Shirokuma Café continues its fine run with another very funny episode, especially the Halloween chapter that was first out of the gate. I loved this because it was loaded with in-character humor and the kind of meta-normality that makes this series feel so bizarre at its best. Penguin-san dressing up for Halloween as… a penguin? Well, naturally – if you think about it, there’s no way you’d expect this series to go anywhere else.
Quirkiness abounded in this one, starting with Shirokuma-san’s comment that he thought Sasako-san was part of the “Friends with Pumpkins” society, and her blank response. In hindsight Panda’s pumpkin costume seems rather straightforward, with Shirokuma trotting out a string of options (changing in dark alleys like an Arctic Superman) including a middle-schooler with no pants, a matador, and Heidi. Starting with Grizzly Bar they make a tour of the city gathering increasingly contextually inappropriate treats like jerky and bonsai, before running into Panda’s nephew and Baby King Penguin (who immediately bonds with Penguin in costume) and Panda wonders why the kids got so much more candy. Penguin-san’s timeless reply: “Their cuteness is unconscious and free of wicked thoughts.” As a gesture of friendship Panda-kun gives all his treats to Handa with a note saying they’re from Sasako, but the zookeeper sees through the ruse at once. And while it was a small moment, for some reason I loved it when Shirokuma pretended to steal Penguin-san’s candy smelt – only to say “Just kidding!” and give it back. It was totally in-character – and somehow, profoundly sums up why the balance in this series is so spot-on.
As for Llama-san being taken for granted, I may be too generous but I think there’s just a hint of something deep here, a comment on how the competent and considerate are always outshined by the flashy and erratic in life. Poor Llama-san decides he needs a “Llama Day” to promote himself, but no one can agree on something Llama does that actually makes him interesting. The long-awaited payoff to the spitting idea – “I’ve sealed that ability away” – was worth the wait. With ideas from “Fresh Llama Season” cast aside, a solution is finally agreed upon that everyone is happy with – eyelash glitter. Let’s hope we never see a “Taichi Day” on Chihayafuru copy the idea.