Based on the manga series by Tsuchika Nishimura, The Concierge follows Akino (Natsumi Kawaida), a new hire at the Hokkyoku Department Store, a unique business that caters exclusively to animal customers. Under the tutelage of floor manager Mr. Todo and her senior colleagues, Akino learns the ropes of what it takes to be a concierge at this store, attending to the various needs of her different customers.
Considering that many of the entries in this year’s Scotland Loves Anime film festival were dramas, having a movie which is much more comedic in nature feels like a needed palette cleanser, and does The Concierge deliver on laughs. It also stands out from the rest of Production I. G.’s repertoire, as they are well known for darker projects including Psycho Pass and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
If you want an anime film that is going to give you laughs, The Concierge is a must watch. It maintains its cheerful tone throughout much of the running time, and whether it be Akino’s eager yet clumsy personality, the many ways the floor manager Mr. Todo stealthily keeps an eye on his trainee – hiding in a pot of soup was my personal highlight – or the mannerisms of the different animals, you’re bound to get a solid chuckle from this film.
Much like Komada, another film in the SLA lineup, it is clear that a lot of passion and effort went into the making of The Concierge. Director Itazu Yoshimi himself is a fan of the original story, and while it may not be the easiest thing for the most casual of anime fans to notice, the Japanese cast is full of heavy hitters, including Sumi Shimamoto, who is the original voice of Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Hiroshi Yanaka, Robert Carlyle’s Japanese voice dubber.
It’s also a very stylishly animated film. Production I. G. are no strangers to creating high quality work, but The Concierge stands out from their other works, feeling like a paper piece of artwork come to life while still maintaining fluid animation.The only criticism to make about The Concierge is that, in terms of the story, the challenges that Akino goes through feels episodic in nature. Granted, it is a manga adaptation (and a short manga at only two volumes), but while it functions well as a film, perhaps it would have performed even better as a show. This is only a minor note, and even a compliment to the creators as, at only about 70 minutes in running time, it would have been nice to see more of this anime.
Though it is a manga adaptation, The Concierge still manages to feel fresh enough to stand out from the crowd. The story may be a familiar one, of a young person struggling to come to grips with a new world. However, the manner in which it is done, using animal characters and written in a way that touches on the struggles of adulthood while being tame and enjoyable enough for children, makes this a fantastic film for all anime fans.
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The Concierge is a short (maybe too short) and sweet comedy that’ll be sure to brighten your day.
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