Production Studio: David Production
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network
I have to premise this by saying that Ristorante Paradiso is the first josei series I’ve ever seen. As such, I didn’t know what to expect. It was the equivalent to listening to adult contemporary music when you’ve been listening to bubbly K-Pop songs. Needless to say, I had to get used to it. That being said, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The series starts with Nicoletta arriving in Rome. She has a huge chip on her shoulder. There isn’t enough guac in the world to balance the taste of this salty tortilla chip-of-death. Though her circumstances are somewhat understandable, Nicoletta’s goals seem to involve a plan that requires a lot of unnecessary effort. Mainly, Nicoletta aims to ruin her mother’s engagement by telling the world that her mother was previously married. To rub a bit of extra salt into the wound, her mother wasn’t exactly “mother of the year” material when she abandoned Nicoletta at a relative’s house.
Nicolletta finds Olga (her mother) with her sweet fiancé (Lorenzo), who owns and runs a strange restaurant that only employs older men who wear glasses. Erm, I mean, spectacles. Through the course of the story, Nicoletta ends up working there, herself, and ends up falling for one of these men.
It wasn’t until I had watched the first few episodes that I realized why I loved it so much. Ristorante Paradiso is like watching “Ouran High School Host Club: The Later Years” – and I LOVED Ouran. Not to mention, my favorite host club member was Kyoya (which seemed to be an entry drug into other J Michael Tatum -voiced characters), and each of the male characters had some trait that they shared with Kyoya: glasses, kind of sassy, resting smug face, magnetic charm, possibly gay, and organized and somewhat serious.
Speaking of the characters…. Honestly, I had a hard time keeping their names straight. A couple of the characters look similar and some have the same temperament. To help you, here’s my personal cheat sheet. Print it out and paste it to a 3×5 card, write it on your arm, or write it backwards on your forehead.
- Claudio is the love interest. He seems to be the charming and friendly one. The other characters note that most women fall for him the moment they walk into the restaurant.
- Furio is a favorite amongst the patrons of the restaurant. He’s also a big flirt.
- Vito is the bald one. He’s pretty distinctive in comparison to the other characters because of that. He also flirts heavily with the patrons, but in a way which doesn’t lead anyone on. He’s classy. He runs. If he was a real person, he could either be a sexy politician or a stripper. Though sometimes, it’s really the same thing.
- GiGi is great. A quiet sommelier that seems to love wine more than most women – or humans. I have friends that understand how he feels. I feel the same way about coffee, so I can attest as well.
- Lucciano was my favorite character from the start because he was the old, crotchety one. He has a resting bitch face that could give Grumpy Cat a run for his money.
- Teo is the dark-haired sous chef. He is a bit testy and takes his job seriously. He is the character that wins the audience over as soon as his icy heart melts.
I also found it amusing that the male characters were also voiced by (what looks like) charming older gentlemen as well. Women may be able to voice young boys and young men but older, classy men can only be played by older, classy men.
Ristorante Paradiso is a great, atmospheric, josei series that has the potential to expand. It left me with the question, “How can a slow, atmospheric series still feel so rushed?” After all, Paradiso touched on the backstories of all the characters, reached a conclusion, and even covered the history of the actual restaurant. It also resolved the love story and showed Nicoletta growing as a person. So, why isn’t that good enough? Because there were only eleven episodes – that’s why. By the end of the short series I was left wanting more, which was probably a good thing.
There is some potential for rewatchability. I love the opening song; it’s a jazzy “Sunday Morning Drive” type of piece. I would let it play in the background while I puttered around the house. The attention to detail when it comes to the artwork is admirable. I had to get used to the style of animation, as the characters were all thin and lanky. But once you get into the story, that just falls by the wayside.
If you’re looking for a relaxing, slice-of-life style josei series that will make you want to drink copious amounts of coffee and go to Italy in search of older, bespectacled men, this may be the show for you. Ristorante Paradiso is an endearing series with a subtle romantic relationship and lots of character. Just be prepared to be swept off your feet.