Ichigo opens up her own shop, trying to sell as many sweets as possible in order to take leadership over her new group. Meanwhile on the now open First Street, Andoh's branch of Yumezuki is deluged with customers. Some people have all the luck don't they? Or do they?
What They Say
The first street of Marie's Garden, the World Sweets Avenue, is now open for business! Andoh's branch of Yumezuki is flooded with customers, and Kana and the rest can barely keep up with demand. Meanwhile, Ichigo and the others each take a day trying out their shop concepts, but selling sweets turns out to be a lot harder than they all thought it would be. Trying to figure out what they're doing wrong, they head over to Andoh's shop for advice, but find that the once bustling shop is now almost empty! What could have gone wrong?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The First Street of Marie's Garden may be open, but things are not entirely working like clockwork over at Ichigo and friends' place. There is still division between Johnny and Kashino, who get along like fire and water. The first day, however, is Ichigo's, so Vanilla works some magic to make over their still unfinished shop. With the makeover, it looks like a cute little pastry shop. On the outside, at least. The inside is still unfinished. However, since the main street isn't open yet, it's hard to attract customers. That's going to be a problem, if Ichigo is going to be the leader of this bunch (the four will be taking turns to see who can sell the most, and thus claim the leadership).
Of course, Ichigo is much better at eating and goofing off than minding the store, so Johnny grabs Ichigo and heads over to First Street to check things out, while Kashino is left minding the store with Lemon. Over there, they find the place crowded, especially Andoh's new store, a branch of his family's Yumezuki sweets shop. Not just crowded, but too crowded, with customers who do not all look entirely pleased with the experience. The looks of impatience on some customers' faces does not bode well. Andoh himself appears to be overwhelmed.
And now, a moment from our xenophobic writers, who enjoy putting down America while praising Japan. Americans have not really invented anything, just taken the sweets of others. Therefore, Americans have no sense of tradition, and need to find it elsewhere. And we lack originality as well, it appears. So, of course, you have to go to Japan to discover tradition and originality at the same time. And diligence! Let's not forget the diligence!
Oh, great, let's start up with a boring love triangle. But better yet, let's make two members of the prospective triangle very dense. So dense, you probably could not send wireless radio signals through them. The only "person" who seems to have a clue in the entire show is Chocolat. That may be why she's probably the best character in the entire cast.
At least that was over quickly. Back to the show, we see very quickly that the other members of the team have as little luck as Ichigo did in selling their sweets. Apparently, they did not think through the whole idea of selling things very well. I guess they don't have Junior Achievement in Japan.
It's kind of sad when the highlight of the entire episode is the nightmare sequence where Kashino imagines falling into the sadistic clutches of his stalker Miya Koshiro.
Anyhow, after sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves, and arguing, Ichigo finally gets slightly irked and yells at everyone to stop...well...yelling. They all need to work together, so she says. Maize then has an idea: if you want to know what works, visit a shop that has it together. So, they go to visit Andoh's shop, which was busy on its first day. Seeing them now about 4 days later, however, things have become quite quiet. Apparently, they did not manage things on the opening day well, and so they are faced with the prospect of being declared last in the rankings and shut down at the end of the month.
It seems that they are continuing to go down the path of exploring the ins and outs of running a sweets shop, showing what works and what doesn't work. Of course, they are doing it in a very superficial manner, displaying basic concepts that most teenagers know about businesses: don't keep your customers waiting, don't rely on past glory to keep new branches busy, manage your workload properly, etc., etc. And for Team Ichigo, even if this episode is titled "The New Team Ichigo," there was really little in the way of teamwork on display. More like four individuals who have little in common and no idea of how to work as a team. The lack of leadership, resulting in the competition among them to choose the leader, is emblematic of the show's direction so far. Many different aspects seems to be fighting with each other for control: does it want to continue being the story of Ichigo Amano's wish to become a professional pâtissière like her grandmother? Does it want to become a love triangle between Ichigo, Johnny, and Kashino? Does it want to give a look at what it is like to run a sweets shop, with the myriad hassles that are associated with running a real business, as opposed to a third grader's lemonade stand at the end of their driveway in a generic suburb during the summer? Perhaps they want to be all of those things, but in the end, one element is going to have to take command, but it is not clear which one will.
In this episode, we see some of the pitfalls of running a real business: a lack of foresight and planning can lead to unhappy customers and a downward spiral of sales, once the novelty factor wears off. The lack of business drives one into the red, and closure soon looms. A lack of focus and preparation also plagues Team Ichigo, as they try to compete with each other in order to determine who gets to be the leader of their new shop. The competition does not go well for any of them. They are unable to generate sales, and they can't even sit customers inside of their shop, since it isn't finished yet. Right now, the state of their shop, an empty shell with a fancy facade created by the magic of the Sweets Spirits, a pretty covering hiding a hollow inside, is the perfect symbol for this show. It is still presenting a fairly attractive surface, but there is no depth, there is no inside if you look under that surface.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard