Antique Bakery ~ Fumi Yoshinaga
Nozomi Entertainment/Rightstuf ~ 12 episodes
“In food and in life, one must taste what is bitter to appreciate what is sweet. Troubled that memories of the past continue to invade his dreams of the present, Keiichiro Tachibana stuns all who know him by abruptly quitting his ordinary office job to open a bakery. He envisions a predominantly feminine clientele and a wait staff of cute girls. Instead, his employees include a playboy pâtissier who’s been fired from every job he’s ever had, an ex-boxer with an insatiable sweet tooth, and an absent-minded childhood friend and family servant. Can this unlikely quartet overcome personal tragedies, learn to work together, and discover a recipe for culinary success?”
If you love gorgeous desserts then go pick up a copy of Antique Bakery. The rest of the story will just be icing on the cake. Get it? Cake? It’s a bakery. Ok, I’ll stop now. Although Antique Bakery appears to be very lighthearted there is layer of dark undertones and mystery spread throughout that will at times leave you feeling a little uncomfortable, but that’s what good story conflict is supposed to do. One moment you find yourself laughing hysterically at Ono’s seductive rain dance, the next you’re faced with how Tachibana’s childhood trauma still affects those around him. Consider Antique Bakery comparable to Junjo Romantica except with conflict that will affect you on a much deeper level.
There are four main characters in the story and each one develops nicely as the story goes on. Tachibana is the character most focused on and he’s the one that brings the mystery to the story. He’s plagued by nightmares over a childhood tragedy and it’s this tragedy that brings the most depth to the story as well as darkness. Although he comes off as uncaring and a bit prickly, we see how much he truly does care for those around him, strangers and friends alike.
Ono I found to bring the most humor to the story with his crazy antics as the “Gay of Demoic Charm”, but he too becomes so much more. We see how he struggles with the career he’s chosen and the memory of the harsh rejection of his first male love. He very much has a split personality between a gay playboy and a sweet if not sometimes tortured soul.
Kanda blossoms as an assistant pâtissier. Having been forced to leave the world of boxing, he dives headlong into baking but his determination to improve hides his ultimate fear.
Chikage at first seems to be the least developed of all of the characters and it isn’t until much later in the episodes that we get introduced to his personal life and past. I think it’s this delay that adds to the story. With four characters introduced early on, we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed with too much character background.
I’ve battled over and over in my mind whether Antique Bakery would be considered yaoi. There are definitely yaoi elements within, including Ono’s various gay relationships and his secret power to make any man ‘gay for you’. However, yaoi is about a specific relationship between two men and Antique Bakery does not focus primarily on a romantic relationship. There are a few different storylines going on involving each character that makes Antique Bakery what it is. So for our purposes and to clarify the sexual content, I would merely say that it closely resembles light yaoi.
There are gay relationships and characters that do have sex but there is nothing explicit and the most we see is some fooling around or two men in bed after the “deed” is done. Still, it’s more than we ever got in Togainu no Chi or Betrayal Knows my Name so I’ll take it! I would have liked to have seen more of the one relationship that started between two of the characters but just as quickly as it started it was never really addressed again, which is unfortunate.
Animation/Box Set Details:
The animation in Antique Bakery is definitely unique when compared to what we usually get. There is a combination of 2D, 3D and real elements used throughout. I think the intro is interesting with the paper stand-ups of the characters within what appears to be a real miniature representation of the bakery. The intro song “Life Goes On’ by Chemistry is quite catchy and you’ll most likely find yourself wanting to get a hold of it after it’s done.
I’ve gone back and forth with how I feel about the frequent use of 3D in the background and the use of 2D on the characters. It can be jarring at times and other times I’ve found it enjoyable. I think the introduction’s use of 2D stand-ups in a 3D environment was intentional and meant to represent the animation style of the anime itself.
The box set includes three discs with four episodes each. The enclosed special booklet is 31 pages and includes character bios, quick facts, featured desserts, and two interviews featuring all four lead voice actors, as well as the creator of the manga, Fumi Yoshinaga.
Antique Bakery serves up a delicious storyline with a healthy dose of humor and a smidge of mystery on the side. Foodies and non-foodies alike will love the detail given in the dialogue, animation and special booklet to the various dishes served. Antique Bakery goes down in my book as a must have for any yaoi fan. Not a yaoi fan? You don’t have to be. Just bring an open mind and a sweet tooth.
Character Development: A
Sexual Content: N/A
Overall Grade: A
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