Was that a romance flag I saw proudly waving there at the end?
There’s a definite trend here – Polar Bear’s Café seems to trending less ironic and more heartfelt as it races towards the end of its first cour. Whether you view that as a positive or not depends on what you want from anime comedies in general and this one in specific, I suppose, but as long as there’s a certain irreverence that’s always in the mix I like a splash of earnestness with this show in particular. “Panda-kun’s Night Out” from last week was a highly successful example, and this week’s “Panda’s Advice Room for Troubles” a modestly successful one, but it’s good to see the show isn’t stagnating or becoming a prisoner of formula.
The first chapter this week was “Panda, Tired of Boredom” and it was pretty much in-line with the default troll comedy mode for Shirokuma. I’m proudly uninterested in idol trends, but Panda-kun’s allusion to “Yama Arashi” had me scratching my head and wondering just how out of touch I was, since I thought it was a judo move (if such an idol exists, Google can’t seem to find her). It takes a certain amount of commitment to dedicate an entire segment to animals time-wasting on rainy days at the zoo – playing mahjong, drinking tea, skeeving off in the office… Who knew Full-time Panda-san was a models otaku? And that Mandrill-san likes to pop bubble-wrap (I keep looking for a joke or pun there I must be missing, but I think it’s just random weirdness). And what was that with Pando-kun’s remark about idols saying they don’t go to the bathroom? Does that really happen?
As with last week, the second chapter is the warmer of the two. It’s all about sad-sack Handa-san, a nice guy who even lets animals walk all over him (and pity him). Well-liked by “animals, kids and old people” but luckless with girls. I’m not a huge Handa-san fan, but this was certainly a good sketch for him as his earnest schlubbery comes off as somewhat endearing. For humor we did have Penguin-san’s “Gehehehe!” laugh when talking about Penko-san (sorry, Penguin, you really did) but mostly it was about what a lovable loser Handa-san is. I rather liked the moment when Polar Bear-san gave him a cup of coffee on the house and he shared a “moment” with Sasako-san. As the two main humans in the cast it sort of makes sense that they might get shipped together, especially as neither is romantically linked with anyone else.