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Coffee Samurai PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 03 February 2012 11:52
Coffee SamuraiWhen an ancient samurai wished for an "indestructible steel body", I'm sure he had something like armour in mind. The appearance of a coffee vending machine was probably not high up his list of ideas. At least his new girlfriend won't lack for caffeine...

Hemi's got a bit of a problem - she's in love with a coffee vending machine! Of course, it all makes a bit more sense once you realize that the machine's actually an ancient Samurai who wished to be reborn into an indestructible steel body, a wish made in the dying moments of his former life - and a classic case of "be careful what you wish for", if ever there were one. But it certainly makes the dates uncomfortable and somewhat prone to scalding...

HemiDifficult romance

First things first - going by fandom's traditional definition ("Japanese animation"), this isn't anime - while it was released through Japanese company Comix Wave, it's a Korean production, and if you're listening to it in its original language, it's Korean that you're listening to. Past that, though, it's similar enough in tone and style to anime that I'll let it slide - and Anime Network clearly feel the same way, since they're streaming it. Comix Wave's niche in the market (unless we're talking one of Makoto Shinkai's titles) is the small, independent release that otherwise wouldn't get much exposure, and Coffee Samurai certainly fits well with that - it's clearly been done on the cheap, with mostly-simple animation (what budget there was has been heavily-loaded towards the few action scenes, which mostly look pretty good), minimal background music, and a voice performance that (to ears that don't understand Korean) seems serviceable at best. There's a certain lifelessness about the production, giving it a laid-back feel when some of what's happening on-screen suggests that's not quite what they were aiming for.

The idea's certainly a good one - just how do you go about dating a coffee machine anyway? Turns out our hero, who goes by the name Jin Young-Young, can take human form for limited periods of time (although can still dispense coffee when he does), which gives him the change to pursue things romantic - although during times of high stress, he may still revert to his new "true" form. And Hemi insists on putting flowers inside him, which really doesn't help the mechanics. If you're thinking from that that this is actually a comedy, you wouldn't be too far off - a very low-key one, to be sure, but quite funny in places, with quite a few gags on the theme running in the background if you pay attention.

The problem is that it didn't really grab me well enough for me to want to pay attention. It's a neat idea, but the feel (a nebulous concept, I'll admit) just isn't there to give it the sort of appeal. Having Jin attacked by a zebra rocker from the nearby park (a reincarnated ninja) should make you laugh out loud, but instead just gets an "oh, right..". There's a lot that you have to accept as "it just is", rather than seeing any sort of explanations; and the movie ends rather abruptly, as if the budget ran out at that point.

All of which means that it's best described as a curiosity, an oddity. It's available on DVD from Sentai (bundled with another half-hour short, Hoshizora Kiseki, reviewed separately), but I wouldn't bother putting the money down for that release. As something to watch with a streaming subscription, though, you probably won't feel you've wasted the time - but that's about it.

Rating - **

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