Happy New Year! I picked up the Yume-iro Pâtissière anime set for a song recently and have motored through the first 35 episodes. This isn't really a review so much as random stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the series.
Content warnings: References to abuse and suicide
- This was actually my first Blu-Ray because I'm a dinosaur, so I was shocked to find that the set contained the entire series (63 episodes) on only two discs. Technology is amazing.
- The YumePati anime is very different from the manga! For the most part, I would go so far as to call it better as well -- there's a lot more character development all around as well as a larger, more rounded cast. I'm specifically pleased that they gave more attention to Andō and added more female characters.
- Ichigo/Yōko is good. Ichigo/Erika is gooood. Ichigo/Natsuki is gooooood. Ichigo/Mari is gooooooood. Mari/Miya is galaxy brain.
- Knowing that she can't remember names, I may have referred to Mari as "Captain Lesbian" and Natsuki as "Cool Okinawan Butch" when describing the series to Doctus.
- I may have also characterized it as "like Saint Seiya but they throw cake at each other instead of cosmos".
- As with Kami-chama Karin, I think the writers may have slightly overestimated the popularity of a rude, violent, career-obsessed misogynist. I mean, I'm willing to believe Kashino was popular with (some) readers, but that's as a romanticized fantasy character, not as a real person. In-universe, it beggars belief that most every woman or girl he's ever met would become stalkerishly obsessed with him.
- Speaking of Kashino, I know I already said something like this in Froob and all, but if you know a bit about Japanese medical politics, Kashino's family is unbelievably slimy. Like, there is absolutely no way for them to run that hospital without ungodly amounts of bribery. More prosaically, I think they'd realistically go by "Dr. [given name]" instead of everyone just being "Dr. Kashino" or even "Dr. Kashino from the [x] department".
- Also, all I can say about Kashino's sister is 1.
and 2. "This is connected to some kind of fetish, I think."
- Kashino's voice actor also plays Bakugou, and uh, it's noticeable. No offense to Mr. Okamoto (who I'm sure is a perfectly nice person) but all I hear when Kashino talks is Bakugou telling Izuku to kill himself. My understanding is that Mr. Okamoto also played one of the three hottest dudes in Gay Volleyball Anime Hell, who's a completely different character type, so maybe I'll like him more there.
- There's an anime-only scene where Kashino is so anguished about Ichigo liking another boy more than him that he strikes Chocolat, knocking her into a wall; she bursts into shocked tears. It was utterly impossible for me to accept Kashino as a remotely heroic or likable character after this. (They try to soften it somewhat with a later bit suggesting Chocolat is deliberately playing up the scope of her injuries to manipulate him -- like "see, she's OK! Ho ho, what a wily female!" -- which only made me more skin-crawlingly uncomfortable, not less.)
- Reading the manga, for some reason I had it in my head that Hanabusa's hair was red, so I was surprised to see it green. (I similarly thought that BNHA's Uraraka "really" had pink hair, and kept getting confused while watching the anime.) Admittedly, shoujo manga often (warning: image heavy!) plays fast and loose with "canon" color schemes. I didn't mention it in that post, but look at Glass Mask for another example; some of its covers gave multiple color schemes for the same character in a single picture, just for the lulz.
- Really, I'm not sure why Andō and Hanabusa are even included when the story never takes them seriously as love interests; it's obvious from the beginning that we're careening towards a Kashino end whether we like it or not. (I do not.) Was there ever a chance otherwise if, say, Kashino did poorly in the manga popularity polls...? I have some beef with meticulously-balanced love triangles that are careful to never parcel out quite enough affection for anyone to edge out the rest1, but I have more yet with stories where anyone exists purely to puff up the protagonist's ego by being hopelessly in love with them. (This is most common in the type of power-fantasy isekai that takes for granted that lots of girls have to lust after the male lead just because; the otomë variety is comparatively unusual.) If I had to say, I suppose my preference is for these types of stories to follow through, break the rules, and let a dark horse win.
- Maybe Hanabusa and Andō can be gay (together or separately).
- Talking about power fantasies: not to expose my sexual proclivities to everyone, but speaking personally, Yōko's "boss around otaku boys" is far more appealing to me than Ichigo's "be incompetent and get ordered around by smug bishies" narrative. I suppose it's just a demographic mismatch. In any case, I do appreciate the acknowledgement that if there is a Group A, there must also, necessarily, be a Group F.
- I really love the bit where Ichigo's mom speculates on which hunk would be suited for her and gets to Kashino and is like "uh, hrm. Maybe don't marry that one". She knows what's up.
- On that note, "Ichigo, haven't you ever loved a boy?"
"What I love is cake." 💯
- One anime-original episode involves a jazz band, and they actually depict not one but four Black people as totally normal human beings! American media is highly prone to whitewashing historically Black music, and even recent anime and manga often rely on extremely unpleasant stereotypes when they remember that Black people exist at all, so this was something of a relief.
- I was poking around for yuri fanfic (it is very rare 😢) and found someone who seems to hate Henri about as much as I hate Bakugou:
WARNING: Henri is portrayed as an asshole because he is an asshole, so if you like his character (I don't know why anybody would, tbh, but hey, I (maybe) won't judge if you do), don't read this.
- I think sometimes the writers forgot their own rules for the Sweets Spirits. It initially seemed like everyone could hear their voices, but they freely speak in front of mundane humans without anyone noticing, and it's specified that Miya being able to hear Marron is unusual. What it looks like when they manipulate environmental objects is unclear. The manga said outright that regular folks just see, e.g., a floating spoon; I'm willing to believe that their clothes are magic or something. But the Spirits freely do things like picking up (or playing with) ingredients or operating machines without anyone finding anything amiss. For example, there's one instance where Vanilla gives a sleeping Ichigo a blanket and turns off a lamp. Did Rumi witness this and have her mind blown?
- The impression in the manga was that the Sweets Spirits hide in the pocket formed by the hat brims during the Grand Prix, but the anime-only costumes don't have that type of hat (it's kind of a NiGHTS looking thing), so they duck under the hat itself. But that means the hat moves when they go in or out. Surely the audience notices the hats popping up for no discernible reason?
- The Sweets Kingdom raises so many questions. Given that all signage we see contains pictographs only, its citizens are apparently illiterate; there is no mention of formal schooling outside the pastrymaking academy, either. Why is this? Also, Chocolat says that there are no strongly-scented flowers in their world, which is strange -- it implies that there was no reason for their flowers to evolve to attract pollinators. And yet they have honey. Is their "honey" not produced by bees? Heavily processed foods from our world literally grow on trees as natural, whole ingredients in theirs, so perhaps their flowers produce honey directly for some reason?
- For a cooking anime, this sure is light on the surreal, abstract Mister Ajikko reactions when people taste something good. There are few enough throughout the first disc to count on one hand.
- Boy, do I feel bad for the subtitler having to type out all...those...accented characters. There are a lot, and they wrote 'em every time. (Except for the "é" in "Café", but more on that in a minute.)
- I've noticed a small handful of script errors. For example, what should be the character name Café is lowercase "coffee" in the ending theme as if it's referring to the drink, and what I believe should have been "pâtisserie" in one episode (going by the audio) is instead written "pâtissiers". More plot-relevantly, the final flavor of Andō's cake in the first preliminary round is stated as "coffee" in one line and "tea" afterwards. The latter is the correct one. It's an easy mistake ("coffee" and "black tea" are just one syllable apart in Japanese), but the timing is particularly bad, and in context, it's extremely confusing. In another episode, purple sweet potatoes are consistently called "amethyst" for some reason. Not "amethyst potatoes" or anything, just "amethyst", like they're eating minerals. In both cases, it was an item in a serial list, so perhaps the いも in their name was mistaken for a も particle. (In the same scenes, I would personally have gone with "gardenia" instead of "jasmine", just because the former is more commonly used as a food colorant, but that's a very minor quibble.)
- Similarly, while telling someone "ファイト" is a form of encouragement in Japanese, this is a wasei-eigo term; in English, chanting "fight! fight!" suggests you are trying to instigate physical combat. I would pay good money to see Miya punch an old man, and I'm sure her servants would do the same, but "keep at it" or "don't give up" would probably have a more accurate nuance.
- On that note, Miya's servants who are clearly, totally Into This always give me life.
- Gyūhi is identified as "Turkish delight" (with which it shares no ingredients, flavor, or history) even in the context of traditional Japanese cuisine, where Japanese words would be completely appropriate and expected. I'm generally in favor of a moderate to fairly high amount of localization, but this was a very odd choice. And it bears mentioning that they never adapted French culinary terms.
- The treatment of gags about reading kanji is less than ideal. I'm guessing they were trying to avoid redundant lines like "bonds are things that bind" but "kizuna are bonds" is hardly better. (And it didn't stop them from "a plated dessert is a dessert arranged on a plate".) "Miyabi/Masa" is initially glossed to "elegant/elephant" in the preview but then goes back to romaji for the episode proper. It's not clear at all from the translated script how Miya gets "masa" from "miyabi", and the 90s facefaults when she doesn't know how what the word means are less reasonable in English, where viewers may not know the word either. It is true that they're talking about a specifically Japanese cultural concept with a complex history that's difficult to put into a single word, but there was certainly no reason to leave "masa" as it was.
- This is admittedly a regional thing, but in American English, "macaron" and "macaroon" refer to completely different sweets.
- I felt like the "Henri-sensei's return" story was a weak point in the manga, and the anime unfortunately made it worse rather than better. Not only did they make the supposed love interest physically violent, a perfectly natural and important message about accepting it when someone you admire is just not into you and/or a jerk is passed over in favor of Henri actually being nice and having cared about Ichigo all along.
- Conversely, the episode about Ameya-sensei is fantastic. I'd easily call it my favorite. It humanizes the (adult woman) teacher, admits that even the hunks are not perfect, and gently reminds the characters that even if they win the
Tenkaichi BudokaiCake Grand Prix, they are still 14 years old and have a lot of stuff they still need to learn. The Spirit cake is also adorable.
c.f. Saber Marionette J to X's "1/3 of Sorrow", which turns twenty-one years old next month and is probably more insightful on this topic than most any other take on the material from the intervening years. ↩