Broadcast date: 4/18/07 – 6/27/07
Number of episodes: 11
Genre: Cooking drama
Cast: Matsumoto Jun, Fukiishi Kazue, Karina, Sato Ryuta, Uchida Yuki, Kitamura Kazuki, Sasaki Kuranosuke
Plot: Shogo Ban is a college student with dreams of becoming a professional cook. After working at an Italian restaurant in his hometown, he is sent to Tokyo in order to learn more. Once there, he learns that realizing your dream is not always as easy as one might think.
What is good: Kitamura Kazuki steals the spotlight as the head of the dining room at Trattoria Baccanale
What is bad: It would be nice if Ban (Matsumoto Jun) had more than two emotions.
Letter rating: B-
Overall: A lot of MatsuJun’s roles revolve around his prettiness. This isn’t an exception. The show is filled with close-up shots of him licking his lips or being contemplative. Once in awhile, we’re treated to a genuine smile. The role of Ban (aka Bambinp/Bambi) doesn’t require a lot of work on his part. He is either really excited or really depressed with little to nothing in between. While the older characters in the show chalk it up to being young, it gets old after awhile.
Yet it’s still easy to get swept up in the magic of the restaurant. Yonamine Tsukasa (Kitamura Kazuki) spends his time dazzling the ladies in the dining room while the kitchen workers manage to get through a long busy day without even getting a spot of sauce on their white shirts. Adding to that magical feeling is the lack of time progression. There is only one point in the show where the audience is filled in on how much time has passed. The rest of the time we are left to assume this is a daily grind for the characters.
I found Bambino to be a decent show that is mostly carried by the secondary characters. There is little reason to care about Ban beyond “you’re supposed to.” It’s definitely more fun to watch the interactions between the eccentric dessert chef and everyone else or the three managers of the restaurant. Even though I know the main theme of the show was “work hard to follow your dreams,” I felt somewhat unfulfilled at the end. I would have liked to see Ban grow a bit more, not only as a person but also as a professional chef. Hopefully there will be a special showing that Ban can really transform into a master chef.