Series Review: Bartender (5/10)

I dismissed the series as an extremely niche genre when it aired a couple of years back. I believed that it was an attempt to make some sort of educational or documentary series into the anime medium, and while being very unique, it never caught my eye. That was until my friend introduce me to the Bartender manga that I've began to take notice of the anime.

A little bit of background info: the supposedly last chapter of the manga came out in 2009, but the (ongoing) scanlations are only about halfway through until now, and I've only began to follow the scanlations since last year. It didn't make a significant impact for me, and I thought it's just a okay slice-of-life manga and a pretty good way to spent your free time. I was also pretty interested in the cocktail culture, so the educational aspect of the story was a plus. The Bartender manga wasn't quite like my first impression of the series, because it wasn't all that niche; main character Sakakura is likable and is someone you can actually relate to outside of cocktail knowledge, and there are several recurring characters that make this feels a lot more story-like that you would think, with all the character developments.

The anime series took a different approach and didn't bring us into the story straight away from Sasakura's perspective. Almost all of the episodes were focused on the primary content of the manga, which was the healing effect and the story of the cocktail that was best chosen for the customer. There were very little characterization for the recurring characters like Miwa and Kuzuhara, and there are practically no elements that were brought forward from previous episodes.

And that probably wasn't the best approach to the anime. Without the characterization, the anime ended up exactly like how I've expected it in the first place; almost purely educational or documentary, with little hint of story. Like crappy shounen anime that uses the monster-of-the-week format, we're treated to cocktail-of-the-week, minus any kind of character development. Though I suppose the show still has a target audience due to how unique it is, the show is simply dull and boring for me.

Bartender has surprisingly good music, but the same can't be said for the animation quality. For the tiny amount of cels that the series requires, the animation still appears shoddy, and the colors flat.

Characters like Miwa and Kuzuhara actually have a lot of potential, but the anime approach prevents it from tapping on this resource. The value of this show is very subjective to how well the audience would appreciate its uniqueness. It does an incredible job in depicting the character and story behind each cocktail, but personally I have found this a waste of time, compared to the manga.

Plot/Concept: Boring (Subjective)
Story Style: Good (Unique)
Audio/Visual: Poor
Value: 5