I’m no barfly for sure, but I do like the fact that some bars are nice places for people to get away from it all while meeting and chatting with the bartender or others who can relate to their life, problems, etc. Of course ever since the pandemic changed our way of life, there’s not a lot of bars or places people can just get away to. At least people can enjoy an anime series that captures the essence of a nice bar in Shout Factory’s release of Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, a unique slice-of-life show just about anyone can relate to and enjoy.
Based on Araki Joh’s popular manga, the plot follows Ryu Sasakura, a legendary bartender gifted with the special talent of analyzing people and serving up the perfect drink to complement their mood or problems. Through eleven episodes, we get to see Ryu use his amazing talents to whip up the most amazing drinks while also delving into the history and what goes into making them which also relates to the person he’s serving it to. For example, one episode has Ryu serving a guy that’s getting over the death of his girlfriend and uses the history of the Margarita while serving up a special one to help him cope.
No matter the situation, Ryu does everything in his power to help others overcome their sadness or make already happy people even happier with the perfect story and drink. He genuinely cares for others and is always determined to serve what the customer needs, even if they don’t think they do. That’s what is bound to pull people into this series, as it’s nice to know there’s a place and/or person we can turn to when things are rough (even before the pandemic and especially now).
I had fun watching Ryu be an ear for people’s woes and their everyday lives while always having the perfect story, piece of history, and drink at hand. It’s just nice seeing a different kind of slice-of-life series like this one, as most viewers will relate to the characters and the things they’re going through. It’s also like an anthology show which I’m a huge fan of, since the only recurring character is Ryu while everyone else changes from episode to episode.
For a show that’s fifteen years-old, it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. Sure there’s some visual quirks here and there where the anime shows its age, but it’s pretty solid for the most part. That’s also a nice set of special features and sweet extras both physical and on the discs.
First let’s go into the cool swag, starting with nine drink recipe cards that feature some of the drinks from the show which is pretty sweet, and there’s four drink coasters made like the ones in the anime, giving you the feel that Ryu made a personal visit to your place. As far as the on-disc extras go, there’s clean opening and closing credits, and the original Japanese TV bumpers which are fun to look at from when the show goes to and comes back from commercials.
Bartender: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is a fun and unique series for those who love/miss the bar scene and for anyone who could really use a quality slice-of-life show right about now. Each episode feels like a mini movie, and like a perfect drink, has the right amount of characters and story to make each one enjoyable, memorable, and leaving you ready for the next one. Cheers!