Shirokuma Café – 14

[HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.14_[2012.07.05_10.33.25] [HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.20_[2012.07.05_10.38.57] [HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.54_[2012.07.05_10.44.31]

New seasons are exciting and all, but don’t forger about this hidden gem.

[HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.46_[2012.07.05_10.25.02]Sometimes there are shows which I blog basically for myself.  I always debate whether it’s worth covering a series that generates effectively no response from readers, but I usually end up covering it anyway – because, frankly, I would rather cover a show I like than a show I don’t like as much.  I’m not sure exactly why Shirokuma Café seems to draw so little interest, apart from the obvious lack of cute girls (well, apart from Sasako-san but she’s too old for otaku tastes) and the fact that the human can be somewhat esoteric at times.  It was certainly overshadowed airing on the best day of a great season, but with things looking a little leaner maybe Summer will help the series find a few more fans, if it isn’t too late.

[HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.29_[2012.07.05_10.26.08]And it’d be a shame if that doesn’t happen, because the evidence at hand is that Shirokuma Café is getting better and better.  Last week the series proved it could handle the transition to fairly serious and heartwarming material, and succeeded in making me care about two characters that hadn’t previously made much of an impact.  More generally speaking, the show has found the sweet spot with its humor, fitting perfectly between snark and sincerity, between smart and silly.  There are still dumb puns and sight gags, but a lot of smart and subtle stuff too – and there’s an undercurrent of genuine affection among the characters now that gives everything that happens a significant upgrade.

[HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.39_[2012.07.05_10.27.18]We had two very different takes on anime trope this week, and they both worked beautifully.  First off was a (sort of) body switch episode, as Panda-kun and Shirokuma-san switches places for a day.  Surely four of the scariest words in this show are when Shirokuma-san says “I have a great idea” – I saw it coming a mile away, but it still totally worked.  First off it was a great showcase for Sakurai-san to do his Fukuyama-san impression, and with his first “Panda-san desu!” I knew this was totally going to fly.  Shirokuma-san-s trolling the zoo audience was brilliant as ever, with his feats of magic and his putting exhibition.  This was also another fine example of the series gently poking fun at the way humans behave in zoos, and what the animals must think of us as we’re doing it.  My only disappointment was in not seeing more of Panda-kun trying to manage the café.

[HorribleSubs] Polar Bear Cafe - 14 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.42_[2012.07.05_10.27.22]Next up is the beach episode, featuring the main trio in some of their best shared screen time in weeks.  There was nothing scientific here – just the three characters acting very much like themselves, but the whole venture was low-key fun to watch.  I especially enjoyed it when Panda-kun started wiggling his butt and Penguin-san started swaying when Shirokuma-san played the ukulele, Shiroukma-san’s usual expert advice on everything from watermelon-smashing to kayaking, the shaved ice headaches and some very memorable sand sculpture (a great example of Shirokuma blending smart and stupid comedy) and the fact that the only ones interested in Penguin-san eating ramen were two freaked-out guys.  This sequence reminded me a bit of the “boys night out” sketch with the three bears, in that the irony was toned down a little and we could see the three friends genuinely enjoying each other’s company – even Penguin-san, for a change.

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We also get a new ED this week, and this time it’s Full-time Employee Panda taking center stage…

ED4: “ZOOtto, ne♪” (ZOOっと、ね♪ Zūtto, ne?, “Always”) by Katsuyuki Konishi

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7 comments

  1. f

    This must be the first ever episode without polar bear pun! Anyway the first segment was very funny indeed. And I didn't realize panda's face would look that disturbing without the black eye marks.

  2. l

    I appreciate how Shirokuma Cafe evolved and expanded during last season. But if there's one thing I hope they develop more in the new season, it's Penguin-san. Very early on, he became my favorite character. But it's as if they don't know quite what to do with him now that his crush has been established. He's been relegated to less than a side character and serves more like a Greek chorus now. This week's second act was a painful reminder of just how much he's been neglected lately. More Penguin-san, please!

  3. I agree, Penguin has had less staying power as a character than the other two. That's why I was glad to see him sort of revert to his original role in the beach chapter, and really become part of the action again. I think he either needs to get a date with Penko-san so we can get some development out of that, or have her reject him definitively so we can move on.

  4. e

    I had a big smile on my face all along, but I lost it at Botticell's Birth of Venus (and you put that among the top screencaps too… and this among other things is why you're the moral winner of any tournament) . Polar Bear has golden hands *ç*.
    It was a both funny and heartwarming episode. Goung by next wek preview we'll see more Penguin-san action next week. I'm curious XD.

  5. K

    Panda-kun is going to have a tough time ahead of him at the zoo, considering how high Shirokuma-kun set the bar. Shirokuma-kun is truly a bear of many talents. I wonder if the seals and polar bears at the zoo would recognize Shirokuma-kun in the panda disguise?

  6. K

    Although there isn't a lot of discussion (and sometimes it's hard to discuss comedy) a fandom for Polar Bear Cafe does exist. I actually recommend this tumblr blog http://fuckyeahshirokumacafe.tumblr.com/ (a lot of fun stuff to be found).

    Anyways I personally love the series. It's not necessarily my favorite but it brings a smile to my face every week.

  7. b

    Shirokuma really passed off as a panda, sort of. A really big one though. Panda-kun meanwhile really looked weird without his black marks in his eyes.
    And why did they leave off Sasako-san in a beach episode D:
    That aside, the two bears wearing shirts and trunks is really weird but they look good in it. Better than Yogi Bear actually 😛
    Best episode yet. The new ED is catchy and good. The title is funny too.
    Well, let's hope that the title next week means some development on Penguin's part.

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