Pia Carrot: Sayaka's Love Story
Sayaka was a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met her...oops, sorry. I mean Sayaka is a waitress for the popular restaurant Pia Carrot. The fourth store in the chain along the Miyaki Beach is set to open and she is going to go help with the opening. She has a conversation with Akihiko, whom she's in love with, before she departs, but Akihiko never turns around to talk to her. However, although Akihiko didn't turn around, Sayaka has his phone number stored on her cell phone from before. As it turns out, many others associated with the opening 4th restaurant also have spotty pasts. Can the characters overcome their problems? Will Sayaka call the number she's kept on memory but never called? Will I ever stop asking questions?
Prior to watching this movie, the only bit of knowledge I had about Pia Carrot was on the strength of a cosplay photo I once saw (it was for Azusa, who does appear in this). While searching for fansubs for a completely different show (Pita-ten), I found an entry for Pia Carrot: Sayaka's Love Story, which did surprise me since I thought the series only consisted of games. In the end, I decided to watch the movie.
Far and away, my biggest problem with SLS was the fact that despite being called "Sayaka's Love Story", it seemed to have very little time (maybe less than half of the screentime total) devoted to the titular plot. In fact, I daresay this movie had any really big plot jumps at all. While there IS plot advancement (concurrent with a few characters), it gives us very little to get behind any of the characters. What's worse is that the movie runs for a little less than an hour, meaning it spends roughly 26 minutes trying to establish plot. Hey, at least it isn't Papa and Heart.
Outside the story problems, I'll be truthful: I loved this movie. The artwork and animation especially. Although I may be stretching it a little here, I think this movie has possibly the best artwork I have seen in an anime. Granted I haven't seen all of them, but the art here is simply beautiful. The colors are vibrant and full of life, the scenes are well done, the characters look decent. All in all, it's like they went out of their way to make this anime look good and animate good, because on top of good artwork, the animation in this one is just a step off of the same stage. Although I can see problems here and there, the spacing between these is enough for me to ignore it.
And what about the characters? As I already said, few of them get plotlines or backstories. These few include Sayaka Takai (the main character, who develops a fever during a plot sequence due to Typhoon 18 which in real life, for a little bit of trivia, never occured, since 2002 (the year this came out) only had 15), Tomomi Aizawa (who, like Sayaka, is from a different restaurant than #4 and is helping with the opening), Miharu Fuyuki (who has likely the darkest past of the group), Takako Kinoshita (who, from what I see, doesn't work at the restaurant proper, but is caretaker of the hotel with the employee dorms) and a slight plot for someone who, according to the fansubber, has a similar name to someone from the original PC game (Pia Carrot, not Personal Computer). Personality-wise, Sayaka and Tomomi both have likable personalities that meld well with their love-related backstories (Tomomi's crush is Kouji Maede, the main character from Pia Carrot 2 DX). Miharu spends most of her time isolating herself from the others out of fear that something will happen to them (this is related to her backstory), and Takako seems pretty carefree (and even takes the cake and eats two. Seriously, one scene gives us her eating an entire TABLE'S worth of food). Outside the plot fence, we have Nana Kimishima, who, like Miharu, is introduced to us thanks to Takako's use of the "wrong door plot advancement", which leads to her eminating a scream so powerful, it absolutely crippled my screen quality, turning it into the anime equivalent of an unclean Atari cartridge (whether this was intentional or not, I did laugh at it), which quickly cleared back up. Natsuki Iwakura isn't implied to be a waitress at the restaurant, but mans an important aspect of any business: the cashier. As a result, we see her here and there (but rarely). Akemi Hasegawa is, from what the anime indicates, the manager of store 4 (in the game, it's shown that her position is temporary). We first meet her while she goes nuts trying to select a store outfit for the new restaurant.
Yeah, about the outfits. Like a whole lot of anime like this one, Pia Carrot is notable for its waitress costumes, which include a really nice blue tropical costume (which Akemi decides should be the one for the festival that occurs every summer. Spontaneously, I might add), a lighter blue costume with no clothing over the upper portion of the body (the standard non-festival outfit) and an orangish outfit that we only see for a few seconds (it's the Autumn outfit, but because Sayaka and Tomomi are heading back after the summer, we never see these outside the box).
Finally, the only other characters that I remember were Miyuki, an orange-haired girl who ends up getting a job at the restaurant after her old job goes broke, and a man who runs in after two gang members harass Miharu (who *spoiler* was also in the gang until an incident involving her younger brother) and almost crush Sayaka's important cell phone until Miyuki runs in to clean house. My best guess is that this man is also a staff member, but got me if I remember his name. Also seen are two friends of Tomomi (names Kamitsuka Yuki and Shima Noriko, who bears an odd resemblance to Akemi), who happen to know more about her past to help out when she goes running out of the restaurant after her crush and his fiancee (Azusa Hinomori, who in canon fell in love with Maede). Showing this is a photo in Tomomi's locker, which shows all three of them (Maede, Azusa, and Tomomi herself) in front of #2.
Probably my favorite scene (but not because of the likely reason) involves the staff of the restaurant. During the festival, the patrons to the restaurant begin to dwindle because of the competition due to the stalls set up beachside. One of the male staff members (I think the same one who ran in earlier) has an idea, and decides to enter the staff into the "Miss Miyaki Beach" contest (the 32nd annual, according to a banner, and yes, it's a swimsuit scene), where they perform a fun little ditty while bearing as much to the camera as a non-hentai title can allow. While backstage preparing, Tomomi is confronted by her friends, when Kamitsuka notes that Tomomi is a "traitor" for joining this contest while Shima points out that the whole staff was to attend, so it wasn't like Tomomi had a choice. Tomomi, in probably the funniest scene in this anime, reveals that she didn't want to betray Kamitsuka, so in order to erode that image, she reveals that she entered Kamitsuka in the contest as well and holds up the entry form to prove it (I just love Kami's face when this happens). Before the singing staff, Kamitsuka tries a magician's act which ends flawed as her magic trick backfires on her. Yeah, one would think I loved these scenes because of the fanservice, but I liked them because they were just fun scenes.
The music for the anime...hmmm...I'm not sure I can comment on that, because the audio quality for my movie is kind of low since it "statics" at high notes. However, from what I can hear, it's pleasant and decent to listen to. The opening and ending (what I remember of them), were also nice to listen to.
But to finish off, the remainder of the movie post-contest tries to build up a backstory for Sayaka and Tomomi with decent results (but since I don't want to spoil it, I'll keep mum), all of which end in a fireworks display the day before Sayaka is supposed to return to store #1. The final scene that plays, I'll be honest, is another scene I liked, both comically and dramatically. Overall, the little story is the only anchor around this anime, and it drops it. How much, you ask? To at least a 4 1/2, which is a shame. But because it gave me such a fun time with everything else, I'll be generous and round up this to a 5. I know there will be people who will disagree, but this is my opinion, and I like to keep it.
The lack of a major story is enough to drop it by 1/2, but because everything else worked well, I can be generous this one time and bump it back up, because at least it tried to establish a backstory at some points. — Jake L Godek
Recommended Audience: Best for teens and up. However, with the rather large number of cute girls taken into account, it's a fairly innocent movie (or rather... *gets a mallet to the head to the shouts of "shut up about that"*) which is suitable to most people. Feathery light fan service. No nudity, no hentai, no violence (except a scene with some punks, but they were quickly and cleanly taken care of) and nothing else objectionable.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Pia Carrot: Sayaka's Love Story © 2002 F&C
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