Bartender

The Boring Info The Characters The Terms The Songs The Opinion
Sasakura Ryū
The customers
Menu of the Heart
Glass of the Gods
Bātendā
Hajimari no Hito


The Animoo

BartenderA lone flower blooming quietly in the backstreets of Ginza. One such bar, one that you might overlook if not paying attention, is Eden Hall.

And that is, for the most part, the setting of the anime. Sasakura Ryū, a young bartending prodigy, opened the bar after having worked as an assistant to a senior bartender to gain the valuable experience needed to handle owning and working the bar by himself. During the course of the anime, various troubled souls enter the bar, be they rich or poor, and are treated to a drink, and receive the guidance needed to help them overcome the problems that have burdened them so.

The help they receive from Ryū comes in many different forms, or rather, cocktails. His insight is uncanny, as he is able to find the Menu of the Heart of all customers that enter his bar. It is not only the drink itself, but also the story behind the drink he serves that inspire the characters and help them realise what they should do to overcome whatever problems they face.


The Boring Info

The anime is 11 episodes long and is based on the manga of the same name.
After every episode a featured cocktail is shown, along with its recipe. It is usually the cocktail that “saves the day” in that given episode that is featured.
You will hear the tag line, “that was the beginning of the mystery of Bar Eden Hall” at least once per episode, so I suggest you get used to it.


The Characters

In snack-sized bits
Sasakura Ryū – Ryū is the barkeep (meaning he is the bartender as well as the owner) of “Eden Hall“. He is somewhat of a prodigy when it comes to bartending and is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the history of the drinks he serves and spirits he uses during the course of the anime. He is infamous for being able to serve the “Glass of the Gods”, and is rumoured to have never made a mistake when it comes to giving a customer just the right drink, however, as revealed later on, this isn’t completely true.

The customers – I’m not going to introduce the customers, because that would take away one of the main points of the anime. Each episode introduces one or two new customers and tell their back-story and reason for being invited. They will then reappear as a sort of visible narrators in the following episodes.


The Terms

Menu of the Heart
The Menu of the Heart is a reference to a specific, unspecified drink (sounds complicated, no?). What it means is, that among the hundreds and thousands of different drinks, styles, and cocktails that exist, there’s only one drink that is truly in the heart of a customer, at any given moment, and it is a bartenders job to be able to open up the customer’s heart and find it.

Glass of the Gods
Glass of the Gods is like “part II” of the Menu of the Heart. It refers to the ability of making that drink (the one in the heart of the customer), and any other for that matter, perfectly. Ryū is able to do this, which is why he has earned the title/nickname of the bartender who serves the Glass of the Gods (kind of obvious, I know…). In the manga and anime, it is explained as “the one last drink which rescues the souls hurt by solitude, and has nowhere else to go.”


The Songs

Bātendā

Bātendā (Bartender) is the opening song and is performed by Natural High featuring Junpei Shiina. It is absolutely made of awesome. I found it old-school in terms of music (it has a piano, a sax/trumpet, and a drum-beat, that’s it) and it is extremely catchy. The woman sings beautifully, and the rhythm in the part that Jinpei sings is just awesome. I dare you to listen to it and not start bobbing your head or snapping your fingers. I’m listening to it as I write this, and I’m dancing in my chair, that’s how good it is. The lyrics are kind of ambiguous though, and if you take them too literally, quite perverted.

The animation is is very hard to explain, so I recommend that you just watch it. I found it to be nice way to showcase all the characters that are going to be in it, though.



Hajimari no Hito

Hajimari no Hito (The First Person) is performed by Natural High and was used as the ending theme. In my opinion, this song is the only negative thing about the anime, other than that it was so short. I really have nothing else to say about it, it just wasn’t my thing.

The video was however far more interesting. It is divided into to parts and changes back and forward between the two, pretty much like a real music video. One part, the one with Natural High, the goldfish that float in the air, and whatnot is always the same in all the endings. However, the other part differs with every episode, because what you see here is an actual bartender making the episode’s featured cocktail. I thought that was a kick-ass detail to add.


The Opinion

This is probably the best anime I’ve seen to date. Everything about it is just made of awesome. The opening song is catchy, the overall drawing style is beautiful without being “over the top”, the scene changes are well made, the characters are likeable and relate-able, the voices are great (especially the narrator’s), and the variety from episode to episode will keep you wanting to see the next one.

Throughout every single episode, you’ll be laughing, crying, pondering, and a bunch of other “-ing”s, because it’s just that good. I simply cannot praise it enough. I have yet to watch an anime that has the same type of atmosphere or give the same kind of insight to the mindsets of the ‘minor’ characters. It had me hook already on the few short lines said by the narrator in the beginning of the first episode, and it only got better. I’m kinda sad about that it only had 11 episodes, but I also believe that if they dragged it out, it would ruin the show. Nevertheless, I would have liked if they had made 2 or 3 episodes more.

But the immense awesomeness of this series made me seriously want to become one of those old-school bartenders, much like Ryū is (none of that club-bartending for me). And that’s when you know you have a good anime. When you aspire to be like one of the characters, while still retaining a sense of realism of your abilities. I mean… a lot of people would like to be ninjas, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to Kage Bunshin no Jutsu their way out of going to work/school any time soon (I just broke someone’s hopes and dreams, didn’t I?).

It is that atmosphere of “unrealistic realism”, in the sense of “everything you see, could very well happen in everyday life in a bar. It’s not very likely, but gosh I hope it does” that helps set the entire mood. It’s calm, welcoming, and the setting just affects you somehow on an emotional level without you ever really noticing it. After a while, you want a bar like Eden Hall to exist and you want there to be a bartender like Ryū to serve you cocktails and to whom you can open up to.

When comparing it to the manga, I would have to say that the manga does a better job at explaining things, is more extensive in its storytelling, e.g. the first episode in the anime is actually a combination of parts from two completely seperate events in the manga (chapters 1 and 3, respectively), and it is also much sillier, but in a good way. However, the anime does a far better job of drawing out the amazing atmosphere thanks to its soft background music, amazing scene changes, and soothing voice of both Ryū and the narrator. In conclusion, watch this utterly, utterly awesome anime, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll like it.

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