Guess What I Think About Polar Bear’s Café

I didn’t think I’d have to write a post about this show. Then again, I didn’t expect Polar Bear’s Café to be getting such a massive free pass even by the standards of itiswhatitisism.

As with so many “slice-of-life” anime that’ve come out over the past half-decade, the jokes suck. Sometimes it’s due to poor timing or delivery, a fault lying squarely with the adaptation. The rest of the time it’s simply because the material isn’t…what’s the word…creative. Seriously, I could write some of these episodes faster than it takes to watch them, and given how slowly I update, that’s saying something.

I take particular issue with the puns. A lot of you are quick to defend “bad” puns, but these puns aren’t bad in the sense of being lame; they’re bad in the sense of not qualifying as puns. A pun isn’t simply saying a word that sounds like another word. (Word? BIRD! HAHAHAHAHAHA!) A pun needs to make some connection between the original word and the pun-chline. Regardless, Polar Bear’s puns fail even if you reduce your pun standards to reciting entries from a rhyme dictionary. In most cases, only the first pun in the pun chain sounds anything like the original word.

At this point, the slice-of-life apologists are going to chime in with their usual excuses: comedy doesn’t matter because it’s slice-of-life, shitty jokes are a part of life, not everyone is as funny as you, etc. It’s the characters that really matter, right?

  • Polar Bear: boring
  • Penguin: boring and annoying
  • Panda: annoying but entertaining
  • Grizzly: one of the few characters I have no complaints about
  • The rest of the animals: boring and/or gimmicky
  • Sasako: Bland token female (unfortunately not token enough to appear in the beach episode)
  • Handa: Loser
  • Rin Rin: Best character by far

Polar Bear is one of the few animals that doesn’t exist to exploit a species-specific gimmick. Ironically, failing to be a stereotype actually makes him weaker as a character. Without polar bear gimmicks to fall back on, most of his lines are throwaway slice-of-life babble. The rest of his lines are spent being a second-rate troll to third-rate victims, all done with a voice that lacks any punch yet isn’t robotic enough to be deadpan. I don’t even consider Polar Bear the main character (it’s really Panda), which is probably for the best. If I considered him the main character just because others congregated around him despite his blandness, I’d be reducing him to a harem lead.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the best character on an animal show is a human. Rin Rin’s passion is something otaku can relate to, and he gives the author a self-insert character for fanboying about pandas. By pleasing both the author and the audience, any scene with Rin Rin is a win-win. (That’s how it’s pun.)

Who could possibly like this show?

  • Zoophiles
  • Hipsters

It’s fine to act empowered upon realizing you can still feel some childlike wonder when you see talking animals on a TV show. Just save it for a show that’s actually good.

Current Grade: ~