Comic Books Magazine

Pandra Restaurant Review

Posted on the 30 January 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Pandra Restaurant

Title: Pandra Restaurant
Genre: Shoujo, Boys Love, Comedy
Artist: Riri Sagara
Publisher: COMIC CYUTT (JP), DMG (US)
Original Release Date: January 30, 2013

Pandra Restaurant follows the peculiar staff of a low-key restaurant situated in the quiet suburbs. The staff are cookware personified and include a sponge, a frying pan, a spatula, a pot, a chef’s knife, and a newly hired cutting board. Pandra Restaurant is a collection of shorts about their interactions and Manaita’s attempts to fit in with the rest of the utensils. If anyone remembers the 1989 movie The Brave Little Toaster or even the Toy Story trilogy, personifying inanimate objects is nothing new, but presenting them in a intense environment like a restaurant offers a dynamic space for dramatic interactions. It’s hard to say, though, how well Pandra Restaurant is able to achieve that, and while it certainly lacks the charm and depth that The Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story have, it does have some down right funny moments.

As anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows, your utensils are essential components to your daily work life and sometimes it’s hard not to develop at least some attachment to them (at the restaurant I work at, we have named our tried and true pizza peel “The Old Pro”), which makes the personifications in Pandra Restaurant funny and surprisingly accurate. The most enjoyable scene was the conflict between the cookware and tableware because it not only seems fitting for the personalities of the utensils themselves, but also captures the ingrained differences between the people who work in the kitchen and dining room. The tableware is easy to “crack” and feels superior to the crude cookware that goes unnoticed in the kitchen; after all, the tableware services the guests directly, and isn’t that what food service is all about? The cookware has more intense personalities, with loyalty, roughness around the edges, and strength being some of their traits and defends their worth in a heartbeat. This scene is well-designed because it’s a parody on real life; the confrontation is only funnier because of how truthful it is to daily encounters between cooks and wait staff.

Pandra Restaurant

The rest of the volume, though, is mostly about puns and a play on the Japanese words of the utensils. Some drama does happen towards the end of the manga, but it almost feels like too little too late, as if Sagara forgot that she had a main storyline she wanted to write. Manaita, the cutting board, is a new hire, and a little nervous because it’s his first restaurant. He’s anxious about the chef’s knife, Houchou, with whom he will have to work closely during his employment at Pandra. There’s a lot of boys-love hints in the latter half of Pandra Restaurant (all the utensils are male). Manaita gets more and more jealous when he has to mentally confront the various cutting boards that have partnered with Houchou in the past. Mantaita’s youth, innocence, and generally submissiveness is overwhelming and Houchou faithfully plays the part of the mysterious yet overprotective dominant. It’s a little odd, though, the insinuations presented here, because, after all, we are talking about cooking utensils. It’s almost as if Sagara ran out of material to parody and defaulted to a BL storyline because why not?

However, the disconnectedness between the funny shorts at the beginning and the suddenly serious drama at the end only highlights the flaws in the logistics of the story. Thankfully, though, the story and characters are easy enough to get into because they are all modeled after familiar molds and not treated with enough seriousness to make their unoriginality a glaring flaw. One thing that is a flaw in Pandra Restaurant is the artwork. It’s overly simple to a fault. While there’s nothing wrong with the drawing style itself, the art focuses mainly on the characters faces with no background or depth, so you get the feeling of being constantly zoomed in during the entire volume.

Pandra Restaurant Pandra Restaurant Pandra Restaurant

If you’ve never worked in a restaurant or had a lot of experience cooking, Pandra Restaurant may not have much appeal to you. It’s a work meant to twist the grueling and often frustrating tasks of food service into something more light-hearted and comical, which it accomplishes quite well in the first half. While the BL drama at the end feels out-of-place, it doesn’t hinder the overall feel of the manga, and Pandra Restaurant manages to come out ahead of the game despite its flaws.

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