Review: Bartender

There is a small bar, hardly noticeable unless one’s looking for it, known as Eden Hall. There works the bartender Ryu Sasakura, one who is said can give the customers their “Glass of the God.” Indeed, Ryu does show himself to be a master bartender, and with each episode he is able to, with his knowledge of spirits and people, deliver to each customer their “Glass of the God” and thus alleviate their worries, and sometimes even improve their life.

That’s the essence of the plot and right off the bat I bet you’re thinking that either this anime sounds very dull or quite awesome. Well I won’t deny that this is the perhaps the most tranquil anime show I’ve ever seen; however, that comfort and serenity that is found in the bar Eden Hall is perfectly, and I believe purposefully, reflected in each episode of the anime.  As each customer gets a pick-me-up in the bar, I believe the viewer feels equally lifted, less with spirits then perhaps emotions.

The story originated from a manga of the same name by Araki Joh which was adapted into this eleven episode anime in 2006 (with sadly no American release planned at present). The brevity of the series doesn’t require a real sense of commitment, and since each episode’s stories stand on their own one can watch this anime at a leisurely pace and still not miss a beat. I personally still recommend watching the episodes in order since, and this is one of my favorite parts of the show, customers of the bar early on come back as narrators and help tell the stories of future customers who, befit with woe, find themselves in the bar known as Eden Hall.

In my opinion, the series itself is pretty solid. The animation isn’t amazing but charming. The music is pleasant but not obnoxiously catchy or forceful. The characters are introduced deeply enough to where we can sympathize with them but shallow enough to where we know when their time has passed. Much like the bar in the show the anime achieves success on a brief, but perhaps personal, level with the viewer. My only significant complaint relates to the supposed history of many of the drinks that this show explores.  In the anime, there is invariably a tale told about the drink being served to the customer that somehow appropriately fits the customer’s mood or situation.  The idea that each drink had a truly unique history peaked my interest in the show further and gave me a greater appreciation for bartending.  However after finishing the show I learned that while some of the stories were in fact true, perhaps just as many were created solely for the purpose of the show. Admittedly this is not surprising, but I felt a personal let down from this.  Even so, real or not, the mystery of the character’s and their own personal drama is enough to draw me in to this show.

I rate this anime quite favorably and I suggest for anyone having a bad day, or for anyone who wants to just relax with an episode of anime, that you check out Bartender.

Score: 3.5 out of 5


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