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Manga / Shirokuma Cafe

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Panda, Polar Bear, and Penguin. Yes, those are their actual names.

Shirokuma Cafe (Polar Bear Cafe) is a Slice of Life manga that received an anime adaptation premiering in the spring of 2012.

The show follows the daily exploits of a lazy, young panda named Panda. Constantly told by his mother to get a job, he one day stumbles into the titular cafe, run by the enigmatic Polar Bear (better known as Shirokuma in Japanese), a soft-spoken polar bear. Joining them are Polar Bear's friend, a sarcastic penguin named Penguin, various animals from the nearby zoo, and Polar Bear's sole employee, a human girl named Sasako.

The anime was simulcasted and can be watched, subbed, on Crunchyroll.

Tropes featured in Shirokuma Cafe:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Grizzly's mom calls him Guri-channote , despite the fact he's an adult now. The other characters find it hilarious and use it on him too.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Grizzly isn't pleased at all when Mama Grizzly uses her nickname for him in front of others or turns up at his bar to make food and be a mother figure to the customers.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • Penguin accidentally makes a dramatic love confession to Panda while under the influence of alcohol, hallucinating him to be Penko, a female penguin he has a long-standing crush on.
    • Penguin, after many episodes contemplating and chickening out, finally asks his crush Penko-san out in dramatic fashion not once, but every day for the whole week. This comes to bite him in the ass when it turns out he was asking a different penguin each time and never realized, meaning he asked out seven different penguins.
  • Animal Stereotypes: One episode had the zoo animals discussing stereotypes humans tend to associate them with, and how uncomfortable they are with it.
  • Auto-Tune: The initial opening made liberal use of the Cher effect.
  • Back for the Finale: Almost all of the secondary characters return in the anime's final episode for the cherry blossom gathering.
  • Bad Butt: Panda's adorable attempt at being "wild" from the second half of episode 6, which starts with him cosplaying as Darth Vader and ends with him dressed in leather, riding into the sunset on a tricycle.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Bar The Grizzly certainly looks like a Bad Guy Bar at a glance, typically attracting carnivore animal customers (save for the gorilla, who is more of a powerful herbivore). Averted when he and the customers themselves turn out to be nice guys.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: A pool table is seen in Bar The Grizzly, with Lion and Tiger seen playing a game. Averted however with Lion and Tiger are being good guys.
  • Baseball Episode: Episode 27's Part A and B focuses on a friendly baseball game between Polar Bear Cafe and Bar The Grizzly.
  • Beach Episode: The second half of episode 14 has Panda, Polar Bear and Penguin going to the beach.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted. Polar Bear and Panda are nice and friendly, and even the badass and temperamental Grizzly is a genuinely kind guy.
  • Beary Friendly: Polar Bear, Panda and even the hot-headed Grizzly are all nice guys who wouldn't hurt a fly.
  • Beary Funny: Polar Bear is the owner of the titular cafe and is a Pungeon Master. Panda is a rather lazy cloudcuckoolander who is a regular patron. Grizzly, while a serious character, is also dragged into in many of the running gags that involves Polar Bear annoying Grizzly and waking him up from hibernation just to ask pointless questions.
  • Berserk Button: NEVER call King Penguin an emperor penguin or compare her to one. Also, don't insult her son.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Polar Bear, Panda and Penguin are the main (animal) characters. Penguin and Polar Bear's roles will alternate depending on the situation and Panda is The Ditz.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • There is a whiskey menu on the wall in Grizzly's bar. It lists such fine brands as Macillin, Bollantones, Johnnie Runner, Black House, and All-Dipper.
    • At the summer festival at the midway shooting gallery there is a Wee, Polystation 3 and the car dealership Panda gets a job at is called Volvi.
    • Grizzly is shown riding a "Haree Pavdoson" motorcycle.
  • Blind Date: Panda sets Mr. Handa up on a group blind date due to his lack of luck with girls, much to his protests. Hilarity Ensues when Panda, Penguin, and Polar Bear tag along.
  • Book Ends: Episode 50 closes out the anime with a cherry blossom viewing party, which was the first activity the gang did in Episode 2.
  • Boy Band: Yama Arashi are a boy band whose members are porcupines, and Mama Panda and King Penguin love them. They are a spoof off of real-life boy band Arashi.
  • Brain Freeze: Nobody saw the true danger of that shaved ice on the beach. Grizzly also suffers with the shaved ice dessert in episode 16.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Penguin tries to take a picture of Polar Bear with his cell phone and gets distracted at the beginning of "Smartphones". The episode "Driving" closes with him succeeding.
    • The first episode mentions that the reason that Sloth visited the cafe is that he wants to live in Polar Bear's yard. Episode 32 confirms that he in fact, does live in Polar Bear's yard.
  • The Bus Came Back: Full-Time Panda gets transferred to Singapore towards the end of the series, but comes back to Japan for vacation and visits the cafe in the last episode.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Handa, Penguin and Llama are the biggest victims of things not going their way and people not taking them seriously.
    • Polar Bear seems to love waking up Grizzly during his hibernation in order to ask him trivial things.
  • Call-Back: The second half of episode 50 is a cherry blossom party, as the gang recalls the party from episode 2 and are subsequently joined by every character who's shown up over the course of the series.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor:
    • Poor Penguin always drinks more than he should, leading to him doing things he ends up regretting or not remembering altogether.
    • Panda as well. One sip of an Irish Coffee knocks him on his ass. Justified as he appears to be younger than the others and also never drinks.
  • Captain Obvious: Lampshaded by Polar Bear when he first hearings about Brown Bear's Cafe, asking "Brown Bear runs Brown Bear's Cafe?" He gets pointed out for his hypocrisy as he is also the owner of Polar Bear Cafe.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Where the line draws between animals who are part of society and animals who are domesticated and can be eaten is usually fuzzy. The general rule seems to be that animals that are seen as food or pets in the real world are just food or pets in the Polar Bear Cafe world as well. Examples include:
    • Polar Bear and Penguin visiting the zoo's seal exhibit, which forbids polar bears because they are the seal's natural predators. Polar Bear winds up scaring one of the seals away, even if he assures that he won't eat it.
    • Episode 25, where Cub!Polar Bear suggested making bear paw stew (as a joke) to Grizzly.
    • Grizzly legitimately believing that Polar Bear got eaten by otters due to a misunderstanding (the otters were actually eating a new dessert shaped as a polar bear called the "Polar Bear").
    • Hamburger restaurants are seen, and in the manga Polar Bear cooks a roast chicken.
    • A variety of animals that don't count as part of society - three dogs that can't talk, fish are eaten regularly, and it didn't seem like water buffalo in the garden episode can talk either (although that maybe because we didn't see much of them).
  • Chasing a Butterfly: In the first episode of the anime, Panda finds Polar Bear's Cafe when he chases a butterfly, trying to free it from a loose thread.
  • Cheerful Child: Penguin's nephew and King Penguin's son are carefree children usually seen happily playing with each other
  • Childhood Friends:
    • Grizzly and Polar Bear have been friends since they were cubs. Of course, this doesn't stop Grizzly from yelling at Polar Bear at every chance, especially when flashbacks show that he received the brunt of Polar Bear's antics in their childhood.
    • This was the main focus of "Reunion at the Grizzly Bar!" as Wolf, Lion and Tiger were friends since they were kids, grew up going their separate ways, then reuniting and reliving their teen years as they remember how much they love their favourite rapper MC 496MA.
  • Christmas Episode: Episode 37 features the Christmas holiday in both parts, with background foreshadowing in episodes 35 and 36.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Early in the manga it's shown that a kangaroo works at Polar Bear Cafe. She mentions wanting some help in the garden and then, outside of a brief cameo many pages later, is never seen again. note 
  • Civilized Animal: Most of the animal characters fit in society with little to no fuss made. They tend to zig-zag to Partially Civilized Animal, however.
  • Couch Gag: In the second opening every 3-4 episodes will change what shows on the Panda family's TV. For example: MC 469MA, the Penguin Superhero Show, or Yama Arashi.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Episode 24, where Panda's seen eating a bamboo parfait and Masaki and Tree Kangaroo show up to deliver coffee beans.
    • Episode 32 references the cherry tree party and Penguin getting drunk.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In revenge for Polar Bear's constant use of puns, the animals, Handa, and Sasako band together to say nothing but puns back to him. Polar Bear ends up running away each time. It turns out every friend/acquaintance that Polar Bear runs into, throws puns at him, causing him to start freaking out. The others end up finding this genuinely fun, however.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Panda with smartphones. He really really wants one because they're "cool" but doesn't give a crap about using it for anything. He just wanted an excuse to use a Panda themed protective cover.
    Panda: The smartphone was the accessory...
  • Cool Car: The transforming flying car from the first intro, although it is never seen in the actual show.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: When Grizzly disappears during the events of "Mr. Grizzly Goes On An Adventure", Polar Bear makes up an explanation involving Grizzly riding his motorcycle to the north, fighting the mob, and becoming bouncer at a small cafe run by a fox. Of course, everyone calls Polar Bear a liar since the story is so far-fetched and there's way Polar Bear could possibly know... but he ends up being completely right.
  • Credits Jukebox: A new ending every 4-5 episodes, as well as three openings spaced farther out.
  • Cuteness Overload:
    • No matter how uncomfortable Mr Necktie gets at the Cafe, the cuteness of all the animals keeps him interested.
    • Rin-rin i overwhelmed whenever he's with pandas since he loves them and finds them cute. In particular, at the second Cherry Blossom viewing, he's surrounded by Panda's entire family, Full-time Panda's entire family, and Handa (whom he literally thinks is a panda for a few seconds) and outright admits his life's wish has been fulfilled.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Many of the side characters get more focus in some episodes.
    • Rin-rin is the focus of two separate episodes, both based on his obsessive panda fandom.
    • One episode mainly follows Grizzly's adventures after mistakenly believing Polar Bear is dead.
    • Mama Panda, Mama Squirrel and Mama King Penguin spending time together is the focus of the second half of episode 23.
    • Wolf and Tiger get more focus in episode 34 when Wolf is jobless and Tiger has him help out as his shop while they try to find him other work.
    • Llama and Sasako spend an episode reminiscing about their hometown.
    • One story follows Llama and Full-Time Panda drunk adventures (which Rin-rin gets dragged into).
    • In episode 28, Full-Time Panda gets a entire episode dealing with his jealousy of Panda being cuter and getting all the attention. Full-Time is desperate enough to even beg Rin-Rin to obsess over him as well.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The ending themes are sung by the characters' voice actors.
    • "Bamboo☆Scramble" (Panda)
    • "Grizzly-san no G★ROCK" note  (Grizzly)
    • "Mizuiro" note  (Sasako)
    • "ZOOtto ne" note  (Full-Time Panda)
    • "Michinoku Shiiku Blues" note  (Handa)
    • "Zokkon! Penko-san" note  (Penguin)
    • "Kimama ni Panda-Mama" note  (Panda Mama)
    • "Llama-san no Llama Mambo" note  (Llama)
    • "Largo" (Sloth)
    • "Bamboo Rendezvous" (Mei-Mei)
    • "Pandaholic!" (Rin-Rin)
    • "My Dear" (Polar Bear)
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Most of the characters' names are simply their animal/species names. The only time characters aren't named after their species is when there are multiples of that species (and even then they usually end up with generic names like Panda Mama and Full-Time Panda) or if they're human (and even then, Polar Bear does playfully refer to Masaki as "Human").
  • Death Glare:
    • When Penguin accidentally blurts out that he can't tell all the "Penko's" apart during episode 22, he receives a death glare from all seven of them. Rather impressive, considering you can't usually see their eyes.
    • Baby King Penguin has a permanent death glare, albeit unintentional. He is very pure and innocent and just happens to look scary.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
    • Panda (Jun Fukuyama) hums the show's ending theme, "Bamboo Scramble" (sung by Jun Fukuyama).
    • Penguin drunkenly sings along to the opening theme at a karaoke bar. He does it again in episode 50, only not drunk.
    • Polar Bear sings the first line to Sasako's ending song while cycling.
    • Handa hums part of Sasako's ending song at the end of episode 48. It's a nice touch considering it follows one of their interactions.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Implied with Penguin, as he appears to be easily distracted during driving lessons and has failed his driver's test several times. Polar Bear attempts to teach him, but his advice is largely useless. He eventually does get his driver's license, but Polar Bear and Panda make him twitchy when he's driving.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Handa is awkward with girls, tends to obsess over house chores and is generally see as lame by others - he nevertheless is also seen as endearing, especially by Mei Mei who's fallen for his panda-like looks.
  • Epic Fail: Penguin and Panda visit Polar Bear when he's sick and try to tend to him. After demonstrating that they're incapable of helping him in any way, they end up catching his cold.
  • Exact Words: Masaki wants to meet Polar Bear's coffee supplier. Polar Bear replies that it's a little far, and it turns out that it's a tree house behind the cafe. He did say it was a little far.
  • Face of a Thug:
    • King Penguin's son is your typical, playful baby penguin... who happens to look like a vicious ball of black fuzz, with a perpetual Death Glare.
    • Mandrill is apparently made far too often to play the role of the oni at Setsubun.
  • Fangirl: Mama Panda and Mama King Penguin are big fans of Yama Arashi. They go to their concerts and get overwhelmed when the members express their gratitude to them for the food they gave them while holding their hands. Mei Mei is also a fangirl for Handa, squealing and flailing whenever she's admiring him and always asking her brother for photos of him.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: Bits of Panda's Imagine Spot about opening his own cafe are fastforwarded.
  • Festival Episode:
    • The cafe throws a sports day for all the animals (and Handa) with Sasako serving as the emcee.
    • Polar Bear sets up a food stall at the summer festival and the cafe celebrates Tanabata with a massive bamboo tree.
  • Flat "What": The usually calm Polar Bear is visibly shocked and says, "What!?" after Masaki declares he wants to learn how to roast coffee from Tree Kangaroo, who does not accept apprentices. Complete with a gobsmacked expression when Panda wants in on the attention and says he wants to as well.
  • Food Porn:
    • Since the show takes place in a cafe, mouth-watering-looking food is usually shown, especially with Polar Bear's desserts and other things he's made. The show likes to spend several seconds on the ingredients as well.
    • Subverted when Sasako creates three cute parfaits in the image of Polar Bear, Panda, and Penguin as test samples for a future menu special. When two curious patrons offer to taste them, they demolish the desserts with such frightening enthusiasm that Polar Bear changes his mind and offers a lunch sampler special instead.
    • The theme song describes several foods to go with the cafe theme: "Let's drink Mocha latte Ole Tea, and add pancakes and ice-cream to that, let's drink strawberry and mango shakes." "And try a bamboo diet!"
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the third episode when asked if Polar Bear had a problem, he says he always wanted to become an idol, but was too busy with his studies to do so. This causes Penguin to say, "There you go, lying again..." However, he was at one point a famous hip-hop performer, though whether Penguin is aware of that career, or simply thought the idea that Polar Bear would actually want to be one is ludicrous, is unknown.
    • Panda brings up Yama Arashi in a conversation with Full-Time Panda long before they actually appear.
  • For the Evulz: In the South Pole Squad Penguinger TV special, the Evil Emperor (played by Penguin) kidnaps Yama Arashi and forces the entire world to listen to his rakugo. When asked why he did it, he says a few reasons, the first being, "Why? Because I'm evil!"
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Zig-zagged. The animals who usually walk on all fours (namely bears, big cats, canines, and mustelids) are bipedal. However Llama, Tortoise, Sloth and few others still walk on four legs. Possibly justified as Llama's legs would be too thin to support his weight if he did walk upright, Tortoise's shell weighs him down too much to even attempt, and Sloth simply doesn't have the energy to support himself on two legs (although his Imagine Spot of himself walking to the hot springs does show him walking on two legs).
  • Gilligan Cut: Played with. Polar Bear seems to enjoy Tempting Fate in order to invoke sudden cuts to characters doing the opposite of what was said. Sometimes it works, as in the case of Rin-Rin tracking down Panda's home.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Tree Kangaroo is a quiet but gentle guy who smokes with a pipe and is perceived as wise by his employees.
  • Gossipy Hens:
    • Panda and Full-Time Panda like to speculate about Handa's (non-existent) love life and couples at the zoo.
    • Polar Bear gets in on the act when Handa asks him for romantic advice and Polar Bear proceeds to text all the animals for their opinions.
  • Grand Finale: All the characters that have appeared in the anime all come together at the cafe for a cherry blossom viewing party.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: King Penguin. People keeping on mistaking her kind for emperor penguins and Panda's sheer cluelessness (or stupidity) when trying to console her doesn't help. Bonus points for being voiced by Hot-Blooded specialist Nobuyuki Hiyama.
  • Hammerspace: Where does Polar Bear get his numerous pun props?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Grizzly and Polar Bear have been close friends since they were cubs.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Penguin, despite being a chatterbox who likes to go wild drinking and karaoke, enjoys painting as a hobby and holds an exhibit at one point.
    • Sloth's scenes are often gags related to his slow speech and movements, yet likes ballroom dancing and has a Ph.D (albeit a doctorate in hanging out in a tree all day).
    • Panda is unashamedly narcissistic and spoiled, yet feels guilty when Polar bear gets questioned by the police thanks to him (he was trying to illegally ride his bike to the zoo dressed as Panda), so he gives Polar Bear a day-long vacation and runs the store in his place. Given his clumsiness and laziness, an Epic Fail of sorts wouldn't be surprising — however he actually does a really good job, genuinely putting effort into the work and running the place smoothly.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Polar Bear tends to fire off a bunch of puns whenever he feels like it. This comes back to bite him in the ass, as everyone becomes so tired of his puns that they start doing it back to him. He gets so flustered that he apologizes for it but everyone acknowledges it's part of his personality.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Penguin criticizes Panda for only stocking things he likes (bamboo and panda goods) in his hypothetical cafe. Then, when Penguin imagines what his own hypothetical cafe would look like, he does exactly the same thing with fish.
    • While watching Penguin persistently confess to "Penko-san" (unaware he's actually confessing to several of them), Sasako thinks it's romantic to have someone persistently ask you out. When Panda and Polar Bear ask if she'd like it if it happened to her, she pauses and admits it's not as romantic.
    • Polar Bear (aka the owner of Polar Bear Cafe) states how unoriginal it is for Brown Bear to call his cafe "Brown Bear's Cafe".
  • I Am Not Weasel: King Penguin is frequently mistaken for emperor penguins due to their similar appearances, much to her dismay.
  • Imagine Spot: Characters are constantly imagining scenarios, no matter how absurd.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Penguin's nephew and King Penguin's son are very innocent and sweet, and despite the mild corruptness of some characters it does not affect them in any way.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    • Polar Bear claims he's drying kelp on the floor of his house as an excuse to keep Panda and Penguin from coming over to his house.
    • Handa uses "needing to clean his bathroom" as a catch-all for getting out of things. He shoos Panda out of his house with that excuse twice, and uses it to try and get out of a group blind date.
  • In Love with Love: Penguin when he's crushing on Penko. He's in love with her despite knowing nothing about her except that she works at a bakery. He doesn't even know her real name, admitting at one point that Penko is something he made up. He also doesn't know that "she" is actually seven identical penguins who all work at the same bakery on different days.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Panda is this quite often. He's self-centered and sometimes insensitive, but in the same way as a young child - he just doesn't realize what a jerk he can be.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Characters of all kinds of species are friends with each other.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • A one-sided version with Panda's littler sister crushing heavily on Handa. Then Polar Bear jokes about them marrying and Panda's imagination runs with it.
    • Panda sees a real estate agent with Handa and a female badger and mistakes them for a newlywed couple. Panda's imagination really runs with it and mistakenly lets the zoo believe it's true.
    • In one story, Penguin mistakenly thinks Penko is in love with Tortoise (she said she loves cameras (kamera) but he only caught the kame (turtles) bit).
  • Jack of All Trades:
    • Polar Bear is talented with pretty much any task, whether it be running a cafe, cooking, surfing, catching a baseball, golf, playing the ukulele, making sandcastle sculptures etc. Even when he fills in for Panda at the zoo, he's an even better Panda than Panda is. Seeing him "fail at something" rarely ever happens.
    • Grizzly, similarly, is knowledgeable of a lot of things besides running a bar, such as fishing and batting.
  • Josei: Yes, this is a josei series.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia:
    • Tree Kangaroo works behind the cafe roasting coffee beans and delivers them to the cafe.
    • Grey kangaroos work at the cafe vegetable gardens.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In episode 40, both Panda and Penguin bring up the fact that neither of each-other's eyes are visible.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Animals live in society along with humans in this series, and it's perfectly normal at least in the main cast's town. This leads to some... interesting scenarios.
    • Zoos still exist and function the same way as the real world, and animals happily work there like any other standard job. Animals can also visit the zoo themselves — for example Polar Bear and Penguin go to the zoo, and Polar Bear wants to... go see the resident polar bear diving into a pool. Further lampshaded when a sign outside the exhibit forbids polar bears from entering since it's 'confusing.'
    • Played with when the editor of a local food magazine is a shoebill. He doesn't speak at all, letting his writers speak for him, and acts more like a typical shoebill.
    • Mr. Necktie in the second half of episode 16 also lampshades this. The episode follows how he reacts to the unfamiliar coexistence of humans and animals, given that he is new to the town because of work. In particular, he experiences Polar Bear's cafe and Grizzly's bar.
    • The anime's second opening shows how the humans and animals live and work together.
  • Local Hangout:
    • The cafe is where the main trio and Sasako hang out daily, and also where a lot of episodes take place. Its close location to the zoo means that all the animals tend to hang out there.
    • Bar The Grizzly is a place characters (especially carnivore animals) tend to hang out at, too.
  • Manly Tears: Grizzly and Wolf, despite being carnivore and thus "badass" animals, tear up in episode 16 and 34 respectively.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • Happens to Panda in Episode 12 after telling Handa that he'd be more enthusiastic at work if he had a girlfriend, prompting this exchange:
      Handa: Well, to me, all of you at the zoo are like my significant other.
      Full-Time Panda: Now you sound a like a pure and innocent idol and I don't like it.
      Panda: Yeah. I don't want to hear idol-like phrases like 'I don't go to the bathroom.' True idols are like us and their poop smells like lemons.
      Full-Time Panda: [sweatdrops] Your conversation is drifting, Panda.
    • In Episode 19, Panda tries (and fails) to cheer up Mama King Penguin but ends up making less sense:
      Panda: Oh, it's not a big deal.
      King Penguin: Huh?
      Panda: They say that life is full of mountains and valleys. Mountains have bamboo. When you're hungry there's bamboo and bamboo grass.
      King Penguin: You piss me off! You totally piss me off! [cue her pecking Panda]
  • Mood Whiplash: Some episodes have a more serious tone or do not go for the usual slapstick comedy. In particular, episode 44 amps this up to eleven due to both parts being following the gloomy story of Panda dealing with Full-Time Panda's sudden absence.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Llama unintentionally destroys what was shaping up to be a lovely moment between Handa and Sasako when they nearly walk home together.
    • Panda and the rest of the gang unintentionally butt in on potentially nice moments between Handa and Sasasko during the Summer Festival. Penguin lampshades their inability to read the mood.
  • Nephewism: Penguin's nephew is never seen with his parents, only with Penguin or his friend.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The first seemingly nasty character to appear is a Black Caiman, in a Bad Guy Bar. However, this is averted in his later appearances, where he's rather friendly to the other characters.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Invoked In-Universe with the cafe's ghost story night. However, most of the animal ones' are not scary, scaring only Handa because he hates scary stories. Then Sasako's (mostly) unheard ghost story terrifies everyone in the cafe with a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. Handa is rendered catatonic with terror.
  • Noble Wolf: Wolf is one of the more sensitive characters and is good friends with Lion and Tiger.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Mandrill has a habit of closing up into others' faces, and this once scared Handa in one episode.
  • Odd Friendship: Penguin and Grizzy strike a friendship during the camping trip in episode 17. Despite having nothing meaningful in common, they bond over how Polar Bear and Panda drive them nuts.
  • Once an Episode: Waking up Grizzly from hibernation for a trivial matter appears to become a once-an-episode gag after his hibernating begins.
  • Overly-Long Gag:
    • Polar Bear circles around the drive-through window of a local burger joint and freaks out the poor cashier four times before placing an order.
    • The sloth leaving the group to go to the convenience store and it cuts to the show bumpers three times before moving on.
  • Panthera Awesome: Lion and Tiger are two cool good-natured characters who have a good friendship with each other as well as Wolf.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Averted when Panda and Polar Bear decide to swap jobs for the day. Panda's "Polar Bear" disguise (ie. him with his black fur dyed white) doesn't fool the cafe patrons for a second due to his small stature. Polar Bear's panda paint job also fools nobody because he's huge. It also gets him in trouble with a local police officer for identity fraud later on.
  • Playful Otter:
    • An otter frequently visits the cafe.
    • Otters also become a plot point in episode 16, where Grizzly thinks a group of them ate Polar Bear when they actually ate a dessert shaped like a polar bear.
    • The Christmas Episode reveals that an otter looks after Grizzly's bar while he hibernates.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Neither the manga nor the anime have a real overarching story, so none of the changes are important, but the manga is fairly different from the anime. Characters in the anime are introduced in a completely different order and situation than their manga counterparts. The anime has several stories not present in the manga (for example, Penko does not exist in the manga in any form and Penguin's love life is never an issue), and for the stories the two mediums do share, there are always changes in the characters' personalities and dialogues.
  • Precocious Crush: Mei-Mei, Panda's sister, has a crush on an older guy... said guy is Handa.
  • Pun: Puns, especially Polar Bear's frequent punning, is a staple of the show's humor.
  • Pungeon Master:
    • Polar Bear is a frequent practitioner of dajare, a Japanese form of humor that revolves around puns based on the pronunciation (rather than the reading) of words.
      • Lampshaded when Polar Bear is driving and he notices a bagel in his car. He proceeds to riff some puns, but then comments that it's not as fun because Penguin and Panda have both fallen asleep and don't notice.
      • He even plays them with a Black Caiman threatening to eat Panda!
      • Subverted in "Penguin's Confession" when Polar Bear starts to make a pun, Penguin cuts him off and skedaddles out of the cafe. Two seconds later, he comes back in and Sasako fills in a pun for Polar Bear.
      • One time when Panda says he's going to be a roller. Polar Bear does several puns, one of which is dealer. Which in a twist to the running gag, Panda admits for once Polar Bear is correct (although Panda meant a car dealer, while Polar Bear meant a casino dealer).
    • Panda tries to imitate Polar Bear's pun humour, but nobody pays attention. It then turns out he is inner-monologuing.
    • Handa adds a few puns himself.
  • Put on a Bus: Full-Time Panda is transferred to a zoo in Singapore, and Panda takes it very poorly as he liked him a lot and isn't told until after he leaves.
  • Real Men Can Cook: A variation of this is played with animals that are apex predators. Although this trope is still in effect as most of the Supreme Chefs in the show are males.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Tiger takes pride in both being a "fierce beast" and baking sweets.
    • In Episode 34, Wolf is revealed to work in a bakery. When he quits his job at a previous bakery due to back pains, he's ashamed to the point of refusing to reknowledge himself as a "fierce beast".
  • Running Gag: Several gags occur frequently.
    • Panda's fear of his mother's vacuum cleaner, usually leading him to get sucked up and cry, "Don't suck me up!".
    • Polar Bear's puns.
    • Penguin buying far too much bread at Penko's bakery as an excuse to hang around her...and then trying to dump it off at Polar Bear Cafe.
    • Penguin trying to get people to listen to his rakugo and, later on, ventriloquism.
    • The Emperor Penguin and King Penguin chicks playing rope train.
    • Polar Bear interrupting Grizzly's hibernation for mundane reasons. Then Grizzly tries to pre-empt him.
    • Panda and others fawning over his cuteness.
    • Sloth or Tortoise's slowness, for example one of them (or both at the same time) arriving at or finishing up an event long after it's finished.
    • Panda and Full-Time sitting around talking or doing mundane things when they're supposed to be performing for the zoo patrons, which Handa complains to them about.
    • In the paper doll segments at the very end, Polar Bear always teases about what the next episode is going to about (typically things nothing to do with the next episode, leading Penguin to correct him).
      The next episode is going to be the final episode.
      The next episode will be voiced in Portuguese.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Penko has no characterisation other than running the bakery and being Penguin's love interest (seven love interests, to be exact).
  • Serious Business: Apparently buying all-you-can-get walnuts and dining in all-you-can-eat cake restaurants are a big deal, according to Mama Red Squirrel and Mama King Penguin.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Polar Bear on occasion uses complicated vocabulary. This irritates Penguin when Polar Bear starts speaking in technical jargon.
  • Sexophone: Romantic saxophone music is played when Mei-Mei meets Handa for the first time. It's also played in "Rin-Rin and the High School Girl" in which the girl trips and Rin-Rin catches her.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "I think the act of acting naturally is 'acting natural'."
  • Shipper on Deck: All the animals are supportive of Handa and Sasako (whom he likes) getting together.
  • Ship Tease: Handa develops a crush on Sasasko not long after meeting her and tries to think of ways to ask her out or get her attention. While there's no evidence of Sasako reciprocating, she's still friendly towards him. The show hints at any potential of them getting together:
    • Sasako is the first to greet Handa in the cafe and notices him falling asleep in the cafe's patio. She also may have been the one to drape the blanket over him as he sleeps.
    • If one looks closely at the background when Sasako's ending theme plays, there is a man dressed in Handa's uniform with a broom that pops up at several points.
    • The second opening theme has Sasako riding her bike, and Handa joins her at one point and they converse.
    • The second half of episode 35 centers around him trying to come up with a gift for her. He gives her a shiny stone in a pretty box, and before that she also gives him potatoes since she bought too many of them.
    • Episode 48 has Handa trying to get Sasako a gift for White Day (she gave him obligatory chocolate albeit through Panda, which made Handa happy nevertheless). He gives her mandarin oranges to help her get better when it turns out she's ill.
  • Shout-Out: The series often alludes to other media.
    • A scene of Panda fantasizing about Rin-rin's identity (he thinks he's a girl) is done in the style of Revolutionary Girl Utena, of all things.
    • Panda's Training Montage in episode 6 is a shout out to Rocky, complete with a shout of "Adrian!"
    • Panda starts walking around in an outfit similar to Darth Vader in an effort to have a bad-ass image.
    • Polar Bear does an... interesting impression of Holly Golightly while promoting the cafe's latest dessert.
    • In episode 18, Polar Bear tells a horror story that he changed color due to a mouse chewing on his ear and he feared mice because of it.
    • Among Full-Time Panda's collection of mecha model kits [that he keeps hidden in a bush in the enclosure] are what look like several Gundam mecha, as well as GaoGaiGar.
    • One of the visitors to Penguin's art show is probably meant to be Osamu Tezuka.
    • In "Love Love Driving Tactics", at the start of the drive, Panda seems to be playing a PSP like device. The panel on the back with the ring makes it glaringly obvious.
    • In the Summer Festival there is a mask that looks glaringly similar to Naruto.
    • In episode 38 Panda is reading a manga of a Sherlock Holmes expy.
    • In Episode 49, "Mr. Llama's Time Capsule", as they're sitting down on a stoop eating cream buns, Sasako gets up looking around.
      Panda: Did you just see Superman?
  • Shown Their Work:
    • As an animal series, the effort put into the characters' designs, traits etc is evident. For example, the penguin classification in Episode 19 is spot on, even using the genus names Pygoscelis (for Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo) and Aptenodytes (for King and Emperor). They also describe how the species from genus Pygoscelis got their names.
    • The squirrels teach Masaki all about coffee and give accurate info while doing so.
  • Sluggish Sloths: Along with Tortoise, Sloth has a very slow speech and pace. In one episode, he offers to go to the convenience store to buy refreshments for a cherry blossom viewing, only to come back when the others have gone and it's nighttime.
  • Something Blues: The fifth ending is called "Michinoku Zoo-Keeper Blues". The BGM that plays whenever Tiger, Lion and Wolf are present is called "Wild Beast Blues".
  • Squee:
    • The ladies on the group blind date, as well as the karaoke bar waitress, fangirl upon seeing Panda sitting on the floor of their karaoke room and pulling out bamboo to eat.
    • Mei-Mei's reactions to Handa consists mainly squealing and fangirling.
  • Spit Take:
    • Kirino spits out his drink in Episode 10 after hearing Handa tell their dates what panda poop smells likes (apparently, lemons).
    • Grizzly spits his drink out Episode 49 when his mother calls for him using his Embarrassing Nickname for all of the cafe to hear (she calls him Guri-chan, or Little Grizz in the Crunchyroll subtitles).
  • The Stoic: Polar Bear is very calm and rarely changes his peaceful expression, though he also has Not So Stoic moments.
  • Stunned Silence:
    • When Panda finds out Rin-Rin (his secret fan) is the local male florist (rather than female like he thought), he's rendered into a horrified silence.
    • Sloth and Tortoise show up to the cafe play baseball... at sunset, hours after the game is over. Everyone just stares at them.
  • Sturdy and Steady Turtles: Tortoise moves and talks very slowly.
  • Sugar Bowl: In this world the show takes place in, humans and anthropomorphic animals live in harmony as equals, there's no prejudice between them, drinking and smoking are shown but never in a way that looks sleazy, no villains are present (unless you count that creepy Caimen but even he's toned down), and everyone is friends with one another (even if they won't admit it). The third intro really hammers this trope in.
  • Supreme Chef:
    • Polar Bear is naturally good at cooking since he is a cafe owner.
    • Sasako, despite only being the part-time worker that got hired on the spot, is shown to be talented with food as Polar Bear loves her gyoza and two female customers thoroughly enjoy the parfaits she makes for them.
    • Grizzly is no slouch at food and drinks since he owns a bar and also did grow up with Polar Bear.
    • Grizzly's Mother apparently is a master at making soup, since everyone at Bar The Grizzly love it to death despite not even being on the menu (which Grizzly complains about).
    • Tiger is an owner of a successful bakery and so is good at baking (especially sweets).
  • Swapped Roles:
    • Polar Bear and Panda try out each others' jobs for a day. The results are mixed, to say the least.
    • Panda tries out the other roles at the zoo and utterly fails at all of them. Llama, on the other hand, is such an excellent replacement panda that Full-Time Panda compliments him several times. Witnessing this causes Panda to go back to his original job and Llama to ponder what other roles he could try out.
  • Sweat Drop:
    • Sasako, Handa, and Penguin tend to show sweat drops as soon as Polar Bear or Panda say something outrageous.
    • Panda visibly sweat drops whenever he has to deal with Rin Rin.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: When Polar Bear is in need of an employee to help him run the cafe, the animals that he interviews all fail at answering his questions. He ends up hiring Sasako after she comes into the cafe carrying Sloth on a branch.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave:
    • Things, actually. Panda Mama, Ms. King Penguin, Mama Red Squirrel, and a fourth woman in episode 23 basically camp out in the cafe, and demand free coffee refills.
    • Poor Red Panda has to deal with Panda Mama's group when they hang out at his work with Sasako (whom they're supposed to be interrogating for present ideas but end up going off-track).
    • Penguin visits Panda's house for New Year's and ends up staying there for several days at Panda's family's insistence. He's happy to hang out, but Panda gets annoyed by his presence.
  • Token Human: As the series focuses on animals, only some humans are significant in some settings and frequently appear.
    • Sasako and Handa are the two main human characters as Sasako is the cafe's sole human employee and Mr. Handa is Panda's zookeeper. They inevitably get dragged into the shenanigans.
    • Rin-rin is the local florist who's a Loony Fan for pandas and even gets a few A Day in the Limelight segments of his own.
    • Kirino, the second zookeeper, is Handa's subordinate.
    • Masaki, Tree Kangaroo's apprentice. At one point Polar Bear wonders if he should just call him 'human'.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Compared to his manga counterpart, Panda is much more rude and thoughtless to his friends and peers.
  • Too Much Information: In Episode 10's group date, Handa tries to impress the girls with his knowledge of pandas... and their poop.
  • True Companions: Penguin may be annoyed by Panda's often thoughtless remarks, but after seeing how depressed Panda was after learning of Full-Time Panda's reassignment to Singapore and how it affected his job performance, Penguin goes to defend Panda and calls himself Panda's best friend.
  • Ugly Cute: In-Universe, King Penguin defends her son as being "adorably ugly".
  • Unaffected by Spice: Polar Bear finds habanero peppers addicting and has no problem eating some.
  • What Does She See in Him?: In the anime, the seven Penko sisters share Penguin at one point, after his constant failures to tell them apart. But when asked what they find Penguin so appealing, each and everyone can't think of anything. They all dump him on the spot immediately after. At the same time!
  • Weirdness Magnet:
    • The cafe is a low level one. Mostly oddments and inexplicable anomalies. (Where do those dogu and Jomon potteries come from?)
    • Mr. Necktie thinks the town itself is a low-level one because of the large number of animal citizens.


Video Example(s):


Shirokuma Cafe

Panda imagines a super good-looking version of himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImagineSpot

Media sources: