Monday, July 28, 2014

Antique Bakery

Antique Bakery (or "Gaycakes" as gg so lovingly called it) is a 12-episode shonen-ai series that ran through the summer of 2008. It follows a man named Tachibana Keiichiro as he leaves his job in high finance to open a western-style sweets shop. Alongside his friends/coworkers Ono Yuusuke, Kanda Eiji, and Kobayakawa Chikage, they laugh, cry, and work hard to make the bakery a success.

LtR: Ono, Tachibana, and Eiji looking like heroes.

First off, let me say it now that if you don't like yaoi or boys' love, STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS SERIES. It's not called gaycakes for nothing. However, the series isn't TOTAL guy/guy fluff, and actually has moments of real character development, thankfully. This series is too good to waste on just being mere whipped cream. Non, with the dark sub-plots and complex relationships, it comes out more like a rich Hazelnut Torte.

Yep.

The plot, while simple and episodic on the surface, has many twists and turns hiding underneath, the most obvious of which is Tachibana coming to terms with a childhood trauma. We also see Eiji's frustration with giving up his dreams, and Ono and Chikage's love and hurt amongst one another. It ends up being layered and compelling, drawing on your need not only to see more hot guys in action, but also on the need to see something of a resolution.

Despite the fluffy exteriour, there are some real issues to be worked through here.

The art style was at once elegant and amusing. It refuses to take itself seriously during the silly moments (and I mean really, REALLY refuses to take itself seriously), ending up being something between cute and My Neighbors the Yamadas. However, on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, it retains the same seriousness and elegance one would expect from a bakery of this caliber. The use of CG is somewhat heavy-handed in the backgrounds, but since it's not used all the time, it blends well enough. The show even takes some bold style risks in the opening (and briefly during the ending) by using real-world objects combined with stop-motion animation. While sometimes this just seems strange, here it worked perfectly (and left me drooling over the doll-sized Victorianesque furniture).

An interesting style choice that paid off.

The soundtrack, though recycling the same tune over and over, managed to make this concept work for it perfectly. When I say recycling the same song, I mean it is LITERALLY the same song for the opening, ending, and several moments in the series....just played in different keys, with different instruments. For what it's worth, it's a great song, one that fits the series well. However, I must admit that probably my favourite tune to hear off the soundtrack was a toy piano version of Bach's Minuet in G Major, it made me crack up every time.

This face is the appropriate level of dorky for that song.

Overall, Antique Bakery was a joy to watch. I had been meaning to for a long time now, and I savored every moment much like their customers savor the cake. Surely, this series isn't for everyone, but given the lack of overtly sexual scenes (it has an ecchi moment once or twice, but most of it is merely implied), you could show this to a 12-year-old and not be afraid. Conversely, if they're into it, this would be a great series to show to older people as well, who might appreciate the slower pace and calming, cozy feel.

Yeess....feel free to get drunk off the cake.

Gaycakes is available from gg subs, Yoroshiku Fansubs, Sarulandia Fansubs (Italian), and Heterophobia Fansubs (Turkish). There is also a subtitled US release by Nozomi Entertainment.

Yeah, I'm not sure it could ever take itself seriously.

4/5

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