It’s that time again where we need to make our viewers salivate and hungry with a food themed anime. However we don’t want it to be long and over dramatic like Shokugeki No Souma so a short one would be better. However we want to do away with typical Japanese and Chinese cuisines that might have been too common. Aha! Why not try Italian cuisine? And that is how Piace – Watashi No Italian became adapted from manga into anime lasting only 4 minutes per episode. I think. Anyway, what is new when a high school girl decides to go Italian and cook Italian dishes? Quirky characters and Italian dishes, what else? Funnily, all the staffs in this Italian restaurant are Japanese… Of course, they’re in Japan.

Episode 1
Morina Nanase wants to work during her summer vacation. She hasn’t really decided on what to do yet till she sees a recruitment sign for an Italian restaurant, Trattoria Festa. Cute, stylish and close to home. It’s decided. As she takes her first step in, she meets this little kid, Maro Kitahara who is the acting manager. After stating her intentions to work here, he makes her memorize their menu. All in Italian. Can’t read Italian. Don’t worry. There’s a Japanese version of it. But dish is still in Italian. Can’t make out what it is. This makes Maro mad. Why the heck would she want to work in an Italian place? Manager Ruri Fujiki takes over and since Morina can start right away, she hires her now. I mean, right now. Ruri warns Morina about Maro’s bad attitude. Despite being the son of the owner, he is passionate about cooking and a genius chef. Morina tastes Maro’s dish and praises highly, making him blush and tsundere. Despite ‘threatening’ to throw her out if she isn’t up to mark, Morina is glad to have found a place she is happy to work.

Episode 2
Maro teaches a lot to Morina. Ruri thinks he must have taken quite a liking for her. Morina also learns that the upstairs of this restaurant is where Maro lives as well as a couple of other ‘freeloaders’. Ruri explains the owner has not returned for 2 years. One night he ran away most probably to Italy and has never been back since. In the kitchen, Morina meets Kirihide Konno the head chef. He might look good but be careful. Morina accidentally spills a bit of sauce from his dish on the floor and he nearly kills her with his knife! Then he goes on ranting about the ingredients used to make it. Tomatoes… So to make it up to him, she’ll order more of such tomatoes for him. See his happy orgasmic face to receive boxes of tomato cans. A week later all those tomatoes are used up and he is ‘dying’. Morina needs to take responsibility for this so she suggests adding more menu items using tomatoes. Instantly he revives. Why is this going to be such a pain?

Episode 3
Morina sees a customer hitting on girls. Then she tries a tiramisu cake Maro makes. He explains the type of cheese used to make it. As Morina is taking out the trash, she sees a usual customer hanging out. She thought she could suggest trying their tiramisu but then he starts hitting on her with cheesy lines (no pun intended). Maro gets mad at Ei Oreki to get back to work. So he is a staff and not a customer? Morina is shocked to learn he is Festa’s dessert department. So this dude has been hitting on female customers the whole time? Later Maro tells Morina that Ei was a chef from Italy but his dad scouted him. Maro told Ei he would improve better if he worked in hotels but he rather have fun here and see him become his own man. Maro can’t help feel jealous that Ei has worked in places where all his dreams come true. Morina tells him he has the potential to become anything. Although Ei rarely works and usually hits on female customers, Maro wanted him fired but Ruri said he brings in the female customers so it’s not that bad. Later when Morina talks to Ei why he is wasting his time at a place like this, he tells her that Maro is lying. Oh sh*t. Which of them is lying?

Episode 4
Everyone is scared when that usual customer turns up, Niza Teiri. To your battle stations. Even Morina is forced to play her part of Trattori Rangers! He orders the usual and Morina serves him the fried spring roll caponata. It is so good that he wants to let his granddaughter, Sara try it out. She turns out to be Maro’s classmate. Sara also has a sharp sense of taste and smell. However she doesn’t believe at first this caponata is good. She thinks it is poisoned! So how? She stuffs it into Morina’s mouth! Since she is okay, Sara then bites it off from there like a very yuri scene. I think the guys are going crazy in one way or another. Sara then begins her analysis of this dish. Vulgar like a certain French dish but with a flavour fitting for commoners. She finds the fusion with Chinese dim sum like a Sino-Euro-Japanese mish-mash which truly fits in a trattoria. Although Japanese’s image of western cuisine is French or Italian, but compared to French, Italian has a vulgar image. Sara hates Italian cuisine. With that serious face she’s not joking, right?

Episode 5
Morina is enlightened by Kirihide’s knowledge on the difference between Japanese and Italian cuisine based on environmental and cultural factors. Flashback when Sara badmouthed Italian cuisine as vulgar, Kirihide tried to have a showdown with her wearing some mask while the rest distract grandpa with other food. Surprisingly Morina is the maddest one as she punches a hole in the wall! She lectures about people being serious about food. Chefs long ago laboured to find the right ingredient and created a culture that we treasure so much. We must not trample over what they have built up until now. Sara felt ashamed for her shallowness as Morina realizes too late she may have stepped over the line. But Sara hugs her and soon leaves with grandpa. The rest are just relieved that a crisis was averted. Morina is amazed Maro can tell how a dish tasted just looking by its recipe. Because a cuisine can’t be great if it just following blindly a recipe. Cuisine is science! Despite being a cry-baby and loner in class, he is a great chef.

Episode 6
Today is Morina’s last day. She’s quitting! After that hole she made in the wall, her pay won’t be enough to cover. She felt guilty and wanted to take responsibility. Maro is mad that the rest didn’t stop her. Well, it was her decision. When Maro states down all the bad and good qualities of Morina, the rest knew he really likes her. Obviously he goes to stop her. Luckily she is still standing in front of the shop like as though it’s hard to say goodbye. Maro assures they will do something about the wall (currently it is covered with a banner designed by Kirihide and the customers don’t quite like it). Maro understands Morina snapped back at Sara because she saw them work hard making Italian food. They couldn’t fight back because they were thinking of the restaurant’s reputation. That’s why he wants to thank her for standing up for their pride. So please don’t quit. If she really loves this trattoria, please stay and help take care of it. With Ruri agreeing to raise her pay so she can pay off the debt, emotional Morina agrees to come back and work. She vows to become an Italian chef. However the rest realize she can only use a peeler.

Episode 7
In class, Maro tries to impress Sara with his Italian cooking but all she has are criticisms. Plus, she doesn’t remember him. Poor guy runs back all the way crying and cooking is the way to soothe his heart. Sara visits Festa and personally wants Morina to cook an Italian dish for her. Realizing everyone else are ‘busy’ with their own circumstances, it soon dawns to her she can’t cook anything Italian yet. But she decides to give it a shot with some salad. Even if it doesn’t look good, it does taste good. Sara comments it is a taste befitting her. She likes it. Morina is so relieved that he hugs her. Morina later needs to improve her skills since she considers that dish a fluke. She tries to ask Kirihide but he is depressed about making enough profits to rare ingredients. Don’t worry. Ei is willing to help. Grateful Morina hugs him. Meanwhile Maro continues to be sad because nobody is looking his way.

Episode 8
Niza visits again but this time he brings Tony Riga, a famous food blogger. Since this is good advertising, they leave it to Morina to cook something although Maro is the one who seems pessimistic that Morina can do it. Despite nervous, Sara agrees to help her. Ramping up the nervousness is her classmate and friend, Rii Kagetsu. Sara suggests making a dolce dessert. It came out good and delicious. But Niza doesn’t look happy… Actually he was thinking of inviting Morina to become a temporary staff at his restaurant. Maro is the first to protest he will not let him take their Morina away. If he does, he’ll close down the shop and bum at his place every Sunday! Sara approves of grandpa’s move! Morina has been knocked out cold from the shock.

Episode 9
Morina arrives at Sairei, a Japanese restaurant owned by Niza. She is overwhelmed with everything as she spends time with Sara who has some praises about Festa. One day while sweeping outside, she could smell some Italian cooking. Maro and co are here trying to lure her back. He thinks she should be done at Sairei and should come back to Festa. There’s always a spot for her. You mean, a soft spot for her? ;p. So when she tells this to Niza and he disapproves of her going back to that place rather than continue working here, he gives her a challenge to show her resolve with her Italian cooking. Morina seeks Maro and co’s advice so Maro tells her to cook some Italian food that defines who she is. The next day, she serves some carpaccio, pasta and fritters. All is going well until the last dish which isn’t really good. He comments her skills are still underdeveloped and to return to Festa to improve it. I guess that’s the green light. They will even support her path to Italian cooking.

Episode 10
Festa is closed today since they are serving at the festivals. It seems Tony is here because there is a sweets contest. Maro didn’t think any one of his staff is participating till he realizes Ei is missing. Maro wants him to come back and help but Tony insists he should spice things up since Ei is gathering the crowd. Sara throws a challenge to Ei. She heard he thought Morina how to cook and is Festa’s poster boy. If he loses, Festa is nothing to write about and Morina wouldn’t be much of a challenge either. Ei gets serious since she dragged Morina into this and looked down on Festa. In the end, Ei wins. He nicely warns her to not badmouth them again or he won’t go easy next time. Sara apologizes to Morina for that unpleasant moment and hopes they can walk their path to become a chef earnestly. Morina and Maro are left in awe with a side they never see Ei before. Meanwhile Ruri and Kirihide are ‘dying’ since they are short of hands manning their stall.

Episode 11
Festa is closed today and the reason why Maro is so excited is because they will be going on a picnic with Morina. Yeah, he is bossing everyone to get going. It is so obvious watching Maro. He got disappointed when Ruri is the one knocking on the door but the moment he sees Morina, his face lights up. It seems Sara and her grandpa are also joining in. So they’re at the beach wondering what kind of food is best to cook. Maro tries to show off by cooking his meat medium rare so he can serve it fast. Too bad all that ego deflates when Sara didn’t have kind words for it. But then he revives instantly when Morina comments how everyone is enjoying themselves thanks to him.

Episode 12
They throw out all the comedy we’ve know this series for, for a serious melodrama? Ei narrates his senior told him before he came home from Italy. He wants him to look after his son and trattoria. When Ei took his first step into Festa and met the rest, they were lifeless and cold. He tried to be nice and strike up a conversation but that didn’t do much. Even when he tried to talk to Maro about his dad, he became mad and threw a tantrum never to mention his old man’s name again. One day when Sara came over to hand notes from class, Ei realized Maro had been skipping school. He forced Maro to have a talk with him but Maro doesn’t want to hear from a guy who cannot cook. This is where Ei drew the line. He is going to show why Maro himself cannot cook. Shockingly, Ei can cook a splendid eggplant dish. So did he lie about not being able to cook? Actually he has tendonitis in both wrists and cannot hold a pan anymore. He wanted to be better at cooking than everyone that he glued his hand to the pan but now paid the price. He doesn’t want Maro to make the same mistake of staying too focus of trying to be the best. Although Maro is still not appreciative, Ruri thought maybe if he finds a girl he likes, he would change. Ei hopes so. And it is like God heard their prayers as he sends cute Morina into their trattoria looking for work.

Mamma Mia! It’s Only A Decentemente Buono
Well, it wasn’t the best short or food themed anime, but hell, at least it is way much better than that atrocious JK Meshi. Ugh. Still having my hair stand on ends thinking about that piece of garbage even till today. The jokes are spontaneous only because they don’t have much time so many times you will notice that they are going fast with their rapid fire pacing which might seem like rushing. It is still funny but on a decent level rather than being casu marzu cheesy. Sorry, bad Italian cheese pun. I mean, you don’t expect mozzarella or parmesan quality here, do you?

If you are expecting the Italian food to be the stars of the show, you might be disappointed. This series is too short to showcase the good side of the Italian dishes. Maybe because I know nothing about Italian food except maybe pizza, spaghetti and pasta… Their very short appearances per episode depending on what the gang makes don’t do any justice to them. If it is to introduce Italian cuisine to us noobs, well, this isn’t the way. There are some food shots but they aren’t that appetizing if you ask me. Maybe because I’m not into Italian in the first place…

Although each of the characters have their own likeable charm, sadly due to the short duration of the series, there is hardly any development to be expected. Once you get to know a character, after an episode or two, you can probably guess their personality is more or less like this. Like Ruri I feel she is for fanservice purpose because who else has got the biggest bust around? To charm female viewers, that is why you have Ei around and Kirihide has been stereotyped into some strict chef who only wants ingredients from certain places and cooks in certain ways. Then there is Sara who is supposed to give some Japanese influence instead having everything so Italian (which isn’t) and it is unfortunate too that she doesn’t really do much thanks to her ‘polite’, refine and soft spoken exterior. If you like blondes in kimono, it feels that she is somewhat here to satiate that fetish. So what being Maro’s classmate. She just ignores him all the time. Heck, she doesn’t even know she exists.

As for Morina, we can see her getting along well and making Festa her second home. She is fast getting used to the place and becoming a valuable staff. But there is all to it because we don’t really see her levelling up her Italian chef skills and even if so, she is still at an amateur level. Well, at least it is practical since to be an expert culinary chef of another culture’s cuisine, it takes years of hard work and perseverance. Well, good luck on to her to achieve her dream. So for now she feels like the cute poster girl with her honest to goodness feelings for Festa and anything Italian.

Finally, Maro the scatterbrain of the pack is also the brattiest since it is becoming more and more obvious that this little kid has a crush on Morina. The only reason why he goes to great lengths to support her and possibly the best cure whenever he is down. Nothing beats gloom and doom more than the praises from the one you love, eh? So if you’re hoping to see some sort of romance development between them, don’t get your hopes up. Because first and foremost, Italians love their food first. Oh wait. They are Japs…

There could be something about Maro’s missing dad because as said he just got up one night and left. What a way to go to leave all your responsibilities and live life in a different country. It would have been interesting to see and hear the truth about this but I doubt at this rate we have already forgotten about this, right? The final episode might have reminded us about him but it was more about Ei and Maro. Had the entire series had this sort of character development level, I wonder if it would lose the cute comedic charm that viewers have accustomed to. I have to admit that the final episode was indeed interesting as it delved a bit into the past of the 2 characters. But that is only because we know what the characters are when the final episode came about. Therefore would the series had been more interesting or less if it followed this format instead?

The art and drawing has the characters looking cute and kawaii for the boys and girls whereas the guys more like bishonen hunks. With all the flowery and cute effects, it enhances the comedic effect intended for the scene. Because Maro is most of the time in angst mode, it makes him look like a cartoonish character. Sure, the art goes chibi sometimes but Maro in his normal form is already close to looking like in his chibi mode. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Zero-G who did Battery and Tsugumomo.

Too bad I didn’t even recognize a single one of the seiyuus. Not even Youko Hikasa as Ruri. The casts are Sayaka Senbongi as Morina (Chitose in Girlish Number), Yuuki Yonai as Maro (Haruki in Cheer Boys), Hiromi Igarashi as Sara (Orion in Amnesia), Youhei Azakami as Kirihide (Kennosuke in Kuromukuro) and Taku Yashiro as Ei (Hayato in Mayoiga). The ending theme is amusing in its own right. Honjitsu No Tobikiri Buono is quite a catchy piece as it sings about mixing and putting together certain ingredients to ultimately come up with an Italian dish. Yeah, the real picture of that food looks quite tasty. Then the animation turns into something unrelated as we see the Festa staffs along with Sara jamming as a band in chibi form. Really, WTF. On a side note, because of the nature of the ending theme, there are a many variations depending on which one of the Festa staff is singing it. So if Sara is part of the group even as a customer, why isn’t her grandpa? No trattoria for old men?

Overall, this series is just average and if you like it a bit more, it means you’re a fan of Italian food. Average story and average characters mean this series isn’t one you should take seriously except to just enjoy something Italian in the short run before moving on to something heavier. So the best way to get to know Italian food (or any food from any other culture) is to try it out yourself. Unless you are so poor or on a limited budget that you can only scour the internet and drool over tasty looking Italian food. You cannoli view impasta foods for so long. Get out there tomato and try a pizza it. :-). Buon appetite!