JK Meshi

November 18, 2016

You can make an anime series out of anything and nothing. Really. Just to prove a point. JK Meshi is about a group of high school girls making dishes mixed with their own special blend of creativity. So this is like a cooking show then, right? Not quite. It’s just about a group of high school girls making dishes mixed with their own special blend of creativity. There, I said it again. Really nothing much about it, right?

Episode 1
Ruriko Igarashi, Reina Saeki and Ryouka Asahina are studying about world history, the French revolution in particular. It is quickly established that Ruriko is the dumb one and Ryouka the smarter one as she debunks and corrects her misconception. Since all this studying is making them hungry, Reina whips up a nutritious miso soup for everyone. Too bad, I thought they were going to put in some French soup or something…

Episode 2
Now they’re talking about molecule compounds and human evolution. Then there is this BS when Ruriko mentions she did meet a Neanderthal in Germany. Whatever this crap about time travelling and Neanderthals are still alive, Reina makes mackerel rice. Because it makes much more sense to fill your stomach with nice food than dumb theories. Replenish your brain cells…

Episode 3
The girls are studying geography for their midterms. Ruriko thought she could show off how smart she is by naming a few county capitals. The rest remind her at their level, they will be asked more difficult questions like mixed farming in Europe. Ruriko makes the dishes this time. Potato salad, which is a product of mixed farming.

Episode 4
The results for the history exam has come back. While it is amazing Reina scores 88% and Ryouka 92%, guess how did Ruriko fare? 97%!!! Unbelievable. Was it a fluke? And you thought she was the dumb blonde of the series… So you can’t blame Ryouka for wondering if some alien is possessing her or some worm is controlling her mind. Ruriko fell for this silly trick and wants the monsters out so the girls reveal they were just joking and make snacks for her as atonement. Shrimp gratin it is.

Episode 5
Ryouka is talking about spy movies when Ruriko enters the room via window. And she thinks it is normal. Since a class was cancelled, Ruriko left through the window and went straight home. This boggles Ryouka she left with indoor shoes and their class is on the third floor. Is she a ninja? They take a break from solving this mystery by making mini pizza.

Episode 6
The girls talk about the typical and illogical tropes in movies like hordes of bad guys cannot kill a single good guy despite firing all they’ve got but the hero makes every bullet counts. Then they discuss horror movies. Ryouka can’t stay calm watching them not because she is afraid but rather the ridiculousness of ghosts coming back to bring vengeance. If she was dragged to hell by them, she would definitely want to find the idiot who caused her to die an accursed death. Since action and horror movies are out, Reina suggests anime or romance film. They make instant udon noodles with takoyaki for their movie snack.

Episode 7
The girls talk about the recent movie they just watch. Horaemon? I know which spoof this is… This leads to them talking about their recent exam scores in which Ryouka still can’t believe Ruriko scored higher and turns into Nobunaga trying to re-enact that historically famous betrayal scene. All this talking makes them hungry so Reina serves them fried dumplings with chocolate fillings.

Episode 8
Yet another movie the girls watch. However Ryouka believes they were supposed to watch a romance theme but this one was more of a period drama samurai revenge story. Reina sides with Ruriko as they put up points how it is a love story and some complicated account of the main character’s deeds that was something like the French Revolution. Whatever. Talking in-depth about movies always make you hungry so they head home to eat cup ramen with egg custard.

Episode 9
Christmas is around the corner so Ruriko trolls everyone about typical Christmas dinner with reindeer meat and turkey. Wait. What?! She also trolls everyone by putting up a fake Christmas tree and then hang ornaments like Tanabata. And what is the deal about her being a matchstick seller girl dying outside in the cold winter? All this trolling has them hungry so Ruriko makes them rice with candy. It tastes horrible of course. Another trolling?

Episode 10
The girls study late into the night and since it is time to catch a certain favourite anime, they talk about it. Well, it is a big parody of this show. Really. They even take pot shots at how cheap its production quality is. Be warned. If you take too long in the toilet, you might miss half or the entire show! Just like how the show ends, they also get hungry and make porridge with potato chips.

Episode 11
The girls want to go for an overseas trip for winter. After suggesting several places, guess where is Islets of Langerhans? In your pancreas! Yes, seriously. They want to visit Hawaii but have not enough money. I think going local is not bad too but the places they say they want to visit, it’s going to be expensive. Reina then makes okonomiyaki rice with bonito flakes. They say it looks like hula dance but I thought they were worms!!!

Episode 12
Since Reina and Ruriko claim they are football fans, Ryouka quizzes them a couple of football terms and they fail badly. This proves they are not. So they talk about other outdoor sports and it is odd for Ruriko to even name France’s pentaque when she doesn’t even know a thing about it. Then they suggest doing outdoor stuffs they can do like bike riding. At the park they have furikake French fries.

Episode 13
The girls check each other’s bag. Ruriko has lots of books, a microphone and 5 toothbrushes! WTF?! When Reina suggests sharing textbooks to lighten the load, Ruriko cuts out the pages! That’s not what she meant! After all that shenanigans, Reina presents camembert in a curry flavoured cheese fondue to be dipped by pretzels. I think this is by far most the most delicious dish I have seen.

Episode 14
The girls talk about Japanese classics and trying to relate it to love, seasons and kimono dry cleaning? I don’t get it. Yeah, screw all that as Reina teaches us by mixing dried fruits with rice and butter as well as chicken Hamburg, you get chicken Hamburg doria with dry fruits.

Episode 15
Ryouka can’t believe Ruriko beat her in exams again. Wanting to know the secret of her studies, they spy on her and see her doing her homework fast. Can she memorize all that in such speed? Then it turns out she was drawing a flip cartoon on the pages. I guess becoming mad has worked up an appetite so they have pancakes with pickled plums and sweet vinegar sauce.

Episode 16
The girls talk about a famous poet who tragically died young. A snowy poem leads them to talk about El Nino and La Nina over the world as well as the Earth’s age of 4.6 billion years. Whatever. Carbonara toast is on the menu. Delicious enough for Ruriko to get enough confidence that she can handle the universe, Earth and mankind’s history.

Episode 17
Reina is down because she is late for school. Ruriko then explains how she made it to school in time. There is this short cut whereby she climbs up the pipe and directly into her classroom. She has several alarm clocks in which she sets them a minute apart. After turning them all off, she goes back to sleep! What was the purpose of alarm clocks again? Reina is also bumped out because the history teacher asked her a question she doesn’t know since her name is alphabetically at the front. Ruriko has the answer. Use a blowpipe to make him sleepy and then change your name in the register to the last. Oh my, Ruriko is serious in doing this as they spot a blowpipe in her bag! Enough of this ninja nonsense because the perfect food for a cold day is double corn soup. That’s popcorn and maize for you.

Episode 18
The girls go see an opera show but Ruriko was sleeping the entire time. But to ‘prove’ she saw the entire show, she explains it all. However she got everything wrong with the plots mixed up and from other stories. Heck, it’s like as though she wrote the script. Or maybe she saw all that in her dream. Since Ruriko brought zucchini, Reina is going to make a Japanese dish out of it: Okonomiyaki. By using a rice cooker, follow Reina’s instructions if you want to make your own millefeuille okonomiyaki with zucchini and tomatoes this way.

Episode 19
It’s time for Valentine’s Day again. Ryouka doesn’t like it because of last year’s experience where she got 1,885 chocolates. All from girls! Imagine the trouble to reciprocate them all. So Ruriko the genius is going to help solve her problem via math. I don’t know how she got the figures but she’s supposed to predict next year’s percentage in increase. Nobody knows… For a dish befitting this, Reina makes chocolate in a mug. In addition to being sweet, it is also hot and spicy thanks to cayenne pepper in the mix. Hmm… Not one chocolate mix I would want to be trying.

Episode 20
Reina is lamenting the many reports they must submit but Ruriko is running around looking for something and even nearly ‘kills’ Reina with her blowpipe! Apparently she is trying to catch spring’s first south wind in which she thinks it is some fairy and other fairies trying to take that coveted first position. Erm, isn’t it just the weather instead of all that complication? But the blowpipe? She thinks they are so cute that the fairies might come after them so it’s better to strike first! WTF?! Screw all that nonsense because Reina makes a healthy tofu with fruits topping complete with honey dessert.

Episode 21
Ryouka is reading a play script that has magic lines going sine, cosine and tangent! You might have guessed it. It is a script written by Ruriko for a play to send their seniors off. Included in this nonsensical adventure are Greek philosophers that could spell the end of the world, a demon king who uses some banana weapon, magic spells that sound like train station lines and English buzzwords used by businessmen. You know what? Screw all this crap and let Reina make a banana pie using the said banana. Just add sliced bread, mayonnaise, walnuts and then fry it to make it crispy and add ice cream. Yeah, this is much better than the silly story.

Episode 22
Ruriko mentions about the game tournament she is going to participate the whole day, Dr PreButt. It’s like Tetris but you erase muscular butts… WTF. This makes Ryouka mad because they were supposed to go picnic together on this holiday. So to appease her, Reina and Ruriko secretly made a bento for Ryouka, cod roe with avocado, egg and sausages. So of course when tomorrow comes, they didn’t go to the game but meet up with Ryouka at the park. They give her their specially made bento in which she downs it quickly. Must be that delicious. Since Ruriko forgot, Reina reminds her that they made a promise to spend this day together every year and take pictures.

Episode 23
Ryouka is reading an article on Junior NISA, an educational investment system for minors that is tax free. She explains to her friends. If Reina and I don’t understand, what are the chances Ruriko will. Wait. What?! You mean Ruriko understands perfectly?! She’s not trolling at all? She chides Reina for not knowing her stuff and this is scaring the hell out of her. Ryouka tries to read Reina’s fortune for good luck. Doo 100 push ups? Well, Ruriko seems to be passionate in doing that. Reina decides to make a meal based on the lucky colour and food, red and turnip to turn it into a temari lucky fortune sushi.

Episode 24
Everyone celebrates the end of the exams! Yahoo! Ruriko is making a big celebration fuss over Reina’s good show. She must have done something wrong, right? Yup. She is called to the teacher’s room. Not because she failed. It seems during the exams Ruriko fell asleep and murmured answers for the questions! I’m sure the other students won’t mind about the answers but she is saying them in such creepy or annoying way that they complained to the teacher! To celebrate their success, Reina makes special cocktails that involves mixing coconut and pineapple juice with jelly gummies for a cute and non-alcoholic drink. But Ruriko still got drunk…

Episode 25
The girls are going on a trip together to watch a basketball match in which it is Ryouka’s favourite team. Also tagging along is Ryouka’s little sister, Yuka. Ruriko tries to impress her with her basketball skills but she lost control of her dribbling. But she shocks everyone by nailing a 3 pointer. When they’ve got their luggage ready, Ruriko seems disappointed that Ryouka didn’t bring food to feed the basketball players. Can they? Because Ruriko claims she is their manager and will allow it! Is she kidding?! This gives Reina an idea to make chocolate bar snacks. But it will be special because it will be mixed with marshmallows, marmalade and crispy ramen snack too.

Episode 26
As the girls are talking in Reina’s room, Ruriko feels somebody peeping at them behind the door. She pokes his eyes! Reina reveals he is her older brother. He is so shy that he doesn’t even show himself in front of his own family. I wonder if they remember how he looks like. They think of luring him out by making something he likes. Noting he likes to look at the sky with his telescope, Reina decides to make jelly in that image by using cola, gelatine and star shaped hard candies. Ruriko doesn’t think that will be enough and is going to use candies instead. Luckily Reina stops her in time and the candies are added to the jelly to sparkle like the universe. Needless to say, they describe the out-of-this-world taste. This attracts big brother as we get to see his handsome face for the first time. So what’s the verdict? Good of course.

Jerking Mess!
What atrocity! What boringness! Although I started watching this show with low expectations, I never knew I would end it with an ever bigger disappointment. Okay, maybe it is my fault that my preferences wasn’t featured in the series. What preferences? Uhm… Fanservice? Hah. Not too sure if this series would be interesting if they forced this cheap fanservice move too. But as far as this series is concerned, it didn’t really whet my appetite at all although there are a handful of delicious looking snacks. However it isn’t enough to fill my stomach. And sentiments. Because that’s all there is. They just look good at the most.

So one of the things that I mainly didn’t expect was the first half of this short is always having the girls do some sort of random stuffs. I don’t even know why I am being bugged and complaining about this because there isn’t a plot to begin with. The girls doing funny and random stuff feel like to fill up the otherwise already short series and to give some sort of reason and excuse for the latter half for them to cook something based on what they have done. I mean, if they start right off with the cooking and preparation of the snacks, it wouldn’t make any more sense since you’d be asking why the heck they are cooking in the first place. Then might as well turn it into a real cooking show.

I supposed the dishes made by them are supposed to be the ‘stars’ but that could just be me having a wishful thinking. The instructions they give to make them are very basic and minimal. They just tell us what ingredients are used and then the basic procedure on what to do to have that dish end up looking like the one they have. I am sure that anyone who wants to try and make them could do it but if you are expecting something like a decent cooking show, you’d be better off watching a real cooking show with a famous host and a famous guest of the week. This one serves more like fun and many of the dishes prepared here are light snacks. Light snacks for a light anime? Even if the trio eating the food and saying how damn delicious it is, it feels like some sort of promo advertisement like as though they want to make you get up and try and do it. I think I’ll pass. Not interested. Better for me to fork out money for McDonald’s delivery.

The characters don’t feel interesting despite they are supposed to be funny but I noticed myself instead of laughing or just chuckling, I would have my mouth agape and going, “What the heck is this all about?”. After a few episodes you can basically guess what kind of personality these characters are. Most obvious is Ruriko as the idiot as well as the super mysterious talent. Her random thinking would have you think she is such a silly girl but then she throws you off by doing something incredible and seeming impossible at least for an idiot’s standard. So who is she? Is she human? Is she alien? Only Ruriko knows… Therefore sometimes I feel that Ruriko is out of place like as though she is in the wrong anime as she could have done much more with her ‘skills’ if she appeared elsewhere. Genius or complete idiot? Ryouka on the other hand is the more serious one and usually plays the retort to Ruriko’s idiocy. Finally there is nice girl Reina who is the one who mostly makes the food. And there you have it. The entire main cast. Rinse and repeat each episode with something random based on their character. What? You think I should have included Yuka? Boy, do they have the nerve to introduce a new character in the penultimate episode. And even Reina’s shy brother in the last one. Like they even mattered.

If you think all the above ‘criticisms’ are bad, it isn’t as bad as this biggest offender: The art and drawing. Yes, this is the worst of it all. I believe they use flash animation to animate this but it makes it feel like they are amateurs in using the CGI software. Firstly the animation is already jerky at times and worst of all the characters really look one kind. I mean take a look at Ryouka. She’s… She’s… Hideous? She has the biggest bust among the girls but I wonder if this is intentional because whether or not it makes her ugly. Not kidding. And with the bad art already, Ruriko looks even more like an idiot. In fact it enhances her idiocy. Whether this is on purpose or not, Ruriko sure lives up to her role. This series is animated by Kyotama. They only did a few animated shorts in which as I can see they are mostly flash animated. The only series I saw under their belt was Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls. At least that series has better flash graphics and animation compared than this one.

Voice acting I can’t say it is decent mainly because Ryouka feels like she sounds a bit rough and crude. Like as though an amateur voiced her. I don’t want to accuse Nao Fujita of doing a bad job but maybe this is how the character is supposed to sound? After all, she doesn’t have much voice acting roles and if so are usually confined to very minor characters. I only heard her notably as Dark Gorilla in Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls. But you know what? The biggest irony that all the seiyuus here also landed in roles for Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game girls with Ruriko’s Sora Tokui as Ayaka and Reina’s Natsuko Hara as Mirai.

Overall, despite being a fairly simple anime, it still manages to be boring and disappoint. If this show was a restaurant or café in real life, I’ll never come back here again. So this series not getting another season (hopefully not!) is like the eatery has been shut down? Yeah well, if the eatery has food that is just normal and plain, its decoration and presentation are horrible, do you think customers would want to come back even if the service is just okay? Didn’t think so. Better for me to take out my wallet and pay for that pizza delivery. And add some extra cheese toppings and bacon on it too. Yum. That is what I call a real snack that’s worth the money.