Yumeiro Pâtissière seems an unlikely show to be this good. A show for pre-teen girls about cooking?
But this is a fine show, funny and well-paced, with a strong main character, as well as good educational values. I find it entertaining, and sometimes actually moving. Tension is almost completely lacking, but that is not a big negative, for me.
The seiyuu cast is young and largely unknown (except for the heroine and a couple of young male stars), but they are doing a very good job. The heroine is played by Yuuki Aoi, now 17, who blew people away as Murasaki in Kure-nai a couple of years ago.
I have made a page with pictures of each main character and their seiyuu, with some information about the seiyuus. Click here or on the image below:
Our 14-year-old heroine, Ichigo ("Strawberry") is an incapable little klutz whose one talent is her wonderful ability to taste things. She discovers that there is a high school where the students learn to make patisseries and by the force of her own will gets her parents to send her there.
Although there are magical sprites involved, as in Shugo Chara, Ichigo has to work hard for the progress she makes studying to become a pâtissière -- a female patisserie-maker.
The male leads (three senior students) are played by two established young stars and another newcomer: Okamoto Nobuhiko, Yonaga Tsubasa, and Hamazoe Shinya. The first two have already won Seiyuu Awards as top new seiyuus.
But the female characters -- and the sprites -- are played by a number of unknowns, ranging in age from about eleven to their early twenties.
The heroine's sprite (Vanilla) is played by 20-year-old Taketatsu Ayana, who gained a bit of fame as tart but talented Azusa in K-On (she also played libidinous sister Ako in kissxsis).
Another sprite (Cafe) is played by 16-year-old Misawa Sachika, who won a Kadokawa idol seiyuu audition earlier this year. The youngest seiyuu, who plays another sprite (Chocolat), is Iino Mayu, who is still in elementary school. All the young seiyuu are pretty good, and Iino is actually particularly cute and funny.
The little by-play among the sprites is quite hilarious. I find it more entertaining than it is in Shugo Chara. In fact, up to this point I think I prefer this show to that one.
But the most famous voice so far is not a seiyuu at all: she is Ogura Yui, the well-known 14-year-old idol who often appears on TV and whose dance moves were motion-captured and used as the basis for animating computer-generated idol Hatsune Miku's dancing in Project Diva. Here, in her first seiyuu role, she is featured in episodes six and seven as a put-upon kindergartner. She does a very effective job.
In any case, if you don't already watch this show, give it a try -- and watch right through the end credits to see the weekly live feature showing real young patisserie-makers at work, and sharing some of their techniques.
It will be an amazing contrast to hear Yuuki Aoi in her next major role: as Mina Tepes, the imperious vampire queen who looks like a loli and walks around half-naked much of the time, in next January's Dance in the Vampire Bund, directed by Shinbou Akiyuki for Shaft.