Oh my god, this is probably the first show in YEARS that I had a huge smile across my face the entire episode. This is the kind of comedy that I like, when it becomes a close circle of acquaintances and their everyday antics that don’t rely on being loud and annoying (Gintama..). Plus, when you have A-list seiyuu voicing these adorable animals, and a studio known for dishing out crap actually showing they can do better is more reinforcements that speak volumes as to how Shirokuma Cafe may just be one of the best shows to come out so far.
Panda (Jun Fukuyama, one of many surprises) is a lazy panda who’s mother (Toshiyuki Morikawa – I’m not even kidding) begs her son to find a job so he won’t be lazy around the house. While chasing after a butterfly, Panda stumbles upon the Shirokuma Cafe, where he is warmly greeted by Shirokuma (Takahiro Sakurai). Panda applies to the Cafe in search of a job, but his lazy attitude does not bode well with Shirokuma, but he does help Panda eventually find a job at the local petting zoo. One of the cafe’s regulars, Penguin (Kamiya Hiroshi…okay what the..?), also helps Panda find his job while trying to deal with Shirokuma’s obsessive usage of puns.
The rest of the episode follows Panda as he tries to adjust to his new job at the zoo, being mentored by the full-time Panda (Konishi Katsuyuki) and actually does a great job entertaining a group of preschoolers. I really had a smile on my face while watching this, of course because I’m a sucker for animals (minus cats..) and the overall mood of the show was almost reminiscent of Natsume Yuujinchou only much more lighthearted. All of that combined with pitch-perfect jokes only made my viewing experience with this show so much better. It’s a godsend for us slice of life fans that such a show has graced our presence, and it’s something that I believe anyone can watch.
I’m very surprised to see that Studio Pierrot of all studios is behind this series, as they’re the ones who have given us Bleach and Naruto along with many other lackluster series. The effort in this episode really tells me that this is a show that they are clearly putting effort in, and I’m glad it’s this show. Thursdays are pretty crowded (as usual..), but this is the kind of show that can really do a lot with so little and you can bet I’ll be watching this series from now on. A week ago, I had no clue this show existed and now it’s one of my favorites of Spring so far. I love anime.
Status: Definite watch.