This is the Gourmet Age where the world’s manliest heroes search for yet undiscovered culinary delights.
Review copies of of part 1 (1-25) and part 2 (26-50) were provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
Are you hungry for adventure, Moar Powah readers? Popular Jump manga Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro has made the leap from the newsstand to the TV screen. How delicious was this transition? How will I prevent myself from making food puns and jokes? Read on to find out.
The best way to describe Toriko is to imagine if you took all the muscles of old 80s manga like JoJo or Fist of the North Star and the lighthearted zaniness of One Piece or Gin Tama and made a big old casserole out of it. In this action comedy, food is extreme; in nature all the tastiest foods beyond your wildest dreams are found in nature, and the tastier it is, the more likely it is to eat you. So Gourmet Hunters quest into the world for these crazy ingredients in a world where food really does mean everything. Toriko is one of these Gourmet Hunters and Komatsu is an aspiring chef, and together with their friends they search for new ingredients and recipes for all to enjoy.
I absolutely love the world of Toriko. Coming out of an age of mostly brooding, melodramatic, teen angst in shonen manga, Toriko is refreshing with its frequent jokes and friendly attitude. With plenty of creative creatures and no limit to how crazy it can get, (soups that appear once a century, six-legged quad-trunked mammoths the size of aircraft carriers, etc.) Shimabukuro’s world looks delicious with color and motion. The story, at least thus far, is straightforward as our heroes quest to enter the ferocious Gourmet World in search of the God ingredient, the most powerful food on earth.
The characters in the anime really steal the show, particularly the main duo of Toriko and Komatsu. At first I thought the story would take a very humdrum route with Toriko able to win every fight he gets into, but the anime keeps turning up the heat. Unlike other shonen, Toriko is only a big fish in a small pond. There are numerous characters and threats that are actually stronger than Toriko and his friends among the Four Heavenly Kings, and they’re not afraid to show it. Sometimes this does result in a couple deus ex machina moments saving Toriko’s bacon, but I’m glad he is more than an “I-win” button, having a solid character resolute in his values, ultimately complementing Komatsu.
I really do take a shine to the sometimes whiny Komatsu. If there’s one character who receives the most development, it’s Komatsu growing in his friendship with Toriko as best buddies. Fifty episodes in and you know the Komatsu of episode 45 is not the Komatsu from episode 1 or episode 10. He’s a character that really finds his confidence as a chef, even when he’s scared out of his wits and totally devoid of any muscle mass. The best part is how his dynamic with the titular character results in building off each other. Toriko learning empathy and drive while Komatsu finds his courage. I can’t wait to see his continued growth as a character, especially after the cliffhanger part 2 left us off on.
The first fifty episodes chronicle the beginnings of Toriko and Komatsu’s friendship into their first hunts and battles against the evil Gourmet Corp. I have to say the arcs are rather well paced. There aren’t many if any fillers or arcs that feel like filler. You can really appreciate how the knowledge and lessons the cast learns really does carry over to the next arc. Though I will say sometimes a last-minute-rescue from another character or an even stronger character is a little cheesy but not too offensive where it’s overplayed or destroys the tension of the action. It’s a solid first fifty episodes and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.
Whereas the pacing and plot are solid, the animation is only okay at best from Toei Animation, but it is colorful and does provide the proper amounts of “pop” in the food, creatures, and (of course) the muscles. As for the voice acting, FUNimation pulled out their big guns. The dub script is dripping with food puns and jokes for mile a minute laughs. It’s clear that the series does not take itself seriously, so if phrases like “What the fork?!” or “Holy crepe!” aren’t your cup of tea, you’re probably best ordering something else. Personally, I found the script a riot and the voice cast had a ball with it too. When you think about it, Toriko is challenging to dub with all its jokes and some that simply fall through the cracks of translation, so hearing a solid dub really shows the love.
The DVDs come with commentaries as usual but also a special video commentary where the cast had a potluck with foods inspired by the series for an added bonus. When it comes to Toriko if you’re looking for a shonen anime with big action, big laughs, and big manliness look no further. I’m enjoying the well-paced arcs and endearing characters even after fifty episodes, so that means I’m ready for a third helping. I give the first two parts of this adaptation a 4.0 out of 5. Have a happy new year, readers and cheers!
– Rich and endearing characters
– Well-paced arcs
– Creative and original world and premise
– Hilarious script and great acting both original and dubbed (if you enjoy the humor style)
– Average production quality
– Occasional cop-outs in plotline
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