Warning: I am just some West-Germanic barbarian and don’t speak a word of French. I don’t know how to spell Patissiere and, though I did my best, I probably got it wrong all over this review. My apologies for any typos you may spot.
#1 Aoi Yuuki at her cutest
Ichigo Amano is a young teenager with a fondness for cakes and other baked goods. She loves them so much, in fact, that she decides to transfer to the Japanese branch of St. Marie Academy, a school for learning how to bake everything from the fanciest of cakes to tiny little puddings.
Appropriately for a show about cake and candy, Yumeiro Patissiere is saccharine enough to kill those with a low tolerance for sweetness. Ichigo is an adorable protagonist and a lot of that stems from Aoi Yuuki’s excellent voice performance. Her cute, chirpy voice makes Ichigo immediately stand out, and I quickly found myself becoming really fond of the character. Dialogue was just constantly entertaining, especially as Yuuki’s performance is supported by other cute characters like the fairies Vanille (Mayu Iino) and Caramel (Ayane Taketatsu).
It’s a fun, maximum-kawaii kinda show, though it does occasionally feature storylines with sad or serious tones to it for variety. Even during these moments, Yuuki’s performance constantly carried it and turned an adaptation of a kids’ manga into a shoujo anime that constantly had my attention.
#2 Delicious-looking, animated sweets
Anime about cooking are always entertaining to me, and Yumeiro is all about baking cakes and other luxurious pastries. I personally don’t have much of a sweet tooth myself, but I do very much love the colors and presentation surrounding cakes.
Yumeiro Patissiere is so good at presenting its food that, even though I don’t typically like cake, I so dearly wanted to try some of these. They look absolutely gorgeous and delicious. I’ll let the screenshots do the talking.
#3 The dangers of nepotism
St. Marie Academy is a prestigious school that produces the best patissiers and patissieres in the world, which causes an awkward situation when Ichigo transfers there after first attending a normal high school. Her grandmother was a well-respected alumni of the academy’s main school in France, so Ichigo is accepted immediately, allowed to skip the first year, and is then grouped up with her class’ top students.
When it turns out that Ichigo is a klutz who has never baked anything in her entire life, the class and teachers almost immediately turn on her. Her teachers take a hands-off approach and basically resort to just critiquing her without offering any kind of tutoring or advice to help her catch up. Jealous classmates seize the opportunity to bully Ichigo, for which she is then blamed herself by teachers who’d rather just wash their hands of this whole mistake.
It’s a tragic situation where incompetent adults and rotten bullies are ruining a little girl’s career, but Ichigo sticks with it and overcomes the odds. She dedicates herself to self-study and finds friends who care about her and are willing to help. She closes the gap between the other second-year students and soon overtakes her bullies, which is deliciously cathartic, even as they continue to try and sabotage her at every turn.
It’s a bit heavy from time to time, especially at the start of the show, but it adds a nice layer of complexity to the story and gets us rooting for Ichigo and her friends.
#4 The Grand Prix
After the first few episodes are all about Ichigo catching up and explaining the magical fairy helpers that populate the school, Yumeiro turns its attention to one big tournament arc. The Grand Prix is an international baking tournament with several layers: first having school compete internally, then nationally, and then concluding with a final tournament where schools from around the world gather in France.
Competitions are always a good narrative device and Yumeiro keeps its take on it fresh by having each round involve an interesting theme that the pastries need to be based around. This leads to a lot of creativity and prevents sheer extravagance from dominating each round of the tournament. The teams that Ichigo has to take on are also very interesting and diverse. Sometimes the teams are sympathetic and likable, at other times they are cheaters or star some of Ichigo’s bullies.
The anime also knows when to take a break, so the Grand Prix is often broken up with side-stories or “filler” episodes. These are nice for variety and never too plentiful.
#5 A small dash of romance
After Ichigo’s arrival at St. Marie, she is grouped up with the school’s so-called “Sweet Princes”. The three star pupils of her class, who are also the most handsome and popular guys in school. There’s the flamboyant loverboy Satsuki Hanabusa, the studious and proper Sennosuke Andou, and the always-serious Makoto Kashino. Through their adventures together, each of these three boys begins to notice that they may be interested in Ichigo, and they may not be the only ones.
Ichigo herself picks up on this romantic tension herself and it’s interesting to see her deal with this and try to figure out what she truly wants. She herself came to the school after becoming infatuated with the handsome teacher Henri Lucas, but he’s 10 years her senior and others are vying for his attention as well. It leaves you wondering if one of the Sweet Princes will win out or if their fated meeting in episode 1 will convince Ichigo to pursue Henri Lucas anyway.
#6 A short sequel
Immediately following the conclusion of Yumeiro Patissiere‘s 50-episode run, a sequel to the series began airing. Yumeiro Patissiere SP Professional takes place 2 years later and sees Ichigo return to St. Martie Academy once again to become part of a big, new project.
An entire shopping center dedicated to food has been opened up and several international teams are all given a store to run. The tight and well-oiled Team Ichigo is broken up and shuffled around, pitting Ichigo against old friends with a mostly-new team that doesn’t quite get along with each other. During each segment of the competition, the shop with the worst sales numbers is closed and new challenges are introduced.
It’s a logical continuation of Ichigo’s career. The main series was focused on her studying to become a patissiere, but now she also has to develop a sense for business and learn to grasp what it means to run a shop. What use are all these delicious pastries when they end up in a bin because customers won’t show up? SP Professional is only 13-episodes long and is a nice addon if you already enjoyed the original anime.