It's definitely not a futuristic psychological cop drama...
Genres are always a tough subject to discuss because they are based on the decisive reasoning of a group in an attempt to classify something and thereby give it a place in the greater database of human thought. Genre debates are a pain in the ass because many people seek to diversify the definitions of a genre, which doesn’t make any sense because the entire point of a genre title is to be absolute and objective.
On the surface (no pun intended) Umi Monogatari looked like an Aria spin-off almost. For obvious starters, it’s directed by Junichi Sato (Aria, helped on Sketchbook, Kaleido Star, Magic User’s Club, Princess Tutu), has some focus on beautiful background art (Shichiro Kobayashi is art director (Simoun, Angel’s Egg, Ashita no Joe 2, Berserk, Detroit Metal City, Figure 17, Castle of Cagliostro, Melody of Oblivion, REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA, Space Adventure Cobra) and he’s definitely one of the best – I talked about him more in my Simoun review), has quiet, soulful piano songs by composer Ken Muramatsu(Kurenai and Sketchbook), and some extremely familiar character personalities. However, Umi Monogatari seems to be hiding a slightly darker card up it’s sleeve.
I expected Ristorante Paradiso to be something like a second Bartender. It’s a quieter, slice-of-life type anime set in a restaurant, and it’s got more mature looking art like Bartender did. The show is set in Rome (which is quickly drilled in by the high number of times the phrase ‘grazi’ is used) and the main character is a girl in her early 20s. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother left her with her grandma since she was six, trying to keep her a secret until she can get remarried. She decides to introduce herself to her mother’s new fiance, owner of an extremely popular restaurant in Rome. While this all serves as a set up, it does not however seem to be the plot focus. That is something much more frightening.