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[The Concierge]
AKA: 北極百貨店のコンシェルジュさん ; The Concierge at Hokkyoku Department Store
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Length: Movie, 70 minutes
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mature themes?)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: The Boy and the Beast; ODDTAXI
Notes: Directed by Yoshimi Itazu

Based on manga by Tsuchika Nishimura, published by Shogakukan

The Concierge


Akino wanted to be a concierge at Hokkyoku, a department store catering to (talking) animals, since she visited there as a child. (There's something special about these animals, besides their use of human language, but I'm not telling.) However, Akino may be a little too enthusiastic for her own good.


Here in the U.S., we'd call Akino's job sales assistant, and they're an endangered (in some old-line stores, extinct) species in U.S. retail, slain by "bean counters" who think the company's bottom line is better served by leaving the customers unguided rather than paying someone to help customers find what would make them most satisfied.

Now there's a certain irony about that, a connection between the status of retail sales assistants in the U.S. and that of Hokkyoku's customers, but I can't go into that. One thing one might wonder about here is where the human employees of Hokkyoku go when they're not at work- especially when you get a "long shot" of Hokkyoku's surroundings near the end- but the show isn't trying to construct any kind of logical or self-consistent world; it's simply a fantasy with strong allegorical intentions, and the human employees of Hokkyoku are great folks, sweet, well-meaning, always considerate to the customers- but also, in a way, sacrifices for the sins of many. (Again, more cannot be said.)

Akino, though, is more than a bit overzealous in trying to satisfy the customers. We'll see her running herself ragged when she has to make a last-minute (down to the wire, really) revision of her suggested gift selections for two customers, based on new information. She also has a tendency to over-promise, and the task of fulfilling those grand promises sometimes involves extensive efforts by her co-workers; in at least one case, the other customers had to pitch in to help. Akino also, for a long time, does not appreciate the difference between reasonable requests, and an unreasonably demanding customer; the other sales staff, being much more experienced, have a better grasp on the boundaries. But at least Akino's zealous desire to help others is absolutely sincere; it's NOT just to satisfy Mr. Todo, her human immediate supervisor, who has a tendency to literally pop out of the walls to scold/advise her.

There's a sequence near the end, where her job seems endangered, that seems to have been intended to follow an It's A Wonderful Life trajectory, but I thought this was a little awkwardly handled storywise. Really, this movie could have had an all-human cast and little might have needed changing. It's NOT primarily about its allegoric elements; it's more about Akino winning hearts through her kindness, despite how clumsy she can be about it. (When she's first introduced, as a child, she's physically clumsy as well.)

A couple of the animal characters I grew quite fond of were one Akino calls "Mr. Penguin" (he's NOT a penguin- ornithology is NOT Akino's strong suit); and "Mr. Wooly", an oversized, soft-spoken artist.

I would have preferred the artwork to be a little "prettier" - the character art is done in a breezy, undetailed, "sketchy" style (maybe Akino's confusion about the species of "Mr. Penguin" is excusable)- but I guess this is OK in a film that's really not meant to be taken seriously anyway.

Light as a feather, but it'll give you plenty of warm fuzzies. As you'd expect from its cast.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: One reference says the MPAA rating is PG-13. The movie is very kid-safe, with no real violence (though one customer DOES manage to throw a hissy fit.)

Version(s) Viewed: Theatrical Release
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The Concierge © 2023 Tsuchika Nishimura/Shogakukan/
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