When Keiichirou Tachibana chucks in a well paid job to become the proprietor of a patisserie, it seems an unlikely move for a man who doesn’t even like sweets that much. Still, his new life is far from uneventful, thanks to his new employees- a chief patissier so gay that he’s been fired from all his jobs for making even straight men fall in love with him, an ex-boxer with a sweet tooth and an overly devoted family friend. But does Tachibana’s sudden desire to deal in confectionaries have something to do with the fact that he was once kidnapped by a man with a strange predilection for delicious cakes?
Despite its obvious HARD GAY reputation, I initially regarded Antique Bakery with an optimistic eye; maybe it would be like the cake version of Bartender, with troubled customers coming in each week to find their perfect cake. The result combination of delicious confections and human drama could only be a recipe for a success, couldn’t it? Well, maybe it could have been if the series had gone down that route- but unfortunately, it didn’t.
Instead, what we get is something so ridiculously HARD GAY that it’s hard to believe even the producers took it seriously- in fact, all I needed to do to parody each episode was just relate almost exactly what happened. From gay baker Ono’s fear of anything lacking a Y chromosome to family friend Chikage’s overzealous devotion to Tachibana, everything is completely over the top- and worst of all, nothing really happens. Yes, there is an attempt at a main plot in which Tachibana tries to use his cake shop to track down the cake-obsessed man who kidnapped him as a child, but the whole thing is so utterly stupid that it is hardly worth classing as a plot at all.
Similarly, the characters, whilst unintentionally amusing, are largely a case of wasted potential. Despite having points where depth or development could be explored (such as ex-boxer Eiji having to give up his career or risk losing his sight), each of the main characters is portrayed one dimensionally, leading to a quartet of the uptight STRAIGHT man, the openly HARD GAY guy, the overeager novice and the stoic sidekick. The supporting cast is even less substantial, with the few other named characters proving forgettable at best and irritating at worst.
Visually, Antique Bakery sticks to a pale, pastel style that suits the series, although its greatest accomplishment is the paper cut out style opening and jigsaw ending. Background music is inoffensive and forgettable.
I don’t know what it was intending to achieve, but ultimately all Antique Bakery managed was to be an over the top HARD GAY-fest that was hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps the original manga held more promise, but this adaptation certainly didn’t have much of genuine value to offer.