Company: Bartender Production Team/Palm Studio
Genre(s): Slice of Life
Air Dates: 15 Oct 2006 – 31 Dec 2006
Synopsis: No matter whether you are a successful manager, a single mother who has been dealt a harsh blow in life, or a scriptwriter who has seemingly run out of ideas, Eden Hall serves as a place where anyone can recharge and rejuvenate after a few drinks. Eden Hall, a bar run by Ryu Sasakura, is famous for being able to lift its patrons’ spirits no matter how out of luck they may be because of Ryu’s amazing ability to mix them a perfect drink, a Glass of the Gods, while giving them insight into their situation and showing them a way to solve their problems.
- Very charming and enchanting with its premise and the mood it sets
- Can get pretty philosophical at times
- Soundtrack has many enjoyable piano lounge melodies
- Plot is nonexistent and the pace can be really slow for some people
Review: Bartender is a wonderful series in the way it takes you in and absorbs you into its magical atmosphere. This show has the distinction of being able to accomplish a lot in its eleven-episode run without actually having a plot or anything substantial to show for it. In spite of all that, it is one of the most beautifully-executed series that I have seen next to titles like ARIA and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and once you begin, Bartender manages to be both charming and enchanting as it draws you into Eden Hall’s comforts.
Each of Bartender’s episodes is pretty simple: a person who is feeling down on their luck opts to go to Eden Hall in order to raise their spirits by imbibing alcohol. As soon as the patron sits down at the counter, the magic begins: Ryu will introduce himself and engage them in conversation. After hearing them out, he then gets to work mixing a cocktail that symbolizes the patron’s plight and fits their palette while giving them his insight, allowing them to overcome their issues. So after the experience at Eden Hall, not only does the patron feel revitalized, they feel that they can succeed in getting past obstacles.
In each episode, a new patron becomes the focus of the show which allows for a whole gamut of characters who are different, but who all have interesting stories to tell. Their stories are what drive the series and make it interesting to watch. Most of these stories are fairly down-to-earth, thereby giving each of them that critical human touch that allows them to be familiar and identifiable while the superb execution succeeds at holding the viewer’s attention. As each story resolves itself, Bartender implements a technique in which patrons from prior episodes become narrators in future episodes. This allows for some degree of continuity between the episodes while giving us a balanced view from those who have come to understand Ryu Sasakura’s thought process, until we also come to appreciate him.
The atmosphere surrounding Eden Hall would not be complete without the stellar soundtrack. Kaoruko Ototake’s piano pieces definitely fits the mood really well by giving a sort of lounge-y feeling, as though you’re out in a bar on a rainy Saturday night with some jazzy piano pieces playing in the background. Needless to say, the soothing emotion it invokes is a perfect match to what happens onscreen and helps draw you in.
Bartender is a series that’s best enjoyed like a glass of aged wine, that is, slowly and thoughtfully. Every episode has something meaningful to bring to the table, but the real draw is watching patrons spill out the extent of their problems, which allows Ryu Sasakura to work his magic upon the patron and the viewer. And once he starts, there’s no denying the charming, soothing feelings that this show brings forth as you also become entranced and absorbed into the secrets of Eden Hall.
Score: Very Good