Today we take a look at the third cour of Yumeiro Pâtissière, covering episodes 27 through 39. The last part ended with the Middle School Division Cake Grand Prix still in progress, Ichigo and the Sweets Princes having survived the opening rounds. Will they make their way into the finals and have a shot at going to Paris?
What They Say
According to Ichigo Amano, she doesn't do anything better other than eating cake. She can't find anything she wants to do everyday. However, when she meets a teacher from St. Marie Academy, Henri Lucas, her fate changes. She discovers that she wants to reproduce the flavors that her grandma used to make! So begins the discovery of her dream!
In order to accomplish her dream, Ichigo moves into St. Marie and is visited by a legnedary Sweets Spirit! She is still just a beginner so there are a series of failures but she puts all her passion into making sweets so she can get better one step at a time.
Ichigo's dream has just begun!!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the second cour (the common 13 episode block that is often a full "season" of a show) came to an end, the Middle School segment of the Cake Grand Prix had not even finished, as Ichigo and the Sweets Princes found themselves holding onto only a slim chance of advancing to the real school-wide contest: they need to win the Third Place Match, or they are finished. Of course, since the anime has overshot the manga, it's necessary to slow down the pace of things, and so we have some pleasant diversions from the Cake Grand Prix. In Episode 27, the Sweets Sprits are suddenly called away to take their own surprise examination, which they must pass or else they won't be coming back.
We finally return to finish up the Middle School tournament, and of course Team Ichigo goes through, since, well, the show would go in an entirely different, and likely depressing, direction had it turned out any other way. But to the Cake Grand Prix we go, and there we see the fickleness of Fate: Team Ichigo has a relative easy time of it in the first round, since their opponents, while quite skilled, are done in by the theme. The Heiress, Miya Koshiro, and her team are not as fortunate, as they are matched up against Mari Tennouji, the Student Council President, her team of the best of the best in the high school division. While Koshiro tries her best, she cannot compete with Tennouji.
The contest continues, with Team Ichigo continuing forward, this time in the Semifinals against Team Natsuki, a team of four high school girls from Okinawa who specialize in using the natural flavors of tropical fruits. The competition is tough, but, of course, Ichigo and friends go through since, well, Ichigo is the protagonist. Along the way, we take some breaks from the competition, with trips to a dairy farm and a sweets festival. We also get some utter silliness involving a Sweets Spirit we have met briefly before, Marron, a very arrogant, but talented Spirit who has yet to find a human partner. Arrogant? Talented? It's not hard to guess who becomes her partner, though we do have a very funny series of encounters as Marron tries to get one of the Sweets Princes to accept her in the place of their current Spirits, only to be rejected by Andoh and Kashino (Hanabusa and Cafe, apparently, don't really care about having a three-way relationship. And that's not the only disturbing thing about him...).
As we get the run up to the final match, who should happen to appear in Japan? None other than Henri Lucas, who has come to witness the finals. This stirs up two of the girls at the Academy very strongly: Ichigo, obviously, wishes to see her dear "Henri-sensei," the man responsible for her having a future as a pastry chef in the first place; but perhaps much more affected in Mari Tennouji, who it has been hinted before has a very strong bond with Henri Lucas as well. We get a few episodes of build up, with the teams sizing each other up and waiting for the final battle to start. We also get to learn more about Mari Tennouji's background and her feelings for Henri Lucas, as apparently she was a bored and lonely princess (her father runs a hotel chain), whose interest in sweets, and in life, was awakened by a young pastry chef: Henri Lucas, when he was a student at St. Marie Academy in Paris. Thus, Mari Tennouji, it would appear, is quite perturbed by Ichigo's ties to Henri Lucas (if the girls were only a bit older, this would be an obvious love triangle; as this show is aimed for the younger crowd, we just get a lot of stern looks coming from Mari aimed at Ichigo when the latter isn't looking, with one notable exception).
And so it comes down to the final match of the Cake Grand Prix. Ichigo and the Sweets Princes are up against Team Tennouji. It should be a mismatch: after all, the high school students have had many more years of practice and training, and they are all very accomplished. There is also the difference in their physical abilities. Kashino has been working nonstop without a break for some time, and that takes its toll on him, as he cannot finish the chocolate Eiffel Tower before the time allowed to complete the work elapses. That would prove to be costly, since the contest winds up being far closer than anyone could have expected, Team Tennouji winning by only a single point. The competition was so close, and the level of skill so high, it would be quite unfair for there to be a loser in this contest.
And so, there isn't. For Henri Lucas had apparently asked the Chairman of the Main Campus in Paris and permission was granted to allow the second team to come to Paris, as a second representative from Japan in the World Cake Grand Prix. If you thought the Iron Chef-style tournament battles were over, apparently, you were wrong. They're just going to get bigger, it would appear.
But before we embark upon the great adventure in Paris, Ichigo gets a chance to come home to see her family. This gives the characters, and us, a chance to have a break from the tension of the competitions, and instead get some comic relief in from the usually spastic interaction between Ichigo and her family. We also get to see the Sweets Princes and their families briefly. The focus, however, is on Ichigo and her preparations, as she goes about the usual sort of things: buying luggage and the regular necessities. Not everything is sweetness and light in the Amano household, however, as Ichigo's father Shigeru is depressed at the thought of his daughter going far away to Paris. Since she is a klutz and prone to getting into accidents, her father worries about her being alone in Paris. Of course, everything is fixed by sweets, so Ichigo gets her feelings across to her father by making sweets (doughnut holes, her father's favorite treat, to be exact), and we have a happy family once again.
That's not the last thing, however. Ichigo's uncle Hikaru comes along, bringing sweets and an old family video, one from when Grandma Amano was still alive. In the video, an interesting thing is noted by Vanilla: next to Ichigo's grandmother's recipe book, there was what looked like the spoon that Ichigo was given back when she visited the Sweets Spirits' Kingdom. As Ichigo is packing her belongings, that spoon begins to glow with Sweets Spirit magic after Vanilla calls out a Sweets Romance Card from Ichigo's doughnut holes. The result is that Ichigo and Vanilla put 2 and 2 together: they figure out that the spoon is the key to her Grandmother's recipe book; and they think that Grandmother Amano may well have had her own Sweets Spirit back when she was alive. With that, it's time to head to the airport, and Ichigo and the Sweets Princes are headed to Paris.
With the end of this cour, we close the door on the St. Marie Academy-Japan Cake Grand Prix. The competition was fierce, but in the end the result was not terribly hard to predict. It does not mark the end of the story, however, as there is much more to be told. During this section of the show, we have plenty of Iron Chef-style cooking battles, with all sorts of exotic, and nearly unbelievable, desserts being made by school children (yeah, this is fantasy). We also see quite a few side trips of Ichigo and the Sweets Princes doing fun things, but fun things with a purpose, as we learn more about the production of the basic ingredients that make the desserts so special. Along the way, we also have quite a few "life lessons" handed out, as is to be expected for a show that is aimed primarily at younger girls. Lots of talk about teamwork, the importance of the bonds that tie people together and the need to pay attention to what your teacher is trying to teach you in class. All good and important lessons. While this show is not anything new, and it is quite predictable in its regular and expected plot and character development, it still remains fairly entertaining, and would be a great anime to use to introduce younger viewers to the medium.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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