「喫茶 鹿楓堂へようこそ」 (Kissa Rokuhoudou e Youkoso)
“Welcome to Rokuhoudou Cafe”
Spring 2018 has its work cut out for it to fill in the void left by last season’s high quality comfort shows came to a close. Luckily, Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori is a suitable successor as it balances out the calm, serene backdrop of the Rokuhoudou tea shop with the quirky and talented cast behind the shop’s hospitality. As a result, you get an anime that is relaxing and engaging, but brings in enough laughs and humor to make the stay worth your time.
It plays out like other shows that fit the mold of a cafe anime; a nice little restaurant located in the outskirts of town is host to fine food and guests who come either for relief or enjoyment. Many of their clientele enjoy Rokuhoudou because the scenic location nestled in the forest has the breathtaking backdrop of cherry blossoms and bamboo, and the background art is spot-on in capturing how beautiful the scenery is. Additionally, the assortment of food, drinks, and sweets are also given attention to detail in showcasing how delectable these delicate dishes look. There’s a labor of love in Rokuhoudou’s menu, and the first episode doesn’t shy away from showing the leading quartet of men assembling them.
The first episode’s premise highlights a working woman struggling to find a meeting place with the perfect view of the cherry blossoms, and how the efforts the main cast put into their craft help her realize that her new studying place of choice would be the perfect backdrop for said meeting. In the process, we see another strength in the show; it’s four main characters. Tougoku “Sui” Kyousui (Suwabe Junichi) is a laid-back bespectacled man who loves the cups of tea he crafts as much as he loves the cat that visits the shop regularly. Meanwhile, Nagae Tokitaka (Nakamura Yuuichi) is a refined chef who preps up the food on the menu diligently, yet isn’t too stone-faced to not react to his co-workers’ antics.
Our other two men, Valentino “Gure” Gregorio (Ono Daisuke) and Nakao Tsubaki (Yamashita Daiki) are definitely the best of the four. Ono does a great job at capturing the comical and cheery nature of the half-Italian Gure as his expertise in coffee gives him a jolt of enthusiasm as he tries to perk up the rest of his co-workers despite his lack of knowledge in desserts or his basic latte art skills. Tsubaki is particularly amusing because the effort he puts into desserts is contrasted with his volatile personality, and it’s funny to hear the effort Yamashita puts into going from voicing meek, shy protagonists to playing a tough guy who is constantly angry at everyone and everything around him.
There is a lot of enjoyment to be had from Yotsuiro Biyori with its calming and humorous look into the lives of four chefs as they help warm the hearts of those who flock to their tea shop for relief. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the show’s execution turned out, and am excited to see where the series goes from here. Our leading cast does a good job at carrying the premise of Yotsuiro Biyori and it’ll be fun to see how they tackle any of the on-coming issues they may face in future episodes.