- Titles: Ristorante Paradiso
- Genre: drama, Slice of LIfe, Romance, Food
- Episodes: 11
- Studio: David Production
Nicoletta has a few things to say to her mother. For instance, why did she run off leaving her and her dad behind when Nicoletta was just a little girl? What has she been doing all these years? What makes her think she still has the right to call herself a mother? But most of all, Nicoletta wants to walk right up to her mother’s new husband and introduce herself. After all, the man did say he wanted nothing to do with a woman who already had a family. This is exactly what her mom deserves! But when Nicoletta gets to the charming restaurant tucked away in a little side street of downtown Rome, she starts to realize that sometimes, the heart wants what it wants, and we’re helpless against that.
Restaurante Paradiso is an early work from Natsume Ono who some of you may know as the author of ACCA 13. I read the one-volume manga some time ago and when I saw that it had been adapted, I became very curious as to how such a story could be stretched to 11 episodes. The answer might surprise you …
The most striking aspect of Ristorante Paradiso in my opinion is ono sensei’s distinctive character designs. It’s a style you won’t mistake for another. I would say it’s not yet as polished or, for lack of a better word, as cool as it will become in later works, but the large cast of older characters is something you almost never see in anime and that’s already worth a look. Some of the general Roman scenery is very nice and there is also a slight textural overlay on certain backgrounds that make them look a little like paintings on canvas which adds some visual flair to the entire show.
However, generally speaking, Ristorante Paradiso is a tame production with a visibly limited budget. I doubt anyone would go out of their way to see this anime for its technical merits, and neither would I recommend you do so. If you plan to watch it any ways though, there is a bit more to see than the bare-bones usual fare.
Story & Characters
I once described Ristorante Paradiso as a story about good things happening to bad people. That’s an oversimplification of course. “Bad people” is an extremely subjective term for instance and it’s quite possible that you won’t think of the characters that way. It’s entirely possible that the author meant them to be flawed, relatable but otherwise endearing. That was not my experience, however. In both the anime and manga, I thought the cast were not all that likable and that was actually a draw for me.
You rarely see stories about unlikeable protagonists. And when you do, there’s an even chance that it’s by accident and the writers simply failed to create a lovable main character, but they were trying to! Personally, I didn’t mind the bad people bit, I considered it a feature, not a bug. But it’s really not going to be for everyone.
The manga was a tight little story that dealt with family forgiveness and some somewhat dubious romance elements. I liked it quite a bit but everyone I have lent it to has not been as generous with it.
The main thing about the anime is that it takes the basic storyline of the manga and then stretches it to 11 full episodes. Like I said, you may be surprised to find out how, well this is how: not very well…
Sorry, I’m being a little glib here. The runtime of the anime has been supplemented by exploring the lives and backgrounds of all the sides and supporting characters, even introducing a few new ones. This comes off as somewhat unrelated short stories that end up making the anime more of a slice of life than the romantic family drama the manga was.
And to be honest, I found most of those side stories kind of boring. Look, I know this is a pretty subjective view. I’m not saying no one could find them interesting. But I didn’t. And I’m the only person I know who liked the manga.
Moreover, stretching out Nicoletta’s aimlessness and baffling self-contradicting actions for such a long time takes away from the character’s cohesiveness. If she was potentially meant to be a flawed but relatable character in the manga (something that was already debatable), she’s just kind of a difficult-to-follow mess in the anime. Her motivations seem to swing wildly with little explanation and her actions only make sense if you don’t think about it too hard.
Some of the very questionable situations that were either brushed to the side or explained away off page in the manga, something that was acceptable in the context of such a short story, now need to be examined more deeply and they just fall apart. Or else, the story still tries to wave them away but it feels shallow now that you have all this time to carefully examine things and you find yourself following a character you never heard of before on a random Tuesday instead of dealing with one of the protagonist’s most important conflicts.
Those who know me know that I tend to really prefer anime adaptations to their manga source material as a rule of thumb. The adaptation really needs to have screwed something over big time to turn me off. But in this case, I cannot recommend the anime over the manga.
If the adaptation had been a short program, a series of 5-to-10-minute episodes, it could have worked. It could also have been a decent OVA, maybe an hour or so worth. The problem here isn’t that the manga was adapted at all, it’s that there was never enough material in the story to stretch it out to a full season. And I’m not even saying that the manga didn’t have enough written, in my opinion, the premise itself simply can’t sustain this many episodes and it really showed.
You might like this anime if:
I’m not sure how to sell this one to be honest.
My favourite character:
Luigi – there’s something about a silent character in anime that is just funny to me.
Barolo & Barbaresco
- Every time there is CG – wonder at the weird choice
- Every time anyone eats – do a sit up – there is a ton of eating
- Every time anyone says “spectacles” – take a sip
- Every time Gigi speaks – gasp!
- Every time the owner smiles – take a sip
- Every time a lady is cold – get a blanky
- Every time we meet a new gf/wife – take a sip
- Every time anyone cooks – take notes
- Every time Nicoletta and Claudio walk side by side – blush
- Every time there’s a flashback – take a sip
- Every time Nicoletta blushes – take a sip
- Every time someone tries to seduce the staff – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.