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At last, the cake is not a lie.
PG-16 for sex, darkness, adult themes, and Sexuality That Waxes And Wanes Like The Moon; official English website (manga), informational website (2008 Korean movie), and Wikipedia for everything else

Fumi Yoshinaga is one of the current Queens of Manga, since she’s so damn good at making comics that it’s almost unfair to all the other mangaka out there. Antique Bakery, the story of four men making decadent cakes and dealing with life’s crap in a homoerotically charged bakery, was her first work published in English, and it’s still considered one of her best and most accessible works almost ten years after its original publication in Japan. It can be argued that the first volume is pretty scattered, but since each volume improves exponentially, and since Volume 1 is still better than average, that makes the fourth and final volume so good that it may end war and poverty, align the planets, and allow meaningful contact with all forms of life. Also, it’s excellent for reading.

Over the years, Antique Bakery has been re-imagined in many other media forms. The live-action Japanese drama faced a lot of criticism for turning the character of Ono, a man so gay that he can turn any man into a salivating homosexual with a developed taste for boy bits, into a straight guy, because Ono’s World-Bending Gayness is the basis of about 50% of the manga. A few drama CDs were released, but nobody wrote home about them. And then came the year 2008, when Japan decided to do a 12-episode anime series while Korea simultaneously decided to do a big-budget, live-action film, and everyone agreed to be faithful to the original manga this time.

Korea: :)
Japan: :(

Rather than write an essay on how the anime is a low-budget, poorly directed, miscast mess that systematically ruins about 90% of the good scenes from the manga, I’m simply going to link to this, the best thing that came out of the anime, and you can watch it and then never waste your time actually picking up the show itself. Believe me, I tried to like the show…I really did. And I like little bits of it. Of course, there are little bits of the common cold I like, such as the fact that it lets me skip work to snuggle with my favorite pillow in bed all day, but that doesn’t mean I’d recommend everyone sneeze into each other’s cups just so we can share in that. Read the manga, hug your pillow when you’re healthy, and let’s forget the anime exists.

But the movie is wonderful – 10 kinds of wonderful. Not only is it a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the manga that actually manages to capture that grounded, hilarious, sexy sentiment that made the manga so good in the first place, but almost all of the changes are for the better, since they seamlessly adapt the comic to fit into a two-hour film. The movie also features close-ups of cakes you’d step over your own mother to eat, some of the prettiest men you’ll ever see kissing, and added dance numbers. Added dance numbers. If there’s one thing in the spirit of Fumi Yoshinaga’s celebration of All Things Hilarious and Gay, it’s dance montages where Ono lazily sings along in the kitchen just because cakes do that to people. Watch this movie. The directorial style is decidedly unique, and the first half of the film does feature insanely quick cuts that sometimes feel like the movie is reaching out of the screen to slap your face back and forth…but the cuts slow as the movie gets more serious, so the style works. Personally, since I have an incredibly short attention span, I appreciated the sense of ZOOMBANGBOOMBOYSKISSINGLOLWUT, especially the second time I watched the film. (Note: Both Eiji and Chikage have less character development in the movie, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less awesome on the screen than they are on the page. However, no Deko. *sniff*)

Educated impression: Considering how great a manga Antique Bakery is, it’s a shame that it never adapted well to other formats…until the Korean movie. Read the manga, watch the movie, and then you can take or leave everything else as long as there’s something baked and fattening within reach when you begin. (Lianne)

8 Responses to “Antique Bakery Mini Review (manga/movie/anime)”

  1. on 31 Mar 2009 at 7:13 pm melantho

    I need to watch this. I saw the trailer and it looks so good.

    watch tampopo.

  2. on 01 Apr 2009 at 2:29 am Marfisa

    Wow, there’s a much more Clark Kent/Superman-level disconnect between Ono’s appearance with and without glasses in that video from the anime. Of course, it probably helps that he’s chibified (or the rather trapezoidal-faced Yoshinaga equivalent thereof) in most of the scenes where he’s wearing glasses…

  3. on 20 Apr 2009 at 8:43 am Levlie

    Hey. I’ve seen the movie, just yesterday actually. It’s so hilarious and it’s true, the directional style is quite good. Also I think that the effects are great too.
    Only thing is, I don’t get the ending. (this maybe mostly because I’ve never read the manga) Is **SPOILER CUT BY MOD** I’m still confuuused.

  4. on 20 Apr 2009 at 10:38 am Lianne

    Careful, Levlie…you don’t want to spoil the fun for Antique newbies.

    To answer your question in as vague a way as possible, no, old man bad guy =/= young man bad guy with blood on his face. It was coincidence. Because life is full of insane coincidences…which is sort of the point of Antique Bakery.

  5. on 20 Apr 2009 at 1:07 pm Levlie

    Ooops, sorry. Didn’t mean to. Haha. Ooooh, okay. I geddit. Might start reading the manga soon when I have time. Thanks loads Lianne =o)

  6. on 21 Apr 2009 at 6:39 pm Kim

    I LOVE THE MOVIE! First, I watched it only cause Kim Jae Wook was there. But then, watching the movie, I really liked how they made the storyline rapid and so they used quick cuts and close ups and musical numbers rather than just a music-video-seemlike in the middle of the movie. It’s great, really a good film to watch. :)

  7. on 24 Jul 2009 at 10:04 am em

    I watched the movie some time ago and then read the manga. The movie is fantastic but if you have a little trouble understanding some of the plot twists, reading the manga will clear that up. Plus, its just a really fun read that will leave you smiling. 5 stars to both!

  8. on 15 Mar 2010 at 9:32 pm Myrah

    Love, love, love the Korean film. To pieces. I’ve probably watched it at least 20 times, and whenever I have friends over, (even friends who turn tail the second they get a sniff of anime), I’m like WATCH THIS and they love it too. My little brother loves it. You just can’t resist the film adaption.

    That said, I love the manga even more. The ending always gives me shivers…

    And I know most people like to piss over the anime adaption, but I actually didn’t mind it that much. (Though I’ll admit that at least a quarter of the reason I watched it was because of the opening and ending. Chemistry is a fave band of mine.)

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