Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Bonjour Koiaji Pâtisserie
Season 1 Streaming
Haruno Sayuri has been accepted on scholarship into the prestigious pastry school Fleurir! She's the only scholarship student, however, which makes her a target of both jealous (and less talented) students and a headmistress who is having some serious second thoughts about letting a poor person with what may be a suspicious moral code into her precious academy. As Sayuri gets to know her classmates and teachers, will she be able to prove herself and remain at Fleurir to fulfill her dream?
Bonjour Koiaji Pâtisserie is one of those rare shorts where five minutes feels like it is just the right amount of time while also giving the impression of being more than that. It doesn't drag – rather it's that the storyline of each episode is trimmed of excess details, gets the plot across, gives us a picture of the characters, and still leaves us wanting the next episode. For a show based on an as-yet-unreleased otome game, that's impressive.
The plot follows aspiring pastry chef Haruno Sayuri (the show keeps names in Japanese order), who has just been accepted into the exclusive Fleurir academy on scholarship. Whether this is a high school or a university is unclear, but many of the other students can not only pay their own way but also come from prestigious restaurant or confectionery families, making Sayuri an oddity in more ways than one. Luckily she has her friend Ran, because the other students, led by the classic princess-type mean girl Tsubaki, look down on her and would like her to leave. The same appears to be true for the headmistress, which seems odd given that she's the woman who admitted Sayuri on scholarship (and presumably based on her culinary skills) in the first place. Three of the instructors are also kind to our heroine, which is a mixed blessing of sorts. Because this is based on a romance game for girls, all three teachers are incredibly young and good-looking, with the added bonus that Mitsuki smells like chocolate. Unfortunately their attention to Sayuri is a mixed blessing, because Fleurir has but one strict rule: students and teachers may not become romantically involved.
Given the seriousness with which this edict is delivered in the first episode, it may be hard for Western viewers to see why this is a bad thing. After all, that's basic common sense/legal practice for most teachers: don't hook up with your students. In the rarefied world of shoujo, however, it just adds the thrill of forbidden love to the mix, particularly since Gilbert Hanafusa, the French pastry instructor, is much more comfortable being casually physical than the average anime character. For all of that, however, the show seems to be following the route of the one student who is a potential romantic interest, Kouzuki Ryou. Ryou is the heir to a large family of confectioners (apparently; it's mentioned once and then never again) and is quickly won over to Sayuri's side by her uncanny ability to tell what flavor is missing from his pastry cream. While we don't see them interact much between episodes one and eight, by episode nine the poor guy is twice interrupted as he tries to confess to her, and by the time the season ends at episode twelve, there's definite tension between them, mostly brought on by a combination of a misunderstanding and Tsubaki's meddling. More importantly, Ryou is the only one of the four love interests to actually appear to like Sayuri, and she's so afraid of making the headmistress mad that he's the only one she seems to have any interest in as well.
The romance, despite its short minute count, is done well. Ryou and Sayuri's expressions and body language convey their feelings well, with both managing to say a lot in very little time. Kaito Ishikawa (who will voice RIN-NE in the upcoming anime adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi's manga) does an especially good job sounding both frustrated and awkward as he struggles to get his feelings for Sayuri across. Perhaps just as interesting is the relationship between teachers Gil and Suzumi. The two are often seen together with Mizuki off on his own, which seems like they are being offered up for fujoushi fantasies of the two of them being a couple. To be honest, it's a potential bit of fanfiction that works very well, and it certainly may add to the appeal of both show and game.
While the animation is quite limited, relying on a lot of reused cooking images and facial expressions instead of action, it works well, and characters are mostly on-model, with Sayuri and Ran most often getting the short end of the stick. (Given that the draw of the show is the pretty men, that does make a certain amount of sense.) Pastry is consistently mouthwatering, and if the opening theme doesn't make you crave Napoleons, you're a stronger soul than me. There is an annoying habit of the subtitles using the French “chocolat” instead of the English “chocolate;” it seems likely that it is intended to reflect the way the characters pronounce the word. Unfortunately it also gives the show a pretentious air that it neither needs nor deserves.
Bonjour Koiaji Pâtisserie isn't anything amazing or groundbreaking in the world of either reverse harems or shoujo, but it is a lot more enjoyable than it at first appears. With a plot that follows through each short episode it maintains the feel of a longer show, and even though we know that it is based on a game, it doesn't feel like an infomercial for one. With a surprisingly good romance plot, characters who, while standard reverse harem types, manage to stand on their own, including the heroine, and some truly tasty-looking desserts, this is a nice little treat when you need a pick-me-up. The first season doesn't come to any sort of defined conclusion, with episode thirteen picking up right where twelve leaves off, but clocking in at about one hour total, it comes in a nicely digestible chunk. Fans of the reverse harem or cooking shoujo in general should find themselves pleased, and possibly pleasantly surprised, by this tidbit, which consistently manages to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : C+
+ Better than you would expect, feels much more complete than many shorts. Non-episodic nature keeps viewers engaged.
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