What's great about Antique Bakery is that while it's not completely episodic, each episode seems to have its own side-story within the big picture. The anime mainly focuses on Tachibana and his new cake shop, Antique, but as every other good anime, the other characters have good stories as well and sometimes the sub-plots even focus on seemingly random extraneous characters which makes for an interesting and enjoyable atmosphere.
Antique Bakery has some very nice animation. I loved the scenes where characters are kneading bread, folding dough, or stirring ingredients together, but what really impressed me is the fact that this is one of very few animated series that actually succeeds in blending pen-and-ink with CGI. Most of the time CGI in pen-and-ink series is a very bad idea as it creates a strange and somewhat disorienting Blue's Clues type of world, but Antique Bakery pulls it off very well with only two or three bad shots. One particular thing I noticed was in the first or second episode when a cat crosses the street in all its CGI glory, and completely ruined a great shot. Had that cat been like any other anime cat there wouldn't have been a problem, but whatever.
The colors chosen are fitting to anime, with lots of light cheery hues, but the saturation disappointed me a bit. There are times when the colors look really washed out and dull. It seems to be a stylistic choice since this is consistent throughout the anime, but there are times when a bit more color would do wonders for the mood.
The intro and outro, however, are fabulously done. As I sat down to watch the first episode of Antique Bakery, I was expecting just another cheery, flowery, all around pink intro sequence with some peppy upbeat song. What actually happened made me think to myself 'Omg this is going to be a great anime.' Seriously folks, the intro sequence is stunning the first time you watch it (or it was for me at least). The animators went with a paper doll approach instead of the generic means. It's kind of hard to explain so I'll just leave it at that. As for the outro, it's also very interesting, what with the puzzle piece motif.
The sound of Antique Bakery is like any other good background music, forgettable but fitting. It does just enough to set the mood, make you want to watch more, and then disappear without leaving a trace in your mind. The intro song is sweet and upbeat without being obnoxious, and the outro song, though I didn't actually listen to all of it, finishes the episodes well.
Sound effects are well done as well, with only a few things that bothered me. Most of the time they're pretty spot on, like dishes being set on tables, things falling, etc. The one thing that seemed off to me was the sound of sneakers on concrete. To me it sounded more like high heels on a linoleum floor, but at this point I think I'm just being picky.
The most refreshing thing about Antique Bakery is that, while it is a shonen-ai, it's very realistic. Example? Not every single male character is gay, nor is every single male character, gay or not, hot for every other male character. This is exactly what drives me crazy in things like Junjou Romantica or Sekai-ichi Hatskoi which make it seem like the world is chock full of horny gay men. Ono is this anime's resident gay man, already out, proud, and unashamed. No awkward or overly sappy ridiculous 'WHY DO I HAVE TO BE GAY??' moments, no 'OMG YUR A HOMO????' moments, and finally no 'IMA TURN YOU GAY CUZ I LUV YOU AND I'M HORNEH!!' moments. This is the moment all us LGBT people have been waiting for; an anime with a well-adjusted adult gay man with good straight friends and no qualms.
Ono: my favorite gay anime character.
The other characters are mostly generic. There's Tachibana, Antique's owner, kind-hearted, easily irritated, far too interested in women, and traumatized by his past.
Eiji, the hyper college-aged kid, who picks fights unnecesarily, but is amusing in his own way.
Chikage, the sweet-hearted bumbling childhood friend who always there when you need him, even if he does drop tea trays on a regular basis and hit his head on the top of door frames.
Minor characters are just as stock, but all with their own charm.
So overall I absolutely adore this anime. Of course there's always the possibility that an anime won't be as good as its manga, but this is one that lives up to expectations. I would definitely recommend it to my friends and anyone who's looking for a short series to watch over the weekend, or anyone looking for a cake shop run by a bunch of humorous dudes, or even if you're in it only for the one gay dude in anime history who's more than the average wishy-washy slut. =]