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Shirokuma Café – 26

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「新しいパンダ/グリズリーバーの同窓会」 (Atarashii Panda/Gurizuriibaa no Dousoukai)
“New Panda/Reunion at Grizzly Bar”

I don’t care if I repeat myself over and over–Shirokuma Cafe has continuously gotten better ever since its first episode. Even though we’re at the end of the 2nd cour, the show still runs strong and continues to tap into its vast potential as a premise. It’s a shame that most potential watchers were turned off by the slowness in the first few episodes, since we’re at the point where the show is definitely showing its strongest points. It’s been a long time since Panda first stumbled into a quaint little coffee and tea shop, and it’s still a long time until Panda has to say goodbye.

What Shirokuma Cafe has done well, looking back at its 26 episodes, is develop a setting where a vast cast of characters interact with one another. The show has no shame in introducing new characters, for each of them has their own unique personality that breathes a unique life into each skit. However, the show doesn’t fall prey to the shortcomings of ignoring characters. Instead of being limited to 12 episodes, Shirokuma Cafe gives itself time to casually develop all of its characters. This does sometimes result in episodes without much happening, but in my opinion, that’s much better than having to be rushed through a plotline to make episode deadlines. Here, we can lazily observe how Pandas can be the most engaging yet lazy animals on the planet, where Llamas can turn any situation awkward, and where bears are the most awesome creatures to walk the animal planet. Week after week, I’ve never felt much pressure from the plot to wonder what’ll happen next–what happens each week is special on its own. Although there may be faint plotlines regarding Sasako, Handa, Penguin-san, and others, never do these plots really…force you to pay attention.

For a plot-driven show this would be suicide, but for a show that’s meant to be the quirky slice of life in your anime schedule…it’s perfect. Although Shirokuma Cafe never was on my “most exciting episode to watch this week” list, it did manage to be a show with pleasant surprises. Although the skits of this show rarely make me laugh, the fact that the show throughout keeps a smile on my face is an accomplishment of itself. Without anywhere to aim for, without any overarching conflict to resolve, all the show has to do, and has done, is be the show that makes me smile.

This episode in particular brought a wide smile to my face and brought out a rare laugh. Never did I expect the show to make fun of a struggling Panda trying to support his family, but somehow the show makes it work without being dark! I can’t help but pity Full-time Panda, who struggles so hard to keep his adorable children smiling, only to be beaten out by the younger generation so easily. Despite the somewhat serious theme, never did I think the show was actually forcing a morale or emotion down my hatch: it was just a funny story, using everyday life and brightening it up using animals. The same kind of trend applies to the second half of the episode too. Three young adult animals start having a crisis of youth, which in reality can be really dramatic. However, Shirokuma and Grizzly, with the amazing talents they amassed during their own youth, remind them that youth can be forever within. Normally melancholy, the scene is brightened up by contrasting animals, who themselves represent stereotypes of brash youths entering reality. If you were to ask someone what kind of job a wolf would work in, “baker” definitely isn’t in the top 10.

That stereotyping of daily life through animals is perhaps the hidden gem of this show. If we were to take out the animal aspect of the show out, if we were to strip the one defining trait that makes this show stand out, don’t you think that we’d start comparing the animals to our own lives a little more? Shirokuma Cafe takes away that comparison, and instead of creating a universe that’s close to us, where we can call out how unrealistic the setting is, it’s an alternate reality where we don’t have to really care what goes on! Animals and humans live in harmony, where no one has any malice towards one another. No conflict is ever too severe, and nothing is ever taken TOO seriously. These animals can do whatever their pure hearts desire, and since they’re animals, since it’s such a different reality, we don’t have to care how outrageous the plot gets!

That is what I’ve loved about this show this entire time. It gets slow at times, the animation may falter a lot, and Panda can get REALLY annoying, but in the end, I forgive it all, for it’s a show that doesn’t try too hard to conform to anything or make things coherent and real. It’s just a show that one can watch and smile at, which definitely is enough for me.

However, for me, this is where I say goodbye to Shirokuma, Panda, Penguin, and the large cast of characters for now, at least as a blogger. After some discussions that I had with Div, I will be halting my coverage of Shirokuma Cafe, effective immediately. I will be blogging the last episode when it airs months from now, but for now, I have to put this show to rest. There is another show out there that needs some loving, but it’s not listed on the schedule because I’m unaware myself how my life schedule will fare these next few months. That’s why it’s not listed–I can’t make a commitment, yet. It has been a very, VERY pleasant ride with Shirokuma and friends, but sadly this is where my coverage stops for now.

Although your comments were few, I read and appreciated ALL of them. This was really a niche show, but your humble comments made this a show worth sticking with. Someone’s gotta stick up for the niche shows, am I right? Perhaps I will return to cover niche shows if one really catches my eye, but this one definitely holds a special place in my heart for being the longest and one of the first shows I’ve covered. Thanks, those of you who have stuck with this show so far. We’ll see each other again when the finale finally comes!

Zan ^_^

 

Preview

Shirokuma Cafe   26   Preview 01
September 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm
14 comments »
  • September 27, 2012 at 7:51 pmdeathtogeneric

    Boo~~. Will someone else please stand up and cover this show at RC? I knew Zanibas will drop this sooner or later as he/she didn’t seem to enjoy this show as much as Enzo or me. It was almost dropped back in the end of Spring, so go figure… And sure I can always go to Enzo’s website, but we really need continued coverage for this show at RC!! This show is better than about 80-90% of any new show coming in anyway.

    • September 27, 2012 at 8:10 pmZanibas

      I appreciate your love for this show, but don’t spread around falsities :P. I wasn’t ever planning to drop this show in the spring, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking for an opportunity to drop this show…I’ve enjoyed this show thuroughly, even though I might not have always had the most insightful things to say about it.

      But yes, if Enzo continues to blog it, you can always just check it out on his site if you want your scoop!

      • September 28, 2012 at 9:41 amZanibas

        Upon receiving clarification, it seems that I DID consider dropping the show during the spring. My apologies for being a little rash, I’m at fault for that. Sorry generic! I’m just a little sensitive right now having to drop Shirokuma. The reason that I reacted a little harshly is because I don’t want people to think I’m dropping Shirokuma because it’s an inferior show, or a bad show. Quite the contrary…if I had more time, I would definitely continue it.

        However, I think this does bring up a good point about the show. Over the course of the last season, the show has DEFINITELY picked up pace, gotten better, and for the most part, made me love the universe the show has been set in. It’s true that the first season wasn’t anywhere as good as this season, but the second season has been so good that…the past episodes’ faults have become dimmer. While this may be a case of bad memory, I’d like to think of it as a good case of…how well this show has progressed. My posts reflect that, stating how the author has finally gotten into her stride, becoming more lively in her writing and skits.

        I’m still at fault for having a cloudy memory though. You can definitely reprimand me on that. Sorry! Please forgive me ;_;.

  • September 27, 2012 at 8:59 pmrandom viewer

    And I was wondering why this episode deserved such a long post review. Thanks Zanibas for covering Shirokuma Cafe up til now (and later on); I always look forward to your blog posts whenever I finished watching an episode. I just want to repeat this: “what happens each week is special on its own,” because that is so true and I agree this anime definitely puts a smile on your face. The many animal characters that are explored throughout the series are a real treat and just seeing some of my many favorite animals shown (this time the hardcore hunters) gives me a surprising amount of enjoyment. I would encourage everyone of all ages to watch this show. Also, the music is also good and the endings are actually sung by the voice actors FYI. So why not be interested right? I’m glad there’s more episodes to come.
    BTW did anyone notice Origami-Shirokuma’s face at the preview (lol). This episode left a good message about global warming, take heed to Shirokuma’s rap lyrics people!

  • September 27, 2012 at 10:06 pmbelatkuro

    This episode was just golden. From Full-Time Panda getting 4th place when there were only 3 participants to the predators having tame jobs to MC469MA. Just pure win. Brilliant, brilliant episode really.

    And I knew this day would come and I was prepared since there’s hardly anyone commenting here every week. The next season has some pretty interesting shows that needs some attention I guess. I’ll just say this: I never would have watched this show if I hadn’t seen this in the Spring preview and got covered here. So thanks for that.

    Now let’s talk about covering TLRD…

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:40 amlilu

    How I well understand full time panda.
    I didn’t think that we really get a sound of the singing part of Polar Bear, I thought they just would show some slideshows and that’s all. That’s was the biggest whitest rapper.

  • September 28, 2012 at 1:00 amZen

    Really impressed that you stuck with this show for as long as you did; the whole point of a public blog is to get as many views as possible. Good work, and we’ll see you for the conclusion I guess ;)

  • September 28, 2012 at 5:34 amelianthos

    Aw, thank you so much for covering this show so far here at RC Zani, in spite of how relatively little attention it got. Your posts and Enzo’s at LiA really convinced me to include the series in my meager watching schedule and since then this is the one series I’ve looked forward to every week to get my fix of heartwarming yet gently satirical – ans sometimes hilarious – quality material. It’s a little gem.

  • September 28, 2012 at 6:23 amMagewolf

    Thanks for covering the show.I have enjoyed all your posts and hope that things go well for you in the future.

  • September 28, 2012 at 7:07 pmAutumn The Cuzzy

    Thanks so much for covering this show, Zanibas!! I’ve certainly enjoyed it, and I know others have as well!!

    For the first half, I felt SO bad for Full-Time Panda. I mean really, even beaten by a temp? At least Panda-kun was nice enough to offer him a free meal to make up for it, that was very thoughtful of him!!

    For the second half, how sweet is it that Tiger runs a sweets shop? (pun not indended) Plus, six kids? Wow. I’m kind of like Wolf, still trying to find myself and what I really want to do… But the start of the laughs kicked in at about that time and I lost track of all that philosophy. Lion’s mom doing all the work for him when he was younger, lols. XD

    • September 29, 2012 at 8:22 amFlanders

      I dunno, which was sadder, being beaten by Temp Panda, or by Handa-San, who wasn’t even a panda to begin with, lol.

  • September 29, 2012 at 8:25 amFlanders

    Thanks for the coverage you did for this Zanibas. I really enjoyed your posts here. As for me, I’ll continue watching this because this is one anime I can just sit back and have a good chuckle or two.

  • September 29, 2012 at 8:40 ampaiser

    Zanibas, personally I have no idea what your talking about when you say potential watchers… I know way too many kids – japanese kids – that don’t visit RC because, a) they are literally 7 and below years old b) even if they would they wouldn’t have ENGRISH skills to post good thoughts on it.
    So that being said! GJ on posting shirokuma.
    Also they’re wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more viewers then you possibly think. This is the next supposed generation of hello kitty or some cr*p…. but i though rilakuma was… but shirokuma is going crazy with kids…. and mothers…

  • November 8, 2012 at 9:06 amreinoc

    Excuse me, refer to above comment so this page will be drop from RC, so sad. but mind to share other link who update about Shirokuma cafe anime, since every week i always wait this anime be release. thx in advnc