Published in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: Don't people need to search for happiness somewhere other than small shops?
Uru decides to live on her own so not to get in the way of her mom's happiness with her new husband, so despite still being in high school she has gotten her own place and her own job. Her job as a waitress at a cafe brings her into contact with odd people, the strangest being the cafe's chef Shindo who is a strange mixture of caring and impassiveness. The three workers of the cafe help each other and their patrons out, though mostly Uru needs their attention. Uru, after she learns she didn't have to leave the house, needs the help to balance her own growth and independence to her mother and stepfather's protective impulses. Otherwise their major challenge is when a competing cafe issues a challenge to them but despite Uru's foolhardy acceptance of it, everything turns out well though the competing cafe workers settle into a resigned tolerance of Uru and her cafe.
This is another entry in 'happiness can only be found in a small shop' genre of manga. This reminds me a lot of Haru Hana, which was reviewed in March, not in the characters but in the situations that they find themselves in. In both an late teen, early twenties woman enters the shop, whom the female protagonist first looks at in suspicion but whom later becomes friends of the shop's workers because of the way they help her. She becomes a supporting character that continues to show up and in both titles the character is introduced at the end of the first volume. But while this a faithful entry into a well-established sub-genre, it still is a solid one. Other than one or two extreme character traits (which in comparison to other manga are not that extreme) it remains well-grounded. The story and characters deliver a satisfying but not particularly memorable manga.
Happy Cafe, vol. 1 and vol. 2 are both available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.