Shirokuma Cafe (Japanese: しろくまカフェ Hepburn: Shirokuma Kafe, lit. Polar Bear Café) is a Japanese manga series by Aloha Higa (ヒガ アロハ Higa Aroha). It revolves around the everyday lives of a group of animals mingling with humans at a café run by a polar bear. An anime adaptation by Studio Pierrot aired in Japan between April 2012 and March 2013. While it never received an official international release (mostly due to its heavy emphasis on Japanese wordplay, which complicates the potential for dubbing into other languages), it is available on the streaming website Crunchyroll as Polar Bear Cafe alongside the television broadcast for global audiences.
Cover of the first Blu-ray featuring main characters Polar Bear, Panda, and Penguin
|Genre||Slice of life, slapstick|
|Written by||Aloha Higa|
|Original run||2006 – 2014|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Mitsuyuki Masuhara|
|Written by||Toru Hosokawa|
|Music by||Kenji Kondo|
|Original network||TXN (TV Tokyo)|
|Original run||April 5, 2012 – March 28, 2013|
|Shirokuma Cafe Today's Special|
|Written by||Aloha Higa|
|Original run||2014 – present|
- Polar Bear (シロクマ Shirokuma)
- Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai
- A polar bear who runs Polar Bear's Café, which serves organic foods and drinks and is popular with both humans and animals. He has a habit of making bad puns with his customers and friends, just for the amusement of hearing their retorts. He was born in Hudson's Bay, Canada.
- Panda (パンダ Panda)
- Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama
- A lazy, somewhat dimwitted, and kind-hearted giant panda who works part-time at a zoo. He enjoys lazing around and eating bamboo and only orders iced coffee at the café until Polar Bear adds bamboo to the menu only for his sake. He is obsessed with all panda products and has a tendency to point out his popularity at the zoo and his own cuteness.
- Penguin (ペンギン Pengin)
- Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya
- An emperor penguin (コウテイペンギン Kōtei Pengin, also his legal name) and a frequent customer of the café and friend of Polar Bear who generally orders a cafe mocha. He generally serves as the tsukkomi to the antics of Polar Bear and Panda. He has a crush on another penguin named Penko, and eventually upon learning that Penko has six sisters identical to her, he ends up dating them all. However, Penguin's inability to get their names right sets off a chain of events that lead to them dumping him.
- Sasako (笹子)
- Voiced by: Aya Endo
- A human girl who works at the Polar Bear's Cafe. She used to live in the same town as Llama and her hobby is to take rides on her bicycle. Although not fond of scary stories, she's great at telling them, even making Mr. Handa faint of hearing it.
- Grizzly (グリズリー Gurizurī)
- Voiced by: Yūichi Nakamura
- A grizzly bear who is a childhood friend of Polar Bear. He runs a bar in the middle of town called "BAR THE GRIZZLY" and has a rather fierce personality, though occasionally shows a soft side. He also usually serves as the tsukkomi to the antics of Polar Bear and Panda just like Penguin, a feature that curiously brought them to the point of becoming good friends. He hibernates during the winter but is constantly being woken up from his slumber by Polar Bear.
- Llama (ラマ Rama)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Ono
- A llama who likes grass and dreams of becoming a popular animal at the zoo just like Panda. He is often noted for his maturity.
- Sloth (ナマケモノ Namakemono)
- Voiced by: Kishō Taniyama
- A three-toed sloth who lives in the café's outskirts. True to his character, he has a very slow pace and speech.
- Full Time Panda (常勤パンダ Jōkin Panda)
- Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi
- An older giant panda who, until episode 44, worked full time at the zoo alongside Panda, not including his part-time job as a tissue-pack distributor. He is married and father of five, working hard to make ends meet for his family. He has since been transferred to a zoo in Singapore.
- Panda-Mama (パンダママ)
- Voiced by: Toshiyuki Morikawa
- Panda and Mei Mei's mother who usually reprimands her son when he gets too lazy by threatening to suck him into her vacuum cleaner.
- Penko (ペン子)
- Voiced by: Sayuri Yahagi
- A female penguin who works at a bakery near the Polar Bear's Cafe and Penguin's love interest. However, when Penguin finally confesses, it turns out that Penko is only one among seven identical sisters taking shifts at the bakery. Aside Penko, the other six are called Penmi (ペン美), Penna (ペン奈), Penka (ペン花), Penuelle (ペンニュエル Pennyueru), Penno (ペン乃), and Penjolina (ペンジョリーナ Penjorīna). Somehow Penguin started dating all seven at once, although he has a hard time dealing with them as he is unable to differentiate each one from the others, but when the girls make an ultimatum for Penguin to choose one among them, they realize that none of his traits are particularly interesting and dump him.
- Tortoise (ゾウガメ Zōgame)
- Voiced by: Takayuki Kondou
- A Galapagos tortoise who is a regular at the cafe. Has a very slow speech and pace.
- Mei Mei (メイメイ)
- Voiced by: Kana Hanazawa
- Panda's little sister with a crush on Handa, whom she deems as handsome as a prince due to his short and chubby panda-like figure. She doesn't prefer Mr. Rintarou, despite his love for pandas, because she claims he is too skinny for her type.
- Lesser Panda (レッサーパンダ Ressā Panda)
- Voiced by: Akiko Yajima
- A red panda who usually looks up to Panda despite being far more capable and reliable than him.
- Adélie, Chinstrap, Gentoo (アデリーペンギン、アゴヒモペンギン、ジェンツーペンギン Aderī Pengin, Agohimo Pengin, Jentsū Pengin)
- Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi, Tomokazu Sugita, and Daisuke Hirakawa respectively
- Three penguins each representing a member of the genus Pygoscelis who come with a plan to have people learn the differences between the different species of penguins by developing a deck of penguin-related cards. The cards don't sell very well, but the penguins find more success with South Pole Squad: Penguinger, an action play at the zoo.
- Mandrill (マンドリル Mandoriru)
- Voiced by: Yousuke Itou
- A mandrill who works at the zoo and visits the café.
- Anteater (コアリクイ Koarikui)
- Voiced by: Yuuki Fujiwara
- A tamandua who works at the zoo and occasionally visits the café.
- Badger (アナグマ Anaguma)
- Voiced by: Kōki Miyata
- A japanese badger that applies for the part time job at Polar Bear's Café but was rejected. In the anime he complains of his living arrangements, as he cannot burrow in his wooden floored apartment.
- Tree Kangaroo (キノボリカンガルー Kinobori Kangarū)
- Voiced by: Toshio Furukawa
- A tree-kangaroo, coffee specialist, and owner of Tree-Climbing Coffee (キノボリコーヒー Kinobori Kōhī) who provides coffee beans to Polar Bear's Café.
- The Red Squirrels (エゾリスたち Ezorisu-tachi)
- Voiced by: Kōki Miyata (Mama), Hiro Nakajima, Aki Nakajima
- A group of red squirrels who work at Tree-Climbing Coffee by selecting the coffee beans Tree Kangaroo roasts. The leader is the mother of the others, and is referred to as Red Squirrel Mama (エゾリスママ Ezorisu Mama, alternatively Ezorisu-Haha (エゾリス母), Ezorisu Kaa-chan (エゾリス母ちゃん), and Ezorisu-Okan (エゾリスおかん)).
- Wolf (オオカミ Ōkami), Tiger (トラ Tora), and Lion (ライオン Raion)
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita, Kishō Taniyama, and Kazuhiko Inoue respectively
- Three tenants of Grizzly's Bar who are huge fans of Polar Bear from the time he was a rapper known as "MC 469MA" ("469MA" is read as "Shirokuma").
- Black Caiman (クロカイマン Kuro Kaiman)
- Voiced by: Kishō Taniyama
- A black caiman who is a regular customer at Grizzly's Bar The Grizzly. When he first sees Panda, he calls him delicious before being spurned by Grizzly.
- King Penguin (キングペンギン Kingu Pengin)
- Voiced by: Nobuyuki Hiyama
- A king penguin who gets really upset when it is confused with Emperor Penguins, like Penguin, and a good friend of Panda-Mama. King Penguin's gender is left ambiguous (voice actor Hiyama is a man), but it uses the feminine personal pronoun atashi (あたし) to refer to itself, a trait shared with Panda Mama and Red Squirrel Mama.
- Emperor Chick (コウテイ ヒナ Kōtei Hina)
- Voiced by: Ai Nonaka
- An emperor penguin chick who is Penguin's nephew. He often plays train with King Chick.
- King Chick (キング ヒナ Kingu Hina)
- Voiced by: Junko Takeuchi
- A king penguin chick who is King Penguin's son. The fact that king penguin chicks do not look as cute as emperor penguin chicks is a running gag.
- Grizzly's Mother (グリズリーの母 Gurizurī no Haha)
- Voiced by: Kikuko Inoue
- Grizzly's mother. When remembering her, Grizzly says that she was very scary when she was angry.
- Crested Serpent Eagle (カンムリワシ Kanmuriwashi)
- Voiced by: Akio Suyama
- Sea Otter (ラッコ Rakko)
- Voiced by: Kōki Miyata
- A popular animal working at the zoo who while at the cafe complains that smashing shells on rocks is hard work.
- Tapir (バク Baku)
- Voiced by: Yousuke Itou
- Another worker at the zoo whom everyone believes eats dreams because of the Baku myth.
- Handa (半田)
- Voiced by: Wataru Hatano
- The panda caretaker at the zoo Panda works at. Although he is quite popular with the animals at the zoo, he doesn't have as much luck getting the attention of women. He has a crush on Sasako. Also, he's really good at being scared, according to Penguin.
- Rintaro Hayashi (林 厘太郎 Hayashi Rintarō)
- Voiced by: Tokuyoshi Kawashima
- A flower shop owner who is nicknamed Rin-Rin (リンリン) and is incredibly fond of Panda (and pandas in general). Although he is considered attractive by many female customers, Panda seems to not be interested in him. His intense love for pandas annoyed one school girl once.
- Kirino (桐野)
- Voiced by: Takayuki Kondō
- One of the workers at the zoo Panda works at. He works under Handa.
- Masaki (マサキ)
- Voiced by: Hiro Shimono
- A visitor of the café who becomes so moved by the taste of its black coffee that he decides to study under a tree kangaroo to learn how to roast coffee beans.
The original manga by Aloha Higa began serialisation in Shogakukan's Flowers magazine from 2006. Five tankōbon volumes have been released so far. The manga went on hiatus between May and July 2012, citing lack of communication concerning the anime adaptation. The manga returned from hiatus in the September 2012 issue of Flowers, following Higa managed to talk with the anime production on her intellectual property. The manga was retitled Shirokuma Cafe Today's Special and moved to Shueisha's Cocohana on its September 2014.
- "Shirokuma Cafe Women's Comedy Manga Gets Anime". Anime News Network. January 26, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "Crunchyroll". Crunchyroll. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- "Shirokuma Cafe Manga Goes on Indefinite Hiatus". Anime News Network. May 29, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- "Polar Bear's Café Creator Comments Further on Anime". Anime News Network. May 31, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- "Polar Bear's Café Creator Announces Return From Hiatus". Anime News Network. July 31, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- "Polar Bear's Café Manga Moves From Flowers to Cocohana". Anime News Network. June 29, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- "「しろくまカフェ」Cocohanaへお引っ越し" (in Japanese). Comic Natalie. July 28, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.