Surely, there’s no art form more (ig)noble than than manly art of the pun.
That a series can devote an entire half-episode to puns in a language I barely speak and still make me laugh is testament to just how well-executed the first half of this week’s Shirokuma Café was. It’s pretty audacious to give the entire chapter over to puns – it may, in fact, be the longest run of puns I’ve seen in anime – but it totally worked for me, even if some of the nuance was lost. Puns are beloved by the Japanese perhaps more than any other nation, and as a form of humor I don’t think it has quite the stigma that it does in the West (where those of us with taste and discretion understand that it’s actually high art, no matter what the haters say).
Beyond that, writing about the first chapter is pretty pointless because hey – it was a string of puns. Still, it was a pretty clever ruse by Grizzly to enlist everyone’s help in trying to teach Shirokuma a lesson (“I don’t even care about getting woken up anymore”) for disturbing his hibernation yet again, and launching into a pun attack while Grizzly was still half-asleep. I especially loved the eyecatches tipping what the next pun was going to be, and among the best of the puns was Llama-san coming up with “Keukenhof Koen” for “kyuukei” (break) – which was somehow completely in character.
The next episode gives is a large helping of Llama-san too, as he and Full-time Panda-san go off on a bender after knocking off work at the zoo. Really, this more than anything is a great excuse to here some veteran seiyuu go crazy playing drunk zoo animal-salarymen, and it gets especially hilarious after Rin-Rin joins the pair at the izakaya and moves it to the Grizzly Bar, where Shirokuma-san is filling in for Otter-san (who’s filling in for the nominally hibernating owner). Llama-san drunk is a treat in every way, and he and Full-time-san going on and on about the “fierce beasts” is Grade-A prime comedy material. It’s also come to my attention that every time Shirokuma fills in at the bar, he seems to open a bottle of champagne…
Also of note is the short interlude featuring Masaki and the coffee cast. As a first-tier coffee geek I love these little primers on coffee, and every word is 100% accurate – all those little details like water temperature, speed of pour (for pour-over brewing, slow is better) and grind make a huge difference. And yes, eating something sweet first dramatically impacts how you taste the coffee. And we get a new ED as well, as Rin-Rin takes center stage – it’s an amusing live-action take on the great Panda hunt, though the song itself is forgettable. Theoretically it should set us up for one final ED, which I’m fervently hoping will be Sakurai-san as Shirokuma finally taking his turn – I confess, I’m looking forward to that almost as much as anything in the show at this point, and it’ll be a big disappointment if we don’t get it.