Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The older I get, the more I start to wonder if the messages in anime are still relevant to my life.   I’ve even started getting self conscious about what I watch.  After all, what long term artistic value is there in something like To aru no Index Season 2?  Don’t get me wrong, Index is a fun show, but it’s generally not very thought provoking.  So when I hear about a more mature show like Bartender I get excited.  Finally, a show I can watch and still feel like an adult!  I was generally impressed with Bartender. However, I think the show erred by relying only on episodic stories instead of doing multi-episode arcs.

One casualty of the episodic stories is the bartender himself.  Instead of focusing on the bartender as the main character, the show treats him like a tool.  His job is to expose his customers’ problems.  Each episode of Bartender revolves around little vignettes featuring between one and three new characters.  The show feels very similar to Mushishi or Kino’s Journey in that regard.  Like Kino, the bartender never really pass judgement on the people that walk into his bar.  Unlike Kino, the bartender tries his best to help his customers overcome their problems.  Even when the bartender can’t help a person, he is able to transform the person’s dilemma into a fitting drink.  I guess the message of the show is that giving a person an alcoholic drink can itself be a perfect solution to a problem,  I’m sure Homer Simpson agrees.

Thanks for the tip Discovery Channel man!
Thanks for the tip Discovery Channel man!

The show also spends a lot of time explaining different drink recipes as well as the history behind different types of alcohol.  At times these lessons can feel a bit too much like an educational documentary, but you can get some great drink recipes and party facts if you aren’t already a cocktail expert.

The show even provides recipes to enable your drinking habit

I would definitely recommend giving Bartender a try.  The stories in each episode are amusing and give a window into Japanese drinking culture.  Plus you can make the featured drinks as you watch!  So make yourself an Amber Dream and give this show a shot.

19 thoughts on “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

  1. I’ve heard a lot about this show but never really feel incline to watch it. Still don’t actually. And I’m too lazy to search for the torrent and moneyless to buy the DVD. Unless you can hook me up with a link? :)

  2. I watched a few episodes … then didn’t watch any more. Not that I didn’t like it. I thought it was refreshing to see adults with actual mature problems in an anime for a change. I enjoyed the sense of calm the characters got at the bar, like it was a place where they could consider their problems from a certain distance. It just didn’t interest me, but then, cocktails generally don’t.

    I generally don’t worry about what I’m getting out of an anime series. I watch it if I like it. Sometimes I’m rewarded. But I suspect I have a higher tolerance for crap than most people who post or comment here.

    1. Glad you managed to find it, maybe you can help out poor kluxorious. It took me a couple watches to get through it. Still, I liked it well enough. Maybe if you watch it with some kind of drink it’ll go down smoother :)

  3. I guess there wouldn’t really be much potential for a non-episodic version of Bartender, since we don’t know his full background, neither does he do much aside from well, being a Bartender. Episodic is good, since each tale is powerful enough on its own.

    1. I was hoping for an episode devoted to just the bartender, maybe one that fleshed out his back story a bit. I think that kind of episode would have fit in nicely. The show did that to a certain extent with episode 9 but I would have liked to see a bit further into the bartender’s past.

  4. Seems like a very interesting show.

    I feel similar to you, I think. As I’m getting older, I want to spend my time better. No more junk. I’m willing to drop shows just minutes into episode one!

    As for a show like this, which revolves around a different story and little character development (from any main cast) – these are often really terrific shows. But like you, I kind of hope for more from the character(s) that return each episode. Perhaps this has to do with relationship – we develop relationships with the characters we watch. I want to see them grow and mature, and to be surprised by revelations or actions in their lives. When nothing happens, there’s a bit of emptiness inside, no matter how good the show was. When it ends, and nothing has happened to the main character, really, my time feels a bit wasted, even if the show was wonderful.

    Awesome ensues, of course, when a show can do BOTH (ex. Time of Eve).

    1. Forgot to mention…HUMONGOUS props for the Cheers reference. Now I’m going to gleefully be singing the (entire version of the) theme song in my mind all morning.

      1. Thanks, the title seemed like a pretty easy call. I agree with your thoughts about the relationship we have with the character being important. I get excited about a show and am eager to see the next episode when I know something is going to happen to a character I care about.

        I also loved Time of Eve. I can’t wait for more episodes!

  5. Man, I could go for a cold one right now. Looks like I’m going to like watching this show after all (I initially thought Bartender to be dull).

    Does the show have some good music references, like bar jazz too?

    1. Most of the music itself in the show is bar/lounge type piano heavy music. I thought there was an ep that focused on jazz and alcohol but I can’t see to find the reference when I look now. So maybe this isn’t a show if you are looking for great musical references.

  6. Here’s a torrent: http://www.bakabt.com/130097-bartender-lunar.html

    Sounds reasonably interesting, I enjoy stories with atmosphere and mature themes every once in a while. I don’t drink alcohol (just because I don’t like the taste), but I guess I’ll give this anime a shot when I feel like watching something with a relaxed atmosphere.

    For those looking for something mature, might I suggest checking out the manga Usagi Drop? It’s josei, but I’m a male and I enjoy it immensely. The protagonist is a single guy who ends up raising his own grandfather’s illegitimate daughter (in other words, his aunt!). It’s a very warm-hearted story with mature, down-to-earth themes. I highly recommend it.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Krozam! I think you’ll miss a little if you don’t drink (because the do put some effort into giving recipes and whatnot) but I think there is still some value to hearing about Japanese drinking culture even if you don’t drink yourself.

  7. I figure most people who summon the energy to finish Bartender wind up kind of liking it, although I agree with you that a bit more overarching plot would be nice. Your intro got me thinking though – Bartender is certainly aimed at adults, but does it have “lasting artistic value”? It seems to me like it’s a show which does a job for the viewer, and sure, it doesn’t patronise us, but nor does it offer much challenge.

    Adding a hero-based drama section wouldn’t change that, but maybe the catharsis would make the show less obviously disposable.

    1. I think that within the confines of television it did a good job at being artistic. I don’t have too high of a bar here, I’m very happy with an anime like Kino’s Journey that opens the door to a lot of interesting debates into how we as humans should behave, or what the impact would be from some huge change, like suddenly gaining the ability to read every other persons thoughts.

      So Bartender satisfied me from that standpoint, I certainly learned alot about what the Japanese think about drinking culture. I just a more overarching story would have solved the other problem you mentioned, how hard it is to watch all the episodes. I know it took me a couple tries.

  8. “Anime” and “thought provoking” are two things I try not to mix. For me, anime is an escape for my maturity.

    Okay well that’s not entirely true. Monster was one of the best anime I’ve seen, it’s it’s incredibly thought provoking.

    I don’t know… generally I prefer a fun, crazy, random anime to a thought provoking one. Excel Saga is random and retarded, which is perfect for me.

    1. Every so often I like something that is just totally weird and off the wall. Right now that show for me is Soul Eater. But I’ve just seen too much mindless shows at this point, I like something at least a little deeper than regular kids programming.

  9. Never watched this one but from what I heard and what you wrote, I am assuming something close to Ristorante Paradiso where the show is generally episodic and quite static in story progression.

    ‘…giving a person an alcoholic drink can itself be a perfect solution to a problem’
    Now I know why my whole life sucks…I do not drink >_<

  10. As the girlfriend of an anime freak– I can attest also that this is a good “starter-anime.” I enjoyed it, but wasn’t overwhelmed by the corniness of most anime… plus the drink recipe’s were definitley fun to listen to!
    ;-p

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