"This mysterious restaurant is on a road just a little ways from the center of Rome..."
With these words in episode one, the Ristorante Paradiso anime springs into life. It's the story of a quiet little restaurant where the food is delectable, the wine is always just the ﬂavor you wanted, and the waitstaff are happy to cater to your every whim.
This is the ﬁrst series to be released under Right Stuf ’s newest label, Lucky Penny. Based on Natsume Ono’s Ristorante Paradiso and Gente manga, this show combines them both into a lovely mix of sunny Italian atmosphere and spicy romantic drama. Presented below is a roundtable talk with the creator and staff of Ristorante Paradiso, to give you a taste of what to expect.
Natsume Ono (original creator)
Shinichi Inotsume (series composition/screenplay)
Taito Okiura (producer)
Koji Kajita (producer)
Mariko Seto (producer)
What was it like turning Ristorante Paradiso into an anime?
Seto: In terms of the scenario, we had a bit of a rough time ﬁguring out what to do for the ﬁrst episode, didn’t we?
Inotsume: Yes, we did. But once we had the ﬁrst episode set, things went pretty smoothly from then on. The scenarios for Ristorante Paradiso were pretty unusual, running a little less than 70 pages, at 200 characters to a page. That’s almost impossibly short for a normal half hour show. But when everything was complete, it turned out to be just right.
Okiura: A lot of anime these days have quick cuts between scenes and pack in tons of dialogue, but for Ristorante Paradiso, we took care to have "breathing room." What made it all work was the directorial vision of Director Kase. The performances from the voice actors were a big part of it, too. Another thing that helped was the amount of information contained in the background art. The people handling the editing said that the incredibly detailed artwork allowed them to edit with the leisurely pacing of a movie.
Tell us your memories of the production process.
Ono: Basically, all the work was fun, and it was over before I knew it. Something that left a strong impression on me early on was the character designs. I told them that I wouldn't mind if they changed my artwork, but the designs they showed me were these wondrous things that incorporated my distinctive art style but were also all cleaned up. I was very impressed. I was like, "Wow!" And I thought, "This is going to turn out great!"
Okiura: Ms. Ono won the prize for perfect attendance for the voice recording sessions. What's more, she was usually the ﬁrst one to arrive. And she was always bringing wonderful snacks every single session, so there was this kind of "snack competition" phenomenon that happened. We would bring snacks too, but we were no match for her. Speaking of snacks, she sent our studio all kinds of gifts, as well. One day, a large cardboard box was delivered to us, and when we opened it, it was full of lots of things like olive oil in fancy bottles and other foodstuffs we'd never even seen before. It was utterly astonishing for someone who'd only seen regular olive oil from a grocery store.
Ono: I remembered Mr. Kamimura saying that he saw mountains of cup ramen when he visited David Production, so I sent them fruit juice, thinking that they might need more vitamin C. I thought energy drinks would seem too pointed... like saying "this is for all your fatigue up to this point and for all the work you still have left to do." But sweet fruit juice feels like a reward to me, and I drink it during work when I'm in the homestretch. So I ended up sending them some juice, based on my own tastes.
Okiura: Thank you very much for that. And the ﬂavors were things like pear juice and stuff. I mean, pear juice! I had no idea there were such classy juice ﬂavors out there in the world.
Seto: I think the voice actors really enjoyed recording this show, too. Each of them seemed to look carefully after their roles, if you will. You could feel the love for their characters coming across.
Ono: The fun atmosphere was really nice. That was part of the reason I ended up coming to the recording sessions every week.
Okiura: All the voice actors received individual portraits from Ms. Ono, remember? Anyone would work hard after a gift like that (laugh). Same with us. After receiving olive oil the likes of which you've never seen, you feel like, "I've just got to do my best!"
Kajita: Everyone in production worked on the show wanting to do whatever they could to make Ms. Ono happy, knowing that she was looking forward to the anime. But looking back now, it seems like she had us completely eating out of the palm of her hand (laugh).
Who is your favorite character?
Kajita: In terms of the character, it’s Luciano. But for his voice and his overall presence, I like Lorenzo. Also, Vito, or rather, Mr. Kuroda was indispensible, because it was his presence that set the mood for the recording sessions (laugh).
Okiura: My vote goes for Mr. Kuroda, too. You really do need people like him around.
Inotsume: Mine is Luciano, because he was easy to write (laugh). Honestly speaking, Mr. Kamimura told me early on that Ms. Ono's favorite character is Furio, so deep down, I felt conﬂicted about that.
Seto: The chef duo, Furio and Teo, got relatively fewer chances to shine in this show, didn’t they?
Ono: But just because I like Furio doesn't mean that I would have wanted him to be written in a lot. Rather, I was happy that, with this anime, other characters like Nicoletta and Claudio were able to gain some popularity.