RISTORANTE PARADISO is one of those series that's hard to describe (and not because it features bondage ninjas or exploding pandas). It aims to hook you on feelings, mostly, with very low-stakes drama. And I have to admit - - even after watching romance shows like WHITE ALBUM in the past - - this took some getting used to.
Figuring it'd be better not to go in alone with this one, I opted to bring my fiancee, Emily, along to see what a non-otaku thought of this slice-of-life anime. She's a director, writer and overall creative force for Comediva(a website that specializes in female comedy for everyone), so I thought she'd be perfect for a show that seems to cater to the fairer sex.
Emily's allowed me to watch anime in the living room before and, full admission, she's walked in at some awkward moments. Would it be possible for her to want to watch this anime stuff without bribing her with feet rubs?
No, probably. But she makes the big bucks shooting music videos about dancing Klingons, and I don't, so I gotta keep her happy.
Regardless, I thought this would make some interesting reading for our Vicers. And I encourage you who have had significant others/people you dated/one-night stands watch anime with you to share some stories below!
Warning: lattes and wine talk follows.
Sam Weller - So, what did you think of the show?
Emily - It was very relaxing.
S - Yes, because right now you are bundled up.
E - Yes.
S - In a blanket...
E - Yes.
S - Because you have just completed the show.
E - If I was a middle-aged woman my ovaries would be on fire... because... what did I say before?
S - "... middle-aged women can't have children anymore, but they can still get hot for wine?"
E - Yes. [laughs]
S - That should be the mission statement of this show. So, essentially the storyline is... it's very basic. It's 11 episodes, it follows the trials and tribulations of a young woman who goes to find her mother - -
E - I love how you're performing, right now, even though it's a transcript.
S - ... this is just how I contextualize things.
E - It's very cute.
S - Hrmm. So, she goes to reconcile with her mother, who she finds out has remarried and started a restaurant with this guy, who's founded a restaurant for her mother that's filled with older bespectacled men.
E - Yes.
S - Now, this is not your typical anime.
E - They are older, attractive... older gentlemen. Refined. Lovers of wine. Lovers of food. Lovers of life. [laughs]
S - That is essentially what the show is selling. And I think one of the interesting parts is that... this show is selling you on low-stakes conflicts, but with like... with a really nice aesthetic. You really like the look of the show...
E - It was attractive. It was all done in pastels, the character's movements are all very relaxing.
S - Yeah. Did you feel like at any point you were "watching anime"?
E - No.
S - Character designs and the way everything looks is like... everything is a slow pan across the room. Almost every single moment. Very European.
E - Obviously. They're in Italy. [laughs]
S - Right.
E - Really long held wide shots essentially for no reason. Except to keep you relaxed.
S - Yes.
E - Chill.
S - Which is different than a lot of anime you've walked in on me watching. Very frenetic, dense storylines. You'll see me watching something and then I have to launch into a litany of explanation before I hit un-pause.
E - Right.
S - And this is a show that feels like... DOWNTON ABBEY Than your typical anime.
E - Right. With less drama.
S - Right. Even less drama.
E - Nothing really happens in this anime. But it's still pleasing, it's enjoyable. You're still curious, you want to know about people's lives. That's why people watch Dr. Phil. Same reason why people would want to watch this anime.
S - [laughs] Now, uh, you especially liked the vocal performance of some of the characters.
E - [imitates gasps of surprise]
S - Now, I want to get the outsider's view on this...
E - It's just funny, because it's so low-stakes. And like, low drama. Like, a man put a plate on the table and she's freaked out about it.
S - Or they cook something for her and her mind is blown.
E - She's constantly orgasm-ing over food. She is overreacting to every minute detail of the show.
S - It's charming, because she's the only character that does that. Every other character in this show is so stilted and reserved in their emotions. Essentially I would... I wouldn't enjoy this show as much if I wasn't experiencing it with you. There's that awful trope that "your girlfriend can watch this with you" or whatever, but this totally is.
E - This is an anime my mom would enjoy. The opening sequence features lattes and wine, these are things that women love. They [CENSORED] love lattes and wine.
S - This whole show feels like a love letter to the middle-aged woman.
E - It's like EAT, PRAY, LOVE for anime, for middle-aged women.
So overall, Emily and I were pleased with our restaurant visit. Sorry... ristorante visit.
However, if you're looking for big action, high-stakes, or even a cooking anime, this actually isn't it. But... if you want something to put on and just tune out - - but still be one step above Ambien so you don't pass out too quickly - - then RISTORANTE PARADISO is your show.
What anime should Emily and I watch next? Tell us below!
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam