I remember when I was once on holiday in France, I was on a beach when, amongst all the pebbles and bits of sea-worn glass, I picked up what appeared to be a regular piece of flint. When I looked closer, I noticed that one side had a hole that was filled with tiny crystals; finding it made my holiday. I see each new anime season as being just like that beach. Wade through the excitement, disappointment and indifference, and if you’re lucky, you may find a lovely little gem of a series. For me, Ristorante Paradiso is my crystal-filled rock of the Spring 2009 anime season.
Set in a small restaurant in Rome, Ristorante Paradiso centres on twenty one year old Nicoletta who has just moved to the capital. At first, she intends to meet with the owner of the Casetta Dell’orso restaurant and inform him that his wife is actually her estranged mother; however she soon yields to the charms of the quaint eatery and its staff of older bespectacled gentleman – and in particular a waiter named Claudio. Nicoletta then strikes up a deal with her long lost parent – she will keep her mother’s secret, if she can work as a trainee chef. With a young girl working in a restaurant filled with desirable wait staff, it may seem like the series should descend into little more than another reverse harem anime, but this is far from the truth.
From its starting focus of the romance between Nicoletta and Claudio, the series soon expands into a rich and charming ensemble piece. The anime picks and chooses plotlines from the original manga as well as its three volume sequel, Gente ~ Ristorante no Hitobito~, to achieve a more slice of life route than its source. Rather than concentrating on the short and rather thin storyline surrounding Claudio and Nicoletta, Ristorante Paradiso fully explores its milieu and delves into the lives of its cast resulting in a more mature and comprehensive narrative, which is truly a treat to watch.
Understated, grown-up and elegant, Ristorante Paradiso’s visual design echoes its gentlemanly cast. Resonating with the tone of its storyline, the series boasts a warm, yet muted, colour palette and a slightly watery quality to its imagery, which instils a sense of relaxation, romance and nostalgia. The characters’ large noses and wide mouths provide Ristorante Paradiso with a distinctive style, and while I personally like it, others may not appreciate it as much.
Ristorante Paradiso’s upbeat, jazzy opening theme, ‘Marigold’ by Orange Pekoe, evokes the image of a bustling and trendy Italian café on a hot sunny day. Lisa Komine’s ending theme, ‘Suteki na Kajitsu’, reflects Nicoletta’s more naïve side, though makes less of an impression than the opener.
In addition, the series’ voice cast performs particularly well. From Claudio’s dulcet tones to Luciano’s gruff vocals, Ristorante Paradiso’s seiyuu seem to effortlessly portray each character’s personality.
As the central protagonist of the series, Nicoletta receives the most character development. Throughout the show she gradually matures from an impetuous, naïve and unforgiving girl into a more focused, understanding and grown-up woman. Ristorante Paradiso demonstrates this transformation through not only the awkward relationship with her mother and her connection with Claudio, but also through her work at the restaurant. Nicoletta also serves in part as a proxy for the audience, her slow seduction into the world of the Casetta Dell’orso mimicking that of the viewer.
While Nicoletta’s progression is notable, it’s the attention that the series accords its supporting cast which allows Ristorante Paradiso’s characterisation to really impress. Each person takes centre stage in at least one episode allowing Nicoletta, and thus the viewer, a chance to understand them that little bit better. Ristorante Paradiso leaves no character undeveloped or unexplored, therefore the cast as a whole feels complete and becomes more engaging.
When watching this series, I get swept up in its gentle rhythm. Ristorante Paradiso doesn’t rely on a bright colour palette, wacky characters, or any other tricks; its quiet nature needs no superfluous decoration. So sit back and relax, and maybe you’ll find yourself agreeing with the old cliché that, like a good vintage wine, men only improve with age.
A nice relaxing anime with an interesting twist. I can honestly say this is the only reverse harem I've seen that features older men. I was worried it would be about lecherous old men drooling over a young woman, but it wasn't. If anything, the men are portrayed as sex objects more than the women! It is romantic in a unique way, and the plot is actually quite interesting. The food isn't quite center stage, and it is more about the main character getting her life together. The ending gives me a good sense of closure and leaves with with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
I'm MADLY IN LOVE and COMPLETELY CHARMED!♥
Hello!♥ After five years from when this was first shown in 2009!♥
I'm so glad to have discovered this anime series entitled 'Ristorante Paradiso' which has such distinctive style as good as vintage wine that made me almost to tears after finishing the last episode! I never thought it would end at eleven episodes! My heart aches for more episodes and probably more Claudio and Nicoletta romance... Hihi... Which I think was delved more into in the manga... How I hope to be able to read the manga series... Reading more about Caludio and Nicoletta and their subtle romance would surely be a treat for me to see and read!♥♥♥
And I feel blessed to have discovered such refreshing anime with such refreshing music! The mood's entirely bright and happy! So relaxing and heartwarming! Salute to Orange Pekoe and their upbeat, jazzy "Marigold" which makes me imagine sitting back and relaxing on a warm, sunny vacation day and Lisa Komine's ‘Suteki na Kajitsu’. So wonderful!♥
Rich, elegant, charming, so gentlemanly... Ristorante Paradiso exudes relaxation, romance and nostalgia...♥♥♥ It makes me blush the entire time of me watching it and at the same time it gives me that blissful feeling of sitting down on a nice chair at the porch and laid back with a nice cup of coffee to enjoy while watching this lovely crystal of an anime...♥♥♥
Truly unique and an entirely new experience for me among all of the shows that I've seen during the entire time that I've been watching joseis and other mature animes, now that I'm 23...
I'm very thankful even a few years after 2009!♥ I'm so lucky to have discovered this brilliant gem or treasure of an anime series!♥ Totally swept me off my feet!♥ I'M MADLY IN LOVE!♥♥♥
A quaint story about a girl who moves to rome and is romanced by a little resturant hidden in rome. Charming, calm, sophisticated. Very different from normal anime. Not for everyone, not really geared for the younger kids.
The animation looks great and occationaly incorperates some 3D animation. Some of the textures look different and look really interesting. The music always fits as they intend. The characters are delightful and their own, some will even surprise. If you love wine, rome, or other cultures you will enjoy this! It is however a tiny bit slow. Only 11 episodes; wish there were more. 8.4/10
At first glance this sells itself as just another romance story set in Rome, not that there are tons of anime set in Rome but the romance aspect is a dime a dozen. What you get, however, is a very complex network of relationships and back stories to go with just about every support character as well as the 2 mains. One might think this would dilute the story itself with so few episodes to work with but the plot management was top notch. It had such a wonderful flow to it and the progression was never halted in the name of character development, a rare treat.
At first I got a little put off of the unusual artwork for the various scenery backdrops but while I kept looking at them and paying more attention to them they had a very artistic style which made it seem like I was watching an art gallery in motion. My one real gripe about the artwork were the male character designs which were way too similar, minor issue to be honest and the fact that the characters themselves were so unique I barely noticed this as time passed.
Another wonderful facet of the show where all the characters were nearly devoid of your typical archtypes and had an air of believability and realism which you seldom find in any anime. Some had a few sides to them which you could easily classify as your general anime character archtypes but you certainly couldn't say they were the classic definition.
A wonderful show full of originality that leaves a warm feeling at the end. While a bit low key as far as shows go this in no way detracted from it's entertainment value. I'd highly recommend this to any romance enthusiast as well as anyone that might be interested in the genre.