Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan Review

Hello there. This is review number forty one. It’s another anime from the Spring 2012 lineup. I only have one more to review while the 24 plus episodes conclude on the summer broadcast. The last one will be Medaka Box. I’ll be reviewing Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan now.

A twelve episode anime about baking bread and spending time with people you love. Yeah, doesn’t get fruiter than that. Let’s read on.

Story

The plot is about Rick and his co-workers: Airy, Neris and Amil as they spend their normal lives running a bakery. It’s a popular bakery and their bread brings smiles to people. However, after rescuing a girl by the shore, an impending danger is about threaten their everyday lives.

Taking the Pants Off

This was the only anime in the Spring lineup that I was really not in the mood of watching. Shining Hearts is actually a PSP game released back in 2010. Now game adaptations are always a tricky one. There’s always a big shadow of expectation that people place on it especially if you’ve played and fell in love with the game. The thing is, a game’s beauty stems from the length you play it. It’s usually 30 hours or more depending on the game. With side quests and other things, you’ll mostly play the game over 100 hours. Throughout that experience, you’ll grow to love the characters. All their quirkiness, their awesomeness and all the soul baring exchanges they make slowly grows on you because you are in a front row seat soaking up all the experiences. Now take all of that 100 plus hours of in depth game elements to a twelve episode anime that runs for 22 minutes and you’ll end up with a muddled adaptation. It’s a big sand trap to adapt a game but the strength of a studio truly shines if they are able to make a decent one. IF they can make a decent one.

I gave Shining Hearts the benefit of the doubt for two reasons. One, I was hoping it’ll surprise me like the other underdog of the season, Natsuiro Kiseki. That anime had an unappealing stigma attached to it but they ultimately made a decent story. I watch anime for the plot and Natsuiro Kiseki surprised me by giving me a really impressive plot. I wanted to try Shining Hearts with the hopes of a surprisingly good plot as well.

I did cringe a bit though when I read the title, even now. Shining Hearts: The Bread of Happiness. I was like, are you f*cking kidding me? This is how you attract viewers? You put a fruity title like “Bread of Happiness” to convince the viewers that the anime will be great? My Otaku gut tells me to just back off and leave the anime alone until I found out another reason to watch The Bread of Happiness.

The character design is created by Eroge Visual Novel artist, Tony Taka. I don’t play VN games but I do watch hentai. Popular titles like “Fault!!” And “After…” have some beautiful yet sexy characters and it’s all thanks to Tony Taka. The stories are decent too and hearing that infamous name attached to an ordinary anime just sparked my curiosity.

Well I should tell you something about the game first. In the game, there is a girl named Kaguya who washed up in the shore of Wyndaria. A swordsman named Rick found her and rescued her. She is missing her memories and emotions so Rick and his co-workers decided to help Kaguya. They do so by collecting “Hearts” that they can obtain by helping out villagers and progressing through the game. When Kaguya obtains her emotions, she can use some Heart Keys that can open doors to another world. This helps the story move along. There are a lot of characters in the game. You can ask them to join your party and you can form a four member team to carry out the missions.

The adaptation is well, a mess.

I watched this without researching the game. Episode one opened with Rick and his three co-workers working at the bakery. They share their bread to the inhabitants of this small island. All the people love their bread because it tastes good. We see one of the girls, Airy, go around town selling the bread and sharing them to orphans. At their break, the four gather some ingredients around the island and just happily enjoying the moment. The first episode has no plot and it was mostly nostalgia for the people that played it. I understand that and I appreciate that because I know some Otaku is going “waahhh….Airi is so cute. I want to bang her.” Sadly, for us regular viewers, we are out of the loop. How did they meet? Why is their bread popular? Why do they live in a ship at the shores of the beach? Nothing. It’s an already established status quo that meek minded viewers wouldn’t bother to watch.

I was alright with it though. I’m sure they’ll get the gears moving at episode two. Not really. The anime took a laid back approach counter to its RPG original. All we see is bread and people who love it. They don’t offer much of the overall plot and it was very confusing. Sadly, not that interesting too. Now, I can forgive poor execution because I’ve only seen two episodes but mainly because the characters carry the show along. Not in this one. The three girls are cookie cutter characters with only their clothes differing. They all have weak personality and zero appeal. None of them stand out to at least give the viewer something to enjoy. They’re all complacent, caring and boring.

The anime did introduce the plot at episode three but instead of continuing it, they decided to give more time to bread and baking. Naturally so, because the anime has the “Bread of Happiness” in the title. The first half of the anime is about introducing the characters. All of them and some of them only appeared on one episode which was a shame because they at least provided some variety in the anime even though they were so stereotypical. A tsundere witch? I want to see more of her.

The anime decided to cut the “collecting Hearts” aspect of the anime and just let Kaguya sleep away on majority of the episodes. So the main plot of the game is downplayed so the baking element can shine through. They also had Rick question his past and whether he was really meant to be a baker. It was a good thing because we finally get to see some character development. Well not really. They also jam some screen time for two supporting characters that was a hell of a lot more interesting than the main cast.

The anime lacked one crucial thing. It was missing “focus”. Should it focus on Rick and his mysterious past? Should it focus on Kaguya? Should it focus on this cat thief? It decided to cram in as much elements of the game to keep the anime interesting. It didn’t work. The whole thing is disjointed and boring.

I don’t give out a lot of bad reviews but this anime was just awful. It had potential but it missed a lot of what a good anime should be. It needs to have a paced well plot, a cast of interesting characters and it need to have conflict that should be resolved at the end of the series. This anime had none of it. They did try their best. Shifting the focus to baking bread and rushing the plot was just heart breaking. It’s sad but this is another game adapted anime that didn’t live up to it’s original.

Sight and Sound

I’m not gonna lie. This is the one good thing the anime did right. Its production value and quality of animation is amazing. It’s a Production I’G. anime so I wouldn’t expect less.

The character design is outstanding too. We’re talking about Tony Taka here so it’s really no surprise. The characters are all under developed and boring people but the look great. I love how it retains its RPG feel through the clothes and the surroundings. Tony Taka also has this amazing skill of making girls look cute yet sexy at the same time. A common thing that runs to my head is that the girls in this anime can easily substitute for some of the ero characters Tony designed. Yes, they’d look good in hentai. You don’t believe me?

The colors are bright and the scenes are visually appealing. The setting nicely sets the mood for most of the anime. There was very little fight scenes but they were also nicely animated. It was paced well but it was short. The main achievement of the anime is making the bread look tasty and delicious. I was even craving bread as I watch the anime.

The opening song was really nice. It had an RPG appeal to it. It’s sort of medieval with a beautiful voice to accompany it. “Toki Sekai” by Kanae Itou, Mai Aizawa, and Shiori Mikami. It was sung by the three main characters and it really reflects the anime pretty nicely.

The ending song, “Fuwaffuwa no Mahou” by Kanae Itou, Mai Aizawa, and Shiori Mikami, was honestly cute but it didn’t really have a place in the anime. It’s not like the anime was about the three girls flirting with the main character. It was cute and the song was catchy but it was mostly for people who played the game. “Whoa, my beauties are dancing. Awesome!” kind of reaction.  I understand that because I was in cloud nine when I saw Yukiko in Persona 4 the anime.

Overall Score

2/10 “A weak adapatation with weak a plot and weak characters.”

This is not worth your time. I do agree that some of its slice of life aspects where cute and pleasing but the overall appeal of the anime just missed the mark. If you want some laid back anime about bread and friendship with little plot then I guess you’ll love this anime.

Thoughts~

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