Polar Bear Cafe–Anime Early Impressions

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Polar Bear Cafe (Crunchyroll link) is a gag anime featuring a kind of low-key offbeat humor that I find hilarious. This sort of thing is very much a matter of personal taste so your mileage may vary.

The main character is Panda-kun, a fat and lazy young panda. His mother threatens to vacuum him unless he gets a part-time job. He looks for one but he has a hard time finding a position suited to his abilities, which mostly involve lying around and eating bamboo.

He checks out the cafe next door. He is disappointed to find that they don’t serve bamboo but he applies for a job anyway.

The owner, Mr. Polar Bear (Shirokuma-san) is a laid-back fellow whose only major flaw is that he likes to make terrible puns. He is indeed looking for part-time help but he really wants someone who will actually, you know, do some work. He ends up hiring a level-headed human girl named Sasako. (Yes, her name reads “bamboo grass child.”)

Panda-kun is discouraged but the fear of his mother’s vacuum causes him to keep looking. Finally he tries the zoo. The zoo is indeed looking for part-time employees. He can have his pick of 3 positions: Panda, Black Bear or Gorilla. He chooses wisely.

After a long hard day of rolling around and eating bamboo, Panda-kun punches his time card and heads back to the Polar Bear Cafe. He is surprised and pleased to find that they have added bamboo to the menu.

Panda-kun says that he would like to open his own cafe. It would be decorated with cute panda merchandise and would serve only dishes made with bamboo.

Mr. Penguin says that it would be better for a cafe to serve sake and raw fish. The others tell him that would be a sushi bar not a cafe.

Mr. Llama says that the ideal cafe would be a place where people could pet llamas and brush their hair and take them for walks and feed them grass. The others seem skeptical.

They all try to redecorate the cafe according to their ideas. Mr. Polar Bear tells them to change it back.

It’s cherry blossom season so Mr. Polar Bear invites everyone to a traditional hanami party. Mr. Penguin gets very drunk and mistakes Panda-kun for Miss Penko who works at the bakery. He is desperately (though secretly) in love with Miss Penko.

Mr. Penguin has written a poem about Miss Penko. It is not a good poem. Listening to it may make your ears bleed. However it expresses the true feelings of his heart so he is going to recite it anyway.

The next day he doesn’t remember any of this and shows up carrying fresh bread from the bakery. Everyone asks about Miss Penko. He is mortified to realize that everyone seems to know about his secret crush.