Whatever font that I get the juice to blog about anime has been running a bit dry of late. I’ve still been watching a ton of currently airing anime but, for whatever reason, it hasn’t been translating into getting anything written. On the other hand, I recently finished a slightly older series called Thriller Restaurant (Kaidan Restaurant) and I enjoyed this fun, little anime series too much to pass up the chance to talk about it. So, I’m going to dust off my series review template and do a proper anime series review post for Thriller Restaurant.
And with Halloween coming, it might be just the anime series one needs to get into the spirit of the season.
Largely episodic in nature, Thriller Restaurant follows the daily adventures of a class of elementary school kids that have an appetite for the supernatural. Sometimes these kids go looking for the things that go bump in the night and sometimes those things go looking them.
Thoughts and impressions
I gotta start off by saying that I loved watching Thriller Restaurant – it was one of those rare series that leave the viewer feeling a sense of genuine loss (among all the other feelings) at the end because it’s over and there’s no next episode to look forward too – but, for potential watchers, it’s important for me to regulate expectations of this anime since I’ve come to believe that high expectations have killed the chances of so many fans to like countless numbers of great anime series just from being told these series were awesome beforehand.
Therefore, don’t come to Thriller Restaurant expecting buckets of blood, gory monsters, or pants wetting scary stories. It’s not that type of show; which has led some to call this a kids show. It’s not that, either. This series falls in-between those two ends of the programming spectrum. With each episode averaging 2 or 3 stories told, Thriller Restaurant genuinely spooked me maybe once every third episode, though just about every episode could, at least, get me to feel a bit uneasy at some point in it. (Always watching Thriller Restaurant at night might have helped :) .)
So, if it’s not actually all that scary of a show, why watch?
Well, there’s the voice actor Hiroaki Hirata, for starters. If the name doesn’t ring any bells, he’s the guy that voiced Tiger on Tiger and Bunny and Mutta Nanba on the currently airing Space Bros (Uchuu Kyoudai). And much like Tiger and Bunny and Space Bros, ever moment that Hirata is acting in Thriller Restaurant is pure gold. He doesn’t play one of the kids – I guess an elementary school kid with his voice would be too unbelievable – but the Ghastly Garcon (waiter and manager) at the Thriller Restaurant who in each episode introduces the stories for that episode to the viewers and then does a little closing skit in each episode for a total of 2-3 minutes of screen time each episode.
Next is the fact that it was occasionally genuinely creepy and oftentimes unsettling. It would have been much harder to like the show if it never succeeded at spooking me because a failure on delivering of the premise to Thriller Restaurant makes the creators look incompetent and makes it impossible to get “into” the show. The importance of doing this can be seen in comparing a few recent anime series. Binbougami ga! was billed as a comedy but was able to get fairly serious in it’s story because it never stopped providing enough laughs to remain a comedy. On the other hand – Kill me Baby was supposed to be a comedy but it wasn’t funny, Polar Bear Café was supposed to be a slice-of-life series but it made watching paint dry the more interesting option, Natsuyuki Rendezvous was supposed to be a romantic comedy-drama but it forgot that getting romance, comedy or drama from a cast of characters with the personalities of rocks is about as easy as squeezing water from a rock is – and so, each of these series were failures because they could not do what the premise of the show promised it would.
When it wasn’t being creepy or unsettling, Thriller Restaurant was cute and interesting. For example, not all the stories in Thriller Restaurant happen to the cast; instead, sometimes cast members will tell a supernatural story that they know. These stories open up the series and allow the show never to get a stale feeling from having the same stories told and retold. Also, when these stories are told, the kids are shown in the roles of the story which is a cute touch that never got old. These stories are also interesting because they are drawn from both western and eastern countries and reflect the different cultures behind the stories.
There was also the delightful earnestness shown by the kids in their quest for the supernatural around them. It gave this anime a very charming feeling and each episode never failed to put a smile on my face. Plus, Thriller Restaurant had a very catchy ending sequence/song that I never skipped over. And the final reason in this review is Thriller Restaurant provided a nice respite from the current common character types, faddish tropes, and tired clichés that run rampant through so many anime series right now.
Hopefully, this review will lead at least a few people reading this to give Thriller Restaurant a spin. (Though timing this review with the beginning of the new season of anime might not have been the best idea :) .) And speaking of the new season of anime, I do plan on getting back in the swing of writing for The Null Set.
Final Series Score: 10/12 A
Rewatchablity: 3.5/5 – Medium
Ending: 3/5 – Good
Animation: 2.5/5 – Average
- 23 episodes
- genre: supernatural, drama
- animation studio: Toei Animation
- director: Yoko Ikeda
I always take more screenshots than I need then I feel bad not using them so here’s a few more from Thriller Restaurant.