Detective Conan is one of the most successful manga and anime ever made. The creation of Gosho Aoyama has been a staple of Japan. The character and the story have permeated every single aspect of Japanese life, from restaurants to toys, video games, and so much more. The tale of the kid detective solving crimes has really stolen the hearts of many people in Japan and around the world. This is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that the show has a series of spin-offs to expand the universe and capture other audiences.
Zero’s Tea Time is one of those spin-offs. The manga is written and illustrated by Takahiro Arai, with Aoyama supervising the story and other aspects of the production. Unlike Detective Conan, Zero’s Tea Time is focused on the character of Toru Amuro, a man that seems to have three different lives. One is the life of the manager of a coffee shop; another is where he is a detective working for the Tokyo Police; on top of that, another life where he is a black-ops agent that goes by the name of Bourbon.
Zero’s Tea Time, which can be seen on Netflix, focuses on Amuro, and how he balances these three identities in the proper way so that he is always efficient in each of them. There is a lot of crime solving in Zero’s Tea Time, but that is not really the focus of the story. The real focus is on Amuro as a character and how he does the impossible by living these three lives at the same time. It is quite impressive, to say the least, to see how Amuro basically has the time to do everything. Everything but have a good night of sleep.
So, if this isn’t really a show about crimes and being a detective, what kind of show is it really? The show is what we call a “slice of life” kind of story, which means that the focus is on the characters and how they live their everyday lives. There are no big mysteries to solve, and there are no overarching storylines. Every episode of the show deals with a different issue or moment in Amuro’s life, and you can just watch how he reacts to these challenges.
Slice of Life is a genre that anime creators have perfected to the teeth. In western media, these types of shows don’t really exist. Watching people just living their lives without a clear narrative purpose is a very foreign idea, but anime has found the perfect formula to present these stories. They are often gentle stories that focus on how the main character reacts gently in the face of an obstacle or something similar. There can be a bit of comedy here and there, but everything in that regard is very contained.
TMS Entertainment is responsible for producing this adaptation, which comes off as a bit lacking because it consists of only six episodes of about 15 minutes each. It is more like a web series than an actual commercial anime. It is more of a love project and less of an anime that is there to make tons of money and sell merchandise. Just for that, it makes it unique, and it will be one of those watches that will bring a smile to your face, at least for a bit.
TMS is a company with a lot of experience. They produce Detective Conan’s main anime and many other shows. Their animation effort in this short series is very inconsistent. Most of the time, the show looks rather poor. The animation is very stiff, and the overall amount of detail and fluidity feels very low. However, during the six episodes, there are a couple of moments where the studio shows what they can really do. If only the entire show could look that way.
Zero’s Tea Time will bring you back to the time when anime had a certain style that now can only be found in productions from the 90s and early 00s. This style is now completely absent from current anime, but it looks so good when done properly. It is a shame that the industry has moved away from it, and now everything looks mostly the same. In general, the show’s look is very standard. There is nothing here that will blow your mind in terms of animation quality.
The stories are very varied and some of them have a comedic vein, but most are just charming. Seeing Amuro teaching someone to ride a bike or seeing how attentive he is with other people, most of them strangers, is quite heartwarming. Amuro might even inspire you to be a better person, he is that good. This makes Zero’s Tea Time the perfect watch for when you want to feel cozy, or you want to feel inspired to be better in life.
Zero’s Tea Time is a very charming and short anime. You can complete the entire watch in less than an hour and a half, so we can say with certainty that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. We would like to see more of Amuro in the future. Perhaps with improved animation to balance how short the episodes are.