HomeAnimeANIME REVIEW | Drinks and Chit-Chat in Cultural "Snack Basue"

ANIME REVIEW | Drinks and Chit-Chat in Cultural "Snack Basue"

ANIME REVIEW | Drinks and Chit-Chat in Cultural "Snack Basue"

Sometimes I’m surprised by which anime is brought to the Western. Often times, there will be a show that’s brimming with something that only those who live in Japan would understand. After all, while bars and taverns are absolutely a thing around the world, the concept of a Snack Bar is only ingrained into the Japanese culture. That’s why I will highly understand why something like Snack Basue wouldn’t resonate in the West.

With that being said, it is quite the interesting watch. Snack Basue follows the nightly shifts of Akemi (Rie Takahashi), who runs the bar founded by Mama Basue (Kimiko Saitou). Nary a night goes by when a patron of the bar delivers an action or a conversation that dulls the evening. From the perverted Morita (Ryouta Iwasaki) and the mild-mannered Yamada (Youhei Azakami) to the forever party boy Kazama (Jun Fukushima), the folks who come in for a drink leave with wisdom from Akemi. Either that, or they get too drunk to remember, and they come back the next time like nothing happened.

This is the kind of anime where it’s just people sitting around drinking and talking about life’s problems. If one were to make a comparison, it’d be like if they made a spinoff of The Simpsons and had it focused on Moe’s Tavern. (No, I’m not talking about “The Love-Matic Grampa”!) In some cases, it’s interesting what comes out of the mouths of the patrons. On the other hand, it often feels like this show would’ve been better either as a live-action or radio drama.

Basically, nothing much happens in Snack Basue. Every episode follows a similar formula, with a regular coming in and getting a conversation going. And if you’re into shows that basically have people talking about a whole lot of bupkis, then you might find some entertainment value in it. However, the way the bar is set up, from how drinks are served to the usage of karaoke, is something that only people who’ve come to Japan to experience a snack bar in person would fully get.

That’s not to say Snack Basue alienates the rest of the world. Quite the contrary, a show like this gives viewers outside of Japan a chance to see another part of the country’s culture. Most taverns in the West have their bartenders, and all they do is serve drinks. There’s no time for idle banter, as there’s always a glass that needs filling. (Also, most places have the music blaring so loud, that having a legit conversation with the person sitting literally next to you is nigh impossible!)

Snack Bars, on the other hand, are a place where people can drink and get things off their chest. And in the case of this anime, Akemi is both bartender and therapist. Her advice might be a little off-the-cuff, on top of being pretty meanspirited, but she keeps her patrons grounded. The best example comes from Morita, who keeps tossing advances towards Akemi, who — naturally — has zero interest in a weird-looking guy like him. His mannerisms when it comes to sex also throws many red flags, with Akemi going full-blunt with her opinions on the guy.

But sometimes, Snack Basue will take a left turn that will result in some universal humor. One of the show’s funniest gags is a Dragon Quest-looking Hero (Ryousuke Takahashi), whose appearance literally causes poor Mama Basue to glitch out like an old NES game. Even funnier is when his sworn enemy starts to come to the bar, with hero and villain having a lot more in common than you’d think. These bits are when the show reaches its hand out to the rest of the world to deliver jokes that any lover of video games can both understand and appreciate.

A lot of what makes the show work is the banter of the voice cast. Takahashi has worked with many of the other talents on various other anime, so her snappy dialogue feels both natural and funny. The reactions from the likes of Fukushima and Iwasaki never sound scripted, with the cast playfully dishing out strange questions and the occasional dick joke. Yes, sometimes what comes out of their mouths are things you’d never imagine these voice actors saying (especially Takahashi’s), but that’s part of the appeal of Snack Basue.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for its visuals. Studio PuYUKAI (Isekai Quartet) is known more for its super-deformed kind of animation. However, the more fully-formed characters here move stiffly and awkwardly, to the point where it often feels like a PowerPoint Presentation than a cartoon. It’s like they had only the budget for one episode, and they squeezed every yen out of said budget to attempt to make thirteen. To be blunt, it’s as ugly as Morita’s way of life.

Musically, it’s a mixed bag. The background music by Shouta Kawashi (Under Ninja) is almost non-existent, doing nothing to enhance the conversations being had. Opening theme “Uraomote Aquarium” by otonari is catchy, but the real fun is in the end themes. Each episode, someone in the voice cast will take over the karaoke controls, performing songs from the Showa and Heisei eras of music. It adds a bit more layers to the atmosphere this anime creates, giving it something of an authentic Snack Bar essence to the series.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the mere concept of Snack Basue would turn most readers off. Still, it’s worth pulling up a chair next to the free peanut dish to hear what sorts of things come out of Akemi and company’s mouths. Not every joke will hit their mark, but the ones that do will leave you laughing harder than the time Yamada took a look at what Kazama’s got in his pants. And when those moments flash, you’ll be glad you walked into Snack Basue for a drink and some camaraderie.

Voice Acting:
Final Grade (not an average):

Snack Basue can be viewed on Crunchyroll, and has been licensed by Crunchyroll. Episodes 1-12 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)