I’m not an avid watcher of Yaoi or Shounen-Ai material, although I have always been aware of that sub-section of Japanese media. I’ve just never given BL (“boys love” for those who don’t know) a chance. Until now that is. And so here I am with a review that covers both the anime and manga for Antique Bakery, a shounen-ai that is parts romance, comedy and drama.
So, I’ll be honest. The reason I decided to watch this anime/read this manga was not because I was curious about the Shounen-ai genre. It was because of 2 words, just 2 simple words. “Magically gay”. After reading those words, I just couldn’t resist. I simply had to know what “magically gay” meant. My imagination couldn’t handle the possibilities. As it so happened, the rest of the anime/manga was pretty good too. A quick disclaimer: I stated earlier that this review will cover both the anime and manga. What I meant to say was that the anime and manga are very similar, and so covering one is almost synonymous with covering the other. I will point out any differences or distinguishing features of a specific medium if I feel the need arises.
Antique Bakery deals with Tachibana Keiichiro, a top class businessman and heir to a successful trading company, who suddenly up and quits his job to open a bakery. The first person he decides to hire is the aforementioned “magically gay” man, Ono Yusuke, who’s masculine wiles and indelible charm are irresistible to all… except Tachibana. As it turns out Tachibana was the one person who rejected Ono back when they were high school students. While Ono was traumatized by that event, he is grateful that Tachibana is his employer now, as Ono has repeatedly been kicked out of every bakery he has ever worked at, due to his “magical” gayness. Now that Ono is assured of his job security, he gladly accepts Tachibana’s offer, and from there the story continues.
There are 2 others who join Tachibana and Ono on their quest. The first is Kanda Eiji, who was once a successful world-class boxer, but after an career-ending injury, he turned to cakes as a chance to get a new lease on life. Ono takes Eiji under his wing and decides to train him in the ways of the patissier. The second person is Tachibana’s childhood friend and stalwart bodyguard, Kobayakawa Chikage. Chikage is a bit on the slow side, but he has a big heart and a beautiful face, which grabs the attention of Ono immediately. Chikage joins the group alongside Tachibana as the 2nd waiter.
As far as the story goes, it’s kinda hard to say. Antique Bakery plays out like a slice-of-life show in it’s episodic nature, as there is very little in terms of an overarching plot. The only elements that seem to permeate throughout are the shounen-ai leanings, the almost undefinable relationship between Tachibana and Ono, and an underlying subplot revolving around a traumatic incident in Tachibana’s childhood. Besides that, each episode follows the bakery’s operations from day to day, as the group struggles to serve their customers whilst also supporting one another.
What I found most impactful about this show was how full of heart it was. It tackled the issues that are inherent in the homosexual lifestyle in a way that found the comedy in the situation, and this definitely helps everyone both in the scene and watching it get a better understanding of what it means to live differently. It shed light on issues in the gay community, but not so much that it blinded everyone. Antique Bakery just did a great job of portraying gay people as regular people, with hopes and dreams like everyone else. Despite not being gay myself, I still really appreciated that, as it added a depth to what could’ve just been a shallow rom-com, slice-of-life show about cake.
Now, let’s talk music. The background music isn’t much to speak of. As far as OST’s are concerned, I’ve heard far better. However, it is mainly comprised of classical instrumentation scores, things like violin and piano, which fit well with the “antique” aura of the show and it’s setting, the bakery/cafe. So I guess in that sense it’s doing it’s job. The ending also didn’t really do much for me, I just wasn’t a fan of the tune. However, the opening was great. The song was catchy and hip, if people still use that term, and I’m a fan of some of Chemistry’s other work, so I recognized them right off the bat. As well, the animation of the opening was really unique, with a stop-motion diorama of the cafe spinning around to provide the audience with a full view of the day-to-day going’s on of Antique. All in all, it provided a great start to every episode. Needless to say, the manga’s music was sub-par… yes, that was a joke.
All in all, Antique Bakery offered a great experience with really very little time committment (12 episode show and/or 23 chapter manga). If you are looking for a relaxing visit to a cake shop, why don’t you stop by at the Antique Bakery and have a bite to eat. I’m sure they will indulge you.
That’s all for now folks, I hope you enjoyed the review. See ya later and have a great day!