Thursday, November 22, 2012
:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Ristorante Paradiso
Official Site: English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Two years ago, a confluence of thoughts led me towards dedicating November 2010 as "Impromptu Natsume Ono Appreciation Month". This was, as you can guess, a sudden event, so it was perhaps only appropriate that the title I wanted as its centerpiece and that month's Pick--Ristorante Paradiso--was, all the sudden, gone from Crunchyroll when I went to write about!. This was before I was aware that titles could disappear from CR (something I wish the site would make more apparent for affected shows; a listing would), but even so, it was pulled rather surreptitiously.
The House of Five Leaves review, which was the catalyst for everything, eventually was christened as the Monthly Pick and I went forward with the celebration in RP's absence. The former also marked the beginning of me doing more formal reviews at HardDoor and in the two years since then, the elusive RisPara has finally been released this month in a complete DVD set by Lucky Penny Entertainment, a new label from anime retailer/distributor RightStuf (parent company of Nozomi Ent.). And to commemorate the occasion, they decided to put the series on their YouTube channel!
Given the Natsume Ono event, the Five Leaves review's place in HD's history, and my long desire to highlight its predecessor--and, oh yeah, it's Thanksgiving, one of my chief reasons for showcasing it last time--it really is only appropriate to finally take this chance and recommend the very fine, off-the-beaten-path romantic tale that is Ristorante Paradiso. I discussed this a bit in INOAM's commemoration post, but RP centers around a young Italian woman who tracks her estranged mother to a quaint restaurant on the backstreets of Rome, whose owner she is now married to. It's an establishment staffed by older, bespectacled (per the wife's request) men, and there is one in particular that captures the unexpected attention of the daughter…
There are many facets of RisPara that buck the trend of romantic anime: its younger woman-older man central romance, its group of not hot teenage boys, but dashing gentlemen north of 40, its not-quite-Japanese setting of the streets of Italy. Many of those could have fallen flat on their faces, but the production handles many of the questions and potential turn-off factors that come with the romantic territory solidly and with healthy doses of comedy and honesty. It has great atmospherics to it, as well, with its regionally-inspired score, beautiful scenery, and impressive translation of Ono's designs into animated form, which retains her unique style but "upgrades" them from their more simplistic origins.
Alas, only the first two episodes are up at YT, but they are a good enough starting point to whet your appetite for the others. RightStuf usually shows batches of episodes for a limited time and leaves just the first two up before bring them back at another time. And with other series of theirs beginning to appear on Hulu, there stands a good chance that RP will appear there in the near future, too, so keep your eyes peeled there, too. Ristorante Paradiso is a prime example of not "judging a book by its cover" (in more ways than one), so try and give it a nibble today (at least, before you sink your teeth into some turkey).