Antique Bakery, Complete Collection – DVD Review

Review by: Ai Kano

Publisher: RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: $49.99 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Drama/Yaoi
Rating: 16+
Release Date: Available Now

Welcome to Antique, where the staff is as sweet and yummy as the pastries.

While I understand that yaoi might not be for everyone, I find myself steering friends toward it anyway and find that many are actually surprised to discover that they like it … oftentimes even more than I do. One of the manga titles I always recommended was Antique Bakery, which I saw as the perfect starting point for anyone interested in checking out this genre. So, as you can imagine, I was first to check out the Complete Collection of Antique Bakery in hopes that I would be recommending it as well.

Well, guess what, my friends? I am definitely recommending this to everyone as well.

Antique Bakery begins rather dramatically with the nightmares of a man who is haunted by a traumatic event in his childhood involving his deranged kidnapper and some delicious cakes he is trying to force on the boy. This is Keiichiro Tachibana, a man trying to forget these memories but he just can’t. Suddenly, Tachibana makes a rather interesting life-changing decision … he is quitting his job in sales and opening a pastry shop instead. Instead of protesting his decision, his parents actually help finance his idea.

Now, Tachibana turns to a man from his past that his family knows is a world-class pastry chef who has worked in three-star patisserie in France. We meet the very handsome Yuusuke Ono, who Tachibana immediately recognizes as a gay High school classmate who once confessed his love for him only to have Tachibana reject him in a very harsh and hurtful way. You see, Tachibana is straight as an arrow and immune to Ono’s self-proclaimed “Gay of Demonic Charm” that pretty much is powerful enough to ensure that he could get any man he wants. Together, these two men will help open Antique, a pastry shop that is as classy as the men that started it.

We also meet Eiji Kanda, a former professional boxer whose detached retina is now keeping him out of the ring. With nowhere else to turn to and with an insatiable sweet tooth, Eiji comes across Antique and asks for a job as in apprentice to Ono after having tasted one of his pastries. Eiji is quickly joined by Chikage Kobayakawa, Tachibana’s long-time friend and bodyguard who calls Tachibana “young master” as if he were an old feudal-era lord. All four men suddenly come together to help make Antique a success.

The series takes us through their first day in business, which turns out to be a raining day but the reactions of those who walk into Antique leave more than satisfied. For the most part, their clientele is made up of women who love their pastries and love them served by the very handsome staff with Tachibana doing a magnificent job describing each pastry that you cannot help but savor it yourself. It doesn’t take too long before they start getting noticed and curious customers become loyal regulars.

At one point, they are noticed by a show called Super Super News that features Antique and they even enter a festival of pastry goods in a contest at a shopping mall. While watching these men do their best to please their customers is delightful, the real interest comes in watching them overcome their problems as well as – in the case of two characters – discover love.

Ono is the heartbreaker of the four as he uses his Demonic Charm to seduce the awkward Chikage who ends up kissing the gay pastry chef. It is through Ono that we also get to witness the negative side to his charms as a handsome French chef – who, as it turns out, taught Ono – comes to Japan in hopes of bringing him back with him to France to work for him and be his lover once again. Unfortunately, Jean-Baptiste has a violent streak that puts Ono in danger.

The other interesting part of the story if Tachibana’s past, particularly the nightmare he lives that he just can’t shake from his mind. We see the frightening moments he lived with his kidnapper as well as the aftermath as he tries to coupe with the trauma. While he has made it clear that he hates cake because his kidnapper kept feeding him cake, the others wonder why open a café that sells cakes when he hates cake. Little by little, we witness the change in the man as he not only comes to accept many things but also becomes a better man. For one thing, he does apologize to Ono for the harsh words he spoke that day.

In fact, the others begin to change to in a positive way. Ono has had a fear of women, which explains the fact that he’s gay but starts to accept them. Eiji starts to regain some confidence that he has lost since learning he cannot box again and creates his own pasties. Meanwhile, we learn a surprising fact about Chikage as the big man that considered himself useless begins to feel that he does have something to offer.

As far as the yaoi elements are concerned, they are all connected to Ono whose love scenes are not graphic at all but those who aren’t use to the BL stuff will be a little uncomfortable. In fact, they’re quite tolerable if you aren’t use to yaoi but would love to give it a shot. There’s something beautiful about the relationship between these men who might not be romantic but make their interactions actually meaningful. By the time you get to the end, you will come to love these guys. Tachibana steals the show, though, and when you get to the end, you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat as he becomes involved in a recent kidnapping case involving a little boy that reminds him of his own past.

Antique Bakery is also true to the manga so you can come to expect the same great writing and a very charming sense of humor that makes the characters so enchanting to watch. While it’s a drama, there’s more than enough lighthearted moments that will make you laugh aloud. Believe me when I say that by the last episode you’ll be disappointed that the series is only 12-episodes long.

The Complete Collection of Antique Bakery is truly inviting and even poignant series that is a true slice-of-life series you must definitely check out and even more so if you’ve been interested in checking out a series with some yaoi elements. On top of that, the series is beautifully animated and wonderfully written so there’s really no excuse not to give this series a try. Consider this one Highly Recommended.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
Keiichiro Tachibana is haunted by the memory of a traumatizing event involving cake yet that doesn’t stop him from opening a café featuring the pastries of a handsome gay High school classmate who confessed his love for him. Along with an ex-pro boxer and Tachibana’s childhood friend/bodyguard, they make Antique a success. As a result, the lives of these men changes for the better.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is delightfully original and the backgrounds are actually quite beautiful. At times, the use of CG makes scenes look a little odd but it works well enough to come off as unique and that’s what really counts. You’ll love the cutout-like characters in the opening animation sequence looks.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting in this series is topnotch with strong performances by the entire cast but, most especially, from Keiji Fujiwara who voices Tachibana. The original score is quite beautiful and fitting for the series and the opening and closing theme songs by CHEMISTRY are simply awesome.

EXTRAS: A
All three discs contains extras that go beyond trailers so you’ll have the option to watch the opening and closing animation without text as well as extras such as an interview with the cute and talented Tomomi Kasai who happens to be a member of AKB48 as well as the voice of Kaedeko. This set also includes a 31-page booklet with character bios and a really fun interview with the cast as well as the creator of the manga, Fumi Yoshinaga.

The best feature comes in the form of “Live Event Coverage” even that took place in Japan with Fujiwara, Shinchiro Miki (Ono), Mamoru Miyano (Eiji), Eiji Hanawa (Chikage) all dressed like their characters. They also invite Kasai up on stage with them as they answer a few questions about the series. On a personal note, Fujiwara and Miyano are just absolutely hunky in person as well.

OVERALL: B+
A delightfully enjoyable and whimsical anime series with a delectable slice of BL on the side, the Complete Collection of Antique Bakery is an engaging series that will please fans of this genre. Sure, it isn’t as lively or as tantalizing as, say, Junjo Romantica but it is still meaningful series with a lot to offer and even more so if you enjoy a good story with a great cast of characters.

Review copy provided by RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment

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