Bambino! is not a romance drama and there’s not much of suspense, but it’s immensely likeable. It’s one of those dramas that make you feel hungry – hungry for more episodes, but also hungry for food. It’s not like we get cooking advice or instructions from it, but the joy of cooking and eating is definitely a major theme. More than that, though, Bambino! is about Ban’s journey towards a greater understanding of the work he’s dreaming about and we get to follow him as he learns to understand what it takes to work at an upscale place like Baccanale. It’s frustrating for Ban to realise that as a 21-year-old without any formal instruction, he doesn’t already know everything there is to know about cooking… Ban is very emotional and he sulks and complains a lot, but he’s very determined and enthusiastic, and although people call him spoiled and immature, they learn to like him, and he them. The cast/acting is really the best part of this. I like Ban and the way he grows as a person, and Matsumoto Jun’s performance is very believable. Watching this makes me realize that I actually do like him as an actor. The supporting actors really are a great support: Most of them are very well-developed, with their unique personalities and quirks, even some of the very minor roles. Kitamura Kazuki as the dining hall manager Yonamine is worth a special mention. It’s not like we’re told the back story of each and every one of the characters (it’s not at all a “one character per episode” kind of drama), but even so they’re people that you learn to like and care about. I like their interaction with each other and with Ban, and that’s what makes the drama very enjoyable even if there are no exciting plot twists, sudden developments, huge conflicts backstabbing crazy people, etc. They’re all very professional while they’re working, but they’re working as a team where everyone is supporting of each other, and it’s nice watching Ban gradually become a part of that. As for the music, there’s not a lot to say about it. The opening theme, by Arashi, is a nice and catchy song that captures the mood of the drama. The other music is also nice, but it’s not there to be noticed (this is not a bad thing), just to add atmosphere. Visually, too, this drama is a pleasure. You know, all the food we get to see! And it’s bright and colourful, with a few comedic moments, but I think the overall impression is that it leaves you smiling, with warm and fuzzy feelings. Bambino! may not be the most amazing drama of all times or anything like that, but it’s very enjoyable – it even had me write my first MDL review! – and I can definitely see myself rewatching this sometime. I haven't re-watched any j-dramas at the time of writing this review, because there are just so many out there that I haven’t seen yet... Out of everything that I've watched so far, I can easily put Bambino! on my list of favorites.
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