I love slice of life. I really need to watch more of it. I find slice of life to be incredibly special, but of course it must be done right. A slice of life should give you the impression that time is passing, it should show things that you have either done or could imagine yourself or someone you know doing in daily life, and it’s main focus should be on the little things that make life special. That’s how I would define a slice of life show that is good. Its a day in the life! It should have moments of excitement and moments of boredom, the fun and the mundane, the best of life or the worst of it, but not enough that it becomes a drama.
Polar Bear Café is a slice of life show with a spin. The majority of the characters are animals. It takes place in a Japanese city at a café run by a polar bear. The Café has both human and animal patrons that we watch go about daily life for the period of a year. I just made the show sound incredibly boring. We see the ups and downs of daily life for sure, but its about animals!
There are 50 episodes of Polar Bear Café, and it really felt like I experienced 50 weeks worth of time. We see Romance struggles, job struggles, the struggles of keeping things clean, The struggles of living day to day life; but above all we see the joys of life .Over the course of the year we see a Polar Bear, a Penguin and a Panda go fishing, play baseball, go on picnics, learn how to drive and so many other things.
Because the characters are animals we do get to see them go through situations that normal humans wouldn’t. Penguin becomes infatuated with a girl penguin and then finds out there are seven sisters he’s interested in, instead of one. He can’t tell them apart, because Of course all penguins look alike to most people and this is mirrored in the identical sisters. Most of the animals in the series are shown to hold a job at the local zoo, which they work at during the day, but then leave at the end of the day to go home. Sloth and Tortoise are both incredibly slow, Lama keeps getting overshadowed by Alpaca (I love Lamas now), There’s even an episode where a human is shocked to find an animal run Café.
That is to say, in one word, the show is fun. It has a zany sense of humor that has a myriad of outlets, most of them through Polar Bear, a jack of all trades who is a horrible pun master above all other horrible pun masters. He has a best Friend named Grizzly, who is a grizzly bear, who owns a bar, the main patrons of which are the carnivores that live in the area. The idea that they would both own establishments that would cater to the opposites of the animal kingdom is grand. I love how the two of them interact!
Outside of Polar Bear the main characters are Penguin and Panda. I mentioned one above, the lovestruck penguin who for some reason doesn’t seem to have a job. Its a mystery as to how he is able to live the life he lives and what he does with his time. No one is even sure where he lives.
Panda is the first character we meet. He’s lazy beyond lazy and doesn’t do anything outside of eating, until his mom tells him he needs to get a job. From then on Panda begins to work part time at the zoo and spends the rest of his time outside of the home with Polar Bear and Penguin, either at the Café or out having fun. Panda is young and naïve and we learn a lot about how things in this world work through him.
There are a couple human characters too. Sasako is a young woman who works as a waitress at Polar Bear’s Café. She’s a sweet hearted simple girl who loves to ride her bike and enjoys her job. Mr. Handa works at the zoo as a zookeeper and he is first introduced as the person that makes sure Panda is doing his job. He eventually meets and develops a crush on Sasako, it is legitimately one of the cutest relationships I have ever seen in fiction.
There are so many other great characters in this series and they each get their little moment. Over the course of 50 episodes so many things are explored, so many parts of life. We see the seasons pass and characters come and go. We even get to see backstories from some characters. Its incredibly sweet and well done and not once did I feel bored.
Is there anything about this show that I didn’t like? Not really. Its special. Easily one of my favorite anime. It explores adult themes, but never once falls into the territory of raunchy inappropriate humor. There is no English dub, but to be completely honest I can’t imagine watching it without subtitles. There is no overarching plot like in most shows, but it doesn’t feel pointless either, there is character development and subplots that go on for episodes. I’m not really sure how such a sweet and warm show was made.
I would be committing a veritable crime if I didn’t mention the many different ending songs that the series has. It has three openings and a total of ten endings. The openings are traditional enough, but the endings are songs paired with sequences featuring something outside of traditional animation. From shadow puppets, to little kids in costumes, watching a girl on her bike, and seeing a stop motion penguin fly through his lovestruck world. They are fun! Maybe someday I’ll write a
If anything I’ve said has struck your curiosity and you’ve never seen this anime and think it might interest you then I suggest checking it out on Crunchyroll. Its one of the anime that I watched exclusively using the streaming site. I’m looking forward to watching more on Crunchyroll too. I think it has a very nice selection of series and I just downloaded the phone app. I can’t believe I didn’t think to do so before now. I’ve had my phone for half a year!
Until Next Time, Always Make Your Heart Rainbow!