This is the second in my occasional series of tributes to Japanese booze heroes. Rather worryingly, I’m only at number two and already I’m reduced to writing about a fictional character. Ryuu Sasakura is the altruistic hero of the Japanese comic book and animation series “Bartender.”
Ryuu is a genius cocktail maker, who runs a bar named “Eden Hall”. He is so skilled at mixing drinks that his cocktails are known as the “Glass of the Gods.”
Ryuu is a selfless character, a bit like the guy in “Highway to Heaven,” the guy in “Quantum Leap” or the dog in “The Littlest Hobo.” In each episode of the TV show, various troubled misfits come into his bar and tell him their problems. Ryuu then helps them out, always in a way that is tenuously connected to whatever cocktail is featured that week. For example, one week he cheers up a guy who’s having trouble with his boss… by mixing him a daiquiri. In another episode, he cheers up a grieving widower… by mixing him a margarita.
Unsurprisingly, to date the show has only run to eleven episodes. How many alcohol-related story-lines can the producers come up with? What next? Ryuu shows a customer the importance of patience by making them wait three minutes for a pint of Guinness to settle? Ryuu holds back a shit-faced customer’s hair while she pukes into the sink, to demonstrate the power of trust? Nevertheless, Ryuu is yet another shining example of the admirable Japanese trait of taking enormous pride in your job, and for that, he deserves a toast.