OP Sequence

OP: 「ボクにインビテーション」 (An Invitation to Me) by JP

「しろくまカフェへようこそ/パンダくんの就職」 (Shirokuma Kafe e Youkoso/Panda-kun no Shuushoku)
“Welcome to the Polar Bear Café!” & “Panda-kun’s Employment”

Enter the show that tastes like no other. No, it’s not the taste of bamboo. No, we don’t serve bamboo here.

This taste is more like the taste of iced coffee. You’ll either get used to it and find enjoyment in its mellowness, or really dislike it and think it doesn’t bring much to the table. This is Shirokuma Cafe, Higa Aloha’s first and only work, a show that definitely is a different breath of air.

For those of you who don’t already know, the hooks of Shirokuma Café breaks down as follows:

One, it’s a show starring animals. Not just that, it’s a show starring animals voiced by experienced VAs. Think Suzaku (Sakurai Takahiro) as a polar bear, Araragi-kun (Kamiya Hiroshi) as a penguin, Lelouch (Fukuyama Jun) as a panda, and last but not least, Ono Daisuke as a llama. For anyone familiar with VAs, this cast provides excellent potential for a comedy, but their potentials are limited to how good the writing stands. However, this unique premise does open up comedic potential that can’t always be achieved within the human realm. Hopefully the anime capitalizes on this potential and use its VAs to its highest ability.

Two, it’s a concept from a women’s comedy magazine, something you don’t often see. For those of you curious, the magazine is Monthly Flowers, the same magazine that just finished the manga for Sakamichi no Apollon. Those looking for a novel and less-tried approach to anime should look here. The writing and tone definitely reflects the different audience Shirokuma Cafe caters towards. The cute animal designs, the bright color pallette, the light music, all of these donate themselves to the mellow atmosphere that this show brings to the table.

However, once the hooks have drawn you in, does the substance hold up? Is the humor of Shirokuma up your alley?

Those are questions you’ll unfortunately have to answer yourself…and questions that will probably not be fully answered in the first episode. Since Shirokuma Cafe really does deviate from the norm, those not familiar with the material may not be prepared for what this show offers.

I myself did not have many predispositions going into this show. I was unaware of the material, unaware of the jokes, unaware of well…a majority of the plot. All I knew was that this premise gave off a “lolwut” atmosphere and it would be voiced by respectable VAs.

What I was greeted with…was of a different tone than expected. With a premise like this, you’d expect some high-energy slapstick with overt humor, right? Bzzzzzt! Instead, I was greeted with some of the subtlest and slowest humor and character interactions that I’d seen in any anime, much less a comedy. Take for instance Shirokuma himself. His “I totally can screw around with him” atmosphere is oh so subtle, the joke can be completely lost on the first run. He definitely has a sense of humor, but it’s mixed with Shirokuma’s calm and deadpan persona enough that we fail to realize he’s actually quite the light-hearted individual. Also, puns. PUNS EVERYWHERE.

Admittedly, some of the slow pace is due to some hit-and-miss jokes, but overall that’s just this show’s nature. Cute elements balance out with the humor from quirky characters, and the story progresses at a lazy pace. There is slapstick, there is high energy, but they’re subdued and sporadic enough to not be over-the-top. Although I personally would’ve appreciated a quicker style of humor, this is a show that’s laid-back and doesn’t try to force much upon you.

If you found that this episode wasn’t your cup of tea, I still have hopes that this show will get better. If Studio Pierrot can manage to draw out the true essence of these characters, the VAs will enhance those quirks ten fold. I can imagine a scene where Penguin freaks out, Shirokuma keeps making deadpan jokes, and Llama is off to the side, doing his own thing. If such scenes where their personalities are exaggerated appear, Shirokuma Cafe can reach its full potential. However, that is something we will have to see in episodes to come. I would give it a chance for at least the third episode, to at least see if the mood grows on you and to see if the characters begin to burst from their shells.

As always, alt-text provides additional lighter commentary.

* Full-length image: 27


ED Sequence

ED: 「Bamboo☆Scramble.」by 福山 潤 (Fukuyama Jun)



  1. I was skeptical a bit to pick this up when I saw in the schedule that this will be covered.
    And then I saw the all-star cast, heard the OP and ED, and finally, FukuJun as a panda.
    Suddenly, I’m in!
    I love this kind of comedy and humor. Plus it’s relaxing to watch. Screw the setting on how animals and humans interact and why would a zoo be needed when the animals are already walking in the streets. I’m sticking all the way with this show.
    Looking forward to this show now.

    You should give an example to a character that Ono Daisuke played. He feels left out.

  2. Seems to me you had a field day doing the captions eh Zanibas. Too many good ones, can’t choose em all! I liked 1, 13 and 17 and couple others.

    But DAYUM those seiyuus, I don’t pay attention to male voices much but I still know those are very big names.

    While I don’t watch this show, I gotta say writing for this seems to be pretty difficult, keep it up, H**-san.

      1. Well I don’t watch Kimi to Boku (dropped after the OP sequence of the first episode of the first season) but I barely watched this episode for 15 minutes before dropping this thing.

    1. I give each show a chance and watch the entire first episode of a series before deciding to keep following it or not. This show seems more like a little kiddie saturday morning cartoon to me for 6 or 7 year olds then an anime so I am gonna pass on this one.

    1. Hmmm. Again, I find myself at odds with the RC community, which confuses me. In my post I did three things.

      1. I praised the high quality of the seiyū in the series.
      2. I stated that it SOUNDED like it would be boring.
      3. I expressed my frustration (“gar”).

      I can only assume that people object to my opinion as to Shirokuma Café’s entertainment value. Or to the tone of my post. It hurts to be so unpopular. Sniff.

      1. Cart Driver makes some good remarks, all of which I agree with for the most part. However, I feel it judges the series way too fast for one episode. Again let me reiterate here: I believe it would be wiser to give the benefit of the doubt if you’re on the fence. It is a very lazily paced comedy. If it manages to get out of that rut by episode three, woot! If not, it’s understandable your reason to drop.

        Also, @cancerclad, I feel you, but unless you provide a substantial case to back your strong statement, people will obvious feel the need to thumb down to show their disagreement. I’d be glad to hear criticism of the show, but it’s much more fulfilling when we explain why it sounds “so damn boring” :P.

      2. Well since I was linked, I feel I might have to explain myself.

        Because I watch the first episode of almost everything in a season, I have to make snap, overly quick judgements or else I’d go insane. I agree with giving the benefit of doubt if you’re on the fence as the series does have a charm to it

      3. Well, you know RC is pretty polite crowd. Anytime you write that you don’t like a certain show, especially on that certain show’s message board, you get buried under negs real fast. I haven’t seen that not happen unless you trash Guilty Crown. Oh yeah. Guilty Crown, burn, burn, burn!

        some guy
  3. The moment I saw the preview of this, I knew I would like this show. I watched this episode completely without expectations (I didn’t even know they had such a great lineup of VAs)~and I love it! FukuJun makes the perfect Panda, and I don’t think Kamiya Hiroshi could have voiced the Penguin better. They’re voices are completely in character, and I didn’t feel like I was watching Watanuki/Lelouch and Natsume/Araragi talking. The animation is good…the animals are CUTEE! But I can get why some people don’t like the humor. I thought the punny polar bear was a cute touch, but the puns themselves weren’t too funny.

    The humor is pretty subtle and airy. I think Americans in particular will have a hard time understanding the humor, since they are more used to slapstick, irony, and caricatures.

  4. Was actually pretty good. Panda was kinda annoying at the beginning, but it improved once more animals got introduced. The 3 main characters kinda parallel operating systems a bit, Panda being the slow and bloated Windows, Polar Bear being the humorless Mac OS, and Penguin being the can’t-be-bothered wise-ass Linux.

    Makes me wish weed was legal where I lived. I’m sure the entire production team was stoned while making this.

  5. Interesting – reminds me of Working!! 1+2 except with animals.
    Funny, but I can’t expect anything more…

    Beside, who wouldn’t want a job on a tuna boat getting paid for being yourself –
    and part-time at that!

  6. I’m convinced that this is a satire of the hardworking-girl-becomes-beloved-cafe-employee genre. Polar bear is the charming proprietor, while Panda turns the hardworking girl archetype on its head by being cute but lazy. Meanwhile, Sasako, who would typically be the protagonist in a human-centric anime, is a minor character.

  7. I feel like everyone who liked this series decided it was more appropriate to downvote the haters rather than making their own comments. In any case, I loved the first episode and I’m looking forward to more! Thanks for the post (:

  8. I absolutely loved this first episode.
    It completely used its bizarre premise perfectly to diametrically oppose its everyday slice of life atmosphere.
    The jokes were great the first time around.
    I watched it again and it was even funnier.
    The VA deliveries are seriously spot on.

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