mangaka.
If that energy can run into the festival episode next week, which may or may not include Handa and Sasako interacting, I will be most glad that Aloha has finally begun mastering her unique genre.