Ryu Sasakura is the main character of Bartender. He's a bartending prodigy, and it's said that he mixes the best cocktails anyone has tasted. He mixes drinks for Eden Hall, which is hidden in a nook of Tokyo's Ginza district. It's said that normal people can't simply find and enter Eden Hall; instead, they must be invited by the host. During the series, various people who have unusual troubles and heavy burdens are "invited" into Eden Hall. Inside, they are treated to Ryu's drinks, and receive guidance from the bartender. Then, these characters reflect on their lives and make a decision as to how to tackle their problems. Each episode of the series also features at least one cocktail.
The people who come into Eden Hall over the course of the series are a hotel redesigner, a young woman trying to solve a mystery involving a drink, a retiring head of an advertising agency, a couple on their first date, a woman celebrating an anniversary with a husband she's grown distant from, a young salesman, a screenwriter, a politician, a female lawyer, a con man, and a professor. The drinks featured in the anime include the Grasshopper, the Nikolaschka, the Margarita, the Bijou, the Amber Dream, the Daiquiri, the Aberdeen Angus, the Rusty Nail, "Pastis Water," the Gin & Tonic, the Black Velvet, and the Bartender.
While Bartender has an interesting premise, the storytelling is a little on the slow side for its execution. Also, there were times in the first episode where a character would suddenly "break the fourth wall" for a brief bit, and then return to the action. If the series were being done in a documentary style, this wouldn't have been quite so jarring.
When it comes to the animation, the series makes attempts to combine 2D and CG animation. For example, when Ryu is working at the bar, the bottles on the wall behind him are clearly done in CG, even though Ryu and the rest of the background are in 2D. Also, there are times in the episode where a glass is shown with a drink being poured, and there's an explanation about the drink to accompany the image. Each time, the glass was done in CG, and I believe the liquid was done this way as well; in these sections, I didn't think the CG looked very good. This is another case of a series trying to combine two different kinds of animation, but the CG in this series really sticks out like a sore thumb.
While I didn't see or hear anything in the series that would be objectionable to younger viewers, I think that a show featuring alcohol isn't really being aimed to that audience. Also, I think the pace of the storytelling wouldn't appeal to a younger audience. Personally, I would recommend Bartender to anime viewers who are 16 or 17 years of age and older.
|Bartender||11||2006||Masaki Watanabe||Palm Studio||N/A|
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