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Anime Review of "Bartender"
Bartender is a Japanese anime series that ran from October 15, 2006 until December 30, 2006. This is a short-lived series; but due to the storyline of the series, Bartender's not the type of anime that would have the necessities for a longer running series unless there was a set storyline. This can be classified as a dramatic and slice of life anime due to lack of a central storyline. Just because an anime doesn't have a linear storyline, it doesn't mean its bad. There are plenty of great anime titles that are classified as being slice of life.
The series is directed by Masaki Watanabe and written by Yasuhiro Imagawa. It was produced by Palm Studio and aired on Fuji TV.
Like many anime series, Bartender has been adapted from a manga counterpart. It was written by Araiki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo. It ran from 2004 until 2009 for twenty-one volumes.
Last year, the live-action adaptation was aired with on TV Asahi. It ran for eight episodes. The main character role was given to Aiba Masaki of the Japanese all-male pop group called Arashi. Also, it was Arashi that performed the theme song.
There's no main storyline to Bartender. Instead, each episode focuses itself on its own individual storyline while sticking the main plot. While there is no main storyline, the plot of Bartender centers on the genius bartender Ryu Sasakura who owns this bar called “Eden Hall.” He's known for making all these drinks; however, it seems that Ryu has this type of special intuition on what type of drink to serve the certain customers that enter the bar.
The setting of the story takes place in Eden Hall where other scenes take place in the flashbacks of the customers. This is something one doesn't find. Eden Hall is the type of place where you have to be “invited.” Usually, Eden Hall “invites” patrons who are of any stature that have their unusual troubles and heavy burdens. Though young, Ryu is rather intuitive. The drinks Ryu serves are proof of his intuitions causing the customers to reflect upon their lives.
Ryu also gives explanations of drinks along with their histories. If you are a person that enjoys alcohol and/or frequents bars, then you may appreciate the storyline behind Bartender. This gives the enchanting feeling of an upscale bar. If you work as a bartender, then you may appreciate the authenticity of fixing drinks.
Bartender is a slice-of-life story. It is ultimately a story of a bunch of stories being joined together at Eden Hall. The story is simplistic: focus on the story of the customer that enters Eden Hall and Ryu makes the appropriate drink while giving an educational & informative explanation at the same time.
While there are many characters, Ryu Sasakura is the titular character of the series. However, his main role is sitting behind the bar counter fixing drinks and listening to the burdens of customers that enter the bar. The other character is Miwa Kurushima. While Ryu is the main character, Miwa is the female protagonist of the story. Her active role in the anime is pretty limited; but, Miwa's role is important as she narrates each episode.
Most of the episodes centralize on one or two specific characters as they contemplate about their worries and burdens; but, Ryu and Miwa remain the consistent characters of the series. While Ryu plays an active role in the story, Miwa sits quietly behind the scenes observing while narrating. In short, Ryu is the “actor” and Miwa is the “storyteller.”
While Ryu and Miwa are the central characters in the series, the patrons are usually the ones that take the center stage in each episode. Ryu does a good job of playing the bartender and confidant. When the customers enter and talk to Ryu, they do not act for a specific drink. By carefully listening to the customers' stories and feelings, Ryu knows how to make the "perfect" drink.
One could consider Ryu to be the "Bruce Lee of Bartending." In martial arts, Bruce Lee said that no form is the ultimate form. In the case of mixing and serving drinks, no drink is the ultimate drink. Ryu shows the utter important of being adaptable and being able to effectively listen to his customers.
The overall musical score fit the mood for the atmosphere. The opening and ending performed by Natural High really fits the mood. Also, the musical score feels very appropriate overall with the episodes of Bartender. The opening theme is called “Bartender” and the ending theme is called “Hajimari no Hito.”
When watching Bartender, the musical score felt very soothing. It made the viewing experience relaxing and more enjoying.
Nothing “exciting” or “explosive” happens in Bartender. This is something that has the potential to become a stage play or musical. Bartender is one of those anime series that makes you want to have a nice relaxing drink afterward. If you need something easygoing and relaxing after a long stressful day or watching an intense anime/playing an intense game, then Bartender is one of those anime series to watch to wind down. It's one of those series that is best watched at nighttime especially before going to bed. The anime has that calming effect. If you have a smart phone, tablet PC, and/or a portable DVD/Blu-Ray player, watch a few episodes of Bartender if you're taking some sort of plane or train trip. It's pretty relaxing where the time will pass by.
The series is available in Japanese language and Korean dub; however, you can watch it in English subtitles. Bartender is one of those anime series that you want to watch while actually having a couple of drinks. This is the one series that definitely appeals to a niche of people that enjoy alcohol and/or visiting bars. For aspiring and professional bartenders, this is a series you may want to watch. While this series is for adults, due to the content of alcohol, it is warm and friendly without any sex or violence.
Also, be sure to check out the live-action adaptation as well. However, the story of live action version tends to be very different from the anime version.