Rightstuf / Nozomi
Life Goes On.
So goes the last line in the theme song for Antique Bakery, and indeed, that is the thrust of the series. Four men, each with traumas in their past, carry on together while operating a western style bakery.
Tachibana, the owner, comes from a wealthy family. As a child, he was kidnapped. He doesn’t talk about what happened to him, except for the fact that he was fed only fancy cake. Chikage is the wealthy family’s servant, who has made it his mission to protect Tachibana. Ono is the chief baker, and self-described Gay of Demonic Charm. He consistently loses jobs after the other men working with him fall in love with him and fight eachother. Kanda is the assistant baker. Previously, he was a champion boxer, but had to retire due to injuries.
Antique Bakery is a leisurely paced story; not unlike other Rightstuf releases, like Aria. And yet, the depth of the characters in Antique keep the series from feeling that effluent.
The portrayal of Ono as a gay character is mostly respectful, aside from the screen cap I chose. His relationships are heartfelt and real, and range from sweet to abusive.
Ono has a past with Tachibana. They went to high school together, and at one point, Ono told Tachibana that he was interested in him. Tachibana shot him down, using a variety of bigoted slurs in the process.
While Tachibana clearly doesn’t feel that way anymore, those words from his past continue to haunt him. It’s an interesting counter point to his feelings about his kidnapper. In the earlier event, Tachibana was the victim, while later he became a victimizer. This is only made worse by the fact that Ono is such a good person, and has forgiven Tachibana.
Near the end of the series, the kidnapping, and the Ono/Tachibana school incident are tied into each other; and we see how his experiences with the kidnapper influenced his reaction to Ono’s proposal.
Chikage also has a past connection to Tachibana, having grown up with him. His parents worked for Tachibana’s family, but were killed. The family took Chikage in, and sent him to college. Now he feels an obligation to help the family, and has chosen Tachibana as his project. He has a life of his own that he has had to put on hold for Tachibana’s sake.
Kanda has no past connection to anyone. After his devastating retirement for boxing, he finds his new love quickly. He loves baking, and puts his all into it. At the same time, he’s terrified to having it taken away from him. Thus he pushes himself harder and harder, lest his new bosses tire of him.
I don’t want to go to far into the plot, so as not to ruin anything; but this is a hardcore character drama. The psychological traumas faced by the cast are believable and relocatable. It can get very dark at times, but the bakery, a literal place of beauty, balances the negative moments. The pornographic descriptions of the cakes and their ingredients are almost a metaphor for the characters, as the series explores all the ingredients that made them who they are today.
Life goes on.
The DVDs, like all DVDs from Rightstuf are of the highest standards. Video is unaltered with Japanese language credits and titles. One of the extras is a press event in which the voice cast, in costumes, stand on a stage and answer softball questions.