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Friday, January 28, 2022

Bartender (15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray Review)


The Animation
The Story
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


Genius bartender Sasakura Ryu always manages to make the perfect drink for the right situation for the various patrons of the Eden hall bar who come to him seeking the 'Glass of God' as deal with various life issues in this anthology anime series based on the Japanese manga of the same name.

Bartender is the 2006 Japanese anime anthology TV series. Set mostly in the bar named Eden hall, it centers around the mixologist Sasakura Ryu, a genius at his job who is able to listen, observe, and remember, serving his clientele perfectly, prompting them to come seeking what they call the ‘Glass of God’ – the perfect drink that helps them remember a certain time in their life, or resolve an issue they are dealing with. The series is an episodic, 11-episode drama that is not unlike another Japanese series and manga, Tokyo Diner. In each episode a different person or people come into the bar with a problem and the episode focuses on a specific drink. In Tokyo Diner, it’s a specific ingredient or recipe. Issues in Bartender can range from relationship problems, problems between a father and son, or work-related issue.  It’s a very different anime series that stands out from the crowded field of high school series, ecchi, and mecha series to name just a few. There should be more dramas entered into the anime canon like this one. There is also a 2011 live-action TV drama based on the same manga from TV Asahi.

The Video

Bartender arrives on Blu-ray framed at 1.78:1 encoded in AVC 1080p. Dating back to 2006, this series is not one of the better-looking anime productions on Blu-ray, especially given the visual artistic choice of applying a rather heavy layer of artificial grain over the image. So overall, this looks a bit soft, a little grainy and muted, but it still looks serviceable.

The Audio

Bartender comes with its original Japanese-language stereo mix in LPCM 2.0. While it offers up clear dialogue, the mix is basically a dialogue-heavy mix and has a somewhat narrow stereo image and narrow dynamic range. The included subtitles are UK English.

The Supplements

There aren’t really any on-disc bonus features to speak of, but Shout! does include a set of collectibles to make this set worthwhile including a collection of cocktail recipe cards and 4 pub mats.

  • Clean Opening Credits (1080p)
  • Clean Closing Credits (1080p)
  • Bumpers (1080p; 00:01:51)
  • 9 Double-Sided Cocktail Recipe Cards w/recipes, bar stories, character descriptions, and artwork
  • 4 pub mats/coasters
  • Collectible high quality chipboard slipcover packaging

The Final Assessment

A compelling anime anthology drama set in a bar that somehow avoids glorifying alcohol or making it the answer to everyone’s problems. Fans of this kind of anime, which is certainly a limited genre, should really appreciate this collection.

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Bartender (15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) is out January 19, 2021 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory

  • Animation Studio: Palm Studio
  • Distributor: Anime Limited | Shout! Factory
  • Director: Watanabe Masaki
  • Written By: Imagawa Yasuhiro
  • Run Time: 275 Mins.
  • Street Date: 19 January 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: UK English

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