The Fate series and universe has seen a lot of retelling, reboots and spinoffs. You have got to be a real obsessed fan to follow and understand each and every Fate universe there is. And now, here is another ‘alternate universe’ of this Fate series. One whereby there is no killing over the Holy Grail but rather everyone enjoying the delicious cooking of Shirou! Wait! What?! Yup. You read that right. Emiya-san Chi No Kyou No Gohan is about our titular character thinking on how to fill the bellies of everyone with his cooking instead of filling the Holy Grail with blood. I guess it is true that a way to a man’s heart (or in this case, everybody) is through the stomach. And that when you are more inclined to be angry on an empty stomach. Hangry. Yeah. So stop fighting. Let’s enjoy what Shirou is going to cook for us today. And on his menu today is… Itadakimasu!

Episode 1
Shirou and Saber are out doing their shopping errands for the New Year. Of course the streets are packed with people. Saber notices the osechi dish that many are preparing to welcome the New Year as Shirou explains its meaning and significance of people doing so. Back home, Fujimura and Ilya are ‘victims’ of the kotatsu. Too warm to leave. Fujimura claiming she needs to conserve here energy for tomorrow. You mean, snagging a man in her kimono? Okay. When Saber falls ‘victim’ to the kotatsu too, it is now that Shirou begins to cook. He explains the simple steps and tasks he is doing to create the many mini dishes. Eventually he puts them all together for a special shrimp soba AKA toshikoshi soba. Definitely great as you see them enjoying their meal. Also, Shirou explains the significance of making such special soba on today as it represents longevity and health. After done, Saber accompanies to Ryuudou Temple. They hope Issei is alright as they are going to be receiving a lot of people tomorrow. Along the way, Shirou mentions another symbolic meaning of toshikoshi soba: To be near each other forever. Oh my. Shirou you saying that makes you awkward because Saber putting on that confused face. I guess we’ll go with best wishes for next year.

Episode 2
Lancer is working as a fishmonger. I guess he knows how to sell his fish so this makes Shirou feels he wants to eat salmon baked in foil. As he makes his purchase, he notices an extra salmon. It’s not really on the house. Lancer wants to try that salmon dish too. So please cook one for him as he’ll be coming to his place for dinner. He’s serious. I suppose Lancer closed early to hang out at Shirou’s place and even makes himself at home. Signal for Shirou to start cooking. All the while, Saber is on her guard and having her suspicions but Lancer is only here for dinner. Once done, it’s time to get digging. If you think it is delicious, wait till Shirou introduces you to wasabi mayonnaise to add extra oomph to the taste. Lancer loves it so much that he hopes they can do this again sometime. He’s serious. To show his appreciation, he helps to wash the dishes but much to Shirou’s suspicions. That’s because Lancer is staying for tonight and now takes out the alcohol to party. Now he’s singing to Fujimura’s tune. More headache for Shirou…

Episode 3
Ilya heads to Fujimura’s place as per requested. Seems she dresses her up in a real cute kimono. Then she is brought to Shirou’s place where all the other girls are waiting. Ushering her into a room, it seems they want to surprise her with a Hinamatsuri celebration as there are the Hina dolls on display. I guess she’s the only loli in the cast so what better way to wish and celebrate for them to grow up well and healthy. Even though Ilya is literally a foreigner… The gang now bring out the foods they made. Especially this special cake known as spring chirashizushi. Flashback sees how Shirou and Sakura prepared this and with the other girls having their other roles, Rin doesn’t want to be left out and does something to add to this dish. I think it is some mini dish made out of a variety of food to resemble the Hina dolls. I have this conspiracy that everybody is doing this so they could see the cutest satisfaction loli face. Mission accomplished. After thanking them for going through a lot of preparation for this surprise, Ilya then bugs Shirou for his comments on her kimono. An excuse to hug him. Is that a surprise for the rest of the girls?

Episode 4
Shirou helps Neko (Fujimura’s former classmate) at her liquor store. He accompanies her to deliver some liquor to Ryuudou Temple and is greeted by Reikan the monk. After done, Shirou notices some vegetables wrapped together and starts thinking how this would make a good sandwich. Speaking of which, this makes the rest hungry as now they want him to make them that said sandwich. Looks like his part time job just got extended. And so we hear Shirou narrate how to make spring greens and bacon sandwich. I guess he made extras so he gave some to Assassin. Not bad, right? When Issei returns, I think he got jealous that the rest got to taste Shirou’s handmade sandwiches. Don’t rush. There’s more if you want. And Neko thinks they should add this to their menu. Shirou will be making them of course. Does she pay him enough for all this?

Episode 5
Issei hands Shirou some bamboo shoots. They are from Reikan as thanks for the sandwiches. Meanwhile Sakura and Rider are out shopping when they bump into the former’s senior. As she learns she is making gratin for dinner, this gives Sakura an idea to do the same. However making gratin the usual way feels boring. But don’t worry. Luckily Shirou has soaked the bamboo shoots and they can use this fresh new ingredient just in time before the whole thing gets bitter. So we see them prepare the other ingredients they need to make their gratin and voila! The bamboo shoot gratin that you’ve all been waiting for. Sakura makes the same gratin for her jerk brother, Shinji. That guy sounds unappreciative at first but finds it a little different. You know her cooking is so damn good when he finishes the plate clean! Sakura is one happy sister today.

Episode 6
I guess rainy days sometimes bring back certain memories. Like in this case when a young Shirou and Fujimura went out shopping together so they could make their first Hamburg steak. Shirou is the one doing most of the work as Fujimura reads the instructions on how to do so. Finally it is done and they call Kiritsugu to join them. He is impressed they made this and it is also that delicious enough that you can see some life returning into his eyes. Yeah. Shirou hopes to improve and make better food for Kiritsugu so that he doesn’t have to travel and stay here forever. Kiritsugu looks forward to his growth. And now all the girls arrive at Shirou’s place to enjoy his Hamburg steak. You won’t be disappointed definitely.

Episode 7
Rin, Shirou and Saber are having fun at the water amusement park. When they see Rider here, Rin gets an idea to play indoor beach volleyball. Of course Rin-Rider pair dominates since Rider is tall. Before you know it, Shirou-Saber now faces off with Archer-Lancer. Did they hijack this match? Then it becomes a power play that could almost kill Shirou. I’m amazed the ball is still in one piece even though the ground is ‘destroyed’ after all that hard hitting power spikes. Saber won’t lose and that means another round? Oh Shirou… When they return home, they feel their energy zapped so what better way for Shirou to help regain their strength by making a simple ochazuke. So delicious that Rin has a few helpings. Don’t worry, she won’t grow fat, right? With her strength almost regained, there is just one more that Shirou needs to do for her: Massage. Heh. Even if Shirou is not a Servant, he is somewhat their manservant…

Episode 8
Shirou helps clean Rin’s house that is filled with books and letters and whatever. With the clock hitting noon, time for lunch break. Now what shall we have for lunch. For once, we take a break from Shirou cooking as Rin takes the liberty to cook Chinese fried rice with Sakura assisting her. The usual explanations and everything and as expected, everything turns out nice and delicious. Sakura showers Rin with a lot of praises and hopes to learn a lot from her. This has Sakura flushed with embarrassment. But I guess we all need to remember her tsundere specialty and hence the reason she is acting so. Girl, it’s only food. Calm down.

Episode 9
Caster desperately seeks Shirou and finally finds him. Earlier on, she overheard Kuzuki talking to Reikan about eating taro simmered in broth. However she has no idea how to cook it and hence the only ‘saviour’ is you know who. Hence Shirou has her accompany him to buy the ingredients before heading back to begin their cooking lesson. Saber returns and is suspicious of seeing Caster over. But Shirou guarantees she isn’t up to anything fishy and lets her taste her cooking. Now we’re cool? They make the perfect Japanese dish and this gives Caster motivation to make the same for Kuzuki. However back at her place, she followed the instructions but yet it turns out less than perfect. Did something go wrong somewhere? Kuzuki finds out what she is up to but he still eats her ‘failure’. I believe it isn’t whether or not it taste good but rather because she cooked them. He tells her even if she fails, just try again. He’ll always be by her side. And the ‘newlyweds’ continue their happy dinner.

Episode 10
With the cultural festival looming, Issei rejects the track club’s seafood grilling booth. Yeah… With more headache as he goes around inspecting booths and reprimanding those who do not follow the procedure, I guess you can say the entire student council body is working overtime to ensure the smooth flow of this festival. It’s late at night and Shirou heard how they are sick of eating sweet bread and want some meat. Oh well. You know what to do, Shirou. Everyone lights up when they hear Shirou is going to cook for them. You mean he is this famous? I guess we don’t need any approval for this, right? So Shirou gets straight to buy the ingredients and cooks fried chicken. Safe to say the student council members are invigorated with his cooking. Yeah, better than any energy drink. Now they can go on all night. Better than any Energizer battery. Then Shirou realizes he forgot to cook for Saber and rushes home. She knows what is going on but even if she tries to be considerate and says she isn’t hungry, her stomach can’t lie. Here’s some fried chicken. Good for the soul. Damn, Shirou should just make his own fried chicken, SFC.

Episode 11
Archer is supposed to pick up Rin after her shopping. As he waits, he notices Lancer bugging Shirou but the latter doesn’t want to go along and escapes. Archer doesn’t care about this but here comes Lancer bugging him now. He needs his help to cook in the café he works part time since the chef bailed last minute. Archer didn’t want to do it but with Lancer noting he will bug Shirou again since he cooks better, I guess Archer won’t let that slide. And here he is. We see Kuzuki and Caster entering. At first she hates to see such familiar people but Kuzuki tells her it doesn’t matter who is around as long as they’re together. Then Saber comes in. Noticing all the familiar weirdoes and Archer behind the kitchen, she orders omelette rice. Turns out good. Didn’t know he could cook this good. Remember who is his alter ego, right? When the café is closed, Lancer points out a guest wants to see him. Turns out to be Rin in disguise and Archer realizes he has missed the appointed time. So after all his work, he only has coffee on the house? Anyway, Archer feels ashamed but Rin doesn’t think so. She heard from Lancer and understood the situation. She wants him to cook omelette rice for her too. When Saber tells Shirou of Archer’s omelette rice, Shirou is going to put more effort in tonight’s dinner. What’s with this indirect competition?

Episode 12
Ilya hosts a Christmas party. Liz went to fetch the other ladies and due to traffic, they’re running late. Hence Liz takes the shortcut by diving directly up the mountain! Could have been the biggest mishap ever had not Rider taken control. Rider now becomes Driver? Tame this motor beast! I hope they have their appetite once the wild ride is over. Luckily Shirou was there earlier to spare him that nightmare. Otherwise he can’t help finish his cooking at Ilya’s kitchen. Despite the many dishes he cooks, the highlight is his roast beef. He explains how he made it but too bad thanks to budget limitation, it isn’t fillet mignon. But still tastes good nevertheless. Later as Shirou is lost trying to find the toilet, he gets the shock of his life when Berserker returns! Yeah, he is back with a real Christmas tree as Ilya’s servants quickly decorate it. Ilya then gives Berserker her cute cookies she made for him. Aww… How sweet. Even big retard guy gets some loli love.

Episode 13
It’s going to be a cold and wet weather so what better way than for Shirou to make a hotpot nabe for Saber and his guests. Definitely hits the spot. And once the nabe is almost over, Shirou adds some rice with egg into the pot for some zosui goodness. Fujimura almost ‘ruins’ everything by giving everyone tangerines. Finally when everybody has left, we hear Saber give her heartfelt thanks that her life here is interesting because everybody is around. Especially you, Shirou. Here’s to another good year. Yeah, Shirou’s cooking made all the difference, eh? Here’s to another good year of Shirou’s cooking!

Fried/Sautee Nappe: Unlimited Bake, Woks ~ Haute’s Fill
Wow. With such delicious meals, it is no wonder that nobody is going to fight for the Holy Grail anymore. Damn, this is the most peaceful Fate series ever in the history of the Fate universe! Not even that Ilya spinoff series could tops how peaceful this one is. All because of the secret ingredient called food. That’s right, people. Just like how I said in my opening paragraph on how one tend to get hangry when you’re hungry, with everyone’s tummy being filled with the good ol’ cooking of Shirou’s cuisine, screw the Holy Grail! Shirou is God! Thank you for your patronage. See you again tomorrow for the next meal. Wonderful. Peace has been achieved and everybody’s dreams have come true. Thank you, Shirou. People are happy when they are full. XD. Yes, Shirou is the only ‘Master’ in this Fate universe.

Oddly enough, this series didn’t follow the ‘usual format’ of being aired in a particular season. What do I mean? If you have watched another series called Katanagatari, then you will understand how the airing of this show works. Because they only released an episode per month! So yeah, it has been over a year that we can only finish and see what Shirou has to offer us. Like the Chinese often say, slowly eat. But if they’re thinking of making us hungry and worthwhile as we wait for the next food on Shirou’s menu, then I don’t really think it’s working. Because I’m not a big Fate series fan and I had other anime to binge. Besides, me binge watching this series is already proof of it. Uh huh. Oh, this series just ended? Finally. Time to binge watch and see what all the fuzz is about after putting this series on the back burner for a year. Yeah… To be fair, this series was released over the internet instead of the usual TV airwaves.

Although the foods are the highlights and the ‘main stars’, this series isn’t exactly a cooking show or those exaggerated ones such as Shokugeki No Souma, Toriko or Yakitate! Japan. No people dying and going to heaven and then coming back to life after they taste Shirou’s goodness. Nothing of that sort. Therefore, it is sometimes a dilemma if everyone enjoying a good meal makes this series the most ‘boring’ in the Fate series but at the same time the calmest of them all (have you seen Amaama To Inazuma?). You can pretty much guess the outcome of every episode because our characters will definitely enjoy the cooking of Shirou (or any other character behind the knife or pan). No big twist or convolution in the plot. Everything turns out just fine. Sorry to break it to you people. But it looks like Shirou here is the Noah of this Fate series. Uh huh. Noah managed an ark filled with so many meat eaters and none of the animals got eaten. It’s the same for Shirou here. All the Servants are properly fed and hence avoiding any sort of hostile conflict. Now you know why Shirou is God in this series?!

A reason I said this isn’t exactly a cooking show is because even though Shirou does narrate and explain how to make that certain dish in focus, his explanations are still very much bare bones. If you really do want to cook the way he does and turn out to be this perfect, it is better to follow much detailed instructions you can find over the internet or even your grandma or mom’s recipes. I mean, for a person who doesn’t really know how to cook, the way Shirou explains how to prepare and cook everything of course sounds so majestic and magnificent. Pro cooks may find this to be basic knowledge and nothing stimulating. So instead of taking out a pen and paper to note down what Shirou says, you’d be better off finding recipes over the internet or even watch dedicated YouTube videos if you are really serious in trying to cook those foods.

Almost everyone in the original Fate universe showed up here. But I was wondering why they left out Kirei and Gilgamesh. I guess those two are so antagonistic that they would ruin a good meal if they ever showed their faces? I mean, even Kiritsugu at least had an appearance despite it was a flashback and just when I thought they have forgotten about Berserker, here he is at the penultimate episode. So really, maybe nothing good comes out from these two? At least even that Shinji jerk had a short cameo. The most ‘shocking’ character is Lancer because I didn’t really expect him to be seen as one who does odd jobs and part time jobs all over Fuyuki. Like he is the go-to guy if you need some fish or any other sort of delivery. Then you have Rider being so docile and friends with Sakura and she is just so different than the one I remembered her in the original Fate series. What about Caster who is more interested to play Kuzuki’s wife?

The art and animation are fine especially when the food is done. I am not sure because I have seen so many good food themed anime series, I have somewhat become immune to it. They still look yummy but it isn’t to the point where my mouth would start to water and I have this feeling I want to take a chomp out of the monitor. Also, with the animation style being light, bright and sometimes the characters being close to chibi and non-threatening, it really gives an air of peace and calm instead of the usual dark, bloody and gory ones we know. Yeah, you can feel that everybody is having a great time. Everybody is everybody’s friends and not enemies. As this is animated by Ufotable, you can still tell the quality is there despite the lightness of the visuals.

One thing I also like in this series is the very hip hop and catchy opener, Apron Boy by DJ Misoshiru & MC Gohan. Really? Misoshiru & Gohan? Okay. Itadakimasu! Anyway, despite the singer’s voice sounding like as though she wants to copy that out-of-tune Nano Ripe and that her voice sounds a bit out of tune almost going to ruin the song, but as you slowly get into the flow of this piece, it is no big deal. I suppose this song is light enough to make you want to dance or even good for a light disco theme. The ending theme is also not bad. But Collage by Sangatsu No Phantasia sometimes feel like a song for sleeping or preparing to sleep! I don’t know, hearing this piece somehow reminds me of Nichijou’s Zzz! Thankfully I didn’t fall asleep.

So basically if I had to put it in an honest way, it is just a so-so passable cooking themed anime using the characters of the Fate series. It isn’t anything that special or extraordinary but it is just something different than your usual Fate style and execution. Only Fate fans can appreciate this even more like fine wine while everybody else who is just casual might be going, “Uhm… Okay. I guess this doesn’t suck”. At least we can all say that if Shokugeki No Souma and Toriko cook foods that are way beyond our reach and taste buds, we have at least these small time ‘saviours’ who can whet our appetite and stay grounded, looking forward to the next meal. It doesn’t have to be creative and so haute cuisine that it is out of touch of reality. It can be as simple as your mother’s cooking. Putting your heart and soul for others to enjoy is already half the battle won in making a delicious meal. Thank you Shirou for giving us such visual delights. Gochisousama!

Just to be clear on this, Shokugeki No Souma: Totsuki Ressha-hen is actually the second part of the third season and hence making it the fourth instalment overall of this series. Got that? Understand? No? Yeah, damn single cour break in between the third season brought about this confusion if this is supposed to be the continuation of the third season or the fourth season. Yeah, the community is split on that. And they’re not even talking about the main series itself. But let’s not get distracted by this numbering issue and head down to where it all matters: The food. Okay, Souma and his brand of rebels mostly from Polar Star Dorm as they seek to defy Azami and his Central-cum-Elite-Ten brand of cooking. Can they do it save the cooking world they have been protecting? All aboard the hype train! Choo choo!

Episode 13
We see Erina trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Jouichirou is really Souma’s father? Tsukasa makes an announcement about the upcoming advancement exam. In place of this rigorous exams that one could pass or fail, as long as they follow Azami’s guidelines, they are guaranteed to pass. As it is also stated if they side with Central, they will become first rate chefs, this is also a warning that those who do not follow will be made an example. Talking about you Polar Star guys. Later Erina visits Souma’s room. The confession we all been waiting for? Nah. More ranting and blaming to hide her tsundere as we all know her. She tells him her story how she first met Jouichirou and fell in love with his cooking. But that was also the last time since Azami soon instated his strict teachings on her. Because of that, she feels lost on what real food is. Excuse for Souma to cook up a dish to regain her confidence back again. Something that he is going to finally make her say delicious. Yeah, it’s like his goal ever since this series started. So with his own family styled chicken egg tempura, what is the verdict? Chibi Souma chicks pecking on Erina’s naked body!!!!!! WTF???!!! Yeah, we know it’s really that good and the explanation of the ingredients and process that comes with it. Erina still has her pride. So what spurred him to make such a great dish? His answer: People who only know one correct answer can reach even greater heights. Very well said. Additional: If you know exactly where you’re going, it’s no fun. Basically, the journey is more important than the destination. Satisfied, Erina finishes the bowl. Never tasted so good. Mmmm… But instead of Souma getting his reward of Erina finally admitting it is good, she tells him to gather all the Polar Star members tomorrow morning. In the chilly morning, she rallies them to fight on and she will help guide them there. Challenge accepted.

Episode 14
The format of the advancement exam takes place throughout Hokkaido. They will travel to different locations and do different dishes there until they reach the final destination, an isolated island at the very north. Thus begins Erina’s Spartan lessons until their departure in 7 days. Don’t give up now… So in the first exam, the gang are grouped into different teams. Of course it is blatantly obvious that Erina gets preferential treatment. Souma is paired with Megumi, Yuki, Alice and Ryo. They are supposed to make a salmon dish. However they soon realize this is part of Central’s plan to eliminate the rebels as they are given poor ingredients. If they cannot make the dish before sundown, they will be expelled. Sounds like a good plan. But not fool proof because you know how they are going to be resourceful as they go out to buy the best salmon. Some more mumbo jumbo on how they make it, blah, blah, blah. Eventually the examiner is forced to pass them because her body cannot lie how damn good the salmon is. Take that! Never underestimate the main characters! From now on, the examinees will take a train to the various exam location. Erina continues her supplementary exam until lights out. Despite her usual pride, she notices that her friends treat her very nicely as they really appreciate her lessons. And perhaps what we all want to hear from Erina, previously she finds Souma annoying but now she doesn’t mind him at all. A little step closer…

Episode 15
In the next exam hall, they will make Hokkaido style noodles. Of course there is a wide variety of them. As usual, the rebels are separated but this time they are all called last. When it is their turn to make the dish, they realize not many ingredients are left since the earlier examinees have used them. Can’t make the dish? Out you go. Souma is paired with Megumi and Takumi this time. They want to go out and buy ingredients but there is a blizzard. The worst in decades! Did Totsuki even bribed God to make this storm?! Of all days, today?! Normally that would be the end but suddenly they are starting to prepare and making the dish. Once more, bad guys have oversight something. They left potatoes in the room. Hence our friends can make some Hokkaido styled noodles using potatoes as a base. So good that the examiner’s clothes explode! Just short of turning green and hulking. He is forced to pass them but then accuses that it is because of Erina they got this far. However Erina brushes this aside. She only taught them the basics of potatoes but they themselves build on that to make the noodle dish. All of them got this same idea? Wow. Great minds think alike. The examiner is cowed with Erina’s leadership. In the aftermath, the friends hang out before the next departure. We see more of Erina’s guilt especially towards Mito this time. She feels bad for cutting her off after she lost her Shokugeki to Souma but Mito still treats her like a friend. Souma, Erina, Megumi and Takumi hang out together but when they decide to depart, the trains have already left!!! Wait a minute. I know Japan is punctual in their trains but this is too much! Over punctual???!!! Luckily there is a train for them to board. However Rindou is on board! She reveals that it is part of Central’s plan to separate the rebels. As they speak, they are separated in groups and their train heading towards different locations. From now on, the rebels will fight the Elite Ten! At their next location, Souma thinks Rindou will be their next opponent but she points out it isn’t her. That guy. HAYAMA???!!! Oh sh*t! This guy is the new Elite Ten member?! No wonder he has been ‘missing’. Damn, why he looks so evil now?!

Episode 16
Hayama is occupying the ninth seat but on probation basis. Even more shocking that his beloved club is closed down and he doesn’t care. This guy has totally thrown himself behind Azami’s ideals. The others are taken away to have their own tests. So it is basically a Hayama vs Souma showdown. The host is Dojima and the theme will be bear meat. I guess they will compete in 3 days so as to give Souma more time to experiment via trial and error. Souma might cook the bear meat well but he can’t get rid of its smelliness. He realizes he is up in Hayama’s alley as he needs to use spice to overcome the smelliness. Luckily Kuga is here to help. It seems that he has a hidden agenda. Although no longer on the Elite Ten, he offers to cause havoc at the exam. At least this is what he told Rindou. As Souma continues to cook, he realizes he can use the smelliness into an umami factor. But since he lacks understanding about the bear meat as an ingredient, time to go for a trip to the mountains to understand how a bear lives. Don’t worry, an expert bear hunter is with them. During their trip, Souma learns from Kuga how Hayama ended up in the Elite Ten. A Shokugeki was held to fill in the vacant spots and Hayama trumped all of them including Rentaro’s groupie. Back at the kitchen, Souma uses some medicinal berries to help make bear patty. Good as usual. Because naked guys reaction. But here comes Hayama to rain on his parade. He shows off his extremely fragrant bear meat. He knew Souma was going to use this method and honestly, Hayama’s recipe is still far superior. But you know bad guys always get cocky at this point and it’s the start of their downfall as Hayama mocks Souma will lose to him a third time and this will be his worst. Oooh. I’m so scared.

Episode 17
Noticing Hayama isn’t looking happy despite being part of the Elite Ten, he says he is doing it for Shiomi. Lucky for Souma, he gets to confirm Hayama’s story from Dojima. At least from what he heard. Things were looking up for his research club when the sponsors suddenly start pulling out. You bet your ass, it’s Azami. He confronted the bastard and of course offered him a chance for his research group to remain in the battle royale Shokugeki for the vacant Elite Ten spots. He did that but to continue achieving his goal, he must defeat Souma. Now Souma confronts Hayama and tells him off he doesn’t care about his circumstances but the way he puts it only underestimates him. He gave up what is important without a fight and he is not going to lose to a loser like that. We see the other rebels facing off with other Elite Ten members. Takumi and Megumi’s will be Rindou. Before the start of Souma and Hayama’s match, Dojima introduces them to the tasting judges. Folks, meet the loli genius twins of Cilla and Berta as well as her Leonora’s husband, Soue (Batman eyebrows?!). So we see the rest of the episode as the duo prepare their bear meat (represented as a semi-naked bare fisted boxing match?). To show how super good Hayama is, he lets the twins taste a bit of his sauce and they went into orgasmic subjugation. Hah. I bet we’re waiting for this fanservice scene. Anyway, Souma goes first and lets them taste his minced bear meat cutlet. You know it’s good when they’re reacting in such an orgasmic sexy way. But the real challenge is here now. What’s this golden shining brilliance that Hayama is going to show us?!

Episode 18
Flashback shows after Hayama joined Central, Shiomi was displeased as she warned him not to. He didn’t care and will do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever he needs to protect their place. Hayama serves the judges his fried chicken bear?! Good enough for that naked explosion reaction. Soue even goes on to say it is better than Souma! Oh no! Is he done for? But they’re not judging everything yet. You see, there’s still the sauce to taste. Both sauces enough for more fanservice reactions but Souma’s one has surpassed the nudity and go into underwear mode?! Underwear > Nudity? Anyway, with the twins having split votes, one for Hayama and one for Souma, it all boils down to Soue. He notices something about the honey. Souma explains the honey he used that is not just another ordinary honey. Some cork tree honey. During his bear tree, he has Kuga’s lackeys collect all sorts of herbs until he found honey as the suitable base. And since there are many varieties of honey, it’s amazing how he managed to single out this one. Yeah, Hokkaido has just so much spices growing at this time of the year? We can tell from this tone that Souma is going to win because it all boils down to whom one is cooking for. Hayama lost sight of that despite creating a perfectly balanced dish. Souma didn’t make this dish to pass this exam. It was for Hayama. For him to eat and be crushed by how delicious it is. Just in time for invited Shiomi (late on arrival? The show’s over) to slap Hayama for the first time to knock him to his senses. She tells him what she was wanted was not the research nor lab equipment but to see him enjoying cooking in his own way and craft. He is still a kid so he should not concern himself with such adult responsibilities. I guess when you’re a teen, you’re somewhat stuck in between… Hayama has realized so much that he is starting to say this must be a sign from God?! Soue chooses Souma to officially declare him the winner. In the aftermath, Souma offers Hayama and Shiomi to stay at Polar Star since they will lose their place. But he declines. Suddenly Erina barges in to check on Souma. Relieved he passed? Azami’s aide, Sean Aida interrupts her. He points out all the other rebels have lost devastatingly and will be expelled. It is the same for Hayama. As agreed, he will be expelled in the event if he losses. No wonder Erina looking so dishevelled.

Episode 19
Wow. Erina is so concerned that she rushes to Megumi and Takumi’s side. Wait. They passed?! Rindou tasted their dishes and it tastes good enough to pass. Hey, they are supposed to face the Elite Ten but nobody said it was a competition. As long as it’s good, she’s okay with it. With this little lifeline, Souma has this idea for them to challenge the Elite Ten seats. If their side make up the majority, they can rescind the expulsion of their friends. Erina is desperate to go talk to Azami. Guess what? He is here to check on the test sides. Even if Erina pleads, Azami will not give in. That would defeat the purpose of this, right? So Souma challenges his team to his for a Shokugeki for the Elite Ten. As expected, Azami declines since he has nothing worth negotiating for. Oh, now he does. Because Jouichirou and Senzaemon are back. He suggests a team Shokugeki and will wager his ideals. Should Jouichirou lose, he will abandon all his ideals and become Azami’s slave. He likes the idea and agrees. Details to be sorted out later so I guess it’s time for special training. Later Dojima reveals he was the one who set this up as Azami would most likely accept a challenge if Jouichirou is involved. A brief explanation about the team Shokugeki. Although it will be individual battles, the winners will continue to fight winners until the losing side has no more winners. The other unique thing about this team battle is that you can also help support other team members despite facing off with your direct opponent. So the mock battle with Senzaemon as the judge, we have team Dojima with Megumi and Takumi as well as team Jouichirou with Souma and Erina. They are to make a French national dish and they cannot talk! Team Dojima looks to be cooperating fine but Jouichirou and Souma can’t stop arguing! One warning from Senzaemon… One more time and he’ll disqualify them. Being serious this time, the kids observe the version of the dish the adults are making and they realize they are being tested.

Episode 20
We see a little on Takumi and how he has improved during Stagiaire. When the cooking ends, Senzaemon says that both teams will taste and judge each other’s cooking. So what is the verdict? Surprisingly, they point to the other team as the victor! Then they go on to explain why the other dish is much better than theirs. This is taking humbleness to beyond whatever level. This training is part of Senzaemon’s plan to have each member experience the other’s abilities first-hand as teamwork is important in team Shokugeki. Of course the most important change we see is that Erina had fun during it all. At the next stop, Souma’s side meets Azami and the Elite Ten as they lay down the rules for the team Shokugeki. One of them includes they do not necessarily need to have the same number of members facing off with each other. Of course this means Central is at an advantage as they have more numbers. The wager is for the Elite Ten seats. The side that wins gets it. Takumi reminds them that this Shokugeki is to get their friends back. Hence all the expelled rebels’ student handbook in their possession, they will also use that to wager in this battle. Azami then declares Erina is supposed to fight on their side as she is part of Central. It took her some guts to admit that she wants to be on this side. To do so, she quits her seat. Therefore Azami puts an additional penalty for her. Expulsion will just be too easy. If her side loses, she will forever aid Central and obey her father. Forever. See you at the finals. With everyone praising how Erina is now acting like the queen she is supposed to be, except for Souma because he still believes the top spot to be his. But eventually since this rebellion is started and motivated by Erina, they entrust their student handbook to her.

Episode 21
Flashback time to understand what really happened. We start when Jouichirou and Dojima are in just their second year and just obtained the Elite Ten’s sixth and seventh seat respectively. Azami was a junior fan boy of Jouichirou although he looked and sounded like a wuss. Jouichirou is making waves everywhere he goes with his eccentric cooking. This earns him the right to enter a prestigious international cooking competition called BLUE (Bishoku Leading Under-35 Entrance). However some jealous students think he bribed his way and hence challenged him to a Shokugeki. Make that a team Shokugeki. Although he accepted, Jouichirou did it alone and refused Dojima and Azami’s help. Yeah, he slain over 50 challengers! Is this even cooking?! That’s where he got his demon nickname. By the time they are third years, Jouichirou and Dojima became first and second of the Elite Ten respectively. But the more Jouichirou treads on, the more praises, tributes, accolades, honours, awards and victories he got from everybody, the more you can see he is losing himself. Slowly falling down the insanity spiral of pressure just to evolve and find something new. Then one day he just went missing for an important BLUE match. Everyone started looking for him and Dojima found him sitting in a Totsuki cooking hall. Dojima knew by the way he talked, he wasn’t a demon and just a delicate man like everyone else. He regretted letting Jouichirou get ahead of them too far. Senzaemon feared the worst that his great talent had backfired. He suggested Jouichirou to leave the country and leave cooking for a while. He took up that offer and that was the last time Dojima saw him as a student. As for Azami, he is probably acting this way as vengeance of the past as Jouichirou was his idol and his breakdown hit him hard too. Looking back, Azami probably needed more help than Jouichirou. Many years later when Dojima received a surprise call from Jouichirou that he is back in Japan and opened his own diner, that guy also already had a son. Dojima believes Souma saved him from despair and is grateful for that.

Episode 22
It’s time for the final battle. Our expelled rebels are given a chance to watch and cheer on our heroes but from behind bars?! We can clearly see the hostile reception of the ‘home crowd’ as they support and cheer for Central. Also, Souma has gathered a few allies to join them to fight against the Elite Ten. They are Isshiki, Kuga, Megishima and Mimasaka. The first round includes these matches: Megishima vs Shouko Kaburagi (new Elite Ten member), Isshiki vs Jurio Shiratsu (also new Elite Ten Member) and Souma vs Nene. Nene is specialized in soba and guess what? Souma had to pick the soba theme for his cooking. And with everyone explaining how a thoroughbred Nene is, gosh, it’s like they don’t know Souma or have faith in him because they’re like seeing he is going to lose! How many times have we seen him comeback from the odds stacked against him? Sure, he lost once or twice but in this very important match with your enrolment on the line? So I’m skipping the explanation of the soba noodles they’re making since Souma is going for instant soba and is making it the way his diner does, hence earning everyone’s laughter and further enhancing the negativity from his supporters he is going to lose. Have faith, people! Since we can’t put all the focus on Souma and Nene, we also shift to Isshiki and Shiratsu whose theme is eel. Shiratsu badmouths Isshiki about having no pride and it seems Isshiki doesn’t care or brushes it off until he badmouths his Polar Star members. Then he gets real serious and you know sh*t is going to hit the fan and he is going to pay with his blood.

Episode 23
Okay. We’re going into a short back story that Isshiki and Nene’s family share some history together. So they’re basically like childhood friends? Nene is not impressed still. We are also introduced to WGO (World Gourmet Organization) Bookmen who will be the judges for this team Shokugeki. You can tell they are the top of the gourmet world and hence our assurance that their love for the best food will not be biased. Shiratsu finishes his eel dish first. Have a taste. Good as usual. I’ll spare you all the explanations because I also don’t get it. Now it’s Isshiki’s turn. The Polar Star guys notice that Isshiki stole and used their prototype ingredients in his cooking. Wow. He must really have confidence in their cooking. Have a taste. Good as usual. But the clincher is when Isshiki offers it to Shiratsu and if he finds it delicious, he must apologize to his Polar Star mates. And the results… Too delicious to resist! An apology on the way and without a doubt, the judges confirm Isshiki as the winner. Shiratsu might have been defeated but he looks so happy. Like a gay… With everyone praising Isshiki, except for Nene who isn’t still impressed as she always believed he was never serious. Flashback shows he aced in everything that took her a long time to master. She started feeling miserable. Jealous. That’s why she wants him to give it all he’s got when their fight comes next. Unfortunately he has to shoot her down that will never come because she is going to lose to Souma. Damn this guy puts too much confidence in his juniors.

Episode 24
As usual, we start off with showing how great Nene’s lineage and her perfection due to obsession. Meanwhile Souma is like so casual that even his own comrades don’t have faith in him. Yeah, it’s that pattern again. Anyway, Nene finishes first and awes the judges with her ‘time travelling’ soba because they’re so addicted to it that they didn’t realize they have finished it and hence restarting this loop again and again. Next is Souma. Everyone is expecting him to be crushed but the judges are also displaying satisfying reactions. Something to do with the flour he used as well as the various seasonings he drew inspiration from the various instant packed foods. The judge has unanimously voted on a winner. But so as to drag out the drama because we know Souma is going to win and justify why Nene lost, so it all boils down to the aroma of the soba. Nene was unable to maintain it unlike Souma. Heck, I thought it was because Nene served hers first. But then more technical explanation how Souma had taken into account the hall conditions and hence chose this alternative from the start. Nene never thought of an alternative because she has been trained from young the best soba is the way her family makes them. Unlike Souma who has to adapt to make the best dishes for customers to walk in. So that’s the difference. It’s Souma’s victory! You can feel crushed now, Nene. Oh, about the other match, Megishima wins too! F*ck! We didn’t even get to know what they’re cooking, not even see the judges tasting and suddenly he wins! Who the f*ck is this Shouko girl?! Felt just like a pawn… Yeah, I suppose we don’t have time for ‘unimportant’ characters. With our rebels having their morale boosted with this 3-0 win, we see Azami’s frustrated face for the first time. His world is being dismantled step by step.

Cooking Up A Storm On The Gravy Train
WTF?! WHAT THE HELL????!!!!! ARE THEY REALLY DOING THIS AGAIN????!!! LEAVING US ON A VERY TANTALIZING CLIFF-HANGER????!!! WTF, GUYS??????!!!!!! Sighs… Sorry if I sounded angry and disappointed, not at the overall story and this season but how they handled it and once more we are forced to put up with another ‘unfinished’ season and business. This time only worse because there is no news if there would be another season. Yes, you heard that right. As of now, there is no news if there should be a continuation at all. By right it should but even the end card was ambiguous as hell and didn’t give much hints if there would be any. By right it should. By right it should. BY RIGHT IT SHOULD! I thought Azami was just kidding when he said it was time to take a break. I didn’t know it was this indefinite break too. To put it in another perspective, it is like the train is running along smoothly and suddenly we see a damsel being tied ahead on the tracks. Oh no! Are we going to run over her or is there somebody going to switch the tracks and change the path of the train? Stay tuned… Indefinitely…

Okay. But aside the ‘fiasco’ of whether or not this series should be continued (by right it should), this season is actually quite okay and interesting. As good and interesting as the first half of the third season, if I should say. Although as usual there are those longwinded draggy food explanations that I don’t really understand and the plot actually hardly moved along (basically this entire season is mostly about riding the train in Hokkaido and fending off challenges by Central to oust them), overall this season still rocks and it blasted away all the disappointment that was that boring Stagiaire which now feels like a distant memory.

But still I thought that more could have been shown and developed if they shorten some of the draggy food explanations but then again, without such segments, this series which strives a lot on this would have lost its shine. Hence it was a dilemma for me to wish to cut short such parts and have the pace go at a quicker pace. Because just look at this season, it was mainly to set up for Souma to get his sweet revenge and first win over Hayama. But I don’t think with Souma finally winning over him makes him better than Hayama. Remember, Hayama beat Souma twice so the score is now 2-1. But because Souma is the main character, as long as he defeats his opponent, that’s the end of it. Yeah, the opponent can never challenge him again and get his shot of glory and revenge. Only main characters can do that. You can still lose and still be relevant until you win. Damn cheating. No wonder this is why Souma is so good. Also because he never gives up. And you noticed the final arc of this season just focused on the first team Shokugeki match. Only the first one! Oh boy. They are sure taking their time.

There’s nothing much for me to comment here because at this point and this season, it would be a repeat of my sentiments of last season. The biggest change as seen is Erina herself and even though I didn’t get my wish to see her become a damsel in distress and Souma her charming heroic prince, at least we have seen her grown stronger and was able to stand on her own to defy Azami and follow her true heart. I have to admit that this season I have respected Erina a lot more than any other. It is also nice to see some background on Jouichirou who has been one of the biggest mysteries of the series. Shedding some light on what happened makes us understand better of how it led up to all this sh*t and that Azami isn’t just some crazy megalomaniac who wants to conquer the gourmet world his style. Okay, he still is but at least you know that there is still hope to bring him back to the correct path. I am sure we can predict how everything will end because it will be just a big shocker if our heroes lose, right? That is so unthinkable!!! We know they will win. We just want to see how.

Hence the only ‘surprise’ for me was when our rebels start to take on the Elite Ten themselves because I was thinking and unsure if all of them could actually win. Because of the stakes of them being expelled, I was hesitant if any one of them could lose (save for Souma because he is main character). But if all of them win, it would have made the Elite Ten looked like a bunch of sissies. You know, they’re such great cooks and they lose to a bunch of raw unpolished rebels? Unthinkable. So when most of them lost, it was a bit of a ‘shocker’ but then plot twist. A chance for our heroes to help redeem everything in this final with everything at stake. That’s why I didn’t like this cliff-hanger. Everything was too important to be left like that.

It’s such a waste that with so many other characters, some didn’t get to flex their cooking muscles in this season. Like Kuga and Mimasaka whom I am sure would bring some interesting twist to the table since Kuga is now fighting on the opposite side and I wonder if Mimasaka have stalked every member of the Elite Ten just to copy their abilities just in case he faced any one of them. It feels wasted for him that this season his role was just to show his face even if it is to set up for the next season (if that ever comes around). It’s also sad we can’t see some of the Elite Ten in action like Rindou and Momo. I suppose the most insulting one was Megishima and Shouko match that we don’t even get to see. Because damn time is running out. No wonder Souma was chosen in this first round battle. All seemed too convenient to let our titular main character flex his muscles, shed first blood from this warm-up and keep the Elite Ten on their guard. Imagine if Souma was replaced by somebody else. Doesn’t feel it would cut it there. At least to end this season. Or it could be the ‘main character’ and ‘final battle’ would fall onto Erina?

I still stick to my own opinions that despite all these chefs making such great foods and gourmet, sometimes it feels like they are only fit for higher class people or those with lots of money. Sure, they put in their heart and soul to create such goodness but if you are going to do that for the simple masses, I wonder if it is possible to maintain all that passion in the long run. I’m sure they will. At least in the context of this anime. But in reality, casual and ordinary people like you and me who can’t even taste the difference in the dishes would probably be no different to us. It’s either good or bad. Cut out all the explanations in between because damn, we just want so taste something good and fill our stomachs. Yeah, I don’t know what the dish is made out nor where the ingredients come from. I just know how to eat it, that’s all. Why make it so complicated?! It’s only (good) food! Like WTF, man. We only came to eat but found ourselves busting our clothes and doing naked embarrassing reactions to approve just how freaking good it was!

Also, the subject of how good or authentic a certain food is, is still as subjective as art itself. So who has the right of authority to say that this is the best food ever? In comparison to what? On what base? Even if WGO is the God level of food tasting and maintain their impartiality, who are they to say that this certain dish is better than this? If the judges come from different countries and cultures, their opinions on what constitutes the best fried chicken may differ even if they are from the same organization and teaching. Maybe I’m not really proficient in the culinary world and just a simple glutton so I don’t really understand. Because when everybody at that high level is competing at the Shokugeki level, it feels like it all boils down to what details to nit-pick and pinpoint that minor flaw that would be the difference between victory and loss. They and everyone else can say a certain dish like this and so will only be considered the best but to me, grandma’s chicken soup will always be the best. Get the point? Besides, the irony of having a strict guideline and criteria of what is the best isn’t good either. Having a vague one is better because it expands your horizon and experience, don’t you think?

But I have noticed that I am somewhat ‘immune’ to the delicious foods they served this season. Even if they still look 2D good as always. In previous seasons I would be drooling my saliva for most of the dishes but this time round, I don’t feel that excitement. Probably the long explanations? Or is it because of unfamiliar food I have never eaten before like bear met and eel meat?

This season’s opening theme, Symbol by Luck Life is a rock outfit that somewhat fits the theme of this season. The same can be said for the ending theme, Atria by Fo’xTails. But just a bit heavy on the bass lines. I guess they really want to nail in the train theme for this season and hence you’ll see lots of trains and tracks among the weirdest stuffs shown in the opening and ending credits as well as being some tough ass fighter or something. Is it double KO?

Overall, this season is still very much enjoyable and its only real downfall is how it ended on yet another cliff-hanger with no closure in sight. That’s the train wreck from it all. After all, this important battle where everything is at stake will take a while with everyone fighting out the best they have. Hopefully they will have another season to continue this because by right they should. And hopefully it won’t take too long as well since waiting in between your meals would just irk the customer and they’ll get up and leave. Without paying. With this hype and excitement still fresh, let’s really hope that this wish would come true and the foodgasm train will continue to chug along.

Shokugeki No Souma S3

April 27, 2018

From the looks of the second season’s OVAs, it sure whipped my appetite and motivation for Shokugeki No Souma S3. Hopefully with the introduction of new characters and possible challenges our titular hero needs to face to bring whatever changes and realization that is needed to revolutionize the food industry and Totsuki, I’m praying hard this season won’t bomb like the second. I know, it is a hard feeling to shake off. A great first season but a second disappointing one makes you a bit cautious if you should try the third. But then again, like all heroes need some sort of revival and comeback. Could this season be it for Souma?

Episode 1
Megumi talks to Souma as they reminisce the events that transpired during the OVA. The part where they met the Elite Ten and Souma throwing down the challenge for a Shokugeki but got rejected. But now they have to concentrate on the upcoming Moon Festival for the autumn. It is a 5 day event whereby the sales rankings are announced at the end of every day. Of course Souma thinks of participating and prove himself worthy to challenge Kuga. Since he specializes in Chinese cuisine, Megumi introduces him to Miyoko who also specializes in that area. She then takes him to Kuga’s club, the Chinese Cuisine Research Society (CCRS). Man, are those human clones machines?! Tossing dry rice in perfect sync?! Kuga tells him he is going to serve mapo tofu at the festival and then proceeds to make a spicy one to let him try and realize what he is up against. Of course it is nothing like his diner. Kuga’s ‘robots’ have trained till literally perfection! Of course Souma won’t be intimidated by that. He will beat him with his own cooking. As they leave, Miyoko warns Souma there is another factor that has him lagging behind Souma: Reputation. Kuga’s name is also well known outside Totsuki and hence loyal repeat customers. Polar Star residents will have their own booth at the festival too but of course Souma can’t participate with them. He learns from Isshiki that the area a stall sells is also important. The festival is divided into 3 areas. The main area is the most common as this is where many people gather and the foods are cheap. The central area is where foods are mid-range price and need some professional preparation. Finally the top area known as Yamanote is where many of the Elite Ten will be located. Yup, expensive dishes. Unless you are well known, attracting customers is going to be tough. After racking his brains for the best strategy, Souma finally hands in his application form. Everyone is shocked to learn he will be putting his stall right across Kuga’s CCRS in the central area. So his plan is to steal his customers? Then he is reminded if his stall loses money, he will be expelled. Say what?! Oh sh*t!!! Too late to change things now…

Episode 2
With Mitsuru’s help, Souma is able to advertise in the magazine that he will be putting up a Chinese cuisine battle next to Kuga’s stall. Alice complains to Erina that she now wants to participate in the festival despite the deadline has already passed. Souma passes by and has them come try out his mapo tofu. Nice but this isn’t anywhere near that would beat Kuga. Erina explains the significance difference of his dish that lacks ma and la. Others weigh in their thoughts on spiciness like it is perceived as pain but can also be pleasure while in medicinal cuisine it can help reduce stress. Thus Kuga is like turning people into masochists, loving his extreme spiciness despite being too hot to handle. Souma doesn’t have to man his stall alone. Megumi will help him out. So it’s only the 2 of them? Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into some romantic mess… But Megumi becomes Souma’s guinea pig to test his spicy dishes. I hope she won’t die from it all… Keep trying… Meanwhile Hayama is shocked to find Alice and Ryo have hijacked his stall. Apparently she convinced Shiomi about creating memories for Hayama for his school life. Her maternal instincts kicked in and allowed it. Too bad Alice won’t be facing off with Souma as she wanted since Hayama’s booth is in the main area. During the setting up of the stalls, more problems for Hayama as Shiomi allows Alice to do anything she wants. This is going to get messy. Kuga uses his budget to turn his stall into a giant Chinese restaurant! Souma also needs something for his stall to look attractive. He gets Miyoko’s help and permission to use a couple of stone ovens. Before the festival opens, all the students gather for an assembly and sing Totsuki’s anthem. Only Souma doesn’t know?! Feeling so left out? As it begins, there is a long queue as expected lining up outside Kuga’s stall. Souma is selling black pepper buns that is a popular Taiwanese treat.

Episode 3
Hayama is really in trouble. Alice bought wrong ingredients and needs an outlet to plug her centrifuge machine. At the end of the first day, Souma has not many visitors. Kuga rakes in heaps and stacks of tickets (used as the festival’s currency). Megumi is panicking but Souma is laughing it off. The top 3 sales are announced. In the main area, the Aldini brothers take top spot. Kuga takes first place by a mile for the central area while Momo takes control at Yamanote. Erina blows her top learning Souma, Megumi, Hayama, Ryo and Alice lost money on their first day. And to think they were finalists at the Autumn Elections. Oh, Souma is dead last for the central area’s rankings. But that doesn’t stop him from being casually having everyone eat his leftover buns as give their opinions on it. After the second day, it seems Souma also sold noodles and he went up a few places in the rankings. Kuga still dominates by a mile, though. Night fall, he and Megumi take their stall to the main area and let other people try it for free. They bump into Nao selling her grotesque smelly food and it sounds like a horrifying nightmare that they want to create the most grotesque smelliest ‘masterpiece’?! Anyway, the reason Souma is carting around like this is to see the customers’ reacting to his dishes. As the customers have been eating all day, the noodles with black pepper seems to be a great way to end the day. This is something similar to the popular Taiwanese danzi noodles that allows one to continue eating well without getting tired. Souma analyses his stone ovens that should attract people but it didn’t. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine his buns as tasty unless you see someone eating it unlike Kuga’s mapo tofu. You can tell it is delicious just by looking at it. He also notes his diner’s mapo tofu was never that spicy because Jouichirou wanted flavours that all regulars would enjoy. He thinks of building on that mapo tofu and adding some new ideas. This means more sleepless night for guinea pig Megumi. Looks like Souma goes back to his diner for this experiment. Mayu thinks he is back and enters the diner only to see something horrifying.

Episode 4
Kuga is trying to ‘persuade’ Souma to close his stall. You think he would give up just like that? As per requested by Souma, Tomita has delivered tables and seats that were just gathering dust in the shopping district’s warehouse for his stall. Souma lets him try his mapo noodles with a giant meatball but is told to eat the noodles first. While doing so, Souma notices Kuga too has a problem. The long queue is getting unbearable for those waiting and those who are seated are being rushed off after finishing. It is about time Tomita digs into the meatball and when he does, the fragrant smell attracts all those in the queue. There’s an explanation to what he made but let’s cut it short and says it is a great revision of his mapo tofu dish. With many of the customers now turning to Souma’s stall, Kuga is not panicking yet because Souma’s stall has lack of manpower and will soon crumble. Yes, that is the very problem Souma is now facing as the queue is building up and the orders keep piling. Don’t worry. Here comes additional help: Mimasaka! Oh, remember the great imitator! Previously Souma sought his help but to perfect his profiling, he needed to use his diner. Souma gave him the keys and hence that horrifying Mimasaka pretending to be Souma that Mayu saw! But with more customers, it looks like they may not be able to handle it especially Megumi who is nearly at her limit. Souma wants to cover for her but luckily he doesn’t have to. Because here comes volunteer help from Mito and the Aldini brothers! As it is getting dark, they have set up colourful lanterns to light up the place and attract more customers! Kuga realizes Souma has spent 4 days in creating his very own stall. At the end of the day, Souma’s stall tops the day’s sales and pushes Kuga’s stall down to second. You mad, bro? Meanwhile, Alice’s stall is also doing well making a comeback. She used her 3D printer to print chocolate that melts over Hayama’s curry rice. Curious customers try and love it.

Episode 5
Kuga’s failure means he gets lots of teasing from Rindou. But after the final day as the total sales are tallied up, Kuga still wins the central area. Flashback shows Kuga challenged Tsukasa to a Shokugeki and flat out lost. So he made a promise if he managed to top sales in the central area for all days, he would have the right to challenge him to another Shokugeki. However with Souma breaking that combo, he will not get his Shokugeki. And Souma too since he couldn’t dethrone Kuga. So no Shokugeki for anybody. Rindou then brings Souma and Megumi to Yamanote area. It’s such a posh and expensive place. Don’t worry. It will be on her. She brings them to Tsukasa’s location where he is the only one who prepares and cooks from start to finish. Also because he has panic attacks worried if something may go wrong. All unfounded… When they try his sakura shrimp, it is of course so good that we get that explosive naked reaction. Tsukasa explains about his cooking that involves erasing all evidence of his involvement and focuses solely on the quality of ingredients by enhancing them. Souma notices over the course of this talk, Tsukasa has never asked how their food taste. It could mean he is very confident of how it turned out and clearly Souma acknowledges he is way out of his league. Meanwhile at Erina’s place, she has been keeping a reserved table free in hopes that Jouichirou would come based on their old promise when she becomes a good chef. I guess this means she hasn’t. Suddenly an unexpected guest comes in. Who is this evil looking man? Oh, it’s her father, Azami. He is so badass that Erina is quivering around him. He is supposed to be exiled from Totsuki. He believes Erina’s cooking is not made for these lowlifes and some high and mighty version of what cooking is supposed to be. He forces Erina to cook for him to show how much she has improved. When Souma comes in to share his bun with Erina, why is it that most of the others look to him like as though he is a saviour? Anyway, being the dense guy he is (or is he?), he wants to share a table with Azami. Azami loses interests and leaves. He is confronted by Senzaemon outside, reminding him about how he has been also banned from the family. They clash on their ideas on what Totsuki is supposed to become so Azami shows him a letter. Because the Elite Ten holds equal and sometimes more power than Totsuki’s director, it seems a majority of them have revolted and agreed to install Azami as Totsuki’s new director! Tsukasa and Rindou are among those who supported this.

Episode 6
Jouichirou so happen to bump into Dojima who happen to get a call updating him about Totsuki’s new director. And that’s how they know. With Azami as the new director abuzz all around Totsuki, some like him but those who know better stay cautious. His first duty is to relief Hisako as Erina’s secretary because daddy will now forever be with her. Creepy! Erina cannot say no whatsoever because she just can’t. Creepy. Senzaemon is so free that he could pay Souma a visit and talk to him. He tells him Jouichirou who was the second seat in the Elite Ten and was encouraged by him to let Souma enrol at Totsuki. He asks Souma’s opinion of Erina. If I may put it in a word of my own: A b*tch. Senzaemon notes Erina used to laugh a lot. Till dad started brainwashing her with fear to train her God’s tongue. Yeah, it’s pretty traumatic for a kid. Senzaemon found out about it and exiled him. But he remained active in some selective wealthy community but never expected him to stage a coup with the Elite Ten. Knowing Erina will be imprisoned by him again since his influence over her is still great, he pleads Souma to save her. Well, this Nakiri family isn’t his problem because his goal remains the same and it is to let Erina say his food is delicious. I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying he’ll do it. Senzaemon notes he was right to sought Jouichirou’s advice. Alice and Hisako help take Erina and run away from her room. But the problem is where she will stay note. Their estates are heavily involved with the Nakiri family so she will be instantly noticed. A nicely timed Megumi appearing means Polar Star Dorm is nearby. The residents are worried they’ll be accomplices but after hearing from Hisako about Erina’s sob story, now they all welcome her like a friend and vow to fight the tyranny! They throw her a party but can they stand her criticisms? In fact, they ‘love’ it because how often to you get a person of her talent to taste your cooking? Here’s more cooking for her! Azami knows Erina has run away but doesn’t do anything for now because it is more important to prepare his revolution. And that means he shows the Totsuki staffs about his proposal to turn the place into some food utopia. But those with a sane mind can see it is a dystopia that will split the gourmet world.

Episode 7
Azami makes his first speech towards the students. First, he officially disbands all the clubs and societies. Violation means expulsion. Second, there will be a new sole decision making committee called Central. It is handpicked and the Elite Ten are part of it. What I understand is that you cannot do your own cooking and all cooking are dictated by what Central says it is. This means there is only one method for cooking instead of from various ideas. The logic is that everyone can learn and benefit equally, hence no more unnecessary competitions and expulsions. They can all learn directly from the recipes and ideas worthy of the Elite Ten. With agents going around with official documents to close down clubs, even Polar Star isn’t spared. Eizan comes down to personally hand it to them. Of course Souma won’t let this go. How about a Shokugeki? Of course. Although Eizan has no obligations to accept, he is after all swamped with Shokugeki challenges from clubs trying to prevent their shutdown. Surprisingly, he accepts them all! Speaking of which, there is one today and it is broadcast live. Watch it and be warned. So Eizan goes up against the president of some skewer club. Souma feels weird that Eizan isn’t focused on cooking and even if he wins, the other clubs wouldn’t back down. Once the time limit is done, it seems Eizan scores absolute victory when the judges didn’t even taste their food! Yup, he bought out the judges! Poor guy just got expelled. Thanks to this ‘warning’, all subsequent Shokugeki challenges are cancelled. I guess they got cold feet. So while everyone wallows in hopelessness, we see Erina’s depressed face, Polar Star reminiscing about the good ol’ days and then jinx it by getting emotional and crying about losing their ‘home’. And more Erina sad face like as though she is at fault. In some ways I guess so. You think this fired up Souma? Well, he went to challenge Eizan to a Shokugeki despite all that. He claims he isn’t doing it for Polar Star but himself because this is the place he will master his cooking. So Polar Star guys are worried he is doing this alone when they are ‘family’? Before the match starts, Eizan warns Souma that he has sent his gang to vacate Polar Star. Yeah, he played dirty by bringing forward the deadline and by the time this Shokugeki is over, he is going to see Souma’s sad face seeing the sad faces of his roommates. Boo hoo!

Episode 8
Souma makes his gyoza with chicken while Eizan stands idly and mocks him because the results are already in the bag, right? Well, that’s the start of Eizan’s downfall because he gets a call from his goons that the Polar Star guys are fighting back! Fumio provided them with construction helmets and they have water hose and smoke screen to stave off those jerks. With Souma mocking back if Eizan wants to talk to him, do it with his cooking, Eizan gets serious. So we hear Eizan’s past achievements of being the best consultant ever that earned himself tons of money and Totsuki lots of connections, hence his nickname The Alchemist. He could have ranked higher in the Elite Ten had he concentrated on his cooking. Eizan finishes and lets the judges taste his chicken rice. Worthy of his seat as expected. Eizan thinks of ending the Shokugeki but Souma wonders if he is scared to taste his. I mean, he proclaimed he has won so what has he got to lose by trying his, right? Took the bait. So as Souma adds weird ingredients like Parmesan cheese, he earns the mockery of the judges for ‘tainting’ the chicken flavour. He pours some sauce as the finishing touches. He lets Eizan taste. Long awkward silence. Could it be it is delicious? He lets the judges try but one of them refuses. The others in that case wants to take his portion! Can’t resist now, can they?! Souma reveals his secret ingredient in the sauce which turns out to be tomato ketchup. This idea didn’t come from him but from the brainstorming with other Polar Star guys. In the end, the stubborn judge gives in and like everyone else, your body can’t lie to good cooking. All judges vote for Souma! Eizan is seething in anger as Souma reminds him with the results Polar Star will not be shut down. That’s not all. He then throws a warning to everyone watching to ever mess with his buddies. To that and he will come at them with all he has got. Even if you are from the Elite Ten.

Episode 9
Not sure if those hooligans took their time leaving Polar Star or the Shokugeki hall was just close by. Because Souma is back when most of them are still leaving. Anyway everyone is glad, mad and happy that Souma has returned and save their precious dorm. What else to do but to party and celebrate! Isshiki returns after a short absence. He was laying low because had he helped, Azami’s administration might make things more difficult for them. But thanks to Souma’s victory, new rules have been drafted to allow Shokugeki for clubs facing closure and to be judged fairly. A few days later, Isshiki is summoned before Azami. He wants him to step down as an Elite Ten. Not only him but those who opposed his plan. They are Kuga and Tosuke Megishima. But shouldn’t Erina resign too? He believes she will come back to him. Azami knows Isshiki has been secretly going around to gain allies to draft laws for Shokugeki matches. Now Azami has to send his ‘soldiers’ to face them. With many clubs requesting for Shokugeki, Polar Storm guys split themselves into groups to go watch the Elite Ten battle it out in simultaneous matches. Of course all of them won unanimously. I wonder how long Souma can hold off his urge to do a Shokugeki. There are a few handpicked new Central members by Azami too. They are Rentaro Kusunoki, Kumai Shigemichi, Mea Yanai and Rui Kofuru. Souma and Takumi can’t help tease and almost pick a fight with Rentaro because of his arrogant and confronting ways. But it is time for their next Shokugeki match against Ryo and Alice. Apparently Alice was okay with her whatever club she hijacked get disbanded. But Ryo got worked up when Rentaro called him a small fry and so it’s on.

Episode 10
We take a short detour to see other Shokugeki matches in other halls. In short, Central unanimously owns everybody. Back to Ryo and Rentaro’s salmon dish battle. As usual, we see how they prepare the dish and everyone being the expert commenting on how it is done. In the end, judges have a taste of Rentaro’s Salmon Confit Flamme and Ryo’s Coulibiac. They are both so superior and on the surface it looked like this is going to be a draw. But taking a closer look, there is one clear winner in the sense that the winner managed to prevent the loss of the salmon’s umami. While it sounded like the judges are praising Rentaro for using his cryomill and olive oil with his flaming technique, the surprise turn of events when all judges vote Ryo as the clear winner. Something about his double layer brioche using crepe and dried bacon powder. And more crap about how Ryo’s dish bring about the unevenness that it would be better if we viewers had just taste it instead of being explained to. We also see how Ryo had improved and wasn’t the same person during the Autumn Elections because during the Stagiaire he had the misfortune to work in some Indian restaurant who was meticulous about spices. That changed him for the better.

Episode 11
Azami was watching this match and despite reminding Alice that their family has this responsibility in advancing the gourmet dining world, Alice is bold enough to tell him off she doesn’t like him and doesn’t share his vision. She will not let him have his way with Totsuki and Erina. Oh, Erina is listening. How convenient. It might look like a reconciliation is on the cards but if you know them, it will usually turn into one of their usual arguments. Too bad all other clubs that have lost will have their buildings demolished. With Central taken over, class formats have also changed. Teachers who do not disagree with the teaching method are fired. Like in Souma’s class, his substitute teacher is Tsukasa! First he calls for an assistant in which Souma is the only one with balls to do so. Souma is able to remember all his orders and keep up with his pace as they make a great French dish. Now Tsukasa wants everyone to replicate the same in the same amount of time! At the end of class, Tsukasa is impressed with his skills and wants him to join Central. Of course he rejects. However as Tsukasa tells him his cooking is unnecessary and will be just his assistant to further improve his cooking. Souma thinks his skills are better than him so Tsukasa challenges him right now. He is putting his Elite Ten seat on the line but if Souma loses, he will join Central as his assistant. Uhm, isn’t it either way Souma will be part of Central because if he is the first seat, he is technically still under Central? Anyway Souma will not let this chance slip and agrees. Tsukasa pulls out all his got as he uses venison to create his French dish. Even Erina, Hisako and Megumi spying outside all fall for his supreme aroma. So good! Souma then asks him why he joined Central as he is fine by his own. Of course this means asking Central’s true objective. It couldn’t be just taking over Totsuki, right? Tsukasa without batting an eyelid reveals the true overall goal: To close down all subpar diners in Japan! This means everyone will be eating fancy gourmet food? Sure. I don’t mind. If you make it dirt cheap. Hence this takeover of Totsuki is just the first step for a nationwide shutdown. But what pisses off Souma is how Tsukasa also mentions this means all small diners are unnecessary as well as those small places that hold great memories for everyone. Souma will not join Central or be his assistant. He will win this match.

Episode 12
So who are to judge the dishes? Pull in those spying girls. Souma pulls off his unpredictability by adding chestnuts and grilling venison meat over charcoal, which generally doesn’t fare well in French cuisine. But how come it tastes so exceptionally good? Because he added coffee. Something like that. Now it is Tsukasa’s turn. His double venison meat has twin flavours, French pepper and berries. Megumi and Hisako are in a dilemma to choose. I mean, they really can’t as both are so good. Also it would be bad if Souma loses and he ends up in Central. But Erina knows a clear winner. One that brings out the flavour of the venison: Tsukasa. Oh no! Souma loses?! Oh dear Souma, have you forgotten the winning rule to not let your dish get taste first?! However Tsukasa believes his predictability will not make him a good assistant. He would get worried to much! Besides, this isn’t a real Shokugeki so he calls it a draw. Souma despite admitting his loss, continues to sulk. Erina wonders if Tsukasa is showing him pity but he notes his cooking will not change no matter how much he tries to force it. A few days later, Souma’s friends continue their winning streak against the Central members. Yeah, they all won 3-0. So as they celebrate their glorious perfect victories back at Polar Star, look who comes to visit? Azami! He came all the way here to get Erina? She would have gone with him had Fumio and Isshiki reveal other info about him. He used to go by the name Nakamura until he married into the Nakiri family. He is an alumni of Polar Star and occupied the third seat of Elite Ten behind Dojima and Jouichirou. Everyone knows he plans to destroy Polar Star. I guess he’ll come back another day. Souma asks if he had felt no connection to this place. Azami believes this place is not the world he seeks. At least not now. He claims the golden age of Polar Star was when Jouichirou was around. He is the only chef whom he looks up. Souma reveals that is his father. See the shock on Erina’s face? Azami adds that his revolution is a salvation plan is to the culinary world that ruined Jouichirou. He feels lucky he gets to show the fruits of his labour to his son.

Menu Overhaul!
Yes! Definitely! Continue! You must continue!!! But why the heck do they need to split this third season into 2 cours? Are they trying to make me wait a gap season knowing that this season was awesome enough and therefore it will make the appetite grow and the dish will taste much better when it comes around? Okay. I think I can wait then. It is a very good thing that this season is quite interesting and hence blown away all my scepticism and doubts that I initially had at the beginning. And now I can look forward to the next season without any uncertainty clouding my mind! Hah. Being swayed by emotions after every season is sure a complex thing. So having that boring Stagiaire in the second season sure did lower my expectations. Imagine if it was so good, the hurdles would have been higher and you know what they say, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

I suppose it would have been a pretty boring and predictable formula had the plot been something like Souma challenging almost each and every one of the Elite Ten as he slowly climbs up the ladder and defeats the boss in the top seat. I think that would have made the entire series worse. This format might have worked in the early days of anime (like 20 years ago) but now it won’t. So the ‘twist’ of the plot comes in the shape of a new director for Totsuki. He sure does changed a whole lot of things around that serves as a wakeup call or more accurately a death knell for many of those who have gotten quite used to Totsuki’s traditions. I am sure many of us would love to hate this guy because of his dictatorship ways. After all, how else could you cheer on the hero (that’s you, Souma) and support him to defeat the big bad boss if that final antagonist is not as worthy? And so that is where Azami comes in. He is a demon as seen in the ending credits animation. That bad, huh?

Therefore with the latest revelations and developments especially Azami’s ties with Jouichirou, this whole Totsuki and possibly the culinary world thingy might get even more interesting as well as messy. Then maybe it would be Jouichirou’s turn to finally step back into the spotlight since he is mostly making his appearances in flashbacks. It seems there is more than meets the eye to one of the greatest chefs of his generation. Think about it. He graduated from Totsuki but didn’t really left his mark in the culinary world that tells he is an alumni of Totsuki. Like as though he doesn’t want to be associated with it. For many years, he has been laying low with his own mini diner until he decides to close it down and make Souma enrol in Totsuki. The one who will save the culinary world from certain doom? Maybe he disagreed or witnessed something horrifying. Like how meat ingredients are made from human beings! Oops. Wrong show. But the possibility is there for shock factor. I mean, are things all looking that good as they seem on the surface as well as what goes on beneath? There are things we do not know about Totsuki and an institution this big and influential may have dark secrets they want to hide from everyone forever.

While Azami’s plans might seem good on paper, but that is just about it and there are so many flaws that one may object but unfortunately our voices will not be heard because of his narrow minded thinking. First of all, he thinks that everyone should eat the same great food. Hence the same great cooking. That one and only way. Nothing else. He failed to realize that the rest of us ‘low lives’ are not so fortunate as him or his elites, getting to have this gourmet skill or whatever you may call. Sure, many of us would love to taste and eat good food for the rest of our lives but in reality, we are all just earning enough to eat. Barely. Yup, the same ol’ food for me again. And tomorrow. So unless he revolutionizes the prices by making them affordable, I think I will die of starvation first. Or even kill just to eat. Is this the chaos he wants to descend on Japan and the world?! That will be like he gets to control who gets to eat. Besides, if he is so cocksure that only one strict method is the right way, might as well discard all the various food types and cultures in the world and everyone’s meal would be all packed into one little pill. Yeah, that will be the ultimate. Also, the common people’s taste buds aren’t so sensitive so many broad spectrums. If it’s good, it’s good. Otherwise it is not. Simple. No need to rate out of 1000 and go into technical details on every fibre of the food. We common folks don’t give a sh*t. It all goes into our stomach and we’re satisfied. Period.

Call me a sadist but one of my biggest ‘joy’ for this season is seeing Erina being reduced to a weakling and scaredy-cat in the presence of her father. For the past 2 seasons we have known how obnoxious she is and especially towards Souma. Of course we learn about her past and circumstances but that doesn’t make it forgivable that snobbish b*tch she was before. So watching her in this frail state is like her getting her just desserts for being a dick towards everyone else. Maybe with this humility, it ought to open her eyes. I won’t say I didn’t feel pity for her seeing her in this state for the longest time, I do feel a bit bad for her but overall, I still enjoy seeing Erina stop being a b*tch for once. Of course, my wildest fantasy was to see Erina being further reduced to a damsel in distress situation that she would cry and finally run into Souma’s arms for help! Please Souma, I beg of you. Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. Boo hoo (insert more dramatic crying here)! And then like the true prince charming he would defeat his enemies and sweep her off her feet! And their culinary romance can begin! Kyaa~!!! So cringey. Should be Souma x Megumi but I really want to see that alternate fantasy too! Yeah, I also got my wish to see that face when she realizes Souma is the son of Jouichirou. It is priceless. The guy whom she adored long ago has a son whom she despises. Karma coming full circle. Now she’ll be forced to apologize and be nice to him. If she ever gets on her high horse and begin sounding b*tchy, just show a picture of her dad and she’ll shiver right away. That’ll do the trick. Sorry, still in my dream land…

Tsukasa feels like one of the oddest characters ever. I mean, Totsuki hosts a hell lot of weird characters but none as weird as him. Because he is so panicky and a worrywart in almost everything but the irony is that his cooking is so flawless and seamless like as though there was nothing to worry about to begin with. Like as though he has a split personality when it comes to cooking because he is just so cool whenever in that state. Yeah, his anxiety is somewhat a running joke for the series. Rindou I feel although has this very carefree and playful demeanour, it is as though underneath all that she has an ulterior motive. I mean, she does have the eyes of a snake, doesn’t she? Or maybe it could be she is just that and wants something more interesting to spice up her boring life.

Every other character are just hanging in there. What do you expect when you have only a dozen episodes and so many other characters that have been introduced since? So we don’t get to see Mito fawning too much over Souma and while Takumi still has his gay challenge waiting for Souma, it isn’t as annoying as he doesn’t pop up as often. Isami is still fat, though. They trolled us with Megumi becoming Souma’s assistant for the Moon Festival because we thought there would be some romantic sparks lighting although there were none. Not even a hint. Then there is Hisako who has become more receptive of Souma and Alice is not as bad as you think she is although she is still reckless. Ryo is still aggressive and full of angst as long as he wears his bandana while Mimasaka is still copying everything. And to show the Polar Storm members aren’t being useless, hence that eviction episode that ended in their victory.

At least this season we had a couple of Shokugeki and they aren’t a let-down either. They still maintain all that exaggerative goodness that will only make amateurs of this series want to take a chomp out of their screen. Me too but this time round, I had more resistance. More control over my appetite and not fall for those exaggerated naked reactions (those are still hilarious yet nonsensical). Seeing Souma and his side giving those high and mighty arrogant guys their humble pie never feels old. The food still looks as good but if only they could be real in real life. Sure, they will. If you cough up enough cash. Even if I don’t understand all the technical details what they’re saying in preparing the food, I am sure my average common sense will still tell me they are all great food. You people don’t have to cook such a great dish that will blow my (naked) mind away. Something that fills my stomach and give the thumbs up. Simple.

At this point I am starting to believe that rank and reputation too have a very stark influence on one’s confidence if the dish one makes would be successful. Of course it is for drama effect but for example when Souma went up against Tsukasa, the girls were very worried with the fact that Souma had a higher chance of losing because well, he is up against the number one. Of course it is to show that the seat is well respected and if anybody doesn’t feel fear, awe or inspiration being challenged or just being with this dude, it takes away the meaning to have such ranks and organizations. So don’t let the people with higher rank and better public reputation fool you. They odds might be stacked against you at first but remember, that doesn’t guarantee that you will lose. Just a higher percentage of losing, that’s all. At this point everyone should know and believe in Souma. Sure, he wins some, he loses some. His forever underdog tag might be the culprit why his pals are so worried when he challenges higher ranking people. But as the protagonist, he’ll win. Right? Just remember to let your dish taste the last.

Another rock outfit greets the opening theme for this season, Braver by ZAQ. Initially I felt such hard rock pieces aren’t suitable for this food themed series but seeing the direction of where things are heading, maybe it is a little okay after all. Nano Ripe reprises her role for the ending theme, Kyokyo Jitsujitsu. Is it because of the cool crazy guitar riffs and bass lines that distracted me from her ‘terrible’ voice? Okay, she doesn’t sound that bad after hearing her so many times but this song isn’t actually all that bad. Maybe it is all the delicious looking dishes in the ending credits animation all so nicely placed out that makes it even more appetizing.

Overall, the third season did do some justice and recover the series’ name. Not sure if it was a good thing to split the season into 2 cours instead of a continuous one. It’s like having your appetizer and main course first and then come back tomorrow for the dessert. Because maybe the restaurant ran out of whipped cream and needed to go to the store to get some but they’re all close. And we’re okay with that because we know they’ll deliver. Yeah. That kind of feeling. So while the story is getting pretty generic about an unconventional talented kid challenging the conventional and bringing his form of revolution to everything, it is the way they present it that doesn’t make it tiring. After 3 seasons and having being presented with the same awesome foods but in various forms, I guess it is true that variety is indeed the spice of life. All that talking is making me hungry for the next season already.

Isekai Shokudou

February 4, 2018

Another food anime? Well, I suppose there are those who can’t stand the exaggerations of Shokugeki No Souma, Chuuka Ichiban or Yakitate! Japan and all those muscle heads abominations in Toriko. Heck, even Kofuku Graffiti is a little too sexy and distracting to be considered a food anime. But it is. Piace – Watashi No Italian is too short and Amaama To Inazuma is too boring and very down to earth-like. JK Meshi sucks and everyone has forgotten about Ben-To. So how do you please somebody who wants great down to earth food but also a fantasy setting? Yes, you can have that. It’s all in Isekai Shokudou. Imagine a normal western restaurant serving our food to mythical creatures from another world. Yeah, our food must be so good that these creatures become returning customers for life. Is this some sort of subtle? Advertising. Well, let that sink in. I mean your teeth into those juicy delicious foods.

Episode 1A
A samurai, sage, barbarian, beastman and lizardman are eating in a western restaurant, Nekoya. No, this is not a walk-into bar joke. They all argue what dish goes best with their rice. Then they try to steal each other food to taste and see if what they’re saying is true. Could have been an epic bloodshed had not Tenshu (master chef of Nekoya) tells them to stop. Keep this up and he’ll stop cooking for them. That did the trick. A majestic red dragon transforms into her sexy humanoid form to patron Nekoya. Her lair is filled with gold and treasure so I’m sure she can afford anything and everything. But she always orders her favourite beef stew. After she has her fill, she has Tenshu fill up a pot of more beef stew in which she can further enjoy back at her lair.

Episode 1B
Aletta wanders in Nekoya and feeling hungry, she can’t help herself to finish the delicious corn potage and falls asleep after a good meal. Goldilocks? However she is caught red handed by Tenshu. She explains her story she came to the capital to work. She is of the demon race and as proof she has demon horns. However she has no magic skills or super strength. She tried to make an honest living as a waitress but when her horns were found out, she had to quit due to the discrimination against non-humans. Currently she is living impoverished in some ruins and still unemployed. One cold night, a mysterious door appeared before her and she curiously entered. He invites her to eat breakfast with him. Yeah, ham and bacon and eggs taste so good. Tenshu offers her to work here as a waitress, to wait on tables and clear the dishes. She’ll also be able to eat as staff meals. Aletta seizes this chance as she begins her new life as a waitress of Nekoya.

Episode 2A
Sarah Gold the treasure hunter is in another one of her treasure hunting adventures. She sees a strange door before her. She enters and finds herself in Nekoya. She takes up Tenshu’s offer to stay and eat. Suspicious at first, soon she finds the ice lemon water delicious and the prices of many of the menu items cheaper than many places. She enjoys her minced meat cutlet and gets to order refills for her bread and soup. Once done, Tenshu hands her an extra takeout of more minced meat cutlet since she enjoyed her meal a lot. It’s on the house. Apparently Tenshu knows her father, William (Indiana Jones clone?). However he has sadly passed on and his ‘regret’ was he won’t be able to come here anymore. Sarah notes this was his last hidden treasure.

Episode 2B
Tatsugorou the samurai sees Lord Heinrich Seelemann in his castle to return a sword he has long forgotten. Seelemann remembers 3 years ago he was in charge of a fort that was swamped by monsters. As he was an excellent rider, he was chosen to ride to the capital to request for reinforcements. However he did not pack enough food and his horse died along the way and he had to travel the rest of the way by foot. Weakened and hungry, he stumbled upon a cottage with a strange door. He entered Nekoya and is offered friend shrimp. He starts eating the mouth-watering dish and it whets his appetite as he orders 3 more! After licking all of the plates clean, he remembers his mission and realizes he cannot pay him. In order not to be indebted, he left his sword as collateral and promises to come back the next time to pay. He leaves in a hurry and didn’t hear Tenshu’s words that the door only appears once in every 7 days, on the day of Satur. Seelemann was able to reach the capital and sought what he needed and the duchy narrowly escaped doom. When he returned to that cabin, that door is gone. Seelemann wants to know more about Nekoya. Tatsugorou knows there is a similar door close by. On the next day of Satur, Seelemann steps into Nekoya once more and is glad to be back.

Episode 3A
Thomas Alfade is a famous proprietor who deals with various ingredients and seasonings. He has revolutionized the dining table and is dubbed the Genius of Culinary Innovation. He is now retired. Underneath his cellar is a door to Nekoya. He brings his grandson, Sirius along. Sirius is introduced to the various other worldly food. Tenshu then hands him a box containing various gold and currency. It is payment for ingredients Thomas brought for Tenshu’s own consumption. He uses them to research flavours too. Thomas orders his favourite spaghetti with meat sauce. His son also tries the same and is overwhelmed by the taste. Note, in the other world, tomatoes grow in squares?! Thomas then reveals his title is no more than a sham. He comes here to eat Tenshu’s food and merely brings them back to his world for others to try. He leaves it to Sirius to continue his legacy. Yeah, looks like he orders the same food Thomas does every time he visits.

Episode 3B
Adelheid is the granddaughter to the king of a small nation, Wilhelm. Due to her sick condition which has no definite cure, she has to stay at his castle and is always alone. One day he decides to take her to his secret place and must promise not to tell anyone. Adelheid is now all grown up and Wilhelm has passed on as she returns to his castle. She cannot remember much of the place except she ate ‘clouds’. One day while in her room, a strange door pops up. Entering Nekoya brings back a few memories. During that time Tenshu was just an apprentice chef and his grandpa was the main chef who served them. Apparently Tenshu remembers Adelheid. She’s all grown up so beautiful but he still could identify her? Heck, he even remembers serving her chocolate parfait. The ‘clouds’. Adelheid feels a lot better and returns home. It really brighten up her day.

Episode 4A
Why does this feel like a documentary? We take a look at the lives of the lizardmen living in the marshlands in the south. We also take a look at their strongest warrior, Gaganpo. Why the heck do we need to see him bath, clean and arm himself?! Not the fanservice I was expecting! Anyway this is to get ready for a ritual. 30 years ago, a mysterious door popped up at the altar. Gerupa who was the strongest warrior then bravely ventured into Nekoya. He brought back delicious food. And so it has become a ritual that every 7 days, a strong warrior is chosen to enter Nekoya. Today is Gaganpo as he orders omelette rice. Weird seeing a reptile eat this. He brings back 3 takeaways for his tribe. I wonder if that is enough. Yeah, it is carefully divided into small pieces. Better savour it. If you want more, better be the strongest. Because that is what Gaganpo plans to continue being so he can eat more omelette rice for a long time.

Episode 4B
Fardania the elven archer goes out to hunt for food. She stumbles upon the door to Nekoya thinking it is an ancient elf magic. She enters the restaurant and is sceptical of everything. She also looks down on the barbaric human cooking. She challenges if they could serve a dish that contains no meat, fish, milk or eggs. Otherwise she’ll leave. Tenshu says he can make one. Fardania is surprised. Can he? One trace of those ingredients and she’ll reject it. Tenshu makes tofu steak. It’s not a real steak. Made of tofu and seaweed stock. There is also rice to go with it. She tastes it and brings back fond memories of her late mom. She used to go to the human world to bring back dried mushrooms that made the soup tastier that no ordinary mushrooms in their world could. Could this be the same method? As she doesn’t want to lose to a human, Fardania wants to start cooking better dishes. Is she sure she just didn’t make up an excuse to continue dining at Nekoya?

Episode 5A
Lionel the beastman lost his battle to a half-elf hero, Alexander. He is not killed but sold as a gladiator slave. Oddly, the door to Nekoya pops up in his cell. He ventures into it and meets Tenshu’s grandpa who is still a young man then. Feeling hungry, he wants to be fed. Anything as long as it brings him victory. So he is made katsudon. That’s a pun, right? Of course one bowl of those delicious pork cutlets isn’t going to cut it so he eats not 2, not 3 but 5 of them! Man, he is going to be really victorious! No money? No problem. Put it on his tab. He returns invigorated and easily defeats his opponent. He uses the money he wins to eat more katsudon and went on to dominate the arena for more than 20 years. I guess that confirms it. Katsudon = victory!

Episode 5B
Sage Artorius narrates in some eastern continent, a duchy has an eldest princess who remains unwed, Victoria. She is likely to remain so because she is half-elf. Oddly, both her parents are normal humans. Somehow this world discriminates against anyone with elf traits and you know life for them is tough. Their options on what they can do are limited so Victoria walks down the path of mastering sorcery. She has talent in it and in no time her ability was recognized and became the court’s head sorcerer which leads her to become Artorius’ disciple. Under his tutelage, she began researching on magic and is generously funded on a condition that she keeps out of the spotlight. But she isn’t always researching. She takes a break once in 7 days. You’ve guessed it. Nekoya time. She always orders pudding a la mode as she likes sweets. Back then when Tenshu was young, he didn’t know what desserts to add so she helped out by suggesting a few. Her handwriting is still used in his menu. Once done, she heads back to her research and of course having a few more for the road. Aletta realizes if she is half-elf, can she eat egg and milk based food? Well, Victoria isn’t bitter about her half-elf lineage. She is grateful for enabling her to do more research on it.

Episode 6A
We see Aletta’s day at Nekoya. Before the store opens, she starts by washing herself clean. It’s good to be clean, right? After dressing up and eating breakfast, she cleans the place. When Tenshu arrives, he finds there isn’t enough ingredients. So they take the elevator to another floor where he houses the raw ingredients. I understand Aletta has ‘trauma’ on potatoes because this is the food she ate while she was very poor and hence it is a food for survival. Tenshu will teach her how to cook a delicious potato. But first, the store opens and the usuals arrive to dine. There are days when they end up arguing which dish is better. Today is that day. Yeah, this time what goes best with bread. Can meek Aletta tell everyone to pipe down? Well, nobody listens to the waitress unless she is repeating your order, right? Eventually all start suggesting that the best sandwich would be their favourite dish and put it on bread. To solve this, they order that for the other person. My, with this much orders and extra orders, can Aletta keep up with it all? Looks like she can without screwing up. And without writing them down! Impressive!

Episode 6B
After the last customer has left, Tenshu now shows Aletta how to steam a potato. We hear him explain the little science of steaming. Although it took him many years and practice for him to perfect the art of steaming dim sum and the likes, the easiest to steam is the potato. Once it is done, he puts unsalted butter as topping and voila! We have steamed potato with butter. Bon appetite. Aletta eats this delicious dish as it melts away her trauma. Alas what was once a food she feared most has now become her favourite.

Episode 7A
Admiral Alphonse Flugel was once the strongest navy in the duchy, his ship was sunk by a Kraken and presumed missing. But he was washed up on an uninhabited island where he had to fight tooth and nail for his survival. He lived there all alone for 20 years. Then 3 days ago, a passing ship stopped by to repair its damage. Alphonse is spotted and taken back with them but he is reluctant to leave. Apparently there is a door to Nekoya there! No wonder! Now he has to say goodbye to the best curry dish. He hopes to find a door in the duchy since he noticed a countrymen was dining there. Eventually he finds that door at the cabin and is glad to have his curry again. After having his fill, Tenshu wants him to test taste a new curry dish.

Episode 7B
A black dragon sits in solitude on the decimated moon. She narrates how the 7 coloured dragons cooperated to fight some marble-tentacle-monster. It was a brutal fight with the dragons emerging victorious. But the black dragon represents death and weaker beings die in its presence. Feeling she is no better than that monster in this case, the dragons divided their territories and so she ended up on the moon where there is no life. One day, the door to Nekoya pops up. Even on the moon?! She takes a peek into it. Tenshu gives Alphonse taste his new chicken curry dish. Spicier than usual but he loves it. The black dragon also wants to taste it and assumes the form of a naked elf girl. Well, if they’re going to get embarrassed, Tenshu should’ve put up a sign that says, “No shirt, no shoes, no service!”. Haha! Anyway, she can materialize some clothes for herself. Artorius can tell she is no elf but a black dragon. He fears her but chooses to observe her for now. Alphonse orders curry rice for her and puts it on his tabs. Not sure if they’re in some competition because they keep ordering and eating more. Even when Alphonse has reached his limits, she continues to devour plate after plate, hour after hour!!! The red dragon enters for her usual beef stew and notices her. She advises her that she needs money if she wants to continue eating like this. Money? What’s that? She is warned this place is under her jurisdiction and if she tries anything funny, pay with your life. So if she has no money, all she needs to do is work. The red dragon suggests to Tenshu to let Kuro work here even for scraps. While Kuro is okay with that, poor Aletta is in shock as she jumps the gun thinking Tenshu is unhappy with her and is going to fire and replace her! Don’t drop the pot of beef stew…

Episode 8A
Rokei went sailing but a bad storm causes him to get thrown overboard. Luckily Arte the mermaid saved him and even prayed to the gods for a better weather. He is then taken to an uninhabited island to rest and when he wants to repay her and she requests 10 silver coins. Rokei finds it weird because mermaids do not use currency like humans do. To find out why, she wants him to return here in 3 days. Of course we all know there is a door to Nekoya here. Arte can pray to the gods to transform her into a human form as she patrons. She has been a returning customer that Tenshu and Aletta know her and she likes to order Hamburg steak. She lets Rokei tastes it and he likes it. He orders extra but she fears she has not enough money. Don’t worry. He’ll pay. It’s on him. That’s thanks for saving his life. They agree to come back here again on the next day of Satur.

Episode 8B
Aletta has found a steady job as a housekeeper but it is the house of Sarah! Tenshu has also given her assorted baked cookies as gift for this good news. Apparently above Nekoya is a bakery. Aletta has to ‘ration’ her cookies so she doesn’t finish them in one sitting. But it’s hard to eat just 1 each time, right? Oh, they’re quite expensive too so better savour them. When Shia, Sarah’s younger sister visits, Aletta answers the door. Sarah isn’t home at the moment. Shia doesn’t like her sister hiring a demon. An explanation about this family that certain generations get this ‘curse’ to go on a feverish adventure. Many end up paying with their lives. Sarah is one with this and whenever she is back home, Shia visits to check on her. Aletta serves her the cookies and quickly Shia likes them (as well as opening up to Aletta too). Shia wants more although Aletta has served the last of it. She needs to know more and is shown the box. Looks expensive. Shia gives her a gold coin (worth her entire month’s allowance) to buy it for the next time. Yeah, she’s placing her hopes on Aletta to get them. Aletta makes good her promises as she manages to get a few boxes of different sizes and at dirt cheap price of 1 or 2 silver coins! I’m sure they taste as good.

Episode 9A
A couple of dwarves trek up the mountain to a door to Nekoya. One of them is sceptical about his friend bringing him to this place. Yeah, just wait till you taste the food. And like they say, seeing is believing, or rather in this case, tasting is believing. Now the friend is a total covert as they drink and order big glasses of beer. While waiting for their food, they admire the simple beer glass design. Then they dig into the fried seafood plate. Despite being short people, they have enormous appetite and order more. I guess this is considered tiny by dwarven standards. To top it all, they have whiskey. In the aftermath, the dwarves spruce up the cabin for travellers to stay who come to visit their land. But there is a locked room in which they only hold the key to. It’s their ultimate treasure and no surprise the door to Nekoya.

Episode 9B
Prince Shareef from an Arabian-like desert kingdom seems to be frequenting Nekoya because he is smitten over Adelheid. But he is such a shy guy that his step sister, Renner had to lecture to him to be bolder or else he’ll never win her heart. And she doesn’t even mean it on a diplomacy level where both their nations marry to strengthen ties and such. I guess even if you’re a prince of a nation and the guy who created iced coffee that is all the craze now in his kingdom, when it comes to the matters of the heart, it isn’t easy. So on the next visit to Nekoya, while they wait for Adelheid to show up, we see Renner having a go with her melon soda float. When Adelheid finally arrives, Renner invites her to dine with them but Shareef again becomes a shy guy. This is going to take a long time…

Episode 10A
A strange door opens in the land of fairies. Queen Tiana Silvario XVI and her subjects think this is some sort of invasion as they prepare to go through and take up whatever challenge the invaders have in store for them. Of course it is a door to Nekoya as they are surprised by its interior. Tiana then asks Victoria about the place since she could sense some magic aura on her. After explaining about this eatery, Tiana decides to be bold and try a cooking. Victoria considers the kind of food and diet fairies can eat and ends up ordering a mixed fruit crepe for them. As usual, they find it delicious and good. Tiana then asks Tenshu about the door appearing in their land but he isn’t sure about the details. Tiana is grateful to Victoria and gives her a flower seed. Victoria in turn will pay for their bill each time she dines. Many months later, since everything is so good, the subjects are arguing what to order. So they head over to the other side and continue their debate.

Episode 10B
Fardania has found the secret location of Christian who is her parents’ best friend and one who is a gourmand still researching in cooking. She notices rotting smell in his place as he reveals of the cheese he is fermenting from elven beans to eat for himself. When he explains he got this idea from a restaurant from another world, Fardania also knows the place. So at Nekoya, Christian treats her to natto spaghetti. It isn’t a popular dish and apparently only he orders it. After having their fill, Fardania has this idea to try this natto with rice. Christian is shocked that she is daring to try this combination which he never ever thought of. Let’s say it tastes even better. Back home, Christian informs that rice too exist in their world but only in the western continent. He gives her a jar of miso made from his fermented elven beans since he knows she likes it. This is the result of his years of research. He notes despite the elves’ long lifespan, the world out there is still a wide place to explore.

Episode 11A
Kuro narrates one day she felt a strange gaze from Tenshu. Not wanting to pursue it, she ignores and continues to have her chicken curry. She also narrates the deal she made with the red dragon. While Kuro is working at Nekoya, the red dragon told her to protect the place while she works until she arrives. A pair of sirens, Iris and Arius want to find a new island to make their nest but there is one that they feared as the one they nicknamed Chimera Killer lived there. They believe it has been so many years and this monster would be old and week. As they explore the cave supposedly to be the Chimera Killer’s nest, they find a box of gold and silver as well a strange letter. The Chimera Killer is actually Alphonse as he left behind these treasures for those who are shipwrecked here. The letter also states about Nekoya so the sirens go look for it but do not find anything. After a few days waiting, the door finally pops up. They enter and Aletta explains to them about this restaurant. When they see a piano and hear its nice sound, they start singing, causing Tenshu and Aletta to fall into some trance. Kuro quickly shuts them up and warns certain creatures aren’t immune to their songs. She also warns them never to sing again if they want to eat and return in one piece. They wonder if this place has raw fish. Certainly do. It’s called carpaccio. Tastes good as always. They return home and agree to make this place their new nest.

Episode 11B
Tenshu makes curry bun for themselves to eat after work. Kuro being the spicy fan has only praises for it as we hear her compliment and analyse its taste and contents. Then she washes it all down with milk so she can have more of them. When they leave, Aletta wishes her to take care. Kuro notes she is the only one living on the moon and there isn’t many creatures who can actually harm her. But with the recent experiences at Nekoya, I’m sure Kuro is feeling pretty much at home. She also wishes Aletta to take care.

Episode 12A
As narrated, the legendary 4 heroes named Leonard, Artorius, Alexander and Yomi band together and defeated the evil demon lord. However it came with the cost of Yomi’s life. Leonard went on to become a pontiff, Artorius a great sage and magician while Alexander a mercenary. Alexander visits Artorius as he heard from a friend about a door to another world. Artorius agrees to take him there but only later in the evening when no one is around. Because there are a few enemies of his who are dining there. As today is meat day, Tenshu changes the miso soup to pork soup. Since everyone finds it good, they are ordering more of it. Naturally this is depleting their stock faster than usual. But eventually everyone is able to have their fill.

Episode 12B
Once Nekoya is empty, Artorius pops up with Alexander. Immediately Alexander orders croquettes. Alexander could feel something different about Kuro and is scared. He agrees with Artorius not to start any trouble with her. As expected, Alexander finds the croquettes of Nekoya to be much better than those he tried in the Empire. Even much more when he adds the undeniable soy sauce to it. He asks if this sauce can be made in their own world. Artorius says it is impossible. Even Yomi said that. It is then revealed that Yomi is still alive. After their victory over the demon lord 70 years ago, she fell into this world and survived. She has a grandson. Guess who? Alexander finds great comfort that she led a comfortable life and so they drink a toast to this world as thanks for taking her in. Later Alexander visits the grave of his old comrades. It turns out to be the graves of Wilhelm and Adelheid’s great grandmother. Aletta is worried that pork soup costs more than miso soup. Will Nekoya be in the red? Tenshu assures her meat day is only held once a month. The payment from normal meals is enough to cover it. After all, grandpa once said extra service at a restaurant should be provide with food, not money. And with everyone enjoying it, it can’t hurt to do so once in a while.

Good Time, Great Taste! At Nekoya!
Sighs… If only we had eateries that provide such good service and quality food at assumingly reasonable price, the world could have been a much happier place. Don’t laugh. Who knows the reason why this reality of ours has lots of angry people and warring countries is that of the simplest reason that they don’t have good food to eat. When one is full and satisfied, there is no reason to fight, right? Not to say that the other world is entirely living in peace but you can see the happy faces of customers which very much guarantees return patronage. Oh well… The only reason why I regularly return to a handful of eateries is because I have no money and I am still picky on what I eat. Yeah…

Although the foods served at Nekoya are supposed to be the main stars (isn’t that why they name every episode after the featured dish?), what is most interesting is not the foods themselves but rather the back stories of some of the customers that led them to discover this wonderful eatery. And that is what I believe is what keeps this series from being a total bore. Not to say that this series is oh so very interesting and there are certain stories that aren’t as interesting, but a majority of them are. Therefore for a food themed anime, it is quite refreshing and unique in a way that it doesn’t totally focus on the food too much. Despite the staffs at Nekoya are supposed to be the ‘main characters’, the actual main protagonists are those who patron Nekoya. With different races and creatures from all walks of life coming into the restaurant, it is no wonder that many of their backgrounds are quite fascinating to watch. Eventually it is Nekoya that is what ties them all together. Is it me or do all these customers only order the same food? Do they not want to be adventurous to try others? Oh well, you can only come here every 7 days so by that time, you would want to have your favourite food. No wonder Tenshu can remember who orders what. So easy.

Therefore it is a hit and miss if you want to talk about the characters. The customers usually have their one segment of focus especially when they are first introduced. Sometimes, a brief explanation of the land they come from too. After that, they will fade into obscurity and some only will recur as background characters. A few interactions here and there but there is nothing more added to it. So as I’ve said, these customers some have interesting backgrounds and circumstances they come from but that is as far as we know about them. Because it always ends on a happy note. I mean, who would ever complain after being served such great dishes, right? Oddly, this other world houses almost every mythological creature mankind created. It’s like a big mash of fairytale setting all in one world. Just short of zombies…

Even Nekoya’s staffs, Tenshu, Aletta and Kuro do not have much back story to it. Of course we heard about Aletta and Kuro’s case but nothing deeper. Since Aletta and Kuro are only working here part time on the day of Satur, does Tenshu get help from others on other days? Unless there is no crowd… But he can’t be running his restaurant if he doesn’t have business, right? I’m thinking it isn’t about the money that he is thinking about. If it was all about profits, you think he allows certain beings to owe and have tabs? Tenshu is also a big mystery if you want to talk about him because he is just some guy who inherits the place and then puts his heart and soul in his cooking for his customers. That’s all. Heck, you don’t even know his real name. Okay, maybe the last episode’s revelation revealed his blood ties to a legendary hero but that doesn’t mean anything much seeing in this world instead of slaying demons with swords, he slices meat and vegetables with his kitchen knife! Haha! Therefore sometimes this series could be a bit confusing of what it actually is. It’s not really about the characters. It’s not really about the food. Is it just to create awareness that such foods exist?

I won’t say that the foods aren’t interesting but personally they are not as prominent as the stories of the customers. After all, these foods are not made up or created out of creativity as seen in Shokugeki No Souma and Toriko. They are normal dishes in which you can order in decent western restaurants all over the world. So it is sometimes odd to see that these beings from another world being taken in so much by our food. Especially beasts and creatures eating our rice and meat. Fantasy characters eating our normal food? Feels a bit odd. Also, with some characters not having that detailed or long background stories, the focus will be on them describing and praising the food they just tasted. Nothing very exaggerative as they try to keep it down to earth but with some great praises to paint how good it is. Of course it is. You’d think they would come back here if the food tastes horrible? Yeah, it would have been interesting to see a case like that for twist purposes but I guess with Tenshu being so good and dedicated, it isn’t going to happen at all. Not on his watch. Also, this world has a few foods that are similar to ours but slightly and differently named or look. If you’re wondering what the hell is shripe, you’ll understand that it is just shrimp. Marmetts might look a bit different but they taste exactly the same as tomatoes.

Now, throughout watching this series, I am sure this has also crossed the minds of many viewers. The biggest question and mystery of this series is the door itself. With Tenshu once mentioning he doesn’t know how it works sounds like an excuse not to explain it all. Of course knowing how the door works is not what the series is about but as viewers, we would really like to know and the explanation would help make sense of some of the questions bugging us. For example, I would like to start off on why it only appears on the day of Satur (obviously Saturday) and not on other days. Does the door appear elsewhere on other days? I don’t think so because it is day of Satur for all the customers in this other world. And what if the customer in Nekoya misses the door to go back to his/her world? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he/she got drunk and stayed over a night? Then the next morning comes and you can’t go back anymore. Have to wait till the next day of Satur.

The biggest question of it all is how would the door know which customer to return to his/her spot she came from? As the door appears all over the continent, if there are multiple customers and they arrive and leave at different times, how does the door know which spot to send them back? Has there been a case whereby the customer ended up in the wrong region? I’ll be damned if I ever end up at the arena. Because after I’ve fully eaten, it’s my turn to get eaten! It sucks, dude! Since there are none of such cases, I guess the door must be smart enough. Yeah, maybe the customers’ hands serve like fingerprints and the door automatically knows where you came from. I didn’t know Nekoya is such a sophisticated restaurant despite serving normal but good meals.

The other questions about Nekoya is if Tenshu has ever served normal humans from our own world. I suppose that he does but on other days. That is probably why beings from the other world only arrive on day of Satur. We also don’t see those normal people is probably because, remember the name of this anime? Assuming this is true, then I suppose it is those other days and times when Tenshu stocks up his ingredients. Because it would be damn weird if Nekoya only and solely exists in its own dimensional space. Yeah, it wouldn’t make sense if he had infinite supplies and raw materials to cook. This doesn’t even touch the other stuffs he has to maintain like the gas or the utensils. Who is supplying or fixing them? Unless you say it’s magic… Also, I am assuming that all the different beings in this other world has the same stomach functions and features as our normal humans. Because they don’t seem to have any indigestions or complications whatsoever. Yeah, look at the lizardmen… They can eat omelette rice? I know it’s fantasy stuff, but just saying… Hence, just leave it all to Tenshu! Nobody ever died or even so much as to complain about his cooking.

Art and drawing are pretty standard and nothing much to shout about. The characters and backgrounds do look decent but it is nothing that spectacular. Even the varied locations and terrains of the other world, they just look pretty okay. I have to admit that the food do look delicious because some of them even made my mouth water just by looking at them. I had my dinner already a few hours ago so I think I can consider the way they put some detail into the food as served to the customers as good as it tastes because my only regret is not being able to taste how freaking good it is. That’s the problem with all food themed animes. This series is animated by Silver Link who did Non Non Biyori, Kokoro Connect, Masamune-kun No Revenge, WataMote and Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu.

Due to the nature of this series, there are a lot of seiyuus lending their voice and making cameo appearances. This means a handful of them that I recognize like Junichi Suwabe as Tenshu, Shizuka Itou as the red dragon, Tomokazu Sugita as Seelemann, Yukari Tamura as Victoria, Youko Hikasa as Fardania, Fumihiko Tachiki as Alphonse, Hochuu Ootsuka as Tatsugoro, Hiro Shimono as Sirius, Nobuyuki Hiyama as Lionel, Takahiro Sakurai as Alexander, Nao Touyama as Iris and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Rokei. The rest of the casts are Sumire Uesaka as Aletta (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Saori Oonishi as Kuro (Aiz in DanMachi), Reina Ueda as Adelheid (Mira in Dimension W), Kiyono Yasuno as Sarah (Megumi in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata), Sumire Morohoshi as Shia (Nina in Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul), Motomu Kiyokawa as Artorius Yuusaku (Walter in Hellsing), Yara as Thomas (Chin in Toriko), Katsuyuki Konishi as Christian (Laxus in Fairy Tail), Makoto Yasumura as Gaganpo (Akaya in Maken-Ki), Yoshino Aoyama as Tiana (Guri in Renai Boukun), Ayaka Suwa as Arte (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Atsushi Tamaru as Shareef (Shouichi in Seiren) and Shino Shimoji as Renner (Tooru in Seiren). At first I thought it was Rie Kugimiya behind Arius but I was mistaken. It’s Ayaka Asai (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium).

I guess this is one of the very few times in which I could instantly recognize which singer sings the theme song. For the opening theme, I was right when One In A Billion was May’N. Well, half right. Wake Up Girls also help sing this piece by providing the support background vocals. They also have a voice acting role here and make their cameo as those fairies. May’N’s powerful vocals was instantly recognizable since this upbeat song has this similar feel to other anime themes that I heard her sing before such as the openers of Ookami-san To Shichinin No Nakama-tachi and Hidan No Aria. But not really sure if the lively beat of this song fits the theme of this anime because you see how civilized and calm everyone has their food so if this is to hype (whet) your appetite, I don’t think it quite cuts it. But it’s still a good song nevertheless. The ending song is a very lovely slow ballad, Chiisana Hitotsubu by Kiyono Yasuno. Although this is quite a nice piece, I wonder if it is fitting for a food themed anime. Because it fits better if it was played on a romance or even slice of life drama genre. I mean, after having a satisfying meal and hearing this song, it just doesn’t go together like how some foods don’t go with certain wines. Also to note there are a few slow and easy BGMs but my favourite one is the short and catchy piano piece played during the next episode preview.

Overall, this series isn’t anything that amazing as the only thing unique that separates it from other food themed animes is that instead of fellow humans eating our food, individuals from another world come in to enjoy them. The plot is close to non-existent while the characters are not very deep. If you often eat the foods featured here, you won’t be tempted or inspired at all. But its rather relaxing and calming pace makes it enjoyable in its own right because that is how we should all eat our food, right? No silly competitions to outdo each other to create ‘creative’ foods that would temporarily kill you (because it sends you into some crazy heavenly ecstasy). No food fights to save the world or survival of the fittest. Just your little humble great cooking with heart and soul as its not-so-secret ingredients poured into them. Sniff, sniff. Makes me so envious that I wish I had such great cooking at regular intervals. So when is that damn door going to pop up right at my doorstep?! Yeah, being hungry makes you irritable alright.

Shokugeki No Souma S2 OVA

November 24, 2017

After the very lukewarm season 2 and my very disappointment with how a great season can become so boring with that Stagiaire internship thingy, I didn’t think they would come up with another season a year later. But before all that and to hype things up as well as wash away all that disappointment, I guess that is why we have Shokugeki No Souma S2 OVA. This is supposed to be the bridge that connects the second and third season. Don’t expect much but it is still an important piece if you are looking forward to watch the next season. I know I am now.

OVA 1
Hotspring episode! Sort of. Taking place after the Stagiaire, Megumi invites the whole gang to a hotspring inn. We start off with some ping pong match first. Lots of bounciness between Mito and Ryouko’s match and it isn’t the ping pong balls, get what I mean? Megumi and Isshiki have a very serious and passionate battle so much so she is wearing proper attire to play it and this feels more like a sports shonen show than a cooking genre. As the guys soak in the hotspring, Takumi realizes Souma isn’t around. He heard he went to challenge Hayama and Ryo. Unsettled, he starts running about to find him but ultimately gets lost. Now, the challenge Souma is having is a fishing battle. They are to see who can fish out the master of the river. When caught, the trio have to work together to reel it out because it is really giving them a real fight. Meanwhile by sheer bad luck and coincidence, the chefs are all injured and due to a mis-scheduling, important guests are to arrive soon. This is an excuse for our lesser known characters to fill in and show what they’ve got. Little do they know, that VIP is Erina, Alice and Hisako. Erina’s God’s tongue tastes the amateurs’ dishes but also gives them their due praises since it was carefully prepared and lots of effort were put into it. Megumi and co hear the praises from the innkeeper and they are ecstatic because it’s like they passed, right? Later Megumi soaks alone and discovers Erina nearby and realizes she is the VIP. I guess the victory now means a lot, eh? Souma and co return all messed up. Looks like they’ve lost the catch and the river’s master dragged them down the stream and waterfall. Expensive lesson to be learnt. Meanwhile Takumi is still lost… Luckily he manages to find his way back and this time Souma is there. So now he b*tches about the proper order to call for a cooking battle. WTF.

OVA 2
No rest for Souma. Because back at the dorm, he receives tons of challenge letters. We see him continuously winning streaks in Shokugeki matches. There is even one where he took on 2 opponents at the same time and bests them. Heh. All of them must be weaklings. A strange lady, tastes his food before leaving. From the looks of it, want to bet she is from the Elite Ten? Later Isshiki calls Souma and Megumi because there is going to be a Maple Meet soon and this is where the juniors get to meet their seniors. However it is special for the Autumn Elections finalists as they get to meet the Elite Ten face to face. That grin on Souma’s face… He is already thinking of doing Shokugeki with them! So we see the gang taking their seats and as expected, they don’t get along with each other. Rivalry is already so intense. Oddly, despite Erina is part of the Elite Ten, she is joining their side as she considers herself a junior and thus it is proper to get to know her seniors. The Elite Ten show their faces. Another bunch of weirdoes. Some of them don’t get along either. Like Terunori Kuga, Nene Kinokuni, Eizan and Isshiki. You think the Autumn Elections finalists are bad, just take a look at them. Oh, that strange lady is Rindou Kobayashi and is ranked second. When Eishi Tsukasa who is currently the 1st seat of the Elite Ten calls out to Souma, Takumi and Mimasaka, you’d think it would be something very important. Unfortunately he goes into depression that because they called a Shokugeki during the Autumn Elections that he wanted to end early, it cut out a lot of work for him!

Souma then gets straight to the point and shocks everyone that he wants to join the Elite Ten and is willing to do Shokugeki with any of them. Of course nobody is going to do it. Kuga mocks his simple mindedness since in this case he wants to challenge just for the sake of fighting stronger opponents. He tries to drill it into his head the Elite Ten is a completely different world but Souma is just more impressed how cool it is. Basically, the higher your seat, the more privileges you have and hence the more resources to broaden yourself. Momo Akanegakubo has made sweets for all of them. This maple-apple-caramel-cheese dessert thingy looks like an item you can get off from an RPG quest… Seriously… This is cue for the best confectioner in Totsuki to let them taste it and have our dose of exaggerated reactions. I know. It’s that good, right? Kuga then carelessly throws down a challenge to Souma that if he finds that there is one thing he can beat him at, feel free to challenge him. You better hold on to you words. The Elite Ten take their leave and this fires up our young ones. Those deadly auras of challenge… I wonder if meek Megumi will be okay. Don’t worry, later she gets assurance from Souma that despite how different level they are and they may not be able to match it, they should take their time and move slowly towards the Elite Ten. No rush, right? Yeah well, I don’t think they’re even halfway there.

Okawari? Why, We Haven’t Even Got To The Main Dish Yet!
Certainly the couple of OVAs aren’t that bad. The first one is quite light-hearted while the second steps things up a little as we get to see all the faces of the current Elite Ten. So the OVAs did make my day and my hopes for the next season is renewed. There are a lot of things I would love to see in the third season but I’ll try not to get ahead too far of myself. As far as these second season OVAs are concerned, they are satisfying in their own right and it whets the appetite for fans and viewers alike for the next season. It is a step in the right direction and suddenly the disappointment of the second season has all been forgotten. Yeah, must be that dessert thingy they presented. Looks so good to eat…

The surprising thing that I noticed is that some of the Elite Ten making their debut here, all of them are voiced by popular and well-known seiyuus. I instantly recognized them the moment they speak. They are Akira Ishida as Tsukasa, Yuuki Kaji as Kuga, Shizuka Itou as Rindou and Kana Hanazawa as Nene. I thought Momo was the combo breaker as I didn’t recognize her voice but upon discovery she is voiced by Rie Kugimiya! Holy sh*t! Is that really her?! Too soft spoken that I couldn’t recognize. Well, I thought she sounded so different in the recent Konbini Kareshi but at least there were some parts of her voice that was recognizable but this one, not so. Maybe not enough lines. Hearing them again, yup, that’s her alright.

Like I have already said, these OVAs are a nice bridge to connect the second and third season and to whet the appetite for the next season. There will be more interesting Shokugeki (because calling it food fight makes it sound so childish and unglamorous) with a lot of parties trying to vie for the top sea. Even within the Elite Ten, there are still battles among each other to get to higher rankings. Because food is everything, right? It has gotten to a stage where it is no longer as simple as a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Only at Totsuki where food has become majestic works of art and an aphrodisiac drug. Who’d knew that popping something into your mouth can be this convoluted and annoyingly delicious at the same time.

It’s that time again where we need to make our viewers salivate and hungry with a food themed anime. However we don’t want it to be long and over dramatic like Shokugeki No Souma so a short one would be better. However we want to do away with typical Japanese and Chinese cuisines that might have been too common. Aha! Why not try Italian cuisine? And that is how Piace – Watashi No Italian became adapted from manga into anime lasting only 4 minutes per episode. I think. Anyway, what is new when a high school girl decides to go Italian and cook Italian dishes? Quirky characters and Italian dishes, what else? Funnily, all the staffs in this Italian restaurant are Japanese… Of course, they’re in Japan.

Episode 1
Morina Nanase wants to work during her summer vacation. She hasn’t really decided on what to do yet till she sees a recruitment sign for an Italian restaurant, Trattoria Festa. Cute, stylish and close to home. It’s decided. As she takes her first step in, she meets this little kid, Maro Kitahara who is the acting manager. After stating her intentions to work here, he makes her memorize their menu. All in Italian. Can’t read Italian. Don’t worry. There’s a Japanese version of it. But dish is still in Italian. Can’t make out what it is. This makes Maro mad. Why the heck would she want to work in an Italian place? Manager Ruri Fujiki takes over and since Morina can start right away, she hires her now. I mean, right now. Ruri warns Morina about Maro’s bad attitude. Despite being the son of the owner, he is passionate about cooking and a genius chef. Morina tastes Maro’s dish and praises highly, making him blush and tsundere. Despite ‘threatening’ to throw her out if she isn’t up to mark, Morina is glad to have found a place she is happy to work.

Episode 2
Maro teaches a lot to Morina. Ruri thinks he must have taken quite a liking for her. Morina also learns that the upstairs of this restaurant is where Maro lives as well as a couple of other ‘freeloaders’. Ruri explains the owner has not returned for 2 years. One night he ran away most probably to Italy and has never been back since. In the kitchen, Morina meets Kirihide Konno the head chef. He might look good but be careful. Morina accidentally spills a bit of sauce from his dish on the floor and he nearly kills her with his knife! Then he goes on ranting about the ingredients used to make it. Tomatoes… So to make it up to him, she’ll order more of such tomatoes for him. See his happy orgasmic face to receive boxes of tomato cans. A week later all those tomatoes are used up and he is ‘dying’. Morina needs to take responsibility for this so she suggests adding more menu items using tomatoes. Instantly he revives. Why is this going to be such a pain?

Episode 3
Morina sees a customer hitting on girls. Then she tries a tiramisu cake Maro makes. He explains the type of cheese used to make it. As Morina is taking out the trash, she sees a usual customer hanging out. She thought she could suggest trying their tiramisu but then he starts hitting on her with cheesy lines (no pun intended). Maro gets mad at Ei Oreki to get back to work. So he is a staff and not a customer? Morina is shocked to learn he is Festa’s dessert department. So this dude has been hitting on female customers the whole time? Later Maro tells Morina that Ei was a chef from Italy but his dad scouted him. Maro told Ei he would improve better if he worked in hotels but he rather have fun here and see him become his own man. Maro can’t help feel jealous that Ei has worked in places where all his dreams come true. Morina tells him he has the potential to become anything. Although Ei rarely works and usually hits on female customers, Maro wanted him fired but Ruri said he brings in the female customers so it’s not that bad. Later when Morina talks to Ei why he is wasting his time at a place like this, he tells her that Maro is lying. Oh sh*t. Which of them is lying?

Episode 4
Everyone is scared when that usual customer turns up, Niza Teiri. To your battle stations. Even Morina is forced to play her part of Trattori Rangers! He orders the usual and Morina serves him the fried spring roll caponata. It is so good that he wants to let his granddaughter, Sara try it out. She turns out to be Maro’s classmate. Sara also has a sharp sense of taste and smell. However she doesn’t believe at first this caponata is good. She thinks it is poisoned! So how? She stuffs it into Morina’s mouth! Since she is okay, Sara then bites it off from there like a very yuri scene. I think the guys are going crazy in one way or another. Sara then begins her analysis of this dish. Vulgar like a certain French dish but with a flavour fitting for commoners. She finds the fusion with Chinese dim sum like a Sino-Euro-Japanese mish-mash which truly fits in a trattoria. Although Japanese’s image of western cuisine is French or Italian, but compared to French, Italian has a vulgar image. Sara hates Italian cuisine. With that serious face she’s not joking, right?

Episode 5
Morina is enlightened by Kirihide’s knowledge on the difference between Japanese and Italian cuisine based on environmental and cultural factors. Flashback when Sara badmouthed Italian cuisine as vulgar, Kirihide tried to have a showdown with her wearing some mask while the rest distract grandpa with other food. Surprisingly Morina is the maddest one as she punches a hole in the wall! She lectures about people being serious about food. Chefs long ago laboured to find the right ingredient and created a culture that we treasure so much. We must not trample over what they have built up until now. Sara felt ashamed for her shallowness as Morina realizes too late she may have stepped over the line. But Sara hugs her and soon leaves with grandpa. The rest are just relieved that a crisis was averted. Morina is amazed Maro can tell how a dish tasted just looking by its recipe. Because a cuisine can’t be great if it just following blindly a recipe. Cuisine is science! Despite being a cry-baby and loner in class, he is a great chef.

Episode 6
Today is Morina’s last day. She’s quitting! After that hole she made in the wall, her pay won’t be enough to cover. She felt guilty and wanted to take responsibility. Maro is mad that the rest didn’t stop her. Well, it was her decision. When Maro states down all the bad and good qualities of Morina, the rest knew he really likes her. Obviously he goes to stop her. Luckily she is still standing in front of the shop like as though it’s hard to say goodbye. Maro assures they will do something about the wall (currently it is covered with a banner designed by Kirihide and the customers don’t quite like it). Maro understands Morina snapped back at Sara because she saw them work hard making Italian food. They couldn’t fight back because they were thinking of the restaurant’s reputation. That’s why he wants to thank her for standing up for their pride. So please don’t quit. If she really loves this trattoria, please stay and help take care of it. With Ruri agreeing to raise her pay so she can pay off the debt, emotional Morina agrees to come back and work. She vows to become an Italian chef. However the rest realize she can only use a peeler.

Episode 7
In class, Maro tries to impress Sara with his Italian cooking but all she has are criticisms. Plus, she doesn’t remember him. Poor guy runs back all the way crying and cooking is the way to soothe his heart. Sara visits Festa and personally wants Morina to cook an Italian dish for her. Realizing everyone else are ‘busy’ with their own circumstances, it soon dawns to her she can’t cook anything Italian yet. But she decides to give it a shot with some salad. Even if it doesn’t look good, it does taste good. Sara comments it is a taste befitting her. She likes it. Morina is so relieved that he hugs her. Morina later needs to improve her skills since she considers that dish a fluke. She tries to ask Kirihide but he is depressed about making enough profits to rare ingredients. Don’t worry. Ei is willing to help. Grateful Morina hugs him. Meanwhile Maro continues to be sad because nobody is looking his way.

Episode 8
Niza visits again but this time he brings Tony Riga, a famous food blogger. Since this is good advertising, they leave it to Morina to cook something although Maro is the one who seems pessimistic that Morina can do it. Despite nervous, Sara agrees to help her. Ramping up the nervousness is her classmate and friend, Rii Kagetsu. Sara suggests making a dolce dessert. It came out good and delicious. But Niza doesn’t look happy… Actually he was thinking of inviting Morina to become a temporary staff at his restaurant. Maro is the first to protest he will not let him take their Morina away. If he does, he’ll close down the shop and bum at his place every Sunday! Sara approves of grandpa’s move! Morina has been knocked out cold from the shock.

Episode 9
Morina arrives at Sairei, a Japanese restaurant owned by Niza. She is overwhelmed with everything as she spends time with Sara who has some praises about Festa. One day while sweeping outside, she could smell some Italian cooking. Maro and co are here trying to lure her back. He thinks she should be done at Sairei and should come back to Festa. There’s always a spot for her. You mean, a soft spot for her? ;p. So when she tells this to Niza and he disapproves of her going back to that place rather than continue working here, he gives her a challenge to show her resolve with her Italian cooking. Morina seeks Maro and co’s advice so Maro tells her to cook some Italian food that defines who she is. The next day, she serves some carpaccio, pasta and fritters. All is going well until the last dish which isn’t really good. He comments her skills are still underdeveloped and to return to Festa to improve it. I guess that’s the green light. They will even support her path to Italian cooking.

Episode 10
Festa is closed today since they are serving at the festivals. It seems Tony is here because there is a sweets contest. Maro didn’t think any one of his staff is participating till he realizes Ei is missing. Maro wants him to come back and help but Tony insists he should spice things up since Ei is gathering the crowd. Sara throws a challenge to Ei. She heard he thought Morina how to cook and is Festa’s poster boy. If he loses, Festa is nothing to write about and Morina wouldn’t be much of a challenge either. Ei gets serious since she dragged Morina into this and looked down on Festa. In the end, Ei wins. He nicely warns her to not badmouth them again or he won’t go easy next time. Sara apologizes to Morina for that unpleasant moment and hopes they can walk their path to become a chef earnestly. Morina and Maro are left in awe with a side they never see Ei before. Meanwhile Ruri and Kirihide are ‘dying’ since they are short of hands manning their stall.

Episode 11
Festa is closed today and the reason why Maro is so excited is because they will be going on a picnic with Morina. Yeah, he is bossing everyone to get going. It is so obvious watching Maro. He got disappointed when Ruri is the one knocking on the door but the moment he sees Morina, his face lights up. It seems Sara and her grandpa are also joining in. So they’re at the beach wondering what kind of food is best to cook. Maro tries to show off by cooking his meat medium rare so he can serve it fast. Too bad all that ego deflates when Sara didn’t have kind words for it. But then he revives instantly when Morina comments how everyone is enjoying themselves thanks to him.

Episode 12
They throw out all the comedy we’ve know this series for, for a serious melodrama? Ei narrates his senior told him before he came home from Italy. He wants him to look after his son and trattoria. When Ei took his first step into Festa and met the rest, they were lifeless and cold. He tried to be nice and strike up a conversation but that didn’t do much. Even when he tried to talk to Maro about his dad, he became mad and threw a tantrum never to mention his old man’s name again. One day when Sara came over to hand notes from class, Ei realized Maro had been skipping school. He forced Maro to have a talk with him but Maro doesn’t want to hear from a guy who cannot cook. This is where Ei drew the line. He is going to show why Maro himself cannot cook. Shockingly, Ei can cook a splendid eggplant dish. So did he lie about not being able to cook? Actually he has tendonitis in both wrists and cannot hold a pan anymore. He wanted to be better at cooking than everyone that he glued his hand to the pan but now paid the price. He doesn’t want Maro to make the same mistake of staying too focus of trying to be the best. Although Maro is still not appreciative, Ruri thought maybe if he finds a girl he likes, he would change. Ei hopes so. And it is like God heard their prayers as he sends cute Morina into their trattoria looking for work.

Mamma Mia! It’s Only A Decentemente Buono
Well, it wasn’t the best short or food themed anime, but hell, at least it is way much better than that atrocious JK Meshi. Ugh. Still having my hair stand on ends thinking about that piece of garbage even till today. The jokes are spontaneous only because they don’t have much time so many times you will notice that they are going fast with their rapid fire pacing which might seem like rushing. It is still funny but on a decent level rather than being casu marzu cheesy. Sorry, bad Italian cheese pun. I mean, you don’t expect mozzarella or parmesan quality here, do you?

If you are expecting the Italian food to be the stars of the show, you might be disappointed. This series is too short to showcase the good side of the Italian dishes. Maybe because I know nothing about Italian food except maybe pizza, spaghetti and pasta… Their very short appearances per episode depending on what the gang makes don’t do any justice to them. If it is to introduce Italian cuisine to us noobs, well, this isn’t the way. There are some food shots but they aren’t that appetizing if you ask me. Maybe because I’m not into Italian in the first place…

Although each of the characters have their own likeable charm, sadly due to the short duration of the series, there is hardly any development to be expected. Once you get to know a character, after an episode or two, you can probably guess their personality is more or less like this. Like Ruri I feel she is for fanservice purpose because who else has got the biggest bust around? To charm female viewers, that is why you have Ei around and Kirihide has been stereotyped into some strict chef who only wants ingredients from certain places and cooks in certain ways. Then there is Sara who is supposed to give some Japanese influence instead having everything so Italian (which isn’t) and it is unfortunate too that she doesn’t really do much thanks to her ‘polite’, refine and soft spoken exterior. If you like blondes in kimono, it feels that she is somewhat here to satiate that fetish. So what being Maro’s classmate. She just ignores him all the time. Heck, she doesn’t even know she exists.

As for Morina, we can see her getting along well and making Festa her second home. She is fast getting used to the place and becoming a valuable staff. But there is all to it because we don’t really see her levelling up her Italian chef skills and even if so, she is still at an amateur level. Well, at least it is practical since to be an expert culinary chef of another culture’s cuisine, it takes years of hard work and perseverance. Well, good luck on to her to achieve her dream. So for now she feels like the cute poster girl with her honest to goodness feelings for Festa and anything Italian.

Finally, Maro the scatterbrain of the pack is also the brattiest since it is becoming more and more obvious that this little kid has a crush on Morina. The only reason why he goes to great lengths to support her and possibly the best cure whenever he is down. Nothing beats gloom and doom more than the praises from the one you love, eh? So if you’re hoping to see some sort of romance development between them, don’t get your hopes up. Because first and foremost, Italians love their food first. Oh wait. They are Japs…

There could be something about Maro’s missing dad because as said he just got up one night and left. What a way to go to leave all your responsibilities and live life in a different country. It would have been interesting to see and hear the truth about this but I doubt at this rate we have already forgotten about this, right? The final episode might have reminded us about him but it was more about Ei and Maro. Had the entire series had this sort of character development level, I wonder if it would lose the cute comedic charm that viewers have accustomed to. I have to admit that the final episode was indeed interesting as it delved a bit into the past of the 2 characters. But that is only because we know what the characters are when the final episode came about. Therefore would the series had been more interesting or less if it followed this format instead?

The art and drawing has the characters looking cute and kawaii for the boys and girls whereas the guys more like bishonen hunks. With all the flowery and cute effects, it enhances the comedic effect intended for the scene. Because Maro is most of the time in angst mode, it makes him look like a cartoonish character. Sure, the art goes chibi sometimes but Maro in his normal form is already close to looking like in his chibi mode. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Zero-G who did Battery and Tsugumomo.

Too bad I didn’t even recognize a single one of the seiyuus. Not even Youko Hikasa as Ruri. The casts are Sayaka Senbongi as Morina (Chitose in Girlish Number), Yuuki Yonai as Maro (Haruki in Cheer Boys), Hiromi Igarashi as Sara (Orion in Amnesia), Youhei Azakami as Kirihide (Kennosuke in Kuromukuro) and Taku Yashiro as Ei (Hayato in Mayoiga). The ending theme is amusing in its own right. Honjitsu No Tobikiri Buono is quite a catchy piece as it sings about mixing and putting together certain ingredients to ultimately come up with an Italian dish. Yeah, the real picture of that food looks quite tasty. Then the animation turns into something unrelated as we see the Festa staffs along with Sara jamming as a band in chibi form. Really, WTF. On a side note, because of the nature of the ending theme, there are a many variations depending on which one of the Festa staff is singing it. So if Sara is part of the group even as a customer, why isn’t her grandpa? No trattoria for old men?

Overall, this series is just average and if you like it a bit more, it means you’re a fan of Italian food. Average story and average characters mean this series isn’t one you should take seriously except to just enjoy something Italian in the short run before moving on to something heavier. So the best way to get to know Italian food (or any food from any other culture) is to try it out yourself. Unless you are so poor or on a limited budget that you can only scour the internet and drool over tasty looking Italian food. You cannoli view impasta foods for so long. Get out there tomato and try a pizza it. :-). Buon appetite!

Toriko

June 18, 2017

Someone once said that you are what you eat. That some eat to live and others live to eat. I know it has been a few years since Toriko ended its anime run and although I wanted to watch it back then, its triple digits worth of episodes startled me. At that time I was already ‘handling’ multiple long running anime series such as Bleach, Fairy Tail and the still running One Piece. Phew. That’s a lot on my plate. Thank goodness I am not into Naruto… I was afraid I would bite off more than I could chew and thus I delayed it and put it on the back of my mind until I felt the hunger for it. Although I am not hungry right now, the guilty conscious of mine about procrastination reared its ugly head and thus that was I decided to take the plunge. Well, at this age I shouldn’t be too picky an eater. Who knows? I might like it or I may not. Itadakimasu!

Galala Gator Arc
* IGO (International Gourmet Organization) is a global organization responsible for all food related laws and matters.
* Komatsu who is a member of IGO as well as the head chef of Hotel Gourmet tasked to hire one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Bishokuya, Toriko to track down this Galala Gator for some important dinner.
* Though successfully capturing the crocodile, too bad Toriko’s gluttonous appetite has him eat the entire Galala Gator. Too good to resist. Save some!
* Full Course Menu: 8 ultimate dishes of high quality ingredients an individual selects. It is Toriko’s dream to complete it.

Rainbow Fruit Arc
* Toriko is tasked to get the Rainbow Fruit by IGO but that tree is heavily guarded by Troll Kongs.
* Toriko has a policy to not kill or take lives of those he does not wish to eat so the technique of knocking them unconscious, Knocking Gun is used.
* Thanks to the deliciousness of Rainbow Fruit, Toriko decides to add this to his dessert portion of his Full Course Menu.
* Tina: Reporter for Gourmet News who always seek to get the best scoop but due to circumstances she always misses out in recording the most important moments. Has a little pet pigeon named Kruppoh following her wherever she goes.

Puffer Whale Arc
* Coco: Another one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Bishokuya. He reads fortunes and has a bad feeling when Toriko and Komatsu decides to capture the Puffer Whale that only appears once in every 10 years.
* Zonge: Joker and comical character of the series who loves boasting about himself. Nobody ever gets his name right. Isn’t it, Zombie-san?
* Trekking deep into the cave, Komatsu gets separated from Toriko and Coco. He is unfortunately kidnapped while Toriko and Coco have to deal with the dangerous Devil Serpent. Thanks to its regenerative ability, Coco uses his poison abilities to create antibodies to limit its movement and allow Toriko to finish it off.
* The kidnapper flees and leaves Komatsu to fend for himself when faced with a Devil Serpent. He got what he deserved when he gets killed by other creatures. Komatsu uses some firecrackers Toriko gave him as his last resort. The shockwave blast might have stunned the Devil Serpent but it stopped Komatsu’s heart. If not for the legendary Bishokuya, Knocking Master Jirou passing by and resurrecting him, he would’ve been dead.
* After capturing a few Puffer Whales, they need to carefully prepare it as the slightest wrong move will immediately render the rest of its meat useless because of its poisonous glands. Coco is too tired to do it so he has to guide amateur Komatsu. After lots of trial and errors, Komatsu finally gets it right on the last one.
* Their happiness is short-lived when a strange creature (Spy vs Spy?) with evil aura walks pass them and has captured loads of Puffer Whales. Despite no untoward incident happened, the mere sight of this creature was still enough to give them the chills.

Regal Mammoth Arc
* Bishokukai: The main antagonist group of the series. That strange Spy vs Spy creature is a remote robot controlled by them from their base, GT Robo. Their goal is to rule the world by taking control of the world’s ingredients
* Mansam: Not handsome! One of the top chiefs of IGO invites Toriko to watch an underground battle royale between various creatures. What peaks Toriko’s interest is the Battle Wolf which was supposedly extinct a long time ago. Sorry, you’re still not handsome!
* Rin: Tomboyish girl with perfume abilities and has a major one-sided crush on Toriko.
* When the beasts go wild thanks to some wrong perfume, Toriko jumps in to fight the Battle Wolf. But the fight is interrupted when a GT Robo joins the fray to cause havoc. Although Toriko eventually defeats the GT Robo, it had already dealt a damaging blow to the Battle Wolf who was pregnant and just gave birth to an offspring. To honour the mother, Toriko adopts the offspring and names it Terry Cloth.
* Toriko and co are then requested to hunt down the Regal Mammoth because Bishokukai is also targeting it for its Jewel Meat.
* Sani: Rin’s beautiful big brother who is one of the Bishokuya’s Four Heavenly Kings. His long hair serves and extends his touch senses and just when he thought he had retrieved the Regal Mammoth, this giant elephant is just a baby. You know what it means for a parent looking for its missing child.
* While continuing to hunt the mother, they stumble into a GT Robo and were blown away. The gang are separated with Sani reluctantly ending up with Komatsu while Rin enjoying every moment with Toriko. Tina is left with Terry.
* Gourmet Cells: You know how our muscle brain heroes get to do superhuman abilities? It’s all thanks to Gourmet Cells that are able to enhance and adapt the cells and body in various ways. An excuse if they ever need to power up and do incredulous stuffs.
* Once the Regal Mammoth is found, our heroes make a dash inside it but they need to hurry because the insides of the Regal Mammoth are like a labyrinth.
* Coco takes on a giant GT Robo outside while Sani faces off with a human sized GT Robo who has an affinity to collect eyeballs?! Don’t worry, they’ll all win their fights.
* Toriko is just around the corner to discover Jewel Meat but he encounters a GT Robo piloted by Starjun, one of the high ranking commanders of Bishokukai. Rin gets ‘killed’ sends Toriko into a rage but this reckless act might get him killed. Starjun takes Komatsu’s prized knife and since Komatsu is staking his life to get it back, this gives Toriko the motivation to eat the Jewel Meat that powers him up and beat the crap out of Starjun. Bad guy is defeated and the Jewel Meat is in their hands, time for a big feast of celebration. Oh, Rin didn’t die.
* Toriko and Sani argue over adding Jewel Meat into their Full Course Menu. Sani wins after beating him in rock-scissors-paper.

BB Corn Arc
* Terry doesn’t seem to be eating well. Rather, he has no appetite to eat anything. Believing a creature of his status needs some sort of food worthy for his appetite, it could be the legendary BB Corn in Wul Jungle.
* At the same time, Komatsu is tasked to find some sauce to make a special dish because the leaders of the world are in a deadlock over passing of some bill. It must be unanimous and since one of them opposes it, the bill will not be passed. The only way is to satiate his palate. This of course takes him to Wul Jungle. Oh, did I mention there is a certain time limit so that the dish won’t lose its taste?
* After Terry proves his worth in surviving in the jungle, they emerge to a delicious field of BB Corn. They even need to perfectly cook the corn near the volcanic mountains. Just when they had their fill, they are attacked by a high commander of Bishokukai, Grinpatch. It is obvious that Grinpatch is just fooling around with his straw sucking skills. Eventually Toriko cuts his straw in half and the match is a draw.
* Komatsu returns to Hotel Gourmet just in time to finish his dish. The stubborn leader is satisfied and the bill is passed. A bill about officially putting the shoyu sauce on the sushi instead of the rice. Yeah, to think a war was about to start because of that…

Century Arc Soup
* Toriko and Komatsu meet Setsuno. This granny is one of the greatest chefs in history as she lets them taste her Century Soup. She lets them tour her secret underground kitchen and shows them the ingredients needed to make that soup.
* This inspires them as they join a mission initiated by a rich old man, Colonel Mokkoi who is also hunting for the genuine Century Soup at Ice Hell. A group of Gourmet Hunters including Match (mafiaso) and Takimaru (Gourmet Knights) take on the challenge to get the Century Soup and whoever gets it will get the reward of $10 billion!
* Traversing the hellish icy blizzard of Ice Hell, the group is split into 2 with Toriko and some of the main characters heading in as the first shift. Everyone in the second shift is eliminated because Bishokukai has already infiltrated it and you have guessed it, their goal is also the Century Soup. Led by the bug spewing Tommyrod and his other henchmen, the bone shifting Bogiyuez and the durable Barrygamon.
* Zonge who isn’t into conformity takes his own route. Is Tina desperate enough to get the scoop and follow him through routes that only bring bad luck? At least they’re still alive after encountering all those ferocious beast.
* Toriko will have his power put to the real test as he takes on Tommyrod. But before that, we have Takimaru fighting Bogiyuez and Match against Barrygamon. To cut things short, they defeat their opponents but pay a heavy price of being heavily damaged.
* Komatsu is tasked to take the Century Soup. He stumbles into this guy, Teppei who is a Saiseiya (opposite of Bishokuya who captures ingredients, Saiseiya preserves ingredients). It is learnt that Century Soup is running its last course and will be extinct. Or it could already be extinct. When Mokkoi hears of it, he abandons everyone and leaves. Too bad he didn’t have the patience to listen longer because there is a small speck of it left. But when Komatsu is about to take it, a GT Robo knocks him out and steals the remaining Century Soup for his own. Lots of crying and regret. Why does Komatsu have to make failing Toriko such a big deal?
* Meanwhile Toriko is having a tough time with Tommyrod despite the long drawn out fight has made Toriko created a few new Fork and Knife moves. Toriko is already exhausted from the thousands of bugs Tommyrod descends on him and could have been killed had not Teppei stepped in to save the day. Tommyrod ultimately uses his trump card in shedding his skin to unleash a hellish monstrous bug but it ends up fighting with another ancient mouth monster instead.
* No more Century Soup, eh? Leave it to Teppei to wring out the last of its drop after crushing the ice pillar of Gourmet Show Window. So who gets to drink its last drop? Komatsu wants to be the one as he vows to recreate it. He drinks the final Century Soup and you can tell how delicious it is when he puts on that silly monkey grin. Yeah…
* Oh, did I mention that Komatsu will be getting his own pet, Yun a baby Wall Penguin because stupid bad guys indiscriminately killed its parents and since it takes a liking for Komatsu for protecting it, why not?
* The survivors are picked up by Setsuko’s flying jellyfish. Since Toriko lost an arm during the heated battle with Tommyrod, he heads to the healing country of Life. They see Teppei’s master, Yusaku who is going to administer a cure to help grow back his arm. Yeah, it’ll take 20 years! Do we have that long to wait?! And so because of his Gourmet Cells evolve, blah, blah, blah, he is able to regenerate his arm at a highly fast rate but he need to keep eating and eating since the healing is taking nutrients from his body. Otherwise this fails and he dies. You know that isn’t possible, right?
* At the same time, Komatsu is trying to recreate Century Soup but to no avail. Even with his ability to hear the ingredients’ voice of whether they choose him to be used, it still feels like it is missing an ingredient. That one final ingredient that gives Century Soup its oomph. Want to guess what it is? I’ll spoil you. It’s that saliva of the Wall Penguin! Who would’ve guessed? And you thought it is going to take him 20 years to get it right, eh? And with his achievements, he lets everyone who helped him on his journey taste it first instead of some big shot. Friends comes first.
* With the extremely delicious taste of the Century Soup that has everyone putting that silly grin, Toriko decides to add this to his Full Course Menu.
* Toriko returns home to find his house made of food gone. Eaten by wild animals? Or did Hansel and Gretel ventured into the wrong world and ate everything? So he has this renowned architect, Smile to come fix it up again. Ironically, all the stress and business, Smile has never been smiling until he fixes up his place again. And then all the stress comes dropping in again when Toriko invites his friends over for housewarming and they eat up every single nook and corner! Start over again?

Gourmet King Battle Arc
* There is this competition set up by this rich kid to find an ingredient that his pet, a Seven-Colour Nessie will eat. Because apparently something is wrong with Nessie dear and he doesn’t want to eat anything. It’s making his master sad, it’s making itself sad and it is making everyone sad.
* So while Nessie rejects everything the other Gourmet Hunters had to bring (say goodbye to that huge chunk of reward money), Toriko, Coco and Sani end up having different ideas on what the sweet dessert it needs. Despite capturing them, Nessie rejects them all! Can it be their first failure? Then Komatsu notices Nessie has shown some interest in Rin’s parfait so he uses the Four Heavenly Kings’ captured ingredients to make a perfect parfait.
* So this is the food Nessie wants to eat? Yeah, something as it was the first food it ate with its master many years ago. It turns out Nessie is going to evolve and leave its nest. Naturally. Parting is hard. Master is sad but you know what they say that their bonds are always forever and ever no matter where you are.

Ozone Herb Arc
* Toriko meets the president of IGO, Ichiryuu. He has a request for Toriko to go get the Ozone Herb for him. This will also serve as his training as this will prepare him to enter the Gourmet World, a hazardous place where you’ll find lots of dangers and rare ingredients not found in the Human World. At this point the Bishokukai is already making their move to enter that world because it is said that the legendary ingredient, God is about to appear. No prizes for guessing that ultimate ingredient is what is needed to rule the world.
* Acacia: The legendary Bishokuya who was the only one who tasted every ingredient in the world as well as God. That was centuries ago. In his final days, Acacia took on 3 disciples who are no other than Ichiryuu, Jirou and Bishokukai’s boss, Midora. How old are these people anyway???!!!
* Toriko is also advised to find a good partner for his journey. Who better than Komatsu? What good is capturing ingredients if there is no one good enough to cook it?
* Arriving at the bottom of the Sky Plant, the duo make their way up and encounter various creatures who want to kill them as well as environmental hazards before reaching at the top of the Vegetable Garden. It’s amazing they didn’t die from all that.
* Even finding the Ozone Herb, it is not easy to eat it as it requires special preparation. One wrong move will send it shrivel into a seed. It is discovered you have to eat it in pairs. At the same exact time! After lots of trial and errors, they are able to get a taste of it.
* Toriko officially forms a partnership with Komatsu but declines to add Ozone Herb to his Full Course Menu because of how troublesome it is to eat it.
* They are startled by a GT Robo. However Toriko could sense it is not exactly a machine. Is it some sort of unknown creature that just looks like a GT Robo? It has watched them how to eat Ozone Herb and swiftly imitates their moves to eat it. But I guess it doesn’t like it and spits it out.
* Toriko returns to Ichiryuu who then gives him a long list of requests. Yes, a bid to improve and train Toriko’s body to quickly adapt to the environments.

Gourmet World Reality Arc
* Toriko thinks he is strong enough to take on the Gourmet World. Of the 3 land routes to enter (you can’t enter via sky or sea because of poison and hazards), the Waterfall Basin of Life is comparably the easiest. Comparably. But the moment he jumps down, he is relentlessly attacked by beasts and all sorts of environmental hazards that really puts his body to the limit. No chance for him to even rest and recover. Always need to be on his toes.
* Toriko could have been done for if not for cool Jirou coming to his rescue. Jirou shows the big difference in knowledge, power and abilities as he easily handles the beasts and environments. It seems Komatsu was the one who requested Jirou to come save him. When Toriko told Sani he was going to the Gourmet World, Sani told Komatsu about it and gave him contacts of Jirou. Realizing the importance of a partner, Toriko gives up his venture further into the Gourmet World and returns to Komatsu’s side. Oh Komatsu, why do you look so gay when you see Toriko back and jumping to hug him?

Melk Stardust Arc
* While happy Komatsu is cooking for Toriko to celebrate his safe return, his favourite knife breaks. He could just buy a new one but you know, this one holds so many memories. Toriko remembers on his training list the name of a craftsman who forges the strongest blades: Melk Stardust.
* No guarantees if this reclusive knife sharpener would take on Komatsu’s request but if you don’t try, you won’t know. After trekking up mountains of stairs, they finally meet the person.
* Toriko is suspicious of this Melk because lots of things doesn’t add up. An imposter? After a short bout, Melk reveals she is the second generation and the disciple of the first Melk. Her master seems to have left on a mission and hasn’t returned for years. Still keeping the faith he is still alive.
* In addition to make Komatsu’s knife (which will normally take 3 years due to the backlog of requests but we’ll skip all that because Komatsu’s such an awesome chef, right?), Toriko has another mission as per requested by Ichiryuu: To obtain Melk Stardust which is a whetstone which is said to be able to sharpen anything.
* It is believed Melk I has gone down Heavy Hole where Melk Stardust is believed to be, an area where gravity is abnormal. Toriko goes down there himself while Komatsu stays with Melk II and watches her work.
* Komatsu discovers that Melk is a woman (why am I not surprised?) and the truth about her past. She is actually the adopted daughter of Melk I. He found her abandoned in the woods. Melk II is also unconfident of her sharpening skills because her father never really entrusted her to continue his work. But leave it to Komatsu to say all the nice motivational words and cook her nice meals to get her confidence back.
* Toriko finally meets Melk II at the bottom. Aside his hulking size and body of scars, this guy’s voice is soft as hell! Some special stone amplifies his voice to let us hear what he is saying. It is revealed that he retired from his job to take on a crafting request from Ichiryuu. He is supposed to craft a knife to create Acacia’s Full Course Menu salad called Air. Knowing this will take years, this might be the last thing he will ever do with his life. Of course he entrusted everything to his daughter just that because of his small voice, the message was never delivered.
* After Melk gives the required whetstone, Toriko returns to the surface and tells everything and dispel all the years of misunderstanding. Time to make Komatsu’s knife.
* His new knife is so sharp that it can cut through water!!! OMFG!!! Better be careful with that thing.

Mellow Cola Arc
* Because it is believed this season is the tastiest for the Mellow Cola (an ingredient on Ichiryuu’s request list), Toriko needs to hurry. Since it is located in the graveyard maze desert of Gourmet Pyramid, Toriko needs the help of his fellow Four Heavenly Kings, Zebra.
* Zebra: Among the quartet, he is the most troublesome because he loves to pick fights! Oh, did I mention he has damn good hearing? So you better not talk behind his back. Or get cocky. Currently he is serving time at Honey Prison for crimes against the gourmet laws. What did he do? When you piss him off, he makes sure your species goes extinct! And he is responsible for making 26 species go extinct! No wonder he is incarcerated in the world’s toughest prison.
* Thanks to Ichiryuu’s help (as requested by Toriko), Zebra gets permission to be freed. You’ll be peeing in your pants once you see how ferocious his sound and voice power. Yeah, his legendary status is so fearful that when news leaked over his release, stocks fall, the economic goes into recession and nations prepare for war! OMFG! This guy is worse than Satan!
* It’s only natural for Komatsu to worry if bringing Zebra along was a good idea because he is so temperamental picking fights with Toriko at every chance (no wonder Sani and Coco won’t help in this mission) and perhaps what is keeping Komatsu alive is because he cooks for him when commanded.
* When they reach the desert maze, Komatsu goes missing. Zebra uses his echolocation to map out the area. Komatsu has been swallowed by the quicksand and sliding his way. With the muscle brains following his trail, it eventually leads them to Gourmet Pyramid.
* Komatsu must be real lucky evading beasts and if he isn’t, thanks to Zebra’s sound barrier protecting him from harm. Toriko and Zebra on the other hand make their way towards the bottom of the pyramid while killing and eating monsters to replenish their strength.
* Eventually they reunite and are faced with the Salamander Sphinx who harbours mellow cola inside its body. Despite all the tough and hard hitting punches, nothing much seems to happen on the Salamander Sphinx.
* All the while, Komatsu has been reading an ancient recipe book that he stumbled somewhere like as though it was put out in front of his face to collect. Uh huh. Despite having unknown words, somehow Komatsu can read it! Too convenient! It spells out that the mellow cola is in the Salamander Sphinx’s tears and there are strict special ways to get it. Uh huh. This means Komatsu guides to duo on how to specially prepare (read: systematically beating it up) with all those really silly instructions. No wonder it’s so hard to get.
* Just when they make the Salamander Sphinx cry, that mysterious GT Robo-like killer beats up all of them and drinks all the mellow cola! All the hard work! This makes Zebra and Toriko mad. Real mad. They fight the creature but it is tougher than anything they imagine. It even learnt some skills just by watching. But Zebra deals the decisive blow after he senses it has not much long to live.
* Apparently all is not lost because there is a second wave of real matured mellow cola coming that floods the hallways. With its delicious taste, Zebra wants to put it on his Full Course Menu and wants Komatsu to team up with him. It was one of many Zebra’s conditions to Komatsu if he is to help Toriko get the mellow cola. Yeah, Komatsu also has lots of conditions. Never ending. So Komatsu’s deal is till he gets to see their entire Full Course Menu, he’ll only decide to see whom he will form a combo with. For now, he puts his trust in Toriko.
* When they return and Komatsu cooks them their reward as promised, here comes Mansam (not handsome!) with a couple of guys. They are taking this mysterious creature back for more research. It is revealed they are called Nitro as discovered and researched by Acacia. Highly intelligent creatures and terrifying life force. But the biggest secret is how Bishokukai has a hand in this. As Nitro knows how the get delicious ingredients, it is believed they know how to obtain God. That’s why Midora made GT Robo to look like them as bait to get close to them. With their plan already in some sort of advancement, another Gourmet War might happen. Toriko remains confident all they have to do to avert that is to share God with everyone.

Toriko’s Break Arc
* Toriko and co head to the beach to help curry house boy, Cumins find his lost sister, Safla believed to have gone out to sea to find some legendary curry ingredient. She is fine and they tag along to hunt for the Water Tiger on a moving island. Despite all the necessary ingredients, Cumins is losing hope to recreate his late father’s curry dish. The missing ingredient turns out to be right under their noses, a fruit tree nearby that dad always brought them to.
* Toriko and Komatsu visit the legendary Gourmet Shrine believed to increase their luck in food. There is a knife in the middle of a big chopping board that acts like Excalibur. Guess who pulled it out? Komatsu! Toriko also got lucky by winning a gold nut from a tree fruit.
* They don’t call it Surprise Island for nothing because the gang is here to harvest Surprise Apples! The more you scare and surprise it, the tastier it gets and hence the flabbergasted face on those apples! WTF???!!! Just be sure not to bore it to sleep or faint it. You thought Toriko had the highest scaring score till Zonge’s fart was the one that broke all records. Lost my appetite…
* Hordes of people seemingly wants to buy land from an owner. Prior to that, he refused but all of a sudden he wants to sell it and bids it at a very high price. Toriko and Komatsu are just here to eat his Chicken Beast’s egg and this might be what the old man is looking for. Because all those greedy people just want money to sell the egg to get more money. This brings back nostalgic memories of his late wife. He gives his land to Toriko for free and the reason he does so because he has not much longer to live. Therefore he doesn’t need the money to where he is going.

Shining Gourami Arc
* As another ingredient on Ichiryuu’s list, this time Toriko seeks Sani’s help because this fish lives deep with the Death Falls, a place where a trillion litres of water drops every second! You’re going to get crushed just by coming contact with the water. So they ride on Sani’s giant Mother Snake, Quinn.
* We get to see Sani using the fruits of his training to help dispel the deadly waterfall. From his training with Goemon on Sanzu Road (one of the 3 roads to Gourmet World), he learns not to think and uses his intuition to increase his skills. Toriko learns that too from observing him as they combine their powers to destroy a mountain falling from the waterfall!
* Once they are safe inside the waterfall cave, the muscle guys are out of stamina. Now it is Komatsu’s turn to find the fish. Because the cave has no predators, it is supposed to be an easy catch. Or is it? Shining Gourami is also a dish that needs special preparation. Living in isolation with no predators and absorbing nutrients all around, the slightest thing may shock it to death! Yeah, even the sight of big muscle guys might kill them! So it is a blessing that a weak human like Komatsu is the one who manages to understand how to retrieve them without scaring them to death after a few tries (something about covering it with oil they are familiar with).
* Komatsu returns to his pals as he cooks tempura version of it and adding Melk Stardust to enhance its overall taste. Yum!

Autumn Break Arc
* Toriko and Komatsu enter a food competition because its prize is a Diamond Figcrystal, an ingredient that Melk II requested of them to find for a knife she is carving. So when it seems Toriko may have snatched the competition with nearly perfect points, he is disqualified for not using the Figcrystal ingredient. In the end, it is Melk II’s pet, Pochiko that steals the limelight with his luminance and gets the perfect score. What a better present for Melk II to receive a gift from her pet.
* Toriko and Komatsu visit the Gourmet Shrine again but are called by the priests because they ran out of Longevity Sugarcane to make Chitose Ame to be handed out to kids. Apparently this is to showcase Yun but seriously he fails a lot. Trying to help out to find the sugarcane, he gets lost in a forest and is in danger of being eaten by a bird predator. Of course he needs help from Komatsu and ultimately Toriko. They get the sugarcane, make the candy, happy kids everywhere, happy ending.
* Toriko, Komatsu, Coco and Sani along with their pets race to see who can find some pear fruit tree, Spnash. But then it partly turns into a rescue mission for Komatsu because he is taken away from some sheep-pig creatures. It turns out those beasts have their own family and competition around the area has left them malnourished. As expected, a happy ending as they find Spnash and all men and beasts get to savour its taste.

Winter Break Arc
* The top aides to the executive chef of Bishokukai, Niceny returns as he talks with the rest about Bishokukai’s plans to capture 100 top chefs to head into the Gourmet World. Because once they abandon the Human World, they’ll need highly skilled chefs to cook those godly foods.
* Komatsu sees that his old friend, Ootake has gotten into the top 100 chefs ranking. 99th to be exact. So he pays a courtesy visit only to find he has drastically changed. He is arrogant, forgot about his roots and will do anything it takes to stand atop the rankings. This includes bribing articles to write good stuffs about his food. Oh, his views is that foods that chefs cook must also bring in the money otherwise it’s useless. Komatsu blows his top when Ootake badmouths his customers as stupid. He is sad he has changed and feels pity for the ingredients. He doesn’t intend to compete with him as he plans to head to the top with Toriko in their own way. After Komatsu leaves, Ootake is kidnapped by a GT Robo.
* Toriko teams up with Coco to get an ingredient for one of Ichiryuu’s Full Course Menu. After pounding that giant treasure chest with all they’ve got, inside is only a tiny bean?! Actually it is a seed. It emitted some sort of voice that only certain people can hear. That’s you Komatsu. And so he is interested to take a look at Ichiryuu’s mysterious Full Course Menu since we all know if there is a chef who can cook them, it’s him.
* Toriko, Coco, Sani, Rin and Komatsu are called back to Honey Prison because Mansam has a request of them. It seems G7’s Patch and IGO agent, Johannes has gone missing in search for the Sweet Dew Tree during the blizzard. So when they find them alive and well, they were actually trying to find other ingredients that would make this tree even tastier. Leave it to Komatsu to turn and decorate this tree into a shining Christmas tree that even all the wild beasts stare in awe. But they can’t eat it because Mansam has somebody else in mind to do so. First the giant tree is chopped up into many small pieces so they can be delivered to underprivileged poor children all over the world. What a food blessing indeed. Merry Christmas everyone!

Meteor Garlic Arc
* Toriko, Coco and Komatsu head to the underground kingdom of Jidar. As it is not a member country affiliated with IGO, it is lawless and has lots of illegal ingredients circulating in the black market. They are making their way to Gourmet Casino to gamble because of the prize offered, the rare Meteor Garlic.
* Match and his mafia are also in Jidar because of some highly toxic narcotic ingredient circulating in their own town. They know the big culprit behind this is no other than the boss of the Underground Cooking World, Livebearer. As Match is no match to Livebearer in terms of strength (as advised by Coco), the only chance is to gamble.
* Our heroes gamble and win their way as part of their plan to attract the casino management. This means they get to access the VIP area with gambling and bets at higher stakes. When Livebearer shows his face and introduces them to an even more secret VIP area, everyone is shocked to see this place where losers lose their food memories after losing a bet. And all those memories and tastes they have experienced are then transferred into Livebearer.
* Livebearer suggests a memory matching card game. Unlike in ordinary games, in order to gain points on that matching card, they have to eat that ingredient. Failure to eat it means the opponent will get the points. The one with the most points in the end wins. There is a number of consecutive streaks one can win or lose before your turn is over to ensure everybody has a fair play.
* Komatsu is against Toriko playing against Livebearer because he fears all their past memories together will be wiped out. Toriko assures him that the past doesn’t matter. He looks forward to the future. Then he hands this responsibility to Coco. WTF?! Of course everyone has their part to play. Match is the dealer, Coco will pick the cards and Komatsu cooks the ingredients for Toriko to eat.
* Thanks to Coco’s clairvoyance, our heroes are off to a good start. However Livebearer is cheating because he can also pair the cards at first go and he gets those with high points as he has special contact lens to detect cards. But no worries. Coco strikes back with high scoring points and with Toriko’s black hole appetite, he chows them all down well before its time limit.
* However when Coco starts missing the cards, he is doing this deliberately to check the card value. He realizes this game isn’t about points but to avoid getting cards that are big misses (tough ingredients to eat but only worth small points). With this, Livebearer is able to pull away with massive points. With the dwindling cards, all ingredients left are mainly those big misses. Thus Livebearer is smart enough to purposely miss his cards too as there is no reason for him to risk his life due to his massive points difference.
* Coco’s hope now is to pick Joker cards that allow them to trade their opponent’s card. The rules still remain the same. That is, points won’t be deduct from the traded card and if both sides manage to eat the traded cards, they will obtain points from the traded card. Livebearer calculates the points of the remaining cards and thinks Coco is trying to make him retire since even if Toriko eats all the remaining ingredients, it won’t be enough to surpass him.
* With another Joker card picked, Coco gets to trade another card and has Livebearer eat a high value card. But because it is dangerous, he passes. This enables our heroes to accumulate more points and take the lead.
* All seems over when Livebearer eats the last highest value card on the table and regain the lead. The remaining cards are peanuts and despite Toriko eats all of them, they trail Livebearer by 60 points. Their loss?
* However the last card is the biggest miss card and is a Poison Potato. It is Livebearer’s turn to eat it. Coco is still confident they are going to win. Something about the order of the ingredients that Livebearer has eaten. Because some foods are not compatible, the ingredients that Livebearer has eaten makes it impossible for his digestive system to ward off the poison. Coco has seen this coming and planned it out. Not only for Livebearer but Toriko as well. The ingredients he ate also helped him recover and replenish his strength. Although Livebearer has a dirty secret technique which coats his stomach for the poison, unfortunately Coco saw through this too and notes that an earlier snack he ate negated the coating.
* Being true to his villainous self, Livebearer won’t admit defeat and sends his men to attack. Of course our heroes too won’t sit there and let their brains be taken. Eventually Livebearer and his men are easily defeated.
* Last surprise is that Komatsu has cooked the Poison Potato and despite removing the poisonous parts, it still remains very much poisonous. But as Coco calculated, the last few ingredients Toriko ate also geared and prepared him for this ingredient. When he eats it, his Gourmet Cells evolve and negate the poison! OMG! He is so buffed up!!!
* Komatsu is tasked to specially prepare the Meteor Garlic. Seeing Komatsu figuring out how to cook it reminds Livebearer of his old passion. So he helps Komatsu in peeling it. When done, Meteor Garlic shoots up and showers down like fireworks. Its edible parts are in the centre and just small bits. But enough to make everybody buffed up! OMG! Have you seen Komatsu this buffed up???!!!
* Livebearer informs Coco about the person he is looking for that may know the ingredients for Acacia’s drink, Atom. He is the personal chef to the king of Jidar, Joa. However it seems the palace has been abandoned because these guys are already in the final phase of their plan as they have information regarding Acacia’s secret notebook.
* In the aftermath, with the king abandoning his kingdom, Match’s mafia group takes over the place to rid of the ingredients and Livebearer overseeing the safety and security of the kingdom.
* Ichiryuu heads to Bishokukai’s base to talk to Midora. However that guy isn’t bent on sharing God and wants it all for himself, risking an all-out war. Talk’s over.

Ehou Maki Arc
* In order to find the next ingredient as part of Ichiryuu’s training, Toriko seeks some fortune teller-cum-sushi maker, Monchy on its location. However he needs several ingredients to make the Ehou Maki that could 100% pinpoint its location.
* First they head to some frozen pond to extract Madam Fish. Then they head to an island that is made out of 100% liquor (where all animals are drunk?) to get King Vinegar. But that apparently isn’t enough so they have to get the smelliest ingredient in the world, Bodurian Bomb. It is so freaking smelly that the funniest thing is to see Toriko and Komatsu talking in a super funny falsetto voice in a hilarious stunk up face and adding stinky at the end of every sentence. Yeah, it was pretty hilarious despite how stinky it is.
* Finally in a naturally eco place where they meet Takimaru and his Gourmet Knights (including their leader Aimaru) to obtain the Eco Nori obtained from the Solar Turtle.
* With all the ingredients collected, Monchy begins making his giant Ehou Maki. So he is pro wrestling the ingredients to tenderize its meat? Aho ka?!

Bubble Fruits Arc
* Once done, it is a giant tower that soars into the sky?! Where it lands will pinpoint the direction and location of the ingredient, Bubble Fruits. And so we have Toriko and Komatsu eating their entire way across the continent (even causing traffic jams?!) that leads them to the Lost Forest. It’s a wonder nobody else ate the Ehou Maki.
* When the trail suddenly stops, they spot somebody trying to steal it. This leads them to a hidden 10 star restaurant run by the head chef, Chiru. She teaches them food etiquette and honour as she serves food that one must be polite and gentle to eat. Too bad the duo can’t even eat anything.
* They also meet one of the legendary Bishokuya, Chin Chinchin. Despite having very good food etiquette, he mispronounces names and did he mention he was the one who ate part of the Ehou Maki? He leads them to his Shokurin Temple where Bubble Fruits is. However the duo must learn Food Honour quickly because the ingredients are not only shy and hide themselves by disappearing, those inside the temple attack them! Wow. Food etiquette and respect from the heart are really something tough to learn.
* They will be trained by the temple assistant, Shuu. First he has a fighting match with Toriko. It might seem Toriko is faster and more powerful but Shuu is able to dodge all of his attacks gracefully. Not only that, his weaker attack shaved his facial hair and clothes without Toriko even knowing! After Shuu explains the unnecessary and inefficiency of his moves that wastes energy, for the first time Toriko accepts reality and admits his defeat so he could learn Food Honour.
* Shuu also has a match with Komatsu but it is a cooking one. Shuu also defeats him in no time because of Komatsu’s many unnecessary moves.
* Toriko’s first training is picking up beans with a 5 metre long chopsticks. Other training methods include mediation, standing with correct appreciation posture and watching a flower bud grow. Even during meals, training never stops. Yeah, work hard to eat. Toriko must be frustrated and wonders if he can really master Food Honour. Before he knows it, his attacks are powerful in a blink of an eye. With more concentration, he can unleash more powerful and better attacks. This gives him motivation to continue his training. Likewise, Komatsu also powers up as his concentration enhances his experience and knowledge intuitively.
* In no time they become masters of Food Honour before they even know it. Now that they are seemingly ready, Chin takes over. Although Toriko can touch the Bubble Fruits in the temple, this one is just a fake created by Chin in preparation to get the real one.
* Speaking of that, it is located deep in the Bubble Way. The entire place is nothing but bubbles! It seems like a long walk for Toriko and he looks super dehydrated. Keep going.
* Meanwhile Shokurin Temple is under attack by a monster bird and a group of baddies led by Chiyo, Chin’s combo partner and a highly ranked chef who is believed to be missing. She is part of Bishokukai now. Oh wait. Isn’t that Ootake with her? Komatsu is so happy to see him ever since he has gone missing. Too bad the feeling isn’t mutual because Ootake stabs him! Fortunately the knife’s ability is to revitalize. Despite being illegal in the Human World, Ootake needs it to prepare food in the Gourmet World. As usual Komatsu places his importance on food appreciation but Ootake is all about being the strongest and only believes their distance has grown.
* Toriko dies of starvation! His finals words are his appreciation to all the great food he has eaten. That is when Bubble Fruits popped up. It seems the entire place they have been walking is where Bubble Fruits are. Toriko just needs to be at the pinnacle of his appreciation for them to appear. So he revives after taking a bite and devouring a heap of them. He is reborn! Look at his long glowing hair! Better than a TV shampoo commercial!
* Chiyo and her monsters run rampage and slaughter the place. Chin returns in time to fight her. Man, he turns into the Hulk?
* It is time for Toriko to return to show how much he has powered up. He has mastered Food Honour that when he sees the destruction, he doesn’t get mad. He is instead thankful for everything! Then we see him beat up the golem hybrid so fast and so relentless, sending it through the air, through the mountains before finally disintegrating! OMFG!!!
* Chiyo defeats Chin and injures him greatly. Toriko almost loses his composure but manages to keep calm and carry on fighting. With his power and speed, he defeats Chiyo.
* Starjun is here to pick them up seeing they have got what they came for. Ootake tells Komatsu that Midora is his partner and wants him to level up or there will be no value in defeating. Starjun notes Ootake was lying about the big boss being his partner. Although technically Midora considers all his chefs as his partner, currently Starjun is Ootake’s partner.
* Komatsu is sad and frustrated his best friend has turn into the dark side. All Toriko can say is that they will make him realize his wrong with their cooking and strength.
* With Chiru’s revitalizing knife, Chin is revived. He reveals Chiyo’s reason for defection. It seems she has information regarding the existence of an ingredient of Acacia’s Full Course Menu that would revive her dead son who is also Chin’s son.
* Ichiryuu calls an emergency meeting with almost all the members of the secretive 0th Biotope in the Gourmet World. It seems Bishokukai is now aware of the existence of Centre, one of Acacia’s Full Course Menu. This means somebody here has leaked information. Ichiryuu doesn’t care about that since the mission now is to gather ingredients for Acacia’s Full Course Menu and with many of them nearing completion, it will soon be an all-out war with Bishokukai.

Golden Wheat Arc
* Since the duo have obtained Food Honour, Setsuno requests them to obtain Golden Wheat so she can make the phantasmal noodles, Zenmen.
* However Toriko is faced with Yuu piloting a newly upgraded GT Robo. Despite attempts to throw Toriko off his pace, he remains calms to give some payback as revenge for hurting Komatsu and stole the Century Soup during Ice Hell. Before GT Robo malfunctions, Yuu is able to grab the Infini Bee which is believed to know where Acacia’s special menu is. It is his goal all along.
* Setsuno guides Komatsu to make Zenmei and after 3 days of intense kneading, it is done. They help sell different types of its variations via food truck. Clearly not only Toriko and Komatsu has levelled up in their Food Honour but the other Heavenly Kings as well.
* This anime filler is a prelude to a movie released shortly after. Of course I didn’t see it…

Four Beasts Arc
* Every few centuries, the Four Beasts will awake and head towards the Human World. Why? Because humans are their favourite food! It is like as though the keep the population down after every boom. The Four Heavenly Kings are tasked to defend the 4 corners of the Human World from them because if 1 of them loses, the barrier will be broken and billions of humans taking refuge in the centre will die!
* These monsters breeze through the land like it is nothing. They destroy all the lands we have seen from Wul Jungle to Ice Hell and even Gourmet Pyramid. So do you think the military’s firepower is going to even scratch them? Know where you stand puny humans!
* So the match-ups we get are Zebra facing off with a volcanic turtle, Sani being grossed out by a gorilla octopus, Coco against a poison stallion and Toriko testing the might of a demon lion.
* To ramp up the drama and tension, the Four Heavenly Kings must seemingly lose first. All the people watching the video must be so fragile in their trust that seeing this means the end of humanity. And when they revive, it is like they become confident again.
* Obviously the Four Heavenly Kings didn’t listen to the rest of Ichiryuu’s message because as Rin and Komatsu found out, there isn’t 4 of them but just 1 of them! They are just limbs of the main body and somebody is controlling it.
* The main body is a giant plant underground and the Four Beasts are actually its roots. Once the monsters are grown, it is supposed to capture humans back to the main body to be devoured. Because Ichiryuu defeated them all the last time and there were no human casualties, it changed its tactic this time. Because it could be right in the centre of the Human World. You don’t say because here it comes attacking now!!!
* By the time our heroes return, the main body has absorbed the Four Beasts and turned into a hideous giant monster. That’s not all, it has kicked up a storm called Green Rain. Any human who gets touched by it will die in an hour. Wait a minute. Didn’t everybody get wet by it already?!
* The Four Heavenly Kings are having it tough because the monster can deflect and transfer that attack waves. It also knows their attack patterns and abilities.
* Komatsu is tasked to head to Yuda’s tower to cook medicinal food for the people. But will it be possible seeing they don’t have enough time or hands. Even so, how can they cook and save all? Too many humans! Don’t worry. Setsuno and her assistant, Nono are here to help. Not enough? Here’s Chiru. Not enough either? Here’s Livebearer. Need more you say? Yeah, here comes a bunch of weird top chefs of the world.
* Even with all these hands, they can’t save everybody. Now this is where I feel it gets weird because Komatsu is hell bent in saving everyone! Every. Single. Damn. Person. No buts about it. He doesn’t like the thought of some random process to choose who gets to eat the antidote since this requires special preparation and not all chefs can easily do it. I think if they stopped b*tching about this and get to work now, maybe they could have saved a little more lives?
* Instead they can spare Komatsu only 10 minutes to find an easier way for all chefs to make this. I mean, seriously? Yes, seriously. Just in time he makes it! Not only that, he only used 5 minutes and the remaining time to figure out how to make it tasty. OMFG! Then they wire it to all the chefs around the world in a live telecast on how to make it. Don’t worry about the transport. I’m sure they’ll make it somehow. Komatsu… Somebody give him the post of the top ranking chef already.
* The Four Heavenly Kings are beaten to a pulp. As they grow weaker, they decide to combine their food energy and do a combo that they have never succeeded before. Want to bet it will succeed now? So focusing and concentrating their appetite energy into a single ball that turns into some horror Pacman to devour the main body until it becomes one giant lump of food energy.
* Even better, all the humans the main body has eaten are still alive because apparently they didn’t get digested yet. Hooray! Nobody dies! Everybody is saved! Then the world enjoys the biggest meat festival as all the chefs around the world cook that giant meat lump and turn it into various dishes.
* Teppei follows the mastermind and wants to find out more but is warned not to pry further or he’ll die where he stands. He wanted to fight but the next thing he knows, he experiences some weird hypnosis and blacks out for the next 3 days. By the time he wakes up, he is in Pukin’s lab and still reeling from fear. He would have died had not his Saiseiya network come to his rescue and the mastermind decided to flee as not to risk his identity being revealed.

Mon Planc Arc
* Because of the recent rampage of the Four Beasts destroying the Biotopes, ingredients are hard to come by for the Cooking Fest, a cooking competition held every 4 years for top chefs. Thus the Four Heavenly Kings are tasked to gather ingredients for it.
* Komatsu is surprised that a couple of guys from G7 are here. They are here to tell him he has been given an official chef ranking: 88th. This qualifies him to participate in Cooking Fest.
* So Toriko and Komatsu team up with Aimaru and Takimaru as they head to the Baron Archipelago to capture the Mon Planc. It is a plant beast from the Gourmet World but during the Four Beasts’ attack, it attached itself to those monsters like how plant seeds do to spread itself to the Human World.
* And yeah, Toriko develops a new technique while fighting it, the Nail Gun!

Cooking Fest Arc
* The Cooking Fest is here and is watched by billions. The Four Heavenly Kings are swamped with people since they have become more famous after the Four Beasts incident. Maybe except Zebra. But nobody is as famous as Komatsu the saviour!
* In the arena, we are introduced to some of the top ranking chefs. Some we are familiar with like Livebearer, Yuda and Setsuno. Others like King Zaus (currently ranked 1st and has 14 titles under his belt), Prince Anyo Jr (sweets master), Damala Sky (curry master) and Wabutora (oil master).
* Then the rest are weirdoes like this grudge ghost granny Kama, speedy bird guy Ton, sumo guy Nerimaru and old hermit Kamizaru.
* The competition begins not with cooking but via triathlon. They have to first swim to get the ingredients, transport them via bike and then run their way to the cooking stadium where they will begin cooking. The first 50 chefs to cook a delicious meal advances. So it isn’t necessary for the fastest to win but speed is essential to pick out the tastier ingredients.
* Komatsu is already having trouble since he could hardly swim.
* At this point, the 3rd ranked chef specializing in mystic food, the tengu dude Branchi wakes up from oversleeping to find the race has already started. The stadium is startled with his entrance because he has a reputation of being a delinquent. If Zebra is the bad boy of Bishokuya, Branchi is the bad boy of the chefs.
* As expected, Zebra and Branchi got into a little showdown but when Branchi hears how the Four Heavenly Kings praise Komatsu so highly, he decides to enter the race and see for himself.
* At this point Komatsu is dead last when he arrives and all the good ingredients are taken. Imagine Branchi’s disappointment to see this shrimp. Not much of a challenge, eh? But when he sees his appreciation for the leftovers and how he is talking with them, he changes his perspective. They are going to take all the remaining ingredients and cook them!
* Branchi takes Komatsu as they zoom past all the other chefs in a blink of an eye. Leading the pack with a wide lead are Setsuno, Zaus and Yuda. One of the trio will cross the finish line. Who is it? Branchi and Komatsu! They usurp and cross the goal in the last second!!! Is this even possible?!
* Komatsu is given the honours to go cook first. I mean, he has gotten through the physical test (really?) so he cooking part wouldn’t pose any problem, right? Well, if he had his Melk knife. Because somehow he is using an ordinary kitchen knife! What is the meaning of this? Because thanks to Branchi he got this far, he felt he wouldn’t have gotten his Melk knife with his own power. Branchi may not be happy because he wanted to see his full extent of his power but Komatsu wants to fight fair and square, there’s nothing else to be said.
* Komatsu cooks a simple soft crab filled with fried rice and lets the G7 guys judge. In the end, the top 50 chefs for the next round are named and as expected, Komatsu is one of them. He is so happy like as though he has won.
* For the next round, they will be cooking on a balancing scale. It is a speed contest as ingredients are being used up, your scale gets lighter and makes your opponent’s heavier. Be careful, at the bottom are flames that will make it too hot.
* Komatsu faces off with Wabutora and upon the latter’s request, he uses his Melk knife. At first Komatsu seems to be losing. But gathering all his experiences during his journey with Toriko, Komatsu makes a comeback to even the scales.
* The winner is decided via selected audience eating their dish. The one whose dish finishes first is declared the winner. Without a doubt it is Komatsu since the customers are swarming over his jumbo steak. Wabutora admits his defeat and hopes Komatsu will win the championship.
* Fast forward this round, the expected favourites advance to the next round. The remaining 25 chefs left will be whittled down to 16. The next round has them cook an entire island! Luckily they can pick a partner to help them collect the ingredients. Of course Komatsu will have Toriko but there are some weird pairings like Yuda with Sani, the unexpected like Branchi and Zebra, and the most WTF what-the-hell-was-he-thinking combo, Zaus and Zonge???!!! WTF?! Fast forward everything and you can guess who goes through, right? Yeah, Komatsu is in!
* Before the next round begins, Komatsu meets his other childhood friend, Ume. He is currently working as a personal chef for a shady gourmet billionaire, Mahmai Moi.
* The next round is direct elimination. Komatsu takes on Zaus! Woah! Can a miracle upset occur? Their match involves cooking in pure darkness. They have to use all their other senses except sight to select ingredients and cook. Be careful. Some ingredients are lethal.

Bishokukai Assault Arc
* Well, we might not be able to see how the match goes because Bishokukai led by Starjun bringing heavyweights like Tommyrod and Grinpatch are here to cause trouble. And the entire party is here! From GT Robos to monsters and bugs, they’re coming in from everywhere to kidnap all the chefs!
* Don’t worry Komatsu. Starjun won’t kidnap you because here comes Toriko to the rescue. Wow. Have you ever seen him so mad before? Toriko unleashes his devastating powers at first go, forcing Starjun to go on a defensive. Starjun himself also has powered up but Toriko’s flurry of punches, he doesn’t stand a chance.
* There are other match-ups too like Coco against Grinpatch, Branchi against the immortal Centaur Elg, Sani against Tommyrod and granny fight between Setsuno and Chiyo. And all the other chefs just fights everybody else.
* If the chaos is not bad enough, Bishokukai sends real Nitro monsters from the Gourmet World under their control to attack. Slowly one by one the chefs are defeated and captured.
* With all the power ups and new moves and forms, our heroes eventually triumph with Sani eating Tommyrod whole and Branchi forever zapping Elg’s regenerative cells till his Gourmet Cells gave up on regenerating!
* Amidst this chaos, it seems there is another third party hidden among it all. They call themselves Neo and their goal seems to be collecting ingredients for Acacia’s Full Course Menu. They include wealthy billionaires like Mokkoi, the former king of Jidar, Joa, Moi and don’t be shock with this, Zaus! They have spies infiltrated all over from IGO to Bishokukai so their intelligence network is incredible.
* The granny fight is interrupted when Zaus and fellow Neo members, Kousairou and Kuriboh dispose of Chiyo to make a date with Setsuno.
* By the time Komatsu gets to Toriko, he looks dead! Cue for him to start crying and calling out his name incessantly like a broken recorder. Just when Starjun is about to claim Komatsu for himself, Toriko revives and punches the baddie away from his partner. Who says calling out one’s name many times won’t wake you up? This allows Toriko to pull off a new technique he learnt under Aimaru. But this isn’t just to finish off Starjun. Because now they’re getting serious to fight each other. You mean all those epic flying punches weren’t them fighting seriously yet???!!! You got to be kidding me!!! So another round of epic super moves.
* However the fight is interrupted (and postponed indefinitely) with the appearance of Joa. Looks like he has brainwashed Teppei on his side. He fights head on with Setsuno and even revives Nitro defeated by Zebra even stronger than before.
* This guy is so godly with his dark techniques that Setsuno has a hard time standing her ground. Before she gets killed, here comes Jirou to the rescue. Where the heck have you been???!!!
* Jirou unmasks Joa and everyone is shocked to see Frohze. Who is she? Acacia’s assistant who looked after his disciples.
* With Joa very powerful, Jirou and Setsuno can tell the super evolution of his Gourmet Cells. This means that he has eaten Acacia’s Full Course. But they are somewhat certain this isn’t the real Frohze because she is already dead.
* Joa could have killed the old duo had not Toriko and Starjun intervene. You would have guessed the person Joa is looking for. Oh Komatsu. You’re such a wanted guy everywhere. Because Komatsu managed to find the secret recipe at the Gourmet Pyramids, Joa needs someone with incredible food luck to find God.
* Toriko and Starjun team up to fight him. If that isn’t enough, the other Heavenly Kings join the fray. And as expected, the only way to defeat a final boss is to combine all their powerful attack into one big giant ball of energy.
* Too bad that wasn’t even enough to scratch Joa. Now that Joa focuses on capturing Komatsu, how can Toriko revive? Komatsu’s voice of course! He lets his Gourmet Cells take over to turn into a full demon mode. But this is a very dangerous form because he will devour everything. So how to bring him back to his senses? You guessed it. Komatsu’s voice! So powerful this kid’s voice to want to eat with him and everybody as promised that Toriko reverts back but to an ultimate hybrid version of himself and a demon. Yeah, see him blast Joa away. Because Toriko sees human as having heart as opposed to Joa who sees food as mere tools for world domination, you can bet who is going to come out tops.
* Ichiryuu and Midora face off. We get a glimpse of their flashback. Their happy life together with Acacia and Frohze. All that changed when Acacia sensed God will be coming and set out with Frohze to capture it. However Frohze returned very wounded because she tried to cook it. Midora tried to save her with some healing potion but he put himself in danger. This made Frohze push herself to cook to heal him. Unfortunately, she lost her life. A sad day for the men but they have to go on living on her behalf. Ever since that day, Midora could not be satiated by anything. That is why he is going to devour everything including God. Ichiryuu realizes he is not hungry for food but rather love. He is still searching for it. Sadly, Midora defeats Ichiryuu.
* After Toriko summons all the food and ingredient he has eaten to give one heck of a super punch to defeat Joe, Meteor Spice keep falling from the sky all over the world as proof of Ichiryuu’s defeat. Don’t worry. It is a cue from everybody to show off their power one last time to stop it from crashing and destroying the land. Well, at least most of it.
* In the aftermath, Midora is kind enough to return Ichiryuu. They want to eat with him again but he relents because Komatsu is cooking. I guess his soup brings back nostalgic memories. Good, right? Everyone prepares to head to the Gourmet World because Neo is already there. You didn’t think Joa is dead would you?
* Toriko and Komatsu take their first step together into the Gourmet World and you can bet Komatsu’s heart attack starts now. I wonder if he can stomach the rest of the journey. We see Toriko has improved a lot because even those beasts quiet down when he opens his mouth.

Eat & Be Merry
I knew it was coming to something like that. A bit of a cliché note for our main duo to head out in high spirits. It is this series’ equivalent of running towards the sunset or sunrise while screaming the real adventure begins here. Because when you have an important tournament that pits our main protagonist into a super powerful character only to be interrupted and postponed indefinitely by the enemy for the remainder of the entire series, well it’s like saying to go read the manga if you want to more about it. I know, I know. I’m going to probably say the same thing like I always do in my previous blogs when anime series with so much potential and development ‘ended’ in this fashion. But what else is there to say? Because with the series ending with the end of the Human World arc, the next big epic showdown where all the crazier, more powerful and flashier stuff will happen in the Gourmet World. Because everybody is already there. All the pieces are set on the board. Time for them to make their move. An excuse for more outrageous and bizarre plots, fights and developments to entertain our mind (and stomach).

Despite food seemingly as the overall theme and ‘star’, I can’t help wonder if it is just some sort of a ‘side dish’ because you know, it feels that this show is about fighting aliens and the likes. Get what I mean? Food is just an excuse to just have some sort of story to compliment it. It might look like a food theme but there is one thing that sets it obviously apart from other food themed animes like Shokugeki No Souma, Chuuka Ichiban, Yakitate! Japan and even if I may consider it, Koufuku Graffiti. Despite having ‘Gourmet’ in titles like IGO, Bishokukai and Bishokuya, everything and everyone here is anything but gourmet. In fact, you can already tell that they are more of a glutton than anything. They eat everything and anything that walks under the sun. Oh heck, even those in the shadowy parts of the world can also be eaten. So gluttonous the world and characters are, that they had to feature some episodes with other famous anime gluttons like One Piece’s Luffy and Dragonball’s Goku. Don’t worry. Even big eaters like them are in no danger of eating any species to extinction.

Thus as compared to those other food themed animes like I just mentioned, Toriko would be the least appetizing on my side. I really don’t feel like chowing down some huge chunk of meat made out from some bug even if Toriko enjoys eat greatly and telling us how freaking delicious it is. Heck, everything to this guy is delicious, that’s why he is more of a glutton than a gourmet. The only exception are maybe the sweets, candies and cake types that made me drool a little. But other than that, I would rather pass up in even tasting a milligram of it. I know it is bad to waste but I’m still not touching gross cuisines ever. Heck, I’m doing my part in conversation by not eating Shark’s Fin Soup.

A big majority of food featured here (and man, they really have a lot of different mix of food averaging at least 3 new types per episode if you include the intro) are a mix of at least 2 types to create a ‘new’ kind of food. That is why at the start of every episode (yes, every damn episode) we have the narrator juicily describing to us certain types of food of this world. Thankfully our real world has lots of food variety from different cultures and eras and hence some are cleverly mixed to create this new type of food that we will never ever get to taste. But I noticed they just don’t simply pick any kind of ingredient and mostly they are puns of foods in Japanese or English. So much so sometimes it feels like the producers might have ran out of ideas so they announced for contestants to send in their own ideas and the winners get to have it featured/animated in some episodes, giving their ‘fruits of labour’ 5 seconds of fame.

One thing about this gluttonous theme that really bugged me throughout. If everybody especially big eaters like the Four Heavenly Kings are always eating a lot, do you not realize there will be poop problems?! Think about it. If they take in so much input, it should only be right there is an equal amount of output. This means the entire world would actually be stinking of great poo! Especially those devourers who gobble down huge chunks of meat, fruits, vegetables and other edibles within seconds! And yet we don’t really see them going to toilet! I can only imagine the world’s toughest job in cleaning up the toilets. It’s going to stink big time. Sure, you can tell me that Gourmet Cells evolution crap theory where all food are converted into energy. In that case, these muscle head guys shouldn’t even have to have anuses in the first place… Know what I’m saying? Don’t get me started on that black hole stomach theory that some anime characters have.

That is why one sometimes when you wonder why everything that breathes in this anime can literally be eaten, it somewhat resonates true to the basic theory of survival. It’s literally a dog eat dog world out there or in this anime’s case, a monster eat monster world. Eat or be eaten. Come to think of it, I think vegetarians will definitely not like this anime because there are lots of big meat eaters in here. Killing and eating them in the name of taking their vital life force and energy to replenish your own. That’s why you have to respect food and not waste them so to speak. And eating together makes the food tastier? Generally it’s true but I think some prefer to eat alone… With food such an overwhelming theme of this series, I thought it was pretty ironic when Toriko finally did say that humans are more than food. But he didn’t say what I expected to say because I was thinking, “Yeah, humans are about sex too”! Haha! Oops. With everybody so busy stuffing their face, I wonder what the birth rate of this world is. Yeah, and they say that eating a certain food makes you rule the world. You can’t make this sh*t up.

This should be a given because the longer a series runs, the more characters it is bound to have. And this is one of the biggest dilemmas for me when watching this kind of long running shows. Too many characters! By the time it ends, I would have already forgotten many of them. Despite the numerous episodes spanning seasons, not all of the secondary and supporting characters are given as much prominence as Toriko and Komatsu. Some only relevant for a certain arc before disappearing. Some play minor roles here and there so as to remind us they’re still around. Some too insignificant to remember or have an impact. Some you wonder what the heck his/her role is for. Well, it is a long running manga too although it ended in 2016, still you can’t help wonder about the many lively and colourful characters throughout the series. Thankfully they aren’t that boring as some of them have their quirks that make them memorable. Or is it that I can’t remember the bad ones? After all, this world is such a huge place so you are bound to meet so many characters each with their own purpose, role and fate to deal with. But as for the important ones are concerned, you’ll keep them in mind.

Toriko, what can I say about him? He is a good guy who loves to eat but one thing that made me realize about him as I watched the series. Isn’t Toriko a ‘weak’ person to begin with? You thought this guy was some super strong Superman but as we see him traversing one obstacle from another, it occurred to me that this guy may just be the weakest among the super powered characters! I mean, look at the training that Ichiryuu gave to him as pre-requisite to enter Gourmet World. Look at how tough a time he has trying to overcome and adapt to it. Sure, it is for the drama effect so that we viewers could also ‘grow’ along with him. And then you think back of it all. Doesn’t this makes Toriko and the rest of the Heavenly Kings as weak as f*ck? Other than this, despite his carefree nature and going at his own pace, he respects nature and its abundance, appreciates a good meal and good partner to Komatsu.

Komatsu is both likable and annoying. Because he lacks any martial arts knowledge, he can prove to be a liability in the battlefield where it gets real dangerous. Therefore the biggest annoyance I somewhat noticed of him is his tendency to call out to Toriko’s name. Every. Single. Time. In every episode without fail it is guaranteed that this petite kid will scream out his name be it in danger, worrying about him, looking for him or just for the heck of it. “TORIKO-SAN!!!”. See what I mean? If he isn’t screaming his name, he would be just screaming. Thankfully he’s got a strong heart and luck because the kind of dangers he went through, a normal person would have been traumatized and died of a heart attack. Other than that, he has such a low self-confidence and pessimism even before trying. I know he is trying to be modest but he hasn’t even started trying! Oh. Reminds me of myself too. Of course offsetting these negative traits are his respect for food and loyalty to his friends. He is a great chef, so unbelievably good that he managed to recreate Century Soup and find a cure for the Green Rain in mere minutes, somebody should have just given him the top spot chef ranking.

This is such a manly anime with guys like the Four Heavenly Kings have so big bulging muscles, it makes you wonder if you can realistically achieve such mass by eating instead of hitting the gym. Of course not! Remember, they have Gourmet Cells, an excuse to give them that “GAR!” look and feel. Because of that, the bromance factor feels so high especially if we’re talking about Toriko and Komatsu since they are so inseparable and their bonding throughout the series shows. Sometimes my mind can’t help wander off to think some kind of an S&M hentai bromance between Toriko and Komatsu. See where I am going with this?! Big muscle guy dominating over a small timid scrawny kid. Ugh! I think I’m losing my appetite thinking about this. I can’t even see Rin getting through his heart. Not even in my wildest imaginations. Don’t even start on the Four Heavenly Kings orgy on him!!! STOP!!!

It’s hard to say if Tina is a true reporter because despite her earnest ways in trying to get the best scoop, circumstances always have her failing to capture the moment. No wonder she loves to spam her favourite lines of either a helping heap of (if something goes her way) or not a milligram of (if bad luck triumphs). Not only she doesn’t get the scoop but somehow I keep noticing she usually ends up in Zonge’s company. It just shivers my spine to think that the possibility of them becoming an item! As the arcs slowly progress, Tina’s presence reduces since she can’t follow Toriko and Komatsu into dangerous waters.

Therefore she has her own Gourmet News segment at the end of each episode as she hosts a bunch of different variety to entertain us. Whether it is from describing details from the ingredients that Toriko capture, to test tasting ingredients and then making bad puns as cold as ice, interviewing some of the characters, displaying creative entries from contestants, blatant advertising of this anime’s products that includes movies, DVDs and other merchandises, telling your food fortune, having other characters spew food related ‘words of wisdom’ and finally because they ran out of ideas they had to make a quiz for you to guess the weird ingredient combo at the end, the reason why you don’t hear this part in the beginning of the episodes as the series enter its final stretch anymore. I failed miserably and never guessed one correctly. But of all the variety, my favourite one is finding Yun segment. Call it as this series’ version of Where’s Waldo? A still picture giving us a few seconds to find the penguin. I could have got 100% win record if not for a couple of them that they ‘cheated’. That’s right. You cheaters! Nobody could have seen that one coming!

I don’t know, I feel a bit odd for the main characters to have animal sidekicks of their own. I mean, we have Toriko getting Terry, Coco already the master of Kiss, Sani becoming Quinn’s master and even Komatsu getting a penguin and Tina a pigeon?! Why doesn’t Zebra get one then? Maybe it is because he is named after an animal so I guess that counts? Okay, so he did borrow a giant zebra in the fight against the Four Beasts. Woah. Why the need for furries to ramp up the cuteness? I thought this was a manly anime. Sure, the beasts fighting alongside the Four Heavenly Kings are justified as they play their role. But Yun and Kruppoh? Useless cute birds that do nothing around but squeal cute sounds and acting cute. Huh? I was hoping they are allowed to hang around as emergency food but I don’t think they would taste good. Besides, sometimes they try to showcase their usefulness but it’s mindboggling if it can be considered so. Because like Yun flying in to ‘help’ Komatsu during the Bishokukai’s invasion during the Cooking Fest feels so lame. Penguin needs more screen time, maybe… I’m not sure about the Gourmet Cell monsters but they do look odd if you ask me. From Toriko’s satanic demon, Coco’s Japanese ghost zombie, Sani’s hairy yeti, Starjun’s cyclops and Zebra’s… Is that a watermelon ogre?!

Another thing that popped up about some of the characters that boggled my mind are how freaking old some of the older ones are. It is clearly stated that the last God event happened centuries ago during when Acacia was still alive. And since this food master has also been dead for centuries, how f*cking old are Ichiryuu, Jirou and Midora anyway?! You can consider them living for centuries and if not forever. They’re like God trying to be God? If the food logic of this world already doesn’t make sense, hell yeah the longevity of the people also don’t make sense. Oh wait. Don’t tell me again about that Gourmet Cell evolution crap theory. Better to think that these foods have properties that enhance your body in a certain way that increases longevity. After all, you are what you eat. It isn’t rocket science to figure your body makes do of what you input.

So I’ll stop here with my ranting and ‘analysis’ of the characters because there like what I said about those in previous paragraphs, it would just be mainly pointing out the obvious. Also, I’m too lazy at this point to think about the other supporting characters and how they impacted everything. Yeah, yeah. I’m sure they had a role to play whether it is big or small. They’ll all definitely meet again and if not, they’re not as important as we think they should. Will Komatsu’s friends ever unite again as each serve different factions now? Will Acacia’s students ever eat at the same table again? Will Neo turn over a new leaf? Will God live up to its name or just a fragment of imagination of hungry people starving for too long? Yeah, I sometimes have this feeling everyone and everything you see in this world is one big delusion. Everyone is high on drugs! The food they eat contain properties that make you hallucinate! All those juicy meat and fruits they’re chomping down? They’re just rocks in reality! No wonder everybody wants God. The true food of food. See, typing this on a partially empty stomach is making me say deluded things.

Animated by a veteran anime studio, Toei Animation, you can probably see this anime’s similarity in some of their popular works like One Piece and Dragonball series. In the sense that sometimes you have got really weird looking people and creatures. Like I’ve said before, in a world where anything is possible, it is like as though this anime tests one’s creativity by mixing up at least 2 forms (usually food and creature) to come up with something new. So you’ve got your visuals ranging from weird, bizarre, funny, ugly, eerie, cute and uhm, just super plain weird. This is especially the Bishokukai members who often look like mini monsters or something. If you are into musclebound or macho men, then this anime spams lots of those characters with full-fledged bulging biceps in your face. Then you’ve got plain looking characters like Komatsu who looks so plain that he is, well, just plain. The visuals are also very colourful ranging from weird hairstyles to textures that fit the grand scale of this fantasy world. Is it me or does Starjun look like he was about to go Super Saiyan mode in his ultimate battle with Toriko? Heck, I thought he was Goku reincarnated. But he didn’t come as close as Toriko’s ultimate demon hybrid form. I thought he became Super Saiyan for good. Although the overall animation is decent, there are a few times where I noticed the dip in quality usually during the fight scenes. A lot of details will suddenly be ‘downgraded’ because it’s like they think our eyes won’t be able to keep up with the ‘slowed down’ fast paced action.

Speaking of the action parts, they are pretty exaggerative in a general sense. You have super powered moves that are unbelievable, moves that could even change the shape of the planet and geographical outline in a blink of an eye. Because of the shonen genre this anime is so typically categorized as, the fights last for many episodes! No wonder they can blow up the series to 147 episodes. Especially Toriko’s fight with Tommyrod and then his ultimate battle with Starjun which is only prolonged because they had to show other fights in between. I know. It’s to showcase the many arsenal that Toriko has developed along the way. So as not to look like he is just spamming his usual Fork and Knife moves, we see various variations as a sign of how much he has progressed. The other characters too have a few set moves of their own albeit they too look like variations of their main skill. I mean, how else is Cocoa going to fight without using poison, Sani without his hair and Zebra without his voice? Sometimes for added variety, they combine their set moves with each other for a new one. And yeah, they really take their time when they start using their moves especially new ones. They really want to show it to us like screaming out its name, the pose that they do and then the effect whether it hits or misses. Either way, you’ll be entertained with all these flashy far-fetched goodness or just be dumbfounded that they could come up with something this ‘creative’.

Oh boy. With such a long running anime with so many characters, the cast list is going to skyrocket through the roof. Read: I’m already feeling too lazy and lost motivation to list them. Of course I won’t list them all but you know… Anyway, a handful that I recognized include Nana Mizuki as Tina, Takahiro Sakurai as Coco, Shinichiro Miki as Starjun and Akira Ishida as Tommyrod. That’s all?! How disappointing. The rest of the casts Ryotaro Okiayu as Toriko (Byakuya in Bleach), Romi Paku as Komatsu (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist), Mitsuo Iwata as Sani (Pyoro in Vandread), Asami Tano as Rin (Chiharu in Toaru Hikoushi E No Koiuta), Kenji Matsuda as Zebra, Juurouta Kosugi as Mansam (Tama in Hayate No Gotoku), Toshiyuki Morikawa as Jirou (Naraku in Inu Yasha), Sakiko Uran as Setsuno (Marumaro in Blue Dragon), Kenyuu Horiuchi as Ichiryuu (Kinemon in One Piece), Masaya Onosaka as Teppei (Nanashi in MAR), Kousuke Toriumi as Match (Kiba in Naruto), Kenn as Takimaru (Jinbei in Mushibugyou), Masaki Terasoma as Midora (Kanbei in Samurai 7), Yuji Mitsuya as Grinpatch (Tofu in Ranma 1/2), Banjou Ginga as Yosaku (Senzaemon in Shokugeki No Souma), Keiichi Nanba as Joa (Junta in DNA2) and Wataru Takagi as Zonge (Bellamy in One Piece). Phew. I’m already tired…

Of all the numerous themes, the only one that I truly love is the fourth ending theme, Sabrina by Leo Ieiri. This is like the Japanese version of Laura Branigan’s Gloria. The catchy and upbeat rock beat somehow resonates to me liking. Unfortunately for the rest… They sound too weird for my liking. Okay, to be honest some of them aren’t too bad like the very manly first opening theme, Guts Guts by Akira Kushida. This song really fits the gluttony theme of the series and sometimes I get this feeling they are trying to replicate One Piece’s popular opening such as We Are and We Go. For a long running anime, it is rare for a series to have the same opening theme for so long. Therefore I thought they were never going to change the first ending theme after running for 2 seasons. And then they changed it to Goushuko My Way also by Akira Kushida. The feel of this second opening theme is almost similar to the first one although I still prefer Guts Guts by comparison.

As for the rest of the ending themes (there are 12 of them in total and all of them lasts for only a minute), I guess other than Sabrina, the next closest song that I prefer (although still by far incomparable to my favourite Sabrina) would be the ninth ending theme, Akai Kutsu by Salley. This one is different because it is a slow and calming acoustic piece compared to the rest which are mostly weird fanfare like the sixth ending’s Samba De Toriko by Hyadain, Nana Mizuki’s only feature in Lovely Fruit as the seventh ending, the rap-like hip hop fifth ending of Love Chase by Tomohisa Yamashita and the drowsy drunken sounding tenth ending Tautology by The Dresscodes. The rest are mainly rock based like One Day by The Rootless (first ending), Satisfaction by Ftisland (second ending), Niji by Jun Sky Walker (eighth ending) Mega Raba by Rurika Yokoyama (twelfth ending) and anime pop-like such as Deli-Deli Delicious by Sea A (third ending) and Believe In Yourself by Palet (eleventh ending).

Overall, this isn’t an anime that would truly whet your appetite and wanting more. What I mean is that you want more just because it is part of the full course meal and it is best you finish it as you are already halfway there. Other than that, overeating and being overfull from this absurdly massive filling full course meal will leave you stuffed and bloated for a long time to come. Each time you think of wanting to try it out again, you’d get that nauseated feeling of having too much and change your mind maybe not today or tomorrow. And so that’s how I feel for this series in a nutshell. Lots of decent characters, decent action, decent plot, too long a story arc/fight sometimes, funny moments, silly moments, nonsensical moments, moments that don’t make sense. Hey, it is your stomach that should be working, not the brain. Ah, kutta, kutta! Gochisousama deshita!

Shokugeki No Souma S2

March 24, 2017

Thanks to the mouth-watering first season, it was only right to satiate the quench and hunger of fans and viewers who want more of Shokugeki No Souma. Hence, your wishes are heard and the second season is served to feed our need once more. We can’t wait to see what our main protagonists cook up delicious and godly dishes that we pitiful commoners can only salivate and imagine we’re those lucky people tasting them. So if you love food but have to go on a strict diet, at least the doctor didn’t prescribe that you stay away and shouldn’t watch any food themed series. Have you heard of anybody getting fat visually? Oh wait… Being a couch potato and not exercising contributes to obesity… Damn it… Too late, I’ve already started…

Episode 1
We jump right into the quarter-finals for the Autumn Elections. Because Souma is our main character, he goes up first in the first match. His opponent? Alice. The theme will be bento. Alice finishes first and presents to the judges her high quality seafood temari bento. You can tell how good it is when Senzaemon goes topless! Apparently Alice doesn’t know about the unwritten rules about why she will lose. One, because those who goes second will always win and two, Souma is main character so he must win. So Souma’s fish theme bento by taking advantage of the bento box to turn it into soup as well as salmon roe that literally explodes into your mouth (inspiration based on some snack of a similar nature) sealed the win for him. In short, Souma used the bento’s shape to fill it with entertainment and enhanced its flavour with warmth compared to Alice’s cold chilling flavour to just fill the box that made Souma the winner. Alice tries out his dish and gets a flashback of her cold past and being filled up by the warmth of this bento. Cue for naked delusion reaction please…

Episode 2
The second round pits Megumi against Ryo and the theme is ramen. To fill in the time for this episode, we get to see Ryo being an excellent and serious chef since young. This little kid is the one who took charge of the kitchen and putting the adults to shame. Ryo doesn’t think Megumi is serious in her cooking because of her sheltered life. Chefs are all about winning or being beaten. Cooking is about bringing your opponents down to your knees. Wow. I never knew cooking was hardcore battlefield. Ryo finishes first and lets the judges taste his rich shrimp seafood ramen. I’m not sure if Ryo has a good naming sense because he calls this dish, Soupe de Poisson. Sorry, my French not so good. But don’t look down on Megumi. She is equally serious and has put in the effort too. In short, she improvises the ingredients she has to create another rich seafood ramen but her main ingredient is scallops. Shrimps versus scallops. Who will win?

Episode 3
If you follow the unwritten rules, Megumi should win, right? Well, sometimes you have to break that rule. Because Ryo wins. Even if Senzaemon didn’t go topless for Megumi’s dish unlike Ryo’s, he realized later that his underwear had gone missing! Hidden gem? The third match resumes the next day and has Hisako against Hayama to make hamburger. Meanwhile Souma is running late to the hall when he bumps into a punk dude riding his bike, Subaru Mimasaka. This is the guy that surpassed Ibusaki and Marui in the final moments to make it to the next round. Mimasaka is a bit of a weirdo himself. Not the fact he heavily locks and chains his bike or showing off his great embroidery, but the fact he knows every trivial information his opponents! This guy is a walking database! This guy even knows the average hours they slept in the past month! SCARY! As the match has started, Souma and Megumi have to watch in the waiting room with Mimasaka and Takumi. Hisako shows her savagery as she beheads a live terrapin and drain its blood to make burger meat! To show how scary Mimasaka’s accurate prediction is, he predicts Hayama’s win because his kebab dish made out of lamb and beef has a very strong aroma. Something about using achaar too. There she goes into her naked defeat. There goes Hisako’s dreams in replacing Erina. So sad. As Takumi and Mimasaka are preparing for their match, Takumi catches him red handed in touching his tools. He also knows he has been spying on him on the last few days. Mimasaka badmouths the bad tools he is using. Worse, he talks trash about Isami who will always be a second rate chef. Before the match begins, an emergency announcement is broadcasted. It seems Takumi and Mimasaka’s match will be also a Shokugeki.

Episode 4
Apparently veterans won’t be surprised of this Shokugeki because Mimasaka has won 99 of them! He will take Takumi’s knife if he wins otherwise Mimasaka will apologize to his brother right in front of everyone. Records show Mimasaka makes the same dish as his opponents but improvises them to stay tops. Thus he makes the same semifreddo. Not only he stalks his opponents to know and trace their thoughts of what they’ll make, he even exposes and badmouths them. Yeah, like reading out a book of your life’s story, eh? So if Takumi is starting to panic, how can his ‘supporters’ not stay calm? Of course, always go back to your family roots… Mimasaka serves first and let’s say his semifreddo makes one of the judges feel like a young girl. Takumi bounces back with his improvisation using some English rooted lemon with Italian touch and adding his secret family made olive oil. However Mimasaka starts laughing. All going according to his plan. He was counting on him using his secret technique (that’s why he already warned he knows everything about him) and used preserved lemons as his secret ingredient. In the end, all the judges unanimously vote for Mimasaka. So you think his ‘supporters’ might feel the need to speak to him or cheer him up so why are they b*tching about Souma not giving a f*cks? Then back at the dorm, isn’t it no surprise that Mimasaka is waiting in Souma’s room? As you might have guessed, the next round pits them together. He is here to wager another Shokugeki for his knives. He knows Souma will stand up for the humiliated and tries to get him mad to accept it. But Souma is cool. He isn’t rattled and is confident Takumi isn’t depressed after this. Instead he feels pity for Mimasaka. He respects him for recreating Takumi’s dish. But that’s just about it. He took advantage of Takumi’s trial and error effort and as a chef he can’t respect him. He doesn’t know the true joy of cooking. Souma accepts his Shokugeki. But he doesn’t want Takumi’s knife back but all the other 99 tools he took. So what will Souma wager for that equivalent value? He will quit being a chef! Gasp!

Episode 5
Souma further tells him the beef stew that he will make in the match. That’s when his pals rush him to stop giving out more information. Mito is most upset about all this. Souma explains he wants to return all the tools Mimasaka robbed. He will stake his pride as his chef to defeat him. Next morning, Mitsuru Sotsuda is at his doorstep. He is from the journalism club and has covered about his upcoming Shokugeki with Mimasaka which has set the entire school abuzz. This guy wants to be the best journalist so what the heck is he doing in Totsuki for? He bugs Souma for an exclusive interview but he ignores him. He remains persistent till people have the wrong idea about their gay relationship and so he relents. Souma lets him try out the beef stew he is going to make. Of course to a normal guy like him it tastes great but it isn’t enough. Souma reveals he told Mimasaka what he will be doing as this is his best dish before coming to Totsuki. Now that they are at the same starting line, will he evolve this dish or Mimasaka’s profiling will surpass him. As Mitsuru is full (it is blasphemy to not finish Souma’s cooking!), Souma needs someone who can test taste. Meanwhile Erina is happily reading her love manga. She realizes she ran out of volumes and Hisako isn’t around to provide her. She has left for a journey after realizing she is too embarrassed to face her after her loss. Erina thinks she is back but it’s just Souma and Mitsuru. Disappointed? B*tch mode on. She rejects them to test taste but after Souma says one of his dorm mates has the full manga volume, she agrees. The verdict? It’s trash. She didn’t even hint what is wrong. Well, you can’t argue with her God tongue, right? After a while, Souma hits inspiration and kicks Mitsuru out of his kitchen. Exclusivity over. The first semi-final math is here and the judges are all graduates of Totsuki like Dojima, Inui, Fuyumi Mizuhara, Taki Tsunozaki and Sonoka Kikuchi. Everyone is surprised when they see Souma using oxtail as his base. They think he has overcome his problem. Till they see Mimasaka is also using oxtail and the same spices! He knows everything! But now this is where Mimasaka surpasses Souma as he proclaims.

Episode 6
In addition to oxtails, Mimasaka has got brown sugar and a whole lot of other secret ingredients for his beef stew. Enhancing his perfect profiling is his revelation of Mitsuru’s weak birthday password that allowed him to peek at his interview findings. This guy is really a stalker! Souma is not fazed and starts cooking. I mean, he starts his cooking only right now. Mimasaka knows this is one way to defeat his perfect profiling by not planning and improvising on the dot. However most will panic and end up blank. He has high hopes for Souma and knows he won’t panic but will still fall short. Mimasaka goes first and needless to say the judges are awed. Souma goes next and although the first bite doesn’t bring any excitement, suddenly they are falling like riding a roller coaster! Souma reveals he was also thinking about Mimasaka. He also predicted what he would make but that wouldn’t be his own cooking. So his improvised cooking wasn’t just on the fly but he has drawn from all his experience throughout his life in making this beef stew which is unlike the profiling that has only 1 necessary step taken. The judges are in fantasy land. Nothing wrong about it except Dojima is dressing and acting like a girl! Hideous! In short, Souma unanimously wins the Shokugeki. As expected.

Mimasaka can’t accept this loss so Souma lets him try his dish. So good that it brings back memories of his childhood when he first started cooking. He had talent but his father who is a top chef didn’t like him copying his dishes. One day his restaurant was showcasing new dishes and hosting VIPs, Mimasaka added a simple twist so he could earn dad’s respect. Although he ended up winning, it made dad madder. He was then exiled to Totsuki and that was where he began using his profiling ability and concocting his twisted personality. All the tools are returned to their respective owners and everyone is ever grateful to Souma. Mimasaka will stop being a chef forever but Souma stops him. Souma calls Takumi to get his knife. Takumi admits his loss to Mimasaka but will beat him the next time. A new person to be gay with? But Takumi gives his knife to Souma. It is his now. At least his safekeeping. He will get it back once he beats him in their next Shokugeki. Souma tells Mimasaka to take his opponent’s entire pride in a single match again. Even if he is heavily defeated and crushed, you still need to open shop tomorrow. That is what being a chef is all about. In short, continue cooking. And this is what Souma meant about quitting cooking. It is just to start all over again. So he wasn’t really going to stop, huh? Mimasaka tastes Souma’s dish again and this time feels like a little girl. More hideous than Dojima… Souma’s win must now be a thorn in Erina’s side now. Can’t wait to win this and face her.

Episode 7
Now for Hayama and Ryo to face off. Souma irks Erina as he sits with her together in her special VIP room to watch. As Hayama is the favourite to win, I suppose that is why we have Alice to tell us about his past hell training, blah, blah, blah. I wonder how this will sit with Mito when she sees Souma being flanked by 2 hot babes. Anyway with the western style dish as theme, Hayama uses duck while Ryo goes for eel. It gets odder when the visual metaphor becomes a card game with monsters. Yugioh x Pokemon?! So we’ve got Hayama’s fragrant dish grasping the judges with its ‘eagle claws’ and Ryo giving them electric shock and explosion! So who will win? For the first time, the judges are having a tough time to decide. When the score is at 2-2, it all boils down to Kikuchi. She cannot choose. Of course we can’t have that so Dojima proposes. Normally a draw would mean rescheduling and fight another date but with everyone’s tight schedule this isn’t possible. So how? Let them both advance to the finals! This never happened before. Oh, when Senzaemon gives his approval means it will happen. Yeah, I thought it would be time for Souma to seek revenge on both together. While Hayama gracefully accepts this fate, Ryo is bursting with anger and rage. Our 3 finalists lay down their challenge to each other. The theme will be saury fish and the finals will be in 10 days. 10 days?! OMG. Filler time?!

Episode 8
Souma and Megumi head to the fish market. They see Ryo and Alice. Ryo has this knack to choose the freshest saury as well as its taste at its peak. They both make sashimi and let Megumi judge. Ryo’s sashimi is better. Some explanation about Ryo’s ability to determine everything that he touches. Even from how the fish lives to how it is transported?! WTF?! In that case this guy makes a good crime solver. They also hear Hayama was earlier here and the sellers were talking how great he is choosing the best ingredients with his nose. Yeah, I guess Souma is at a disadvantage if he can’t choose the best ingredients. He is turned into an underdog or no hoper since the media interviewing his rivals are shown their great demonstration but Souma has nothing to show for. Souma realizes aging may be an important factor so he ropes in Ryouko, Ibusaki and Mito to help since they are experts in aging techniques. Even with all the testing and the best saury they can come up with, Megumi still believes it doesn’t taste near as Ryo’s. This has Souma cracking his head. He can’t give up on aging now. When he decides to go buy more saury, he sees Fumio in her usual drinking. He sees the simple snack that goes with her drinking and hits eureka. He must have really hit an idea because he hugs her. Hayama and Ryo notice Souma has not come to the fish market ever since but they know he has a plan as he is not the kind to give up. On the final match day, the judges will be Senzaemon, Dojima and Leonora Nakiri (Alice’s mom). She might look beautiful but her Japanese accent is horrible! Hayama and Ryo take out their firm and exquisite saury. Souma? What the f*ck is that brown sh*t?! Not kidding. Literally, it looks like one long hard constipated sh*t!!!!!!!

Episode 9
Underneath the moonlight night, our finalists begin their cooking. Because Ryo finishes first and serves, we have a little flashback of him and Alice’s battling it out. Alice always won and it took him 2 years to finally beat her. That is of course after he learnt her cooking style and knowledge. Ryo serves his saury in a pouch. You can tell how awesome it is when Senzaemon bares his chest and even grins. Leonora on the other hand turns into Buddha explaining word for word all the amazingness in fast forward fashion. Oh, she speaks fluent Japanese now! Sorry guys, she’s not going to bare her chest like you thought. When it is Hayama’s turn, Ryo thought he was joking because his dish seems lighter. But he hasn’t put the finishing touches. Once he sears his saury, an amazing aroma fills the hall. You can even tell how tasty it is by smelling without tasting. Of course when you taste, the better. The usual bare chest Senzaemon and Buddha Leonora. Of course don’t look down on Souma. His piece of sh*t is actually saury covered in salted rice bran. As usual, great reviews and all, blah, blah, blah. But then everybody notices something. Senzaemon didn’t strip his top. Leonora didn’t go into Buddha mode. Does this mean it Souma has lost? Why the f*cks everybody is so negative when it comes to the candidate they are supporting? Don’t jump your guns yet because the dish isn’t finished. You need to have seconds. So don’t say you’re full now.

Episode 10
Isshiki talks to Eizan and he knew it was all his plan to have Mimasaka target Souma for ultimate humiliation but his plan backfired. Souma presents his white soup which is soy milk to turn his saury dish into porridge. We’ve got Senzaemon clothes explode apart! So amidst their praise, Isshiki continues telling Eizan about the magazine focusing more on Hayama and putting down Souma (just like America’s 2016 elections?). Even when Souma defeated Alice and Mimasaka, the crowd doesn’t seem to acknowledge him. Isshiki once talked to Jouichirou about Souma. He views his son has no special cooking skill but lacks what a normal person would have which is the belief of losing to someone more talented. This is obvious when Souma never gave up after losing all the time to him. All Souma did was keep testing and retesting his recipes. Thus the reason why everyone is afraid to acknowledge him is because if they do so they are acknowledging their own lack of effort. So before the judges announce the winner, they give their evaluation on their dishes. Blah, blah, blah. But the one dish that sets the winner apart is the reflection of the chef as an individual. An own specialty dish. And the winner is… Flashback to Hayama’s past 8 years ago! F*CK!!!!! Do we need more tension???!!! Yeah, yeah. So we learn he was abandoned in the slums till Shiomi picked him up and taught him things. This gives Hayama a purpose in life and thus he is always grateful to her, the reason he must win this tournament. And if that story feels like a flag or something, it is because the winner is Hayama!!!!!!!!!! Shiomi is so happy rushing down to his side that he hugs her in front of everyone. I suppose Souma is in a dilemma now because dad told him not to lose to anyone before losing to him next time. So Souma and Ryo has Hayama make his saury dish for them to taste again. Part of their improvement plan, I guess. Later Souma gets a call from Jouichirou. He laughs at his son’s defeat. Souma is motivated to explore the kind of cooking he can only do to carry on his family’s business name. Isn’t that what he has been doing all the time? Souma and Ryo spend the rest of their time at Hayama’s place test tasting each other’s several dishes in a bid to improve. Even the Polar Star residents get the same idea. Shiomi warns them that they only have a short respite. After this they will be tossed out of the academy for a practical training programme called Stagiaire.

Episode 11
The first stage of Stagiaire will have students work at pairs. Guess who Souma gets paired with? Hisako. Not thrilled to see him, huh? They will be helping out Mamoru Mitamura’s western restaurant for a week. They notice customers leaving in a rush. Despite Hisako claiming she can cook and cut fast, but can she handle it when the stream is endless? When customers come in at one go, the staffs become chaotic trying to fulfil the orders. Because they cannot get it done in time, all the customers leave at the same time! But with Souma taking charge, things get a bit better. As much as Hisako hate taking orders from him, for the sake of this restaurant she has to swallow her pride and drop that b*tch attitude. It is learnt that the customers are rushing for the Bullet Train and that is why they are rushing for time. Meanwhile Erina is also having her Stagiaire. She is in confrontation with the restaurant owner who is trying to relegate her to washing dishes. Megumi better stay out of this… Eventually she takes over command of the place and customer satisfaction drastically increases. Yeah, it’s like she owns the place now. When Souma points out if Hisako is going to continue working in this restaurant, she realizes what he is implying and calls for an emergency meeting with the staffs. Although things are going smooth for now, once the Totsuki duo leave, things will go back to normal. Chaotic. The staffs feel changing too much would be meaningless so Souma has Mitamura think what kind of restaurant he wants it to be and based on the circumstances they are in, offers a solution. Nobody think that turning this restaurant into reservations only instead of walk-in would be successful. However in its own way it does because old customers who were too busy to come here can now make reservations to come enjoy their food. Things are less hectic this way too. Erina gives Megumi a ride home. She asks more about Megumi and of course she can’t thank her success without mentioning Souma. That name just infuriates her. But the mention of Hisako’s name has her suddenly become depressed. Speaking of her, Hisako is still reeling she doesn’t deserve to be with Erina, blah, blah, blah. Souma tells her she should walk by her side and not behind her and gives her the manga Erina wants as reason for her to see her again. After all, they both lost to Hayama and should find a way to beat him someday. For once Hisako returns a nice grateful smile.

Episode 12
Where does Souma get sent for the next Stagiaire? Oh. It’s a soon to be newly opened Tokyo flagship store of Shinomiya. Due to budget constraints, I guess Souma has to start helping out finishing the construction and fitting with Shinomiya himself and the minimal staffs that include Abel Blondin the head chef, Gao Wei and Lucie Hugo. After they’re done, Shinomiya cooks for them quiche. Despite tasting absolutely delicious, by Shinomiya’s standards it is not good. Shinomiya’s restaurant will have a few days of pre-open. This is like a test run where he invites customers he knows to taste the food and such. Of course Souma as his first time experiencing this falls behind and almost threatens to disrupt the work flow of everybody. He barely makes it by the end of the day. And you might have guessed, despite all the criticisms and scolding, he won’t get dejected so instead he learns to improve himself at night and more importantly ask questions. Thus you can see him improve day by day that he becomes faster than the rest on the last pre-open day. Since Shinomiya is holding a new menu competition among the staffs, Souma wants to join. Looks like he has found his specialty.

Episode 13
After the last pre-open day, the restaurant is closed for a private event that Shinomiya has invited certain people over. They are some of Totsuki’s alumni and Chapelle. Not forgetting Shinomiya’s mother. After the restaurant closes, they want to stay behind to watch the staffs in the new menu competition. We can tell this episode is all fully dedicated to Souma because we don’t even see what the other staffs cook. We see Souma drawing out his past experience to make his new menu. It must be awesome because he becomes Super Saiyan???!!! Even more so, we don’t see those ‘judge’s tasting the other staffs’ menu. It all boils down to Souma. He serves his best French dish, a whole quail which might look like a French version of substituted version of Japan’s oyakodon. Of course it tastes good as Souma explains all about it. Blah, blah, blah. But what is Shinomiya’s verdict? It is still low quality! It is good to be served at a small time restaurant but a flagship restaurant like his is a no. In fact, Shinomiya offers to teach how he could make the dish better. Souma couldn’t be happier. Better prepare yourself because it takes all night! Shinomiya’s final encouragement is for Souma to take the top seat of the Elite Ten. Montage shows other Totsuki students toughing it out in their own Stagiaire. Souma returns back his dorm only to find a box of Shokugeki challenge letters. In fact, one of them challenges him right now! Bring it on. There are more montages of the rest but the noteworthy ones are Isami back to his fatty form again and Hisako back by Erina’s side. Souma wins his Shokugeki and then throws down his challenge to everyone he can take on anyone anytime. Even right now.

Bomb Appetite!
OMG???!!! What happened???!!! Let me explain to you with this scenario. You once tried out a newly opened restaurant in your area. Everything was new, everything was fresh, everything was good. Absolutely the best. You know this is going to be your favourite place to eat for a long time to come. You recommend to your friends and family about this place. You decide to come and eat again but wait. It feels a little different. At first it wasn’t quite as good as the original but it was still bearable. But as you proceed with your meal, you find that it has lost the quality you thought it once had. It turned out totally different than the first experience. Very different. It’s like they changed the recipe or the chefs who did it. You decide that this place has become awful and just like how it betrayed your trust, you decide never to come back here ever again. Ever.

Sadly, this is my feelings for this season and I believe the same can be said for many of us who watched this (yeah, read those dreaded internet comments). Thanks to the first season, it has built a good base that makes us wanting more. Of course we were hyped and excited when we heard there was going to be a second season. And then it came. And went away quietly. Leaving us to question where it went wrong along the way. Although a direct continuation from the first season, the first half of the season was still enjoyable, it wasn’t as exciting that I had experienced in the first time. I shouldn’t be calling this ‘fatigue’ because this is only the second time. So for the magic to wear out this fast? Something must have gone wrong. By the time it reached halfway, the magic was close to zero. Almost completely gone. Instead of anticipating with glee for each episode, there was this dreaded feeling that I have to go through the same crap again. There was no more excitement. The excitement pretty much felt dead. And because this season had a few more episodes to spare after the Autumn Elections ended, the Stagiaire felt like filler episodes to close the season. Too late. Damage done. But if there is anything good about this final mini arc, at least it gives students a peak of what a real hell’s kitchen works in real life. Yes, real work life experience.

Perhaps it was the case of following the formula of if it is not broken, don’t fix it. Because this season offers nothing new and very much follows the pattern of the first season. Students fight it out in cooking battles but instead this season is pretty much concentrated on the Autumn Elections. That’s about it. The dishes they served up look pretty amazing and people like me will get lost in all the judges’ mumbo-jumbo as they try to explain and justify why that dish is so godly. Yeah, maybe that is why it has lost touch with us commoners. There might have been some sort of hidden frustration that we as casual viewers have come to terms that we will never get to taste it and thus no matter how much the wax lyrical about the food, we couldn’t care less anymore because it doesn’t reach us. I mean, why the heck should we get excited if we are not going to taste it anyhow? I mean, we can use our imagination to salivate but that only makes things worse. You know, dreaming of eating the best food but ultimate realizing you can’t afford it so you just keep on dreaming. Yeah. That kind of frustration.

The plot for the Autumn Elections was also very predictable. I actually predicted who was going to fight who and the winner of that match. All came out true except the second semi-final in which I was sure that Hayama would win (although it was a match in which I had the lowest confidence my prediction would be right) and they did the unthinkable of making both pass. Which is like a slap in the face for all of us expecting a winner. And this in which leads to the finals whereby of course made my prediction go off trajectory again because after watching so many series with a main protagonist like Souma (especially when you have your name in the title), I expected Souma to make a comeback and win so he could have his ‘defeat’ in the qualifying round avenged. And what do you know? Hayama won. Wow. That was unexpected. But I suppose it is a good thing because it shows Souma isn’t invincible. You win some, you lose some. Also, an excuse for Souma to improve himself because the chances of so after you lose an important fight is higher. Really. So put off that final boss fight with Erina and take a detour levelling up, getting stronger and fighting other sub-bosses along the way first. Guess we’ll have to wait another time.

There was little to no character development at all. Of course there is some development for Souma. He is the main character for God’s sake. But this guy is so good like the many other characters you see in this series, that when he improves, you don’t really see what he improves on. He looks the same awesome guy. Just like how Adobe Acrobat always want to update but you don’t see a freaking difference, right? Yeah… If this is already happening to Souma, what about the other characters? Sure, it is unfair to say that this season had only half the episodes compared to the first season. But the way some are shown makes them redundant. Like those Polar Star students and Mito are just reduced to cheering Souma. They didn’t even do anything significant. They’re forgettable. I could go on ranting about the other characters but that would be me repeating myself because they are more or less like this for this season. Pretty much everybody stays the same. Erina is still a big b*tch who hates Souma (albeit a little lesser but so miniscule that it won’t change anything), Hisako being a b*tch for Erina, Takumi still being gay for Souma and Megumi still that same panicky girl. At least she doesn’t have to rely too much on Souma this time. At least no running jokes like Souma’s bad squid tentacle rape combo for fanservice. Phew, right? But still have plenty of ladies stripping naked in their exaggerated delusion delight when they taste a fantastic dish. Yeah, those delusions and explanations are still the main trademark of the series. Truly, I really need to taste all of them.

Mimasaka if I should say is the only new character for this season and perhaps as the ‘antagonist’ he is pretty much by far the most interesting. He is intimidating and his unusual stalker method really gives me the creeps. He was one badass guy whom you’d want Souma to take down badly. However what makes me unable to like him further than that is the exaggerated effect of his database ability. I know this series has people with outrageous ability like Erina’s divine tongue but having Mimasaka like a walking computer it makes him so unrealistic. It’s like he has got everything covered. Everything. This guy if he didn’t end up being a chef, he could have been the human version of Wikipedia and WikiLeaks. Watch out because there is somebody who can remember your past just by observing every freaking thing you do and then do it better way than yourself. If this is a new way of stealing your identity, it is going to be a scary place to live in.

I have this conspiracy theory of mine. You know how everybody here makes super good food that they even though to ordinary people it will be so heavenly but among themselves are not good enough? Well, I thought that all those crazy reactions you see are the side effect of drugs! Yes people! This academy makes ecstasy drugs in the guise of food! Now, the only way for top people like those judges to get their fix all the time, is to get students to ‘improve’ on the ‘food’ and with the excuse of a tournament, they’ll get to taste and enjoy that ‘food’. I know this sounds like a stretch but let that sink in for a moment. This way, those cheapskate bastards will also get their fix for free because what better way than to get high frequently, right? So the one with the best drugs wins? Holy sh*t!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, if Stagiaire has the Totsuki students being sent to work temporarily at super high quality restaurants around the country, then considering that there are quite a number of first year students, does this mean that there are a hell lot of such super high quality restaurants around? This is not even counting the Totsuki alumni whom all of them have opened their successful restaurant. This means Japan (if not the world) is one big place of high quality gourmet? Where do commoners with no money go to eat then? Oh right. Maybe in this world everybody gets a decent quality meal no matter from what kind of poor background they come. Because such godly food will always save the day. The other thing that keeps bugging me is the number of first year students at Totsuki. My guess there is an extremely large number of them. Because after every major training camp or special event, you would hear the higher ups mention how so many are weeded out. Yet there are so many left (this is assuming from what I hear from the next event). Sure, we are only shown Souma and some of the major characters so we don’t really see all the other students who flop. Safe to say, all those whom we have seen so far and given at least some personality (like those eternal Polar Star bros, Yuki and Ryouko) all have potential to survive to become the next elite chefs.

Having said all that, the rock opening theme somehow doesn’t sit with me, Rough Diamonds by Screen Mode. Maybe the diamond needs more polishing? Then there is Snow Drop by Nano Ripe as the ending theme. No longer sounding bad when I first heard her a long time ago. This rock theme ending feels dramatic because it’s all on Souma. Yeah, it feels like the pressure is on him. A few more notable seiyuus lending their voice to this series this season. Those I recognized are Hiroki Yasumoto as Mimasaka, Sayaka Ohara as Leonora and Satomi Arai as Lucie.

Overall, this season may be disappointing but it still has hope. Note, this doesn’t mean this season is literally bad. I still enjoy this series but it didn’t reach the height of its first season. I know I have said that I may never want to step into a restaurant with such bad food again but in the future if I hear from others how it has returned to its original roots, nostalgia might play a decisive factor for me in giving this series another chance (yeah, read those hopeful internet comments too). A few bad things like the story and characters being underdeveloped and making the season lacklustre doesn’t mean that everything else is bad. That is the thing when you start off something great. The expectations are high and it is a hurdle that one must aim very high to replicate or else you fall hard. Maybe it is a good thing for me to continue eating cheap commoner food. Who knows if I get addicted to such high quality food, I won’t be able to turn back and ‘eat properly’ anymore. I’ll be starving to death because no ordinary food could satiate my palate anymore. Thank goodness for cheap economy mixed rice for being around…

Amaama To Inazuma

December 23, 2016

If you can’t stand all those food themed animes because they usually have their setting and storylines via competition, then Amaama To Inazuma may be the best solution for you food theme lovers out there. Tired of all the exaggerated food reactions as well as the over the top dishes that can never ever be replicated in real life? Let’s try to keep things simple because in this anime it is just basically about a single father and his young daughter trying to cook different variety of food and dishes that are not for the rich or 5 star hotels. A meal good enough for his growing daughter. As you know how picky kids at their age can be with their food. A good normal and hearty meal that a decent and normal family that can enjoy. Get ready to whet your appetite without all those flashy exaggerations.

Episode 1
Kouhei Inuzuka is a single parent to his daughter, Tsumugi since his wife died 6 months ago. We see them wake up, prepare themselves and head to work and school like usual. Inuzuka is a teacher and his colleague, Momoya wants to invite him out for drinks. Of course he declines citing he has a daughter to look after. The other teaching staff is also worried if they are eating right since Inuzuka is a bit thin and most of the time he buys convenience store food for Tsumugi. One day as he brings her to the park, they see a girl, Kotori Iida eating alone and crying. Actually it wasn’t the fact Tsumugi startled her but rather the rice she ate was so delicious. Kotori also explains she wasn’t supposed to be alone. Her mother was supposed to join her but cancelled last minute. Unfortunately she ate all the rice herself and there is none for Tsumugi to taste. So she hands her name card belonging to her mom’s in which she runs a restaurant. They can come over for some food. One night, Inuzuka returns home to see Tsumugi putting her face so darn close to the TV. She is watching a cooking show and wonders if mommy will make such good meat. Even more heartbreaking is how she tells daddy to call mommy to go make some. Naturally it becomes dramatic as daddy picks up Tsumugi and rushes her all the way to the restaurant. He calls beforehand and hopes it will stay open for them. Wow. Really like as though it is the end of the world. Luckily Kotori is still waiting, though her mom has gone out. She has them wait while she goes to boil rice. It is taking a bit too long so Inuzuka tails Kotori out when she seemingly takes a break. He hears her frantically calling her mother for instructions how to boil rice!!! Eventually she manages to get it going as he notices her school uniform. In fact she is from his school and in his class! Didn’t realize that, did you? Perhaps the wait is long enough that Inuzuka even dozed off dreaming about his late wife’s delicious cooking. Then it’s ready. It tastes so f*cking good! And it is only rice. Nothing else. So good that Inuzuka even cries! Such great home cook food. He promises to Tsumugi that he will make delicious food every day. But Kotori has a request. Please make and eat dinner with her.

Episode 2
Of course Inuzuka would have his reservations why she said so since it would be weird for Kotori to be eating with strangers. But with Tsumugi looking forward to it and the girls putting up a ‘cute’ face, well, he’ll think about it. Daddy tries to make decent breakfast next morning but Tsumugi is already excited to eat at Kotori’s place. So in school Inuzuka asks an older teacher on Kotori’s background. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her mom is rarely in her restaurant as she has a cooking TV show to attend. He suggests Inuzuka talk to Kotori’s mom and then decide on what he wants to do next. Inuzuka gets permission from Kotori to come tonight since she is sure her mom will be in. So when they arrive, they see her kneeling. This isn’t a sign of welcome but apology! Looks like mom cannot make it again. Last minute change in plans. Naturally Inuzuka will have to come another time but Tsumugi is already making herself at home so I guess Inuzuka has to help stay and cook as Kotori already bought the ingredients. Inuzuka and Kotori cover each other’s weakness. Like Kotori has phobia of kitchen knives and Inuzuka isn’t a good taste tester. I guess the duo work long enough that Tsumugi has drawn enough ‘drawings’ to plaster over the wall. Is this an art museum? They might not be able to make Hamburg steak that Tsumugi likes so much but at least the pork soup and rice weren’t bad either. Not only it tastes delicious but it makes Inuzuka happy to hear them say so. All in the name of making Tsumugi happy and dream come true. So Kotori can expect them to drop by again next time.

Episode 3
Kotori finds a note her mom has left. She will be appearing on the morning show. That is right about now. But you know what abomination Kotori saw? She appeared on the show wearing a sailor uniform! Meanwhile another abomination is going on. Inuzuka burnt his breakfast for Tsumugi. At least the miso soup is still good. Inuzuka already has a tough time trying to decide his next meal for Tsumugi. Suddenly there is a call from the day care she got into a fight with Mikio. Seems he accused her of stealing clay (it was given to her) and when she pushed him, her hand scratched him. Both refuse to apologize. Mikio’s mom is fiercer as he makes Mikio apologize. However Tsumugi will not accept and continues throwing a tantrum. Inuzuka has no choice but to carry her home. Wait a minute. She wrapped her head with her shirt the entire time?! How the f*ck is this oversized worm going to breathe? She feels a bit better when he talks to her back home. But the next night when they patron Kotori’s place to make her favourite Hamburg steak, Tsumugi isn’t excited. She hasn’t gotten over this morning’s reconciliation with Mikio. So they try putting up a funny show as they make but it is not working. Till Inuzuka realizes maybe he needs to listen to what she has to say. Looking her in the eye, Tsumugi then talks her heart out. She wonders if she is a bad girl but daddy knows better that she isn’t. With this episode over, Tsumugi helps them in making Hamburg steak. Tasting the first delicious bite brings her to tears. Such big teardrops? Wow. It’s like some soul cleansing dish. At the end of it, they remember it is Inuzuka’s birthday today. I guess there were more important things to handle than his birthday, right? Kotori is devastated she didn’t know and she wants to feed him her food? Too bad he ignores her because father and daughter enjoy a good lovely family hug. Aww…

Episode 4
Momoya gives Inuzuka a bunch of vegetables from his countryside family. Double that since Inuzuka’s mom also delivered a bunch of them. But you know what this means to kids who don’t like vegetables, right? Like a typical kid, Tsumugi hates green peppers. So bad that she cries the moment she pops them in her mouth! Talking to Kotori about it, she mentions about a child’s tongue being sensitive. This has Inuzuka remember his own vegetable episode whereby his brother ‘traded’ his meat for his vegetable. Kotori can also relate how her mom would encourage her to eat vegetables she didn’t like and thanks to that she can now eat anything. Kotori will make gratin and this is of course to hide the vegetables chopped up into tiny sizes and hide them in a béchamel sauce. Inuzuka allay Tsumugi’s fear for the red pepper despite coming from the same family as green peppers. Then the amateurs try to make béchamel sauce and almost flopped. I’m pretty sure Tsumugi’s rain dance wasn’t the reason why the sauce was saved… The gratin is finished by topping off tomato cherries that Tsumugi likes. As expected, it tastes good. Tsumugi bit a green pepper but seems to handle it better this time by covering up with something sweet. And we learn she is a sneaky girl because when she feeds daddy, she was hiding the rest of the green pepper underneath the cheese topping! Well, at least she finished her bowl.

Episode 5
Kotori sees Tsumugi following a stranger. She tails them and sees him buying various snacks for her. He lets Tsumugi eat them at the park. However she notes Tsumugi not wanting doughnuts. Because she thinks it is difficult as a snack. The last straw came when Kotori sees him giving her a cigarette. She blows her top. In good timing, here comes Inuzuka. Kotori tells this man was kidnapping Tsumugi and going to give her a cigarette. You mean this chocolate stick? Inuzuka explains he is Yuusuke Yagi, his high school friend. When he is unable to get Tsumugi to the day care, he calls Yagi to help out. Before they part, Kotori gets an idea to make doughnuts at her place tomorrow. As usual, the trio make the preparations but this one might take longer since they need to have the dough rise up. So they hang out at the arcade for a while before resuming their doughnut making. When they fry it the first time, they fail since it is burnt badly as they didn’t keep watch on the temperature. Luckily they have a few more to spare and they redo their frying again. This time it turns out like what it should be and enjoy their hard work. Tsumugi laughs and finds it funny that her doughnut she made did not have a hole. Then she says she thought doughnuts were difficult since she doesn’t know if it is a snack or meal. But from now on she knows it is something happy she eats with daddy. Aww… See, you made daddy almost cry.

Episode 6
Shinobu Kojika is Kotori’s best friend and classmate. When she delivers something to her and enters her restaurant, she sees Kotori cooking with Inuzuka. Naturally Kotori thinks she will get the wrong idea about this like how Tsumugi gets the wrong idea she is a customer. After hearing her out, Shinobu agrees to help Kotori cook and sets a date for a party. This excites Tsumugi as she starts creating invitation cards. Of course daddy says she can’t do that. Imagine if unknown kids turn up at Kotori’s place. It’ll be awkward, right? He doesn’t want to cause unnecessary trouble to everyone. So can invite or not? Inuzuka remembers they used to have a mini party at their place so he says they can have 2 different parties instead. She can invite her friends to their home on another date. This makes Tsumugi even more excited. So the usual suspects turn up for the gyoza party. Also invited thanks to Tsumugi’s (lame) invitation is Yagi. He could leave if he is unwanted but I guess it would be a shame if those ingredients go to waste. Besides, the more the merrier. For the rest of the episode, we see them preparing and making the gyoza. During the break, Shinobu personally talks to Kotori about her intention in doing this with her teacher. It’s not like she got any wrong idea about this but she understands why she wants to do this slowly and carefully. This means Shinobu pulls Yagi out from the cooking to let Kotori, Inuzuka and his daughter enjoy the cooking moments together. And of course the gyoza turns out good and delicious. Enjoy the party.

Episode 7
Inuzuka is sick and needs to sleep in. So what is Tsumugi going to do? After watching a magical girl show, she packs her stuffs and leaves home to become a Pokemon GO player! Just kidding! But she leaves her home and goes on a journey. Along the way she sings a cute shark song and encounters mystical adventures that are just all in her mind. Thank goodness this isn’t a busy area. Things go well for her until she accidentally bumps into a guy riding his bicycle. The irritated guy tells her to watch where she is going. Well, it was her fault in the first place not seeing where she is heading. When Inuzuka wakes up and realizes Tsumugi is not around, he bolts out to look for her. Tsumugi has reached Kotori’s place but the front door is locked. Luckily she is upstairs and heard Tsumugi’s call. After telling what happened and getting peaches (because you eat peaches when you’re sick, right? And they were all out of them), Kotori accompanies Tsumugi back. They see Inuzuka searching for his daughter. When Tsumugi gladly calls out to daddy, the biggest shock ever when he yells never to go out of the house alone! This shock was so bad that Tsumugi starts crying. Making it worse is that she is throwing tantrums and doesn’t want daddy’s hug! He wants to bring her back but he refuses and clings on to Kotori! She’s really causing a fuss! No choice, they head back to Kotori’s place. An awkward moment between father and daughter. Inuzuka explains he was so worried when Tsumugi went missing and has her promise never to do it again. She apologizes and they reconcile. So touching that Kotori wasn’t watching the rice and it got burnt. So they can’t eat it anymore? It is suggested to make gohei mochi by kneading the rice and grilling it. You know the drill by now. Hmm… How come it looks like Paddle Pop? Sticky rice on a stick? Next morning, Inuzuka is feeling all better and even better that the recent strained relationship looks as if it never happened at all.

Episode 8
Inuzuka takes a day leave from school and this makes Kotori worried if he is still sick from the other day. In fact he is attending Parent’s Day at Tsumugi’s day care. As he is the only male parent there, he feels a bit awkward and out of place to talk to the other housewives. When the parents are supposed to participate with their kids in a game, Mikio suddenly needs to go to the toilet. The kids start laughing. But it is more touching than funny when Tsumugi says she will wait for him to finish because they rarely have lots of people here today. The whole class agrees to wait for Mikio to finish his business. During the telephone game, Mikio purposely tries to make a poop joke for everyone to laugh. Despite the kids laughing like hell, they claim it isn’t funny. Huh? Back home, Inuzuka hears what every father would someday hear her daughter say: Mikio told her he wanted to marry her! Of course she rejected him. Phew? He notices the stain on her bag and wants to get her a new one but she doesn’t want any since this bag was done by mommy. For this reason, this leads to Tsumugi proclaiming she wants to eat squid and yam since mommy once done it before. So here they are as usual preparing the ingredients. Although Inuzuka doesn’t recall any family recipe, Kotori has her mom write down the basic one so it wouldn’t stray too much. The highlight of the preparation is that slimy and weird feeling trying to clean out the squid. Then there’s the part Inuzuka tries to cut the yam and it slipped out of his hand. Good thing he didn’t cut himself but this brings a little traumatic memory for Kotori because something similar happened in the past and it ended in a bad way. So of course the dish is delicious and no complaints. There are even leftovers that should taste even better if refrigerated over the night. Inuzuka talks to Tsumugi about wanting to cover the stain on her bag and gets ‘permission’ to ‘participate in what mommy made’. The result is a cute picture sewn over the stain and the bag looking as good as new.

Episode 9
The day care is having a special sleepover for the kids. Before the parents leave, they join their kids in making curry and then play sparklers together. When Inuzuka goes home, he gets an idea to make dry curry next time. He calls Kotori about it as she asks if they had any recipe or ingredients the family used. Inuzuka looks around and finds his late wife’s curry recipe although it is only 3 pages long. While preparing to make curry, Tsumugi wants to cut the carrots thinking she has experience in using the children’s knife during the sleepover. Daddy disagrees because it is dangerous but she kicks up a fuss. No choice, he lets her do so but under very tight adult supervision. Each cut is like filled with suspense. Phew. She made it. Then the grownups realize there are green peppers in the recipe, which is a must for this curry dish. They’re afraid Tsumugi might not like it and asks permission?! But Tsumugi shows her mature side as she already knows and accepts it. The result of their hard work is of course a delicious curry meal. While eating it, Inuzuka has fond memories where his late wife would cry if she cooks curry because she had to cut the onions. The funniest part is how she always wears Inuzuka’s glasses to make funny faces and become dizzy. Tsumugi also remembers this but soon it gets a little heavier as she realizes mom is never coming back and starts crying. Inuzuka thought of stopping to make curry altogether since it would remind Tsumugi of this but she disagrees (head butting his chin?!) and says she’ll still eat it.

Episode 10
During the hot summer, Inuzuka brings Tsumugi to the beach. However it is so hot that she is not in the mood. Kotori and Shinobu are probably dying from the heat too when Kotori gets a message from Inuzuka if they could drop by shortly and fillet a fish. Inuzuka explains that it was too hot for Tsumugi so they decided to go home. On the way back, they met a family fishing and the kind souls gave them some fish. He called Yagi first but he was busy with his lunch customers, thus the short notice to come here. Since nobody knows how to fillet a fish, you can always thank YouTube for the instructions. While cutting and cleaning the finish, the most amusing part is seeing Tsumugi being amused by daddy cutting up the parts and removing the innards. She can handle the blood! And at the end of it, Tsumugi amusingly points out how the fish from the ice box turns into its cut up parts before ending up in their tummy. It’s scary, fun and amazing. Just wow. With lots of fish left, this time they mix it with Tsumugi’s favourite hamburger patty complete with rice. Yagi joins the party late when they are almost done. They have also made crispy senbei from the fish bones. Tsumugi loves it and while the grownups are distracted talking to Yagi, they realize all the senbei is gone! Tsumugi, you quick little fingers. You can say not a bone was left.

Episode 11
Tsumugi gets into a fight with her friend, Hana because they want to play the same character, Galigali for the play. Kotori’s class will be doing crepes for the festival but upon learning another class will also be doing them, they discuss to differentiate theirs and Kotori is roped in to research different kinds of crepes. When Inuzuka tells Tsumugi they’re going to have a crepe party (part of the taste testing experiment for Kotori’s school festival), Tsumugi is not impressed and lambasts daddy only thinks about food and not girls! WTF?! Even more cringing is how she throws a tantrum underneath his vest and it seemed from this point of view she is doing a blowjob?! WTF????!!!!! She tells what happened with Hana so Inuzuka as well as Hana’s mom settle the matter and as decided, Tsumugi will play Galigali. The usual gang gathers at Kotori’s place to make crepes. Tsumugi sings a crepe song and then draws crepe to show she knows her stuffs. And it seems it is also to let others know her daddy is more interested in food than girls. WTF?! She really said that?! Everyone is in shock so Yagi tells her not to take it out on others. Besides, all daddy ever thinks about is her. Tsumugi feels bad and apologizes. They continue making crepes and as expected it turns out delicious. Since Tsumugi still has doubts with her friendship with Hana, Inuzuka shows her this woolly and fluffy Galigali outfit he made that will impress her. Next day she shows it to Hana and the entire class becomes impressed. Worked like a charm. Kotori’s crepe stand is a huge success as well as Tsumugi’s play. Hey, aren’t there a few more Galigali characters on stage? It’s not like it has limited places, right?

Episode 12
It’s not Inuzuka’s snore you’re hearing. It’s his stomach! It’s getting late and he is tired so Inuzuka and Tsumugi are going out to eat. Because she has never tried okonomiyaki before, she is excited. But all that died when she realized it is already done and they do not do the mixing. Even more so when it has green peppers. Now that she is sulking, she heavily puts seaweed flakes. Daddy tries to stop her but everything spills out. Full blown crying in 3, 2, 1… Eventually they have to leave. So when Inuzuka tells Kotori about this problem, they decide to make their next meal as okonomiyaki or else Tsumugi’s first experience of it will be bad. For the first time Inuzuka thought he could finally meet Kotori’s mom, Megumi. But turns out last minute changes so she’s no-show again. Damn. Yagi is also disappointed. He heard that she would be around and came. He wants to leave but Tsumugi is clinging on to his leg and begging him to cook with them. As they prepare, Yagi will not allow Tsumugi to help him since it is dangerous. Tsumugi accidentally spills the cabbage bowl and now she is all sulking. Time for daddy to give a nice talk. Inuzuka says he hates to scold Tsumugi (wow, she really looked surprise to know that) but when she has done something wrong, he has told her he will scold her. Before you know it, Tsumugi is back to her usual self, apologizing to everything. This time she joins in and has everyone singing a weird mixing song. Whatever. As long as everyone is happy. When they put the finishing touches, suddenly a surprise guest pops up. It’s Megumi! She finally finished her work and made it back in time. Nobody expected her, right? Surprise! Finally, they officially meet. Tsumugi is now a shy girl? They have an okonomiyaki party and Tsumugi finds it more delicious than the store. Why? Megumi points out it is made with lots of love for Tsumugi. Nobody is swooning… Inuzuka almost choked… Other than that, everybody had a swell time. Good food, good company.

Heart Filled With Warm Fuzziness But Stomach Still Empty…
I have to admit. This is actually one boring show unless you are in for the cooking and food they make as well as Tsumugi’s cuteness. Those are the only 2 selling points of this show. Nothing else. But even so, I wouldn’t say that the food featured here are really that appetizing. At least it did not make me want to take a chomp out from my monitor, which is good in a way because it shows that I am not influenced or ‘drugged’ by the series. But then again, because it lacks all the flashy exaggeration you see in other food themed battle animes, this is most likely the reason why some of the dishes dished out here don’t really make you hungry.

Each episode is simply divided into 2 parts. With the first half being some sort of ‘story’ for the episode in which would lead to the second half in which you will see mainly Inuzuka and Kotori preparing the dishes while Tsumugi just sits around staring and watching only displaying her cuteness. Though, to be fair, she does help sometimes but only if daddy is supervising like a prison warden. Haha. Because I am not a cooking aficionado, I can’t really say if the explanation of the way they prepare the ingredients to make the dish is comprehensive. I mean, it is not like if you want to make such dishes, you’re going to play this episode and watch them as you make. In a way, this series isn’t meant to be one of those real cooking shows you see on TV usually hosted by celebrities these days. You can learn something by watching them read out the instructions on how to make the dish (because all of them are noobs too) but not while making as you watch.

Therefore if the food preparation scenes aren’t whetting your appetite, it is the heart-warming interaction of Tsumugi and her father that may pull your heartstrings as we see daddy looking out for her daughter in the best possible way by making meals they can enjoy together. You know what they say about families that eat together, stay together, right? So if you don’t find the food as the star attraction of the series, maybe Tsumugi’s cuteness that will be spammed in every episode to be your likely source of ‘entertainment’. But Tsumugi’s bubbly and liveliness isn’t out of touch with reality and sometimes her character is something we can relate to in real life because she does get upset and throw tantrums in very weird ways too. In a nutshell, even though Tsumugi is still young, she is handling life well for a kid her age. She still has her own peculiar habits and dislikes but that is quite minimal and nothing problematic in the long run.

Inuzuka is doing a great job as a single dad and my deepest condolence to him for having a cruel fate of his wife being taken away at such an early stage. I wanted to say Inuzuka’s character as a single dad is a bit unrealistic because when young husbands lose their young wives, many would fall into depression and the stress levels will build up. Thankfully Inuzuka didn’t fall to this darkness and end up doing child abuse. But the way he seems to be handling it seems fine. He occasionally looks tired but that is all. Is working as a teacher less stressful than a corporate office job? I know Tsumugi is generally a good girl and thus he has lesser problems in dealing with discipline but that’s the thing. Does it seem a little unrealistic in a way? Well, I don’t want to be too negative and hard on him. I’ll just say he is doing a good job always having Tsumugi in mind and hope he keeps up with it. Of course there was this one time Inuzuka blew his top and screamed at his daughter for doing something dangerous but that was to be expected, right?

Kotori might feel like an odd mix between the father and daughter. But the reason why she is in this mix is because her case is somewhat an opposite. Although Tsumugi lost her mom, she is still showered with her fatherly love. It is not for the case of Kotori whose celebrity mom is always away from home, leaving Kotori to always be lonely and thus becoming a loner is only natural. Without the warmth of a parent, do you think she will cope well of having friends at school? Thank goodness she didn’t get into bad company since she is a shy girl to begin with. Therefore cooking with Inuzuka and Tsumugi feels like she is making up for the lost time that should have been with her own mother who is by the way a divorcee. Ah, broken families coming together via cooking. What a heart-warming story indeed. Sorry if you want to see some sort of illicit teacher-student relationship blossoming and then Kotori becomes Tsumugi’s step mother. Sorry. This is not that kind of anime.

Shinobu and Yagi feel like extra characters that don’t really need to be here and could be done without. But to show that Kotori and Inuzuka aren’t really loners at all and they do have other friends to support them. Besides, isn’t it always boring to see the same people cooking? Isn’t that why cooking shows sometimes have celebrity guest stars to cook with? So while the duo don’t really offer anything new to the storyline or even have an impact on their lives, at least by having company it makes a difference. Well, the more the merrier they say. I thought I was going to comment on Megumi being the greatest disappearing act ever since she is never able to turn up. Then they surprise us with that final scene. At least she pops up once. Even though it took her 12 damn episodes to do so but it’s better than nothing.

Art and drawing style feel decent. Although this series is mainly drama, they didn’t really stinge on the artwork. The characters may look simple but they are still decent enough to be considered as your standard Japanese anime characters. Even the backgrounds are decent. There won’t be any poorly produced water colour paintings or rushed oil painting jobs just because we are focused on the characters and the food, nobody is going to notice the background. They are decently drawn and animated and their quality is simple and good as the characters themselves. Tsumugi is the only ‘weird’ looking character because her messy hairstyle makes her look like she is some sort of mini Medusa but without the snakes. No, seriously.

This series has a relatively small cast (aside from the other background minor characters) so I’m glad to say that I could proudly recognize half of the main cast! Achievement! At this point now, I am able to recognize Yuuichi Nakamura as Inuzuka, Saori Hayami as Kotori, and Haruka Tomatsu as Shinobu. Even though Megumi isn’t part of the main cast, I’m going to still put her in since I recognized Satomi Arai’s voice behind that character. Yagi is voiced by Tomokazu Seki is the one I didn’t get. But the most interesting and convincing voice acting goes to Rina Endou as Tsumugi. If she sounds like an authentic kindergarten kid, it is because she is only 10 years old when she voiced her character. She was the voice of Hina in Barakamon too. An amazing feat for a little one but this isn’t the only time a young child has been scouted to voice a young character. My other experience was in an anime series, Aishiteruze Baby and Usagi Drop. Instead of adults portraying as kids, I believe it adds to the authenticity and reduce the fakeness that anime has crept into our minds of how young children sound in animes over these years.

The opening theme is a delightful and exuberating piece. Perhaps trying to captivate on the cuteness of Tsumugi. Harebare Fanfare feels like you need to sing it in a cute and boisterous manner if you want to match the same level of cuteness this series has to offer. This song is sung by MimimemeMIMI, oh wait, how the f*ck do you pronounce this tongue twister again? Are they all pronounced as the same syllable?! The ending theme is Maybe by Brian The Sun, a soothing pop piece that will sooth your ears after soothing your stomach. Well, assuming if you are full after watching the episode.

Overall, this isn’t the best food themed anime there is and certainly not the best anime in terms of single parent (see Usagi Drop if you want to know what I mean). Everything here is light hearted from the characters to the plot (very thin, even thinner than your sliced abalone) to the food featured. It is just a simple story with simple characters and simple food. So this anime is more of a light hearted snack that shouldn’t be leaving you full as you leave but at least an enjoyable experience nonetheless. It goes to show that you don’t have to make very fancy food that will mess with your palate. Even the simplest form can be equally satisfying. Next time when you see an uninspiring dish and have to eat it, just think of all the work and labour that goes into it. Even the simplest food takes some effort. Having said that, I still can’t take spicy food. And please, no bitter or sour stuffs. Only sweet chocolates, please.

Amaama To Inazuma

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.

Shokugeki No Souma

May 29, 2016

Are you hungry for more anime? Can’t get enough of anime despite tons of them airing every season? Good animes, mediocre animes, passable animes, sh*t animes. So many types of animes out there and you still can’t get enough? What does it take to satiate that hunger? Hey. I know. How about another food themed anime to satisfy your craving. Yes people. It is time for another cooking anime that revolves around food. I know the last of such food anime was Koufuku Graffiti back in early 2015 but that is without all the brutal competition and was just so mild and passive (despite the food still looking good), it feels like a show for a gentle housewife instead for teens with raging hormones. That is why we have Shokugeki No Souma. A school where the best and upcoming cooks and chefs with superbly promising skill go to hone their skills and blow away all competitions (and your stomach) with their outlandish dishes.

Of course with shows like these, you have to add in the seemingly average dark horse that nobody looks up to, to wow and amaze them, shutting them up with his cooking. I guess things are better when food enters your mouth instead of insults flying out from your mouth. Oh, add a few colourful weirdoes and characters he’ll meet and challenge, they grow together, they become friends, they become rivals, as they make their step closer to become the world’s best chefs and put all those fake master chefs on reality TV to shame. Ah, such a typical shonen anime. Food version. So get ready to feast your eyes on the most awesome dishes that you’ll never ever taste in your life and hope you carry an additional empty stomach because one bite is not enough. I can guarantee you that.

Episode 1
Souma Yukihira is in a cooking battle with his dad, Jouichirou. A female classmate tastes it and declares Jouichirou the winner. Souma’s losing streak continues. So as not to make him feel bad, she also praises his cooking but he makes her taste his new squid dish. That feeling of being tentacle raped by it… Souma hopes of one day taking over his father’s little kitchen so when Yaeko Minegasaki of the urban development for the umpteenth time comes in with her goons to try and convince him to sell his place so they can develop some high luxury condo, he shoots her down. The day he will close down this place is the day they can’t serve their customers what they want. Really? You really mean that? That sneaky look… Next evening when Souma returns from school, he is shocked to find the signboard smeared and all the meat in the kitchen tarnished. Then Minegasaki comes in to order some meat. What’s that? Can’t make any meat? Well, looks like you have to close down this place. But Souma isn’t backing out and takes the challenge. How can he make meat without any decent ingredients? He had some bacon strips he saved for breakfast. He wraps his pork roast in potatoes but Minegasaki clearly tells him she wants meat and not vegetables looking like meat. But can she resist this good smell? Having a bite… OMFG! It’s that orgasmic feeling! Souma then taunts her if she wants more, she’ll have to never come back here again. She succumbs to her temptation as she and her goons experience the ultimate goodness of the juicy meat. So good that they are butt naked in their fantasy! And yet another satisfied customers… Better than sex, eh? As Souma cleans the signboard (he must really love it for putting in this much effort), Jouichirou returns to inform him he is going to close down his shop! Seems he will be leaving overseas to help a friend in favour. But Souma has always wanted this restaurant. Dad wants Souma to move on and has him enrolled in the super elite culinary school, Totsuki Culinary Academy. His thoughts of it aren’t high until he sees students agonizing over the hellish entrance exam. And desperate people trying to pay money to be admitted back in. Oh sh*t! This school is like a mini kingdom of darkness of its own! Oh, did dad mention about the graduation is less than 10%?

Episode 2
Erina Nakiri must be one of those elite goddesses because you can tell how she chastises bad dishes (or those not up to her super high standards) when she can imagine paradise followed by a jukebox falling on her head or suddenly finding a gorilla bathing next to her! Jouichirou is currently calling Souma from New York. He is making such great cuisine that even the frail monk denounces his faith to eat his meat!!!! Souma meets the other students who are enrolling here. Each with some sort of prestige pedigree in the cooking world. But when they find out he is a commoner, they become abusive. When the hopeful learn Erina is their examiner, they start freaking out! When Erina gives them the chance to withdraw, all of them start crying father and mother and run away! Wimps! Only Souma remains. It is a good thing he doesn’t know who this b*tch is, right? Yeah, something about having born with the finest palate to mankind. A divine tongue that makes her some sort of genius taster at a very young age. Oh, did you know she is also the granddaughter of this academy’s director, Senzaemon? Whatever. Too bad Erina’s yuri time with her assistant, Hisako Arato has to be cut short when she realizes there is still a candidate left. She doesn’t have high expectations of this commoner. Souma gets to work in making a dish with eggs as it was the condition of this test. Although it comes out plain and before she could fail him, Souma teases her about its true form. The rice soon starts to change into a juicier form. Sucking in her pride, Erina tastes the dish. It’s that ecstasy feeling coming! Little Souma angels molesting her naked body!!!!!!!!!! Erina true to being a b*tch, cannot accept this despite she finds it delicious. She fails him! B*TCH!!!!! Later she calls her grandpa to inform that nobody passed the exam. Souma sits in dejection and shock, pondering about his dark future. Senzaemon, who has been observing Souma’s cooking, takes a bite himself. Looks like he has a different idea about Souma’s application.

Episode 3
2 years ago when Megumi Tadokoro left her family filled with hope to become the next best chef when she returns, things are looking bleak because she has been scoring streaks of E’s. And now she receives a note that if she gets 1 more E, she will be expelled! Can’t blame her for feeling nervous and pessimistic. Senzaemon addresses the first year high school students and doesn’t hesitate to mention that 99% of them will fail and become sacrifices for the remaining 1% who will hone their best skills (cue to briefly glimpse at the possible 1% of weirdoes). A transfer student is introduced to give his speech. Erina cannot believe it is Souma. To keep his speech short, Souma irks everyone by claiming he will be the top. Erina wonders how he got in when she clearly failed him but it seems Souma has got an acceptance letter subsequently. Megumi continues to tremble about her precarious position and avoid any unwanted attention like being associated with that transfer student. Unfortunately she ends up in the same class as him and is paired as her partner. Doom! Their first class is under this French chef, Roland Chapelle. He never smiles and any dish they make less worthy of an A will automatically be given an E! You scared, Megumi? They have 2 hours to make some braised beef. Megumi is getting paranoid while Souma plays cool. More like he is being a carefree idiot. A team who dislikes Souma sabotages their preparation. There is not enough time left and Megumi is left to rue her cruel end. But Souma isn’t defeated yet. With spare ingredients, he is still going to make the dish. Surprisingly, Souma finishes making it even before those saboteurs. Seems he used honey which quickly breaks down some protein and tenderizes the meat. Time to taste. Because we don’t really want to see naked middle age French guys, the reason why Megumi is also invited to taste. Yeah… Sweet honey melting all over her naked body! Even more shocking, French guy is smiling! Automatically an A but he laments he has no authority to give them a higher grade. Megumi has her hopes up again with Souma as her partner. But then… He wants to celebrate their partnership by making her taste his new honey squid dish! OMG! Tentacle rape scene!!! How about peanut butter squid now? Oh sh*t… When Hisako reports to Erina about Souma receiving the highest rating from Chapelle, she becomes so pissed and incensed and doesn’t want her to ever speak of that name before her again.

Episode 4
Souma makes his way to Polar Star Dorm. If this creepy place with weirdoes don’t creep you out, maybe this old lady caretaker, Fumio Daimido will. As requirement to stay here, he must cook a passable meal for her. Too bad Souma didn’t hear anything about it and risks staying out in the cold. But when he learns there are leftovers in the kitchen, he takes up the challenge. That meat patty he made is from mackerel while the soup base is from squid (see, squids aren’t always that bad). Long story short, Fumio becomes enchanted with the test and even more so he made something out of so little. Because we don’t appreciate naked bodies of old ladies, instead we have Fumio reminiscing the past where she is hot and sexy, making out with her boyfriend!!! What’s so bad about this? Old lady in her fantasy is trying to kiss Souma!!! Megumi thought the dorm is her place of solace. No strict teachers, no Souma. You don’t say… Then Souma accidentally barges into the bathroom where she is taking a bath. Oops. Fumio must have forgotten to tell him about the bath times. It’s ladies’ turn now. Souma is then invited for a welcoming party with the rest of the dorm’s equally weird dwellers. Zenji Marui is pissed because everyone loves to hold parties in his room and interrupt his study time. Aside Megumi, the other dorm students are animal crazy Yuki Yoshino, the level headed Ryouko Sakaki, Shouji Sato and Daigo Aoki who love fighting each other, the quiet Shun Ibusaki and the-guy-who-likes-to-crawl-through-the-roof-to-deliver-messages and wear-naked-apron-to-show-off-his-butt-while-cooking Satoshi Isshiki. Souma asks about Totsuki’s Elite Ten Council whom Erina is part of. They comprise of the best students of their academy. Their decision making is final and their authority is only second to the director. I guess that says a lot about this bunch. What would be a party without the gang trying each other’s food, right? And they risk trying Souma’s honey squid… Deep in the night, Isshiki lets Souma tries his Spanish mackerel dish. He is blown away by the awesomeness. But this is just a warning to him. Because Isshiki is part of the Elite Ten! He is looking forward to taste his dishes.

Episode 5
Souma takes up the challenge to cook the same theme as Isshiki. He cooks enough for the rest too. As expected, a lovely heavenly taste. We get a little explanation about the French poele technique used by Souma from Isshiki. As expected too, our naked ladies fanservice when they taste the dish. Since Souma’s dish is also quite worthy, the match ends with a draw. Souma then asks how to get into the Elite Ten. His reason for wanting to aim for the best is because he is currently in a fight with his dad. He needs to pull off something major if he is to get his respect. He wonders if he challenges and beats Isshiki, will he get his seat in the council. Isshiki didn’t say since the night is getting late. Next day, Souma eagerly waits to challenge Isshiki for his seat. Sorry to rain on your parade. That is not how it works. He explains some of the rules. When one challenges another, they have to wager something of equal value. For Isshiki’s seat, not even Souma’s expulsion would suffice. That is how great the seat on the council is. Isshiki can accept his challenge but since he wouldn’t want him expelled, the showdown will never happen. There are also other conditions. The main ones are having adjudicators to certify a formal challenge, judges for the challenge and agreement of the conditions by the challengers. Once all are met, you can challenge anyone in the academy. This traditional cooking duel of Totsuki is called Shokugeki. Speaking of which, Erina is engaged in one against some sumo guy. Because she wants to tear down his historical club house to make way for another of her personal cooking wing. Eventually sumo guy unanimously lost. Erina can tell all the errors he made in his dish and on the other hand he is just in ecstasy to taste hers. Like the autocratic demon she is, she immediately has her men teardown the clubhouse. No mercy. Souma looks disappointed with those set of Shokugeki rules because he really wanted to challenge Erina. Ibusaki believes Isshiki wasn’t being serious and didn’t go all out with his dish although Isshiki disagrees he gave it his best. Erina is going to move on to her target to rid the academy of unworthy weaklings (I suppose Totsuki must always be perfect) but this American chick, Ikumi Mito wants to do the next honour. Erina agrees but warns about the consequences if she fails.

Episode 6
Yuki shows Souma around the dorm’s farm that they tend to and raise. Isshiki farming only in his fundoshi… Megumi learnt from Souma and incorporates honey into her breakfast which surprisingly tastes very good. So why can’t she imitate this during class? Stage fright. Totsuki has many cooking research societies. They are like what clubs are in high school. Megumi takes Souma to visit some. His first stop is the Don Research Society. But looks like the president, Kanichi Konishi is in doom and gloom. The club has many exquisite don recipes and could have flourished if not of Erina. Yup, it’s that b*tch again. He explains Erina’s workings first by cutting down a club’s budget. Once cornered, the club has no choice but to initiate Shokugeki and this will only have Erina make more demands. This has been her way of getting rid of clubs she doesn’t like. Mito and her contractors come in to survey the place for teardown. Mito mocks Konishi’s lowly dish not worthy of Totsuki and naturally Souma can’t let this slip and wants to fight her in Shokugeki. Souma agrees to leave Totsuki if he loses but if Mito loses, she must join this club. She agrees and sets the Shokugeki theme as meat. It’s going to be tough since Mito is known as the meat master. Now the entire academy is abuzz with this upcoming battle in 3 days. Konishi explains the meat grade that makes it good and tasty and worthy of the don. However Souma won’t use premium beef because like Konishi said, don is about the speed, taste and affordability. Can’t compromise on your principles now, can we? Mito was just making fun of them of using premium meat. Besides, her family is the king of the meat industry. So she has all the money and facilities at her disposal. As Shokugeki requires participants to get their own ingredients, the club has not enough funds. Souma wanted to use his own money but father is a penny pincher in sending him living expenses. I don’t know how but they manage to get the ingredients. Based on the recipes of the club, Souma tries to create the ultimate don for Konishi to test but there is just something missing. Megumi’s dish gives Souma an idea about tenderizing the meat. He creates a Chaliapin meat. So soft and tender that you can break it with your chopsticks. And yes, tastes good too. But is it enough to beat Mito who is guaranteed to use her premium beef.

Episode 7
Cutie Urara Kawashima hosts the Shokugeki. Boys mesmerized and loving her. Girls jealous and brewing hatred. Mito is the crowd’s favourite while everyone is just booing Souma. So typical. Gracing the event is Erina who is here to see Souma’s humiliating defeat. Some cocky words from Mito before they start cooking. While Mito’s beef is superb quality premium, everyone is shocked to see Souma’s meat is from a convenience store’s cheap sale! Dish tasting time. Mito goes first. Good reviews. As expected. Souma’s turn. The judges don’t think highly of it after tasting Mito’s one. As expected. But once they pop it in their mouth, they find it so delicious that they cannot stop eating! OMG! They finish the bowl clean and are asking for seconds! Although his cheap sauce and tweaking of the onion did the trick, but the one that sealed the deal was the pickled plum paste he used in the rice. Mito is worried as she realizes her rice portion is left unfinished. As Souma explains, the don must come as a whole as a package. So when he heard Mito was going to use premium meat, he was worried about what she was going to use for the rice because by beefing up and amplifying the rice with her meat, both will start to compete instead of complementing each other. Still not interested? Why not have a try then. She takes a bite. And then she cannot stop! So good that she remembers her sad past of her strict lady-like upbringing. Yes. The don is making and telling her it is okay to be herself! Clearly the winner is Souma. Shocking upset? To the audience. Hardly to me. Oh dear. Erina is not looking pleased… When Souma would like to taste her dish and mentions she looks cute, her heart skips a beat and she runs away. Next day, Mito prepares to enter the don club. She can’t help think about Souma and I think this is her motivation of showing up. But where is Souma? Well, Konishi breaks the bad news that Souma told him he only came to check the club out and not join it. So mad and so upset that she became more violent than before.

Episode 8
There is a training camp coming up but it is no walk in the park. This is where hell begins. This is where the downsizing of students starts. Based on last year’s camp, many who failed the camp’s test were expelled. Megumi can’t stop shaking… She can die any time… So while this camp might look grand and luxurious (heck, the entire resort is owned by Totsuki), everyone there is just damn gloomy. They know their head is on the chopping board and it gets gloomier when they see Souma. This year’s camp will be special because the alumni of Totsuki has come back to help. Yup, the greatest chefs of the academy are here to torture everyone like the demons they have turned into. Too harsh? Well, take a look at this. There is this one kid whereby a chef immediately expels him because he could smell his hair scent shampoo that would interfere with his food aroma! Of all the great alumni, the greatest of them all is Gin Dojima and he wastes no time in telling them if they cannot satisfy the minimum requirements, out they go. I’m sure Megumi is glad she is paired up with Souma again. But bad blood is brewing when half Italian Takumi Aldini and his fatty twin brother Isami purposely step on Souma’s shoes as a declaration of war. Their class is headed by Hinako Inui who tells them to make a Japanese cuisine based on the natural ingredients found in this area. They have 2 hours. This causes panic as the students rush to get them. This is of course a ploy to weed out those who cannot handle such pressure. Because everyone is busy fishing, the twins came back with duck meat and other forms of meat. They use their fast chopping skills as they mention their restaurant for the masses back in Italia which is pretty much similar to Souma’s family restaurant. They finish the dish fish and Inui tastes the incredible duck meat (Pavarotti singing opera in a duck mask?!). Even the seemingly Italian sauce is an improvisation to turn it into a Japanese version. Safe to say, they pass. What you gonna do Souma?

Episode 9
3 years ago in Florence, Italy, the Aldini brothers were already pros in their cooking. Yeah, they’ve got girls and even gays asking them out! However, their father thought they lacked something from the heart despite their skills and sent them to Totsuki to find a worthy rival. And when Souma made that aggravating statement, it just riled Takumi up. Inui agrees to judge the competition and the loser will kneel and admit he is the loser. Souma gets started and due to the ‘loophole’ in Inui’s rule, he takes her kaki no tane tea snack as his ingredient and lets Takumi hold on to it. While Megumi looks for ingredients and Souma finding chicken eggs (chicken attack!), the other teams begin to finish but Inui is not impressed. Those people have no idea and made the same grilled fish. Despite only having 15 minutes left, that is enough time for Souma to finish. He makes a breaded fish dish using kaki no tane as the breading. Crunchy and tasty of course! It sends Inui into a mermaid delusion reaction. I wonder how mermaids have sex… When it is time to judge whose is better, Inui can’t make up her mind. Then she gets a call from fellow alumni, Koujirou Shinomiya that she is late since all groups have to return to the hotel at a certain time. As she hurries everyone back into the bus, what about the decision? Well… She’ll just postpone it and revisit it another day. Hah. An excuse to run away and this sure doesn’t leave a good taste in Takumi’s mouth. I guess the suspense will continue to kill them. Although no formal decision was made, Takumi felt he lost. If you think the students are going to get their deserved break back at the hotel, think again. With the university clubs staying nearby, they have to make 50 servings each before retiring. Oh, they have to make their own food too. It is going to be a mad rush feeding all those macho men! Bodybuilders, wrestlers and American footballers… Feel the machoism! Those who fail will be expelled immediately! It becomes a mad rush. Souma becomes the first complete his task. He uses his free time to head to the bath but guess who he bumps into on his way in? Oh, it’s that b*tch Erina…

Episode 10
Erina is embarrassed that Souma caught her humming and prancing happily. It even gets worse when Souma use ambiguous words explaining to Hisako like as though he pushed her down and did something! When Souma heads into the bath, he sees Dojima flexing his muscles. Man, this guy should have been a bodybuilder. Usually Dojima takes his bath while the students cook up those 50 servings. Not many can finish before he gets out. Last year it was Isshiki. This has Souma realize that this means Erina finished faster than him. Then he hears certain stories about her divine tongue that includes one whereby she accurately identified correctly the origins or each salt dish in blindfold. Souma and Megumi are now in Shinomiya’s class. They are to make some vegetable dish based on his recipe, terrine. Megumi thought she could rely on Souma again but here’s the bad news. Shinomiya will not allow team work. This is an individual assignment and no help is allowed. This means even if you help point out something is doing it wrong slightly, you both get fired! Poor guys… Megumi realizes she can’t depend on Souma and must use her creativity to figure this one out. Especially when she is left with some ingredients that are already not fresh. Speaking of which, the fight gets even tougher when students have to fight for the ingredients when Shinomiya tells them to treat each other as enemies. Tasting time. He fails many. Souma passes of course. Megumi finally finishes hers and is the last to present. He tastes it. He fails her! OMG! What in the world?! Care to explain? No doubt she used vinegar to preserve the freshness, she altered his recipe and he this is not allowed!!! WTF?! Souma does not accept and instead points out Shinomiya’s responsibility to prepare fresh ingredients as some of them weren’t. Is he a failure as a chef? Then Shinomiya admits why he put some vegetables that weren’t fresh: So he can limit those he needs to pass! Usually those who panic or slow ones will be those who will go. Souma argues Megumi’s creativity to cover for that but Shinomiya will not allow any changes to his recipe. As the top chef, he has the authority to even fire him! So one more complaint… Souma is seething with anger but Megumi doesn’t want him to risk it on her behalf. But after all her smiles, you think Souma gives a sh*t about this crap? Only one thing left to do: He challenges Shinomiya to Shokugeki. If he beats him, he will rescind Megumi’s expulsion.

Episode 11
Did you know Shinomiya was the former number one seat of the Elite Ten? Oh, who cares? At least not Souma. However Shinomiya has no intention to accept this Shokugeki and Megumi’s expulsion is final. But Dojima holds his horses and not be too hasty. Inui is quite fond of Megumi so she is trying to put childish pressure on Shinomiya to reverse his decision. Not working. Dojima suggests an unofficial Shokugeki beneath the hotel’s annex and since they can’t interrupt the camp, they’ll have to do it after the afternoon session. Shinomiya still won’t accept this but that glaring stare in Dojima’s eyes tell him to f*cking accept it. The other alumni guys are also here as judge. Too bad Inui is reduced to a spectator since we all know her bias towards Megumi. Dojima lays down the rules. They will use the leftover vegetables from that session to make another main vegetable dish. However there is a condition for Megumi. She is the lead chef and Souma is only her assistant. This means she has to decide and make the call. No doubt Souma called on this challenge, if their team wins based on his decision, it would mean Megumi was just riding on to him and it won’t be long before she gets expelled. She must prove herself if she wants to continue to stay. If Souma cannot trust her cooking, then he should withdraw from this match. Megumi becomes panicky in trying to think her next step. She’s thinking she has gotten this far thanks to Souma. But after he slaps her hands to calm her down, he makes her think of all the good cooking she has done. Don’t care what the enemy is doing. Focus on your own. It brings her back to all those good memories as she gets her confidence and starts her preparations. Souma proves himself worthy as her assistant as he prepares all the necessary ingredients in great timing. Time to judge. Shinomiya goes first. You know it tastes good when you see that naked delusion reaction. In short after all that explanation, his dish is like magic! So much so the judges turn into a magical girl unit! HOLY CRAP!!! Safe to say that his dish lives up to expectations but Dojima is a bit disappointed because he was expecting him make his signature dish from his restaurant. However Shinomiya’s arrogance means he didn’t think it was necessary against a student. Now it’s Megumi’s turn to present. Still nervous? Don’t falter after coming this far. Everyone is surprised she makes that terrine dish.

Episode 12
Everyone is singing praises over Megumi’s dish. They’re even fighting what kind of cute fairy deity she is supposed to represent! But ultimately the final decision has the judges voting for Shinomiya. A unanimous decision! Gasp! It’s heartbreaking to see her in tears. Dojima despite not a judge, puts his single vote for Megumi. What is the meaning of this? He tells him to look into Megumi’s dish and believes Shinomiya’s skills as a chef is stagnating. 10 years ago when Shinomiya graduated from Totsuki and flew to France to begin his dream, he quickly earned praises from customers for his dishes. However jealousy soon abound as his own chefs sabotage his recipe. Then the complaints came piling in and Shinomiya is driven to a knife’s edge. In a desperate move, he kicks out all his staffs that were against him and became absolutely strict with those under him. It’s his way or the highway. Shinomiya rebounded and became even more popular than ever till he won the prestigious Pluspol award. Dojima believes ever since he got that award, he has lost sight of what is most important. Thus the reason he doesn’t want to use his signature dish was because he didn’t want them to find out his cooking has hit the wall. Shinomiya is forced to try out Megumi’s dish. As usual he complains at what it lacks but something that makes it as though the dish is speaking to him from the heart. So the flashback with his mom in his paddy field was just to tell us the cooking reminds him of his mother’s tender love? He is so touched that he votes for Megumi’s dish! He realizes some sort of spice that Megumi put in her dish. She explains that all the judges have been eating and judging various foods since yesterday and this spice is to ease their digestion. How thoughtful! With Inui putting her vote for Megumi, the match is now at a tie. I guess this means nobody gets expelled, right? Dojima praises Megumi’s hospitality as a valuable edge. Now she is in tears again. Heck, I thought she is either crying or nervous throughout the entire time. With Shokugeki over, Dojima’s plan to save both chefs worked out well. Shinomiya has once again discovered his hunger to learn and absorb everything again. Although Megumi thanks Souma, personally that guy feels bitter because he considered this draw as a loss. He had intended to win. They return to their friends who have been worried sick about their fate. Yeah, the tension almost killed them.

Episode 13
Isshiki welcomes his fellow dorm mates back. But wait! Souma is buffed up like a Super Saiyan and the rest turned into delinquents! Except for Ibusaki who regressed being a caveman and Marui reduced to being glasses! Thank goodness it was just a dream as everyone is still at the camp. Everyone thought they will have a well deserved rest. Till Dojima tells them to gather at the hall. He mentions the next challenge is to come up with an innovative breakfast menu that will be served by 6am. The main ingredient is egg. So you either use the remaining time to experiment or rest. Well, sh*t… Of course Souma gets cracking and he remembers his dad’s advice of why he cannot simply introduce a new dish for the sake of having something different. It must be something familiar and yet have the element of surprise. Next day, everyone gets ready to start their buffet breakfast. Erina is irked when Souma’s counter is just right next to hers. Dojima then makes the announcement the judges will be by the people who made the ingredients and their family. Yeah, a huge crowd of commoners streaming in. Also part of the judging will be the service staffs of the hotel. Another criterion for passing is that they must serve 200 servings. So we have all our usual suspects like Takumi, Mito and even Megumi getting praised with their innovation. I guess you can tell Megumi improved a lot when the grandpa wants her to marry his grandson!!! And of course the best praise still has to go to Erina whose Egg Benedict dish has everyone bowing before the queen b*tch bee. But how is Souma doing? To everybody’s shock, he has less than 10 servings made! Something is wrong!

Episode 14
Souma realizes why nobody is picking up his soufflé. Because his diner is always served after customers made their order, in a buffet, it is the customers who decide when they pick your dish. And his soufflé has to be eaten piping hot otherwise it will lose its texture. Furthermore, Erina is stealing his customers. I’m sure she would love to rub it in his face but he is deep in concentration remembering his dad made him multi-task but he ended up panicking and confused. He was told about focusing the task at hand so Souma looks at the time left (30+ minutes) and how much time is needed to make his dish. All he needs to do know is attract one customer. He weaves his ‘magic’ in front of a little girl. So when she tastes it, it attracts others to try out his dish. The crowd soon gathers at Souma’s counter to watch him multi-task and create his awesome soufflé. While all of our usual characters have already passed the 200 servings mark, everyone is anxiously waiting for Souma to do that. Right at the dot before time is up, he reaches the target. Phew. Close shave. Before Erina can start b*tching about whatever, then pops up this girl, Alice Nakiri. Not too say she is impressed with Souma but she didn’t really expect him to pull off this ‘magic’ in such limited time. If her name sounds familiar, she is Erina’s cousin. As Erina is the only one who surpassed the 400 servings, Alice is second place with 380 and could have gone beyond that had she not ran out of ingredients. She calls Souma’s live cooking show as an outdated circus show because she believes in cutting edge cooking. Then there are some ramblings about her parents making Denmark as their base for some cutting edge food research, blah, blah, blah. Then there is that rivalry with Erina since young and she came here to crush her and take top spot till Souma showed up. But surprising her is how Souma owns up to his failure and mistake and how he learns from failures. The hellish training camp continues with more tasks in the next few hours. Just when all the students are tired, they are called to gather at the hall. First, Dojima talks about the harshest path that the chefs go through, blah, blah, blah. And just when everyone thought the final task would be the most daunting ever, it is actually a congratulatory meal created by the alumni for them! Congratulations to all 628 who survived and passed this training camp. I guess it is worth the reward to be treated like honoured guests. Souma now believes his dad was right in sending him here.

Episode 15
As the students are leaving, if you’re wondering why Inui is bugging Megumi aside her obsession over her, as we find out, this camp also serves as a place for the alumni to recruit future potential chefs. Without a doubt Souma has his but he has his family restaurant now and his goal is to make his dad acknowledge his skills. Souma forgot his headband and when he returns, he got on the wrong bus. Filled with old folks! They tasted his dish and loved it. They hope he could use their ingredients in his diner. With so many buses, Souma got confused and lost. Then he missed it. Coincidentally, Erina also returned to retrieve something and missed the bus. Not this jerk again. Luckily somebody manages to hire a car for her. Oh, you know what this means. The duo are in an awkward position the entire ride. If only Souma could stop talking… Then he has to flout her high and mighty attitude by telling him the camp wasn’t just to weed out weaklings. There were guys at the camp judging strong students as candidates for the autumn gourmet festival whereby such students can exercise their skills with other heavyweights in the food industry. Erina disagrees with Souma’s thinking about learning via failure. Because failure is not an option for chefs. Failed foods should not be out there to serve customers. We learn what Erina went back to retrieve was a precious photo of her young self and Jouichirou! If she only knew…

Speaking of which, Fumio thought the kids have come back but it looks like Jouichirou is back in Japan and at Polar Star’s doorstep. So naturally the kids are surprised to see him. What is more surprisingly learning he is Souma’s dad? He is an alumnus of Totsuki, stayed in this dorm and the second seat of the Elite Ten! Too much for you to handle, Souma? He cooks for them a feast and safe to say that he has them (how come we only see the girls get the reaction?) dreaming on an Egyptian adventure. He is so good that the girls probably are starting to have hots for Souma! Of course there is a dish which is purposely the worst. Marui had the dishonour to taste it… More revelations about this guy. He went by the name Jouichirou Saiba then and a good friend to Dojima. Oh, he stayed in this dorm too and was the first seat of the Elite Ten! The duo were a formidable team. They won every Shokugeki and turned this land into a self sufficient nation! So all the farms, barns, coops and whatever facilities you see around Polar Star is all thanks to them. Souma gets more surprised when he learns Jouichirou stayed in the very same room he is staying now. Yeah, those marks on the wood are from him. Interested, he spends the rest of the night learning about his days in Totsuki. Next morning, Souma thinks Jouichirou woke him up to help make breakfast. To his surprise, Jouichirou wants to see how much he has improved and thus a cooking contest. Is this why he returned to Japan? Why you look so shocked, Souma? Didn’t see this coming so soon?

Episode 16
Fumio, Isshiki and Megumi are lucky to become the judges. The theme will be breakfast that will invigorate their body. Father and son face off and after an hour, Souma serves his apple rice. Good praises and everything. Now it is Jouichirou’s turn. Fumio is sceptical as he has a habit of adding random bits into his dish. So when his ramen dish pops up, they think he is fooling around. Till they try it out… Suddenly they cannot stop eating! It must be damn good. To their surprise, there is no meat whatsoever in this completely vegetarian dish despite its texture looking like so but that is only because he was using soybeans via traditional Indonesian way. In the end, everyone unanimously votes for Jouichirou. Souma’s 490th straight loss. Although after tasting Jouichirou’s dish, Souma’s one feels less appetizing, it isn’t actually that bad. Just that it seemed lacklustre. Father and son are so deep into their challenge that each even record the event in their notebook! As fast as he came, Jouichirou soon leaves. Fumio could guess this match was partly to encourage his son as he will soon face many cooking battles at Totsuki. Oh, he left a message for him: Go air the diner once in a while. Fumio suggests Souma return home on the next holiday. Erina thought she spotted Jouichirou walking by. She has her driver stop the car as she runs out to the middle of the road. Thank goodness this isn’t a busy street. But could she be seeing things? No Jouichirou in sight.

Episode 17
Plain girl, Mayu Kurase, Souma’s old classmate has been sighing each time she passes the closed Yukihira diner. So irritating that her friend, Aki Koganei had to tell her off about her crush on Souma. To their surprise, Souma just opened his store. He’s back! Then the other shopping district guys start rushing to him and want him to cook for them! They really miss his cooking. While they enjoy his dishes, they mention a recent problem plaguing the shopping district. A recently opened store at the railway station that sells the best karaage has been stealing their customers. At this rate, they’ll close down. I guess it is up to Souma to save the day. Since the rest have got to work, I guess the only person left to become his taste tester is Mayu. Leave it to Aki to pressure her into it as it will be her only chance to get close to him. Souma thinks hard. He needs more knowledge on karaage and how else specializes in meat? He calls Mito who is irritated somebody is calling her this late. Well what do you know? She is sitting up after hearing Souma’s voice. She’ll gladly lend her help and go to his place. She means it. She’s coming back no matter what! Mito and Mayu meet for the first time and you can tell they’re sizing up each other if this is the girl Souma likes. They visit the karaage specialty store, Mozuya. Run by Kinu Nakamozu, they have won the national karaage contest for 3 straight years and are destined to win it again this year. They notice the shopping district chairman, Yuu Tomita is here disguised to check things out. Too bad that disguise couldn’t hide a thing. In fact, Kinu even lets them try the awesome karaage, divulges some of the ingredients used to make it and then badmouths the shopping district. When Souma proposes about coming up a better one than them, Kinu almost turns into a monster telling him off he doesn’t know anything as a kid. So scary. At least from timid Mayu’s perspective. Souma and Mito get working on their karaage. Although delicious, it still doesn’t quite match up to Mozuya. Souma thought of using Mito’s expensive beef but it’s costly even after all that discount. When Mito notices lost of students passing by at this hour (club activities and the likes), this gives Souma a great idea. He was thinking too far outside the box. They don’t need to fight on their turf although they’ll still be using karaage. They’ll use the shopping district’s potential and come up with the best way to have people enjoy karaage.

Episode 18
Souma explains Mozuya wraps and boxes their karaage for take away. Therefore people tend to take it home and eat. A shopping district won’t have this problem as people can walk and eat. This is how they’ll fight them. Despite coming up with some samples, the karaage still can’t beat Mozuya. After brainstorming with the ladies, Tomita comes in believing he has the secret solution that will work. He presents karaage in an onigiri! However the girls point out they’ve already seen this in stores. Unoriginal. But Souma gets an idea from this so everyone starts working overtime to put their karaage operation into action. Aki notices that more and more people are holding wrap rolls and passing by her store. With her sales in steady decline for the 3 days, those who stop by her store are those asking directions where to get this wrap roll! Aki must find out what is happening at the shopping district and to her surprise, it is brimming with life. Souma and co are making those lovely karaage wrap rolls that everyone couldn’t get enough of. Thanks to their great business, the domino effect has other stores in the district to also experience brisk business. I guess Souma can’t help rub it in when he sees her amidst the crowd. Don’t get mad, aunty. Have a taste. And as expected, the awesome fantasy reaction when she takes a bite. It reminds her of some Vietnamese dish. More importantly, the taste evokes the liveliness of the busy shopping district. Screw profits and returns! It is the taste of youth! You lose, lady. While Souma praises Mito, Mayu can’t help today is her last day to be with him. Surprisingly he asks her help. Actually to help part time at Tomita’s store since his store is the flagship store of the karaage wrap roll. Mayu is honoured that despite never talking much with him during school days, he always noticed and observed her hardworking habits. Without hesitation, she accepts to try out. Mito, you feeling jealous? The food critic rates this new delight as 20 points. Out of ten! When Souma returns, he is brought to see Etsuya Eizan. He is a consultant responsible for Mozuya’s expansion among many other food chains. He heard how Souma’s exploits put a dent to his reputation. So is he going to beat him up? Actually, he wants Souma to work for him. Of course he refuses as Souma’s goal is to carry on his family business. Eizan then mocks his limited thinking in his limited world. Unlike others, Eizan is not a chef but a consultant so his goals are different than everyone’s. He warns Souma about the Autumn Elections. Although he has been selected, it will mark his downfall (why do they always say this and count their chickens?). He will make him pay for staining his career. Oh, did he mention that he is on the 9th seat of the Elite Ten. Only ninth? Heck, I thought he was at least second or third if not first.

Episode 19
During the Elite Ten’s meeting to select those for the Autumn Elections, Erina was against Souma’s participation. But this only makes the rest think something happened between them for her to object. In order not to reveal more and because majority wants him in, that’s how Souma got nominated. As usual, the names of 60 candidates split into 2 groups are announced. The top few in each group will advance to the final that is believed to be the precedent for those who will end up on the Elite Ten’s seat. So we have our usual like Souma, Mito, Alice and the Aldini brothers as well new faces like Miyoko Hojo (another one interested in Megumi but feels disappointed when she claims Souma helped her during the Shokugeki with Shinomiya), Nao Sadatsuka (a Sadako-look-a-like who fawns over Erina and hates Hisako for being close to her idol), Ryo Kurokiba (Alice’s lackadaisical assistant) and Akira Hayama (tanned guy). As the theme for the preliminaries is curry, Souma remembers Jouichirou told him if he needs advice for spice, go to see Jun Shiomi who is the queen of spices. Mention his name because Shiomi was his junior. So at this rundown lab and messy room, Shiomi is a petite girl despite being 34 years old?! Did time stop? Or is it the spice of youth? But when Souma mentions he is the son of Jouichirou, Shiomi punches him! She hates that guy and will not have anything to do with his family! Here’s why. She stayed at the same dorm with him and was subjected to his terrible food experiments. Yeah. I guess that’s where the trauma comes from. Hayama is also working here as her assistant but it looks like he is the one who is wearing the pants around. While Shiomi starts her boring incomprehensible lecture of spice on the whiteboard, Hayama prefers to let Souma experience curry spice and lets him savour the various curry dishes he made. Even Souma is not spared from that delusional naked reaction. Of course after all that testing, Hayama still thinks Souma is lacking to be the top dog of this school. This sets the tone for their rivalry as Souma will make a better curry dish than his. Hayama still doesn’t think so because his nose is special and that fragrance is the key to victory.

Episode 20
There aren’t many weeks left to the Autumn Elections. Everybody is trying hard as usual and some take the chance to go back to their families. Souma as usual stays up all night to find a new inspirational dish. He definitely needs to sleep on it. Meanwhile, we detour to a few other characters like Miyoko who enrolled at Totsuki to earn some credibility so she won’t be bullied by men when she returns to her home, and Nao cooking some witch broth inside her creepy room that has posters adoring Erina and as well as curses for Hisako the b*tch. All 60 candidates gather at the hall where Senzaemon starts off with his manly speech. Only 4 from each group may proceed to the final. Do the math and this means only 8 of them will progress. I have a hunch who will make it… The most shocking thing everyone finds is how Isami has slimmed down that he looks like a different person! Must be the summer heat burning away those fats… Nobody is interested in you, Takumi… Both groups separate into different halls and start working their magic. Expect to see lots of dramatic cooking effects. Also, bigwigs from the food industry from old geezers to obnoxious broad moguls watching and counting their chickens which candidates they like for the finals. In group A, we have Souma, Mito, Ryouko, Ibusaki, Marui, Ryo and Hayama among those we know. For group B, Megumi, Yuki, Alice, Takumi, Isami, Hisako, Nao and Miyoko. The big shocker when everybody notices Souma sleeping on the job!!! Is he serious?!

Episode 21
Souma springs to life when the fragrance from his pot is cooked. We take a detour to see how Megumi is doing. Clumsy as usual. Everybody is shocked and wondering how she is going to cut up that giant monkfish. That flashback of how she was harshly trained to do so since young is perhaps the reason why we now understand she could cut it up like a pro. Time is up and time for judging. All the low level failures will of course go first. Despite the praises, they get very low scores because those judges deal with professionals every day so their dishes do not really stand out. Nobody has broken into the 40 points threshold and some even got a single digit. It is Nao’s turn to serve. Her dish stinks like hell! Is it made from sewer and toilet?! Does she plan to kill the judges?! But when they taste it, it tastes delicious! Despite its stinking stench, they can’t help become addicted to eating it. Eventually she scores a high 84 points. Now it is Hisako’s turn. Two years ago, the duo had a showdown in a Shokugeki in which Hisako won. This meant Nao had to stay 50 metres away from Erina but the deal had a loophole so Nao continued to spy Erina from afar and sent her 30 letters a day! The judges taste Hisako’s dish and their bodies turn muscular! In short, her dish contains medicinal spices in which she specializes in. Nao can’t believe her curse has been undone so Hisako lets her taste her dish. It’s so good that it purifies her evil! The damning blow is when Hisako tells her that Nao’s cooking is only about herself whereas Hisako has always had Erina in mind. That is the difference between them. Hisako jumps to first place with 92 points. But you know what is even scarier? Nao is now looking up to Hisako as her one-sama!!! Oh sh*t!!!

Episode 22
Miyoko scores 87 points with her pineapple curry fried rice while Yuki scores 86 with her duck curry cutlet dish. Isami hands the judges his version of Italian curry bread and scores 87 points to tie with Miyoko. Takumi serves curry pasta with parmesan cheese to take his total up to 90 points. And there is this short flashback how Isami always wanted to break away from Takumi’s shadow. At one point he earned the ire of his dad when he changed the recipe just to be different and risking the customer’s trust. Takumi consoled him and told him that they will move forward together. But looks like today, Isami still has a lot to catch up. Alice serves some strange indescribable dish. She assures everything is made out of curry. Oddly, the judges who have been so vocal in explaining every damn dish suddenly are lost for words! It is so good that they can’t describe it! Tongue tied?! Because of that, Alice takes the opportunity to explain all that scientific molecule crap. WTF?! I didn’t know food was that complicated???!!! She jumps to first place with 95 points. Since 4th place is a tie between Miyoko and Isami, there is going to be a vote off. But how could everybody forget Megumi existed? She wasn’t that exciting, huh? Yeah, they don’t put much hope on her and want to be quick about it. But when they taste her monkfish curry nabe, they feel all the warmth in it. With her explanation of her hometown ingredients to boost everything, what score will she receive? I guess all those flashbacks serve as dramatic effect as Megumi gets… 88 points!!! OMG! She just snuck into fourth place! She dumped favourites Miyoko out! And it is sure one hell of an odd scene to see Miyoko and her manly monkfish teachers together. I can only think of some weird porn of a young girl surrounded by old men… Really! Meanwhile judging for group A is even tougher. Because we have a judge who is more b*tchier than the rest and has not given any score except zero!

Episode 23
Ryo serves his lobster curry with cognac and for the first time evokes superb reaction from the judges. It’s not over yet because they need to put droplets into the lobster head and it made them slurping like gluttons! Lobster ship blast off to space! How can you even be naked in space?! For this heavenly dish, he scored 93 points! Next is Mito with her curry meat layered dish. Good enough for 86 points. Then there is Ryouko with her natto and soy sauce curry dish that also earns her 86 points. Marui shows his research on taste in a dish that has the judges slurping without pausing. That itself is worth 88 points. Now herald Ibusaki, dubbed the Prince of Smoke because everything in his dish is just smoked. Really. He scores 88 points too. Now it is Hayama’s turn. They expected some curry fish head but what the heck is this, uhm, cupcake? It is actually naan and they have to start off by breaking its crust with the spoon.

Episode 24
It’s a bomb fragrance! OMG! Bomb appetite! Haha! And yeah, we have all that explanation about some super spice he uses but who cares. Even b*tch judge wants him to be hers but that loyal guy says he only belongs to Shiomi. Hayama jumps to first place with 94 points and for the first time 2 of the judges gave him perfect score! With group A finishing early, they rush over to group B because they are all eager to know how Souma is doing. Yeah, that guy… Hold on to you horses, guys. His turn is coming up. Hmm… Omelette dish? It’s another bomb fragrance! OMG! Bomb appetite again! Haha! This time the first time they put it in their mouth, they felt a punch! Yes! A punch! Punch line? I guess they’re okay being masochists. And yes, another hell of an explanation of some super spice and manga he used. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, okay, we get it. So what is his final score? 93 points, a tie with Ryo. Not bad, right? Well, if you consider Souma who is seriously out to win. But the judges are fighting among themselves over Hayama and Souma’s curry!!! The other should be better!!! Back at Polar Star, all our related parties are invited for a big party. Miyoko made peace with Megumi and will root for her at the finals. Erina is a spoil sport and won’t join Alice and Ryo in whatever celebrations citing work. But she did congratulate them and Hisako for making it. But something bugs Erina even more. During Souma’s dish, she got raped by his fragrance bomb! Oh no! Not that feeling again! As usual, she hates him. Souma and Megumi talk about how far they have come. Especially Megumi who almost came close to expulsion but look where she is today. Yeah, it brings back memories. She has him to thank for. They are interrupted when everybody joins in for a second round of party. Souma wants to cheer everybody up with his dish. Oh no. Squid yoghurt! OMG! Megumi got tentacle raped!!! Yeah, it brings back memories after all. One big bugging question: WHO THE HELL IS THE FOURTH QUALIFIER FROM GROUP A SEEING MARUI AND IBUSAKI TIED AT FOURTH PLACE??????!!!!!!!!!!! P/S: Actually I went online and did my research but I won’t spoil it by putting it here. Consider it my way of leaving a little end season tension and cliff-hanger ;p.

OVA 1
Like as though Takumi and Isami didn’t have enough screen time in the series so they have their own OVA episode to justify they should be one of the heavyweights. Anyway, the brothers are visiting Tokyo. At the tower’s top, because Takumi once again is thinking about his gay rivalry with Souma, Isami shifts that attention by stomping on the glass floor! I wonder if they got kicked out. Then they visit a cosplay café but they couldn’t recognize Urara as the waitress serving them. Good for her, right? We catch a glimpse of other characters in the series doing their own stuffs but nothing of importance to the story. The brothers then stumble into Megumi, Yuki and Ryouko. They try out a local restaurant and after they order, this grumpy old man, Bun mocks the way they order their fried rice with cheese. Takumi would have let it slide had he not insult them about not knowing the ingredients needed. So you guessed it. Time for a cooking battle. So they are making monjayaki. Bun goes first and he might not be a professional chef but he did win first place in some (obscure?) regional cooking competition. As usual, it tastes good. Blows everyone away. Yeah, wait till you taste the Italian brothers. Bun is shocked when they didn’t make a genuine Italian dish but used seaweed to incorporate into their monjayaki. Definitely tastes better than Bun’s, right? And there’s some explanation to praise Japanese cuisine how they will adopt any dish to add to its national richness. Funny, I thought a few years ago there was this sushi police issue thingy… Bun’s grumpiness is blown away once he tastes it. Now we learn why he is so grumpy. His daughter got engaged to a blonde foreigner. He didn’t like it and didn’t give his blessings. And with the power of cultural acceptance and the likes, Bun is going to make amends. Yes, people. All hail the mighty Japanese cuisine!

OVA 2
Like as though there wasn’t enough fanservice in the series so they have their own OVA episode to justify some skin. Erina has done everything needed for the Autumn Elections so she finds herself very free. Cue for Alice to drop in to take her to the pool to let her experience what commoners do. Whatever. Meanwhile the Polar Star Dorm girls are also trying to stave off the summer heat. Megumi is already losing it… So when they manage to fill up the small pool, it is so crammed up. Yuki, please don’t blame Ryouko’s boobs for hogging all the space! Eventually the plan fails but Souma and Isshiki happen to pass by and invite them to somewhere cooler. But first, Souma went to Mito to invite her too. At first she thought it was a date and was eager. Till she finds out he invited everybody else. She starts sulking and won’t go. Okay. Suit yourself. Back over to our ladies with heavenly bodies, Alice is preaching how it is pretty normal for guys trying to hit on them. However there won’t be any because the guys noticed the SPs as well as Ryo’s fiery aura in the background. Life more important than libido. Alice tricks Erina into mentioning about a guy she admires. She’s got it all recorded. You might want to think the qualities Erina describes of her ideal man sounds like Souma’s the dude… Souma and the gang arrive at a beautiful lake within the campus grounds. They have shaved ice and the guys start some sort of speed eating competition. As usual, Takumi is going to challenge Souma on just about everything. Later, Mito drops in and she still plays the tsundere card of being picky on how to eat her shaved ice so Souma keeps teasing her about it (abandoning his unofficial challenge with Takumi). Erina leaves the pool somewhat disappointed but Alice is glad to see the silly look on her face in a changing towel. Once Souma and co are done with their shaved ice. Fumio is here to get started on the BBQ. To top it all, the nice fireworks. Nothing like summer, right?

Food For The Gods
I hope you still have stomach for more because there is good news that there is going to be a second season! So you think that watching this first season is the entire main course? Nope! This is just actually the appetizers! Yeah. With so much potential for just about everything, it is no surprise that another season is much needed. I just hope that we do not have to wait long between the appetizer and main course. You know how it could be irritating waiting in between the food. You finished your appetizers too fast and already in the mood for more but you have got to wait and hope that you won’t lose your appetite while doing so.

Shokugeki No Souma’s storyline and direction of the plot isn’t anything original and it could be as predictable as its other similar genre counterparts like Chuuka Ichiban and Yakitate! Japan. It is so typical, cliché and predictable that perhaps this is the only way to go when you do this kind of genre. I mean, how else is there going to be to make a food battle exciting? That is why Souma as the main character sometimes feel generic in this sense as he is some sort of an outcast compared to the rest of the cast who has some sort of pedigree and rich colourful prestige from their family background. Because it is always more exciting for the dark horse to win and shut up those cocky chefs who are high on their horses, right? Even as typical as any other shonen anime, he fights in challenges and makes friends and rivals along the way. He always comes up tops with his creation that wows and blows everybody away. In the end, he still isn’t perfect and has a long way to go because like Jouichirou’s role as his super chef dad is to remind us that somebody will always be better than you and thus the need for Souma never to rest on his laurels and do better. I mean, isn’t it so typical and cliché that having such strong rivals always motivate you to do better? And oh, the dish that always gets tasted first always loses. Yeah, the most typical of the lot! How else would our main character surprise everybody with his super come back? And maybe the judges forgot how the earlier dishes tasted because this awesome one is so recent in memory it just wipes them out from their memory and records.

When you have such a food competition where people fight it out via cooking and judges to judge them, it goes without saying that the exaggerated reactions to describe how f*cking delicious their food is a given. It is also a cue for me to laugh at all the silly reactions that I see because seriously, even if I get to taste the best food ever in the universe, I know I’ll never ever do such a thing. Okay, maybe I have never tasted the best :’(. But still, it is really funny to see the sort of creativity that they put in for those ‘victims’ to come up with flowery description just for this dish. And sometimes if the judge involves a woman, you’ll definitely get your naked fanservice reaction. Yeah, so good that you need your body to breath! And that is why, such reaction segments are like food porn. Heck, it even borders close to being hentai. Especially some female characters already look so slutty and like a porn star. Whatever heavy breathing and reaction they do here only serves to look like porn and hentai. Really. If this could actually replace sex, it would have been done a long time ago. Speaking of fanservice, I suppose that provides many of the fanservice scenes of the series. So you’ve heard of tentacle rape. But via food? That’s something… For high school students, girls really have a big bust like Mito that keeps bouncing from time to time to distract our eyes from the food to her melons. Yum?

One thing that really bugs me throughout the series is not the delusional reactions or the amazing food that they make. It is the way that they portray such a heavenly cooking that they make it as though only the best would do. Don’t get the wrong idea. Good cooking is definitely what everyone deserves (even a basic human right) and crap cooking should be weeded out. However the way I see in making and preparing these dishes, it just feels impossible to be practical for the masses. It doesn’t help with some snobbish and obnoxious characters like Erina and Shinomiya having such a very high palette that decent good food just doesn’t cut it. I know they want the best and to maintain that standard worldwide. But they have got to understand that everybody is different. Not everybody has such a high godly tongue like that Erina b*tch. Not everybody is a perfect machine that could live up to expectations like in Shinomiya’s case. They want food that is so freaking high in every aspect that it is just f*cking hard to please them just a tiny bit. Then what is the point of everything then?

Therefore Totsuki feels like a place for making food that commoners (which I believe occupy a greater part of the world) out of reach. They think their creation is ultimate and it is a pity that they are clouded by this vision that makes them unable to have a wider range that opens their eyes and mind. That is why my only grouse with this anime is the way food is portrayed so grand and majestic and the standards that must go with it, it is like mocking us commoners that we do not have the right to taste or even savour such cooking. That is why we need a little shake up when God sent Souma over to Totsuki. And the other little thing is that despite the title of this anime, we just had one stinking Shokugeki. Yes, just one. Don’t count that unofficial Shokugeki whereby Megumi was going to get her ass handed to her if she failed and besides, that wasn’t a Shokugeki that Souma was the star. I mean, he has got his name even in the series title, right? That is why the only Shokugeki showdown was with Mito and in the early episodes. Cheated? Disappointed?

But aside these little complaints of mine, all the food looks really great and delicious and sometimes I caught myself drooling and my stomach actually growled! Wow. Talk about how effective their cooking looks even if it is just 2D animation. They did put in some effort to make them look good. But thankfully no matter how good or ‘real’ it looks, at least I didn’t have that feeling of wanting to take a bite off the monitor! That would be tad embarrassing. Okay, so this leads to another little ‘complaint’ of mine. I WANT TO TASTE THOSE DISHES THAT THEY MAKE!!! Even the curry dishes at the Autumn Elections also made me want to try. I am not a person who likes spicy stuffs and any curry dishes I would automatically stay away with extreme prejudice. But with the creativity of these budding chefs, it really made me want to taste them. Of course in real life I still stay away from curry. I just wanted to taste THEIR curry.

The characters are a mixed baggage. There are a handful of them although mainly it is about Souma. Well, he has got his name even on the series’ title, right? As typical as he can be, like many protagonists, he is scorned by many who don’t know him just because he doesn’t fit or pass a certain criteria (he is just like that guy in Mahouka Koukou No Rettousei in this sense) but in this case he just pissed off everybody with is opening statement. A statement enough for every minor background character that will not go further and for sacrificial purposes to hold a grudge on him forever till they get kicked out. I mean, really. Why the animosity of what he said? If you don’t like it, then prove it! Probably the reason why Souma excels is his density in not knowing much about the protocols of everything. Things that others are expected to know. This is both good and bad thing because this makes him less stiff as he is able to go in his own pace and creativity. Unlike silly wuss who shiver in fear of great names, Souma is just blur of whom this supposed famous character is. The other bad thing about him is his very bad foods. Everybody has their virginity violated tasting it. How can someone so good be this bad? Well, nobody is perfect.

Then there is Megumi who is always a bundle of nerves. She is such a worrywart that she might start losing her hair at an early age or at least have them all turned white. Panicking is her main trait as you never fail to see her in such distress whenever she is going to face such tough crap. And always she pulls off an incredible come back feat thanks to Souma at first and finally by her own accord. It is a great achievement to see her crawl out from her shell, someone who is failure material to someone who can stand among the ranks of the best chefs. Heck, aside Souma, she is the only other Polar Star member who made it to the final round of the Autumn Elections. Am I right? I guess the rest are just for ‘sacrifices’. I suppose that even if many of the characters feel so cliche, it is the only thing you can do for variation in the characters department so that it won’t be unbalanced whereby the food tastes and looks great but the characters are so bland. So from top b*tches like Erina, her loyal yuri assistant Hisako, stalker material Nao (who is now so much into Hisako), cocky Alice, split personality Ryo, exhibitionist Isshiki, eternal passionate rival Takumi, fiery meat expert (in all aspects) Mito and the whole lot bunch of other characters that haven’t appeared yet including a big majority of the Elite Ten.

Some feel like running jokes like those brawling bros of Polar Star whom I can’t be bothered to remember their names because all they ever do is fight among each other even if it is just the norm and their way of communicating. I’m sure they have some skills too but they are the lowest compared to the rest that they have been relegated to just comical characters and cheerleaders for the final arc’s competition. Then there is this penchant of using Marui’s room to gather and have fun while leaving that studious guy dead as a zombie. It’s more fun bugging him, right? Why study all alone? Come join the fun! Then there is Urara who is the cutie host whom every boy would love to drool over and girls love to hate and kill. Yeah, this girl loves the limelight and feels vengeful if it is taken away from her when her due is not over.

These kids are so great and since they are only first year students, they even have silly nicknames that coincide with the food they specialize in! I mean, who the f*cks give them these nicknames?! It’s just funny that they are so good, they are still in school instead of out there in the world showcasing and mesmerizing hungry gourmet people. I guess you can’t do that without a graduation certificate. It enhances your credibility. I mean, would you rather hire a new employee with a degree or one that has none? But these kids already so good and some of their reputation precede them so there should be no problem if the public eat their food, right?

You can’t have food talk and battles all the way so perhaps a little distraction in the romance section might add and give a little character and plot development. Heh. Like we’ll ever believe that. Although nothing solid is seen, but we viewers can’t help speculate Souma x Megumi because for a girl who is close to failing and this guy is like her prince in shining armour, always coming to her rescue in her hour of need, typically doesn’t this sow the seeds of love? And with Erina being a tsundere, it should make sense every main character should have his little diverse harem. Plain girl Mayu and the American chick Mito. Oh yeah, almost every girl loves him. If you don’t want straight romance, how about a little yuri, girl on girl romance? Is there? Well, if you’re talking about Erina x Hisako (well, it looked like yuri) as well as Hisako vs Nao over Erina just rings it. How about bromance? Yeah, those brawling dudes of Polar Star might be it but we don’t care about them, do we? It might be more probable for Takumi and Souma. You know how annoying that Italian kid is trying to get Souma’s attention and bragging about his future win, right? Well, let’s hope something more won’t turn out of it and make fujoshi fans die of nose bleed to death. Don’t get me started on Isshiki’s naked butt. So the romances between characters aren’t this series’ strength to say the least. So if you want romance, just stick to the food.

Art and drawing feels okay. Characters look like your conventional Japanese anime although some designs are meant to give the character, uhm, character. Like Souma as your typical hero must have spiky hair although they aren’t that towering. Some have strange designs just for differentiation like Konishi with his pompadour hairstyle and Ryo with his dark bags under his eyes so much so I thought it was just black war paint. If the character designs aren’t giving you visual candy, then it must be the food then. It goes without saying. Like I have said, there have been efforts in making the dishes look sumptuous and good enough. Too bad as a viewer we can only watch all the goodness and it is sad we can translate all that by tasting them.

With an amazing amount of characters, main, supporting and even extra background ones, it is no surprise that the cast list is a long one. Therefore quite a number of recognizable seiyuus from the line up. Like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Souma and although this isn’t exactly one of his many typical heroic hero roles as he is pigeonholed into, it is still nevertheless the main character with so called hero-like qualities. And of course, I am so glad to hear my favourite Mamiko Noto as Inui and thanks to the nature of this series, I can be rest assured they won’t kill off another character. Nobody dies in this anime, RIGHT???!!! Unless… The rest of some of the veteran seiyuus I recognized include Rikiya Koyama as Jouichirou, Takehito Koyasu as Dojima, Yuuichi Nakamura as Shinomiya, Junichi Suwabe as Hayama, Tomokazu Sugita as Eizan, Takahiro Sakurai as Isshiki and Mikako Takahashi as Shiomi.

The rest of the casts are Minami Takahashi as Megumi (Saturn in Hi-sCool! Seha Girls), Risa Taneda as Erina (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Chinatsu Akasaki as Alice (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby), Shizuka Ishigami as Mito (Stella in Rakudai Kishi No Cavalry), Natsuki Hanae as Takumi (Inaho in Aldnoah.Zero), Yuuki Ono as Isami (Moral in Hamatora), Saori Oonishi as Hisako (Eriri in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Ryo (Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Ai Kayano as Ryouko (Inori in Guilty Crown), Maaya Uchida as Yuki (Rikka in Chiinibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Taishi Murata as Ibusaki (Utami in Noragami Aragoto), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Marui (Sougo in Comet Lucifer), Asami Seto as Miyoko (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Saori Goto as Nao (Barasuishou in Rozen Maiden Traumend), Ai Kakuma as Mayu (Est in Seirei Tsukai No Blade Dance) and Rina Hidaka as Urara (Airi in Ro-kyu-bu).

I like the first opening theme song, Kibou No Uta by Ultratower. Although it sounds like a guy who had been drinking a lot since last night, but at least the tune of the song is quite reasonable to hear as it also gets you into the mood of what this anime is all about. Even the first ending theme is not bad. Spice by Tokyo Karan Koron is exciting because of the nifty electric guitar play in the background. The thing to note in this ending credits animation is that the Polar Star members are depicted as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. I hope I am just thinking too much and isn’t some sort of prophecy of something for them. Personally, I feel that the themes don’t sound as a good when they changed them halfway. Rising Rainbow by Misokkasu as the second theme has turned into some sort of dark dramatic rock music. Perhaps it is to foreshadow the direction of the competition but I don’t really like it. ‘Too much noise’. The same sentiments can be said for the second ending theme, Sacchan No Sexy Curry by Seiko Oomori. Despite this is a slow and nearly calming ballad, I somehow find the singer isn’t suitable in singing this song. Something about her voice that just doesn’t feel right. Maybe because there are too many words she is trying to sing and cramming into a line? Otherwise, it would have been an okay song.

Overall, this anime is exactly like what some of the judges’ reaction when they eat a very good meal: They can’t stop eating and want even more even if it is finished! It is a long course meal and the food journey has yet to reach its max in satisfactory yet. There is still room for more of everything and I hope that it doesn’t take too long that my stomach has digested everything and I am back to square one of being hungry all over again. Though this series is not entirely perfect and still has its flaws, but it is highly recommended for anybody who loves food. I thought it would help food lovers and gluttons watch their weight seeing this might be a visual distraction for their stomach but then again, the effect might be totally opposite and make them crave to eat even more. Some people have all the luck. They live to eat instead of eat to live. Say, when is Jouichirou coming to my town to serve up a delicious dish for me?

Koufuku Graffiti

August 23, 2015

Close your eyes and imagine this now. A girl bending her head down, slowly opening her mouth and putting her soft lips up as it contacts with the smooth texture. She caresses the structure with those luscious lips all, her tongue licking and wrapping all over its surface. Slowly, the long yet sturdy phallic shaped structure moves deeper into and inside her mouth and down her throat. The soft nibble has it discharge hot juicy liquid spreading and filling her entire mouth. A soft moan that indicates ultimate satisfaction and pleasure. An orgasmic experience like no other. Well, if you have really other thoughts about a woman enjoying eating a cooked mushroom, then I suppose you’re going to have the same while watching Koufuku Graffiti. Yes people. Get ready to feel hungry and horny at the same time as you watch the characters eat delicious food, from sumptuous meals to simple everyday food. They make food look so aphrodisiac that you don’t need Viagra anymore ;p. Where else can you have food and porn at the same time? Sex? This is not a hentai show, mind you. But the mind is such a vivid place for such vivid imaginations. Enough waiting already. I can’t wait any longer. Just let me sink my teeth into those juicy bits!

Episode 1
The way Ryou Machiko eats the inari… So delicious… So tasty… Looks so good to eat! The inari, I mean… Ryou takes special care in cooking her meal. Unfortunately despite its good smell, it tastes horrible. Ever since her grandma passed away a year ago, she has been living alone and notes her cooking has become bad and at this rate she’ll be an awful wife. She gets a call from her aunt, Akira that her cousin is coming to Tokyo to apply for the same arts school as her and she hopes she will let her stay at her place. When Ryou goes to pick up Kirin Morino, she is surprised at her small stature. And she is supposed to be the same age with her? She hands Ryou a cabbage she ‘stole’. Seems she got into a fight with her mom who is against her studying in Tokyo. It’s already far enough commuting to school, where is she going to live? Oh, she’ll find somebody to cook for her… Kirin takes a first bite of Ryou’s nabe and she totally loves it! Ryou dismisses it thinking it is because she is just hungry. Then the way Kirin feeds Ryou… Such tantalizing reaction… Because Kirin soaked too long in the bath, she ends up getting sick. Ryou accompanies her to register at school the next day. Back home, Ryou makes her a simple kitsune udon and it really warms up Kirin’s body. So much so Kirin thinks Ryou can be a good doctor! She just only made a nice meal… Kirin is itching to try out the inari but Ryou will only give it to her when she is well. You don’t have to remind Kirin that mom always only give her green salad when she’s sick… Tasteless… After Kirin learns about Ryou’s predicament, her late grandma and her cooking, she tells her she only thinks her cooking is bad because she is always eating alone. Dinner is a special time for family to eat together and she would love to be part of her family. That night when Kirin wakes up to go to toilet, she thought she could sneak and steal some inari but Ryou foresaw this and left a not for her to drink some tea instead. Next day, Kirin is well again and she’s bursting with lively energy. Ryou sees her off at the train station and gives a box of inari as a gift. She also gives her a recipe to make them and share it with her family. Ryou notes that she has learnt an important lesson from her that meals you share with others taste good and fills you with warmth. So it’s good news that it isn’t her cooking that has gone bad.

Episode 2
Now see how Kirin eats the tamagoyaki oh so good! The girls cook and pack for the hanami season at the park. At first I wonder why Kirin is ‘dancing’ but turns out she is nervous to meet Akira! WTF. When Akira arrives, it’s like she’s never seen Ryou for so long that she starts smothering her with skinship kisses enough to make your toddler blush. Not sure if Akira is being greedy, but she believes whenever there is hanami, it also means stall food. She hands some money for the cousins to go buy some. Ryou remembers she used to come here every year when she was young with her family. How she missed those fun filled days. Ryou happen to see her classmate, Shiina sketching for old drunk men at the park?! Shiina thought Ryou looked different outside class because in class she was always the focusing type. I think Kirin doesn’t like Shiina because she mistook her petite size to be an elementary kid. It’s like she’s trying to prove a point that she has tasted plenty of Ryou’s cooking, blah, blah, blah. Shiina gets the idea and gives her apple candy as ‘peace offering’. I guess they took too long so when they get back to Akira, she’s already drunk after several cans of beer and her greedy side earned instant karma because she tried to steal eat some sandwiches the girls made but they laced it with something spicy. And now you have a food fest to see how delicious the girls tuck in their food! Yummy!!! But Kirin wonders why Ryou didn’t add any tamagokyaki to the food they made for today. So back home, the cousins have a second round of hanami outside the apartment. Ryou keeps Kirin busy to sketch the sakura tree while she secretly goes to make tamagoyaki. Imagine her surprise when Kirin gets to finally taste its rich and cheesy (as in the taste) flavour. Both girls feel they have learnt something about each other and hope to grow closer. Emotional hug! Ryou wants to know what Kirin sketched but she won’t show. After Ryou sends Kirin off at the train station, she realized Kirin forgot to take her sketchbook. I guess she’ll keep it till she returns next week. And she peeks at the lovely sakura tree she sketched.

Episode 3
The egg flawless envelopes the omelette rice and the girls savouring its taste as it melts in their mouth! I WANT TO TASTE TOO!!! Ryou receives a package from her parents. She finds it odd that despite they are working overseas, they send back Japanese rice. She feels the need to live up to their expectations and that is by acing the exam. Unfortunately she got distracted by the subject she is supposed to draw (ingredients for bamboo shoot rice) and scored a low grade. All that cheek slapping didn’t help either. Noticing how down she is, Kirin gets permission from a teacher to take home bamboo shoots and invites Shiina to help cheer her up. Of course they need to keep this a secret as Kirin cooks up a suspicious alien abduction story for Shiina! Back home as they wait for the bamboo shoot rice to cook, they talk about omelette rice. The bamboo shoot rice is so good that Kirin wants seconds. Shiina gives her a ‘huge mountain’. That enough for you? And Ryou actually believed Shiina is going to be abducted by aliens and has her sleep over for tonight! Don’t worry. She’ll keep this a secret! They watch an old omelette rice themed anime and it brings back nostalgic memories. This means they are now hungry for it instead of going to sleep. Hey, can’t go to bed with an empty stomach, right? I thought they just had dinner… As usual it looks and tastes good that if you can’t control yourself, you might bite off your monitor. Ryou the ever perfectionist tries to cook the perfect omelette. After a few tries, the omelette perfectly wraps itself on the rice and opens like a flower when cut open. YUMMY!!! Ryou rereads her mom’s letter and it says for her to make friends. There’s a lot she wants to tell her parents about Kirin and Shiina. After seeing off Kirin at the train station, Shiina hints to Ryou to get some pancakes. Since it is not cakes like Kirin ‘warned’ them not to eat without her around, it is not like she is ‘betraying’ her, right? Suddenly they get a text from Kirin not to eat pancakes or crepes too. Damn. She knows…

Episode 4
WTF?! Food fantasy fairytale?! Food headed people being eaten by Ryou?! Horror comes early for her because due to sudden renovations at college, next week classes will be cancelled. This means there won’t be a reason for Kirin staying over! It’s like a big tragedy! And Ryou has already lined up a full Chinese cuisine to cook. Heard that, Kirin? She tries to convince her mom to let her stay but it seems next week they’ll all be going out to eat at a 3-star Chinese restaurant! Wow! Can’t beat that, can’t you? Ryou is alone in her room and the stormy weather is keeping her in. Despite making a delicious meal, it doesn’t taste as good when eating alone. For a change of pace and scenery, she decides to go study at the library. Some much needed fresh air. Suddenly a life size teruterubouzu is running her way! Turns out to be the librarian, Watanabe. This mascot is a hit with the kids? Whatever. This library Ryou used to patron with her grandma. She is shocked to learn grandma was always panicky looking for books to cook. Wait a minute. She didn’t know how to cook? Confirming with Akira, it is true grandma was a bad cook and there are enough horror stories to make you lose your appetite. It is only when Ryou came into this world, she started learning with care. She refers to some of the cook book recipes that grandma made. Almost similar. Watanabe says that they are slightly altered to suit Ryou’s needs. That is what you call cooking with love. Ryou then heads over to the convenience store to get a simple meal and it brings back nostalgic memories the kind of food she used to eat with grandma. Some things never changed. So nostalgic that it makes her travel to that food fantasy fairytale. Such a happy scene… As Ryou leaves, she is filled with confident to cook better for Kirin so she can see her smile again. Kirin thought she heard Ryou’s voice so she excuses herself in the middle of her Chinese cuisine to the toilet to check her mail. Wow! So many unread messages! Was she enjoying her food that much? It makes Ryou look like a stalker… Kirin thought Ryou is mad at her since some of the pictures look ‘scary’ but the final rainbow image is proof she is having fun. Ryou shops for groceries and thinks next week will be western style meal. She believes making the other happier will in turn make herself happy too. So happy that she speaks out loud before realizing how embarrassing it is for the public to be staring at her.

Episode 5
Why do we have to go to class for summer vacation? Work hard now to avoid a repeat of next year… Shiina suggests coming to her home to have an authentic summertime experience. And who would guess she lives in a huge traditional Japanese home?! Big enough to have its own little vegetable patch farm. Kirin thought she saw Shiina’s mom there and is handed a tomato. When Kirin calls to Ryou and then turns back, mom is no longer there. Oh sh*t… Don’t tell me… There is a list that Kirin has to record things she wants to do for summer. Well, since the place is big enough to have animal traps, she can strike off going to the zoo. No swimming pool but there is a pond with a big fish! Can this double as a visit to the aquarium too? When Shiina introduces her mom, she looks totally different from the one Kirin saw and her personality is so lively. Heck, she looks young enough to be Shiina’s sister! She makes them lots of sweets and cakes (check that off the list too). When mom learns about the list, she suggests having nagashi soumen. Ryou and Kirin are in the bamboo groove looking for the right bamboo. Kirin wonders who that tomato lady was when they see a grave… Oh sh*t… Don’t tell me… Then they hear creepy footsteps… Can this be considered as ghost story? Please don’t joke… Oh no! Who the hell is this hack slasher?! As Shiina points out, it is their maid, Tsuyuko. Ryou and Kirin have fun cutting down the bamboo that it tires them out. Got to save some energy for the food… Shiina’s mom becomes distressed to see her daughter’s hand all bruised up from the cutting and Tsuyuko might prove to be a super maid because she’s got all the remedy and medicine ready at her call. More super maid in action as she cuts and prepares ingredients with speed and precision. As they get the nagashi soumen started, Ryou wonders why none are flowing her way. It’s because Kirin isn’t letting any get past her! After dipping the soumen, she quickly dips it out! They finished the entire pot of soumen and it is still not enough for Kirin?! Don’t be greedy! Kirin can cross off the rest of her list because they do tanabata, fireworks, watermelon splitting, looking up at the stars and most important of all, have lots of fun. This is sure one heck of a summer to remember and savour.

Episode 6
Finally! The kind of food eating scene that we expect to see! The girls eating ice cream!!! OH YEAH! It all began when summer’s heat is taking its toll. It’s zapping their energy that Kirin doesn’t even have appetite! This shocking revelation has Ryou take a picture of her! But it isn’t that Kirin doesn’t want to eat, she just couldn’t think of the right food to eat in this heat. It is suggested to eat eel meat so they head to the supermarket to get the stuffs (ah, such cool air-conditioning) and once they’re back at their place and sink their teeth into it, they get back their energy and liveliness. Albeit just for a while. Because they realized the air-conditioner is broken! Oh no! They’re sweating like hell! Hurry! To the bathroom! Obviously nobody filled up the tub yet. While waiting to be filled up, they play shiritori game but could only think of hot things. They find that they don’t have to fill the tub so full since both of them fit nicely in it. This is quite economical and they should do it all the time. Maybe not. This is when Kirin gets the idea of eating ice cream in the bathtub. Ryou gets duped by her to go get them as she can’t resist standing in front of the cool refrigerator. Wasting electricity… So Kirin goes to get her before they realize that the curtains are wide open. Ryou thinks nobody is watching. Who knows? Maybe some pervert watching through his telescope or viewers through their monitor screen? And now for the ice cream eating scene we’ve all been waiting for! Lick it, girls! After finishing their bath, Kirin craves for red bean soup. Ryou doesn’t think that is such a good summer food but makes it for her anyway. Seeing how she enjoys it, Ryou is also tempted to eat it although she knows she will regret this. Not! Tastes good! By the time Shiina comes, Ryou’s stomach is already upset. Yeah, regretting it now. Too bad hers isn’t an iron stomach like Kirin (that’s not supposed to be a compliment either). Ryou goes to bed early as Shiina wants to taste the red bean. She too might be regretting eating too much because now she has stomach discomfort as she makes her way home. And any couples who mentions about spicy food, gets that death stare from her!

Episode 7
Autumn is here and Kirin thinks it is going to be a boring season till Shiina invites them to her house for grilled saury party. Definitely going! However Kirin is disheartened that Shiina wants her help to cook for Ryou. Why her? Because she always noticed that Ryou is the one doing the preparing and cooking while Kirin just sat around doing her own thing and wait to be fed! Do something in return for once and who knows, Ryou might just praise her cooking. Shiina and Kirin are under the watchful eye and guidance of Tsuyuko. Despite being clumsy and messing up the kitchen, Ryou wants to help but Tsuyuko tells her not to interfere as they can at least handle this themselves. Once the preparations are done and the grilling of the fish over the charcoal is ready, it of course tastes heavenly. At least to them. Because to Tsuyuko it tastes horrible and over-burnt. She could rival Hell’s Kitchen and rival that Gordon guy and put him to tears without all the profanity. Don’t think she is joking because her cooking skills are top notched to put world chefs to shame! What the heck is she doing as a maid then? Ryou is still worried about them so Tsuyuko lets in some advice to put her trust in them because they can become the people whom she can rely on. The day isn’t over yet because there is still washing and cleaning. Yup. Tsuyuko becomes a Spartan coach as she guides the clumsy girls in doing the washing up. I don’t know why they can be this clumsy and panicky. Ryou can’t take it anymore… She needs to do something to help! Tsuyuko finally lets her. Back home, since Ryou wants to experience cooking saury with her, they have their own little saury party. Next day when Ryou sends Kirin off at the train station, she suddenly hugs her! Did she suddenly decide to go yuri in public! Actually she is trying to smell her clothes and it looks like the deodorant she put didn’t work. Please be mindful of the people in the train. Oh God… Is it an understatement to say it is packed like sardine? Something smells fishy…

Episode 8
Kirin helps Ryou train for her sports meet. It is going to be tough since the latter is not the athletic kind. Although the meet provides lunch, Kirin still wants to cook for her. Good thing because for this first time this year, it is announced students will have to bring their own lunch. One night, Kirin sees a crumpled paper in the dustbin. It is a list of food that Ryou wants to eat for the meet. This set is nostalgic for her since grandma used to make it. So the night before the meet, Kirin takes Ryou out as part of her training as she sweeps the supermarket to buy all the ingredients. Is she buying the entire store? Ryou can’t help feel worried when she starts cooking but it may be her worries are unfounded as Kirin is doing perfectly fine. I won’t say Ryou is doing well in the meet but I suppose lunch break is what she looks forward for. Her friends take a look at the bento but find it plain. Knowing somebody else made it for her, it couldn’t be her boyfriend or an adult because this meal arrangement feels so middle school-like. When Ryou pops the food in her mouth, she starts feeling like heaven. It makes her friends really want to try too. However… The taste just feels normal. Could it be Ryou’s imagination? Or is it that she only can experience Kirin’s love? Even more pleasant for Ryou is that the food is arranged like in the list (she is unaware Kirin looked at it). She gets so much confident that she can win the gold medal but probably everyone else sees her acting like a weirdo. At the end of the day, Ryou sees Kirin waiting outside. Suddenly Kirin starts crying and apologizing. She thinks she has made an awful meal for her (because she tried it herself with Shiina after that) but Ryou honestly loves the delicious taste, especially the sweet potato and lemon. Its warmth and gentleness reminds her of grandma and filled her with happiness. Kirin is relieved to hear that. Meanwhile… Shiina sounds a little sarcastic because she notes she didn’t get sick after eating it! Thank God, right?

Episode 9
New Year’s Eve and Ryou is working hard to clean every inch of her house. Yup. Everything’s sparkling! The only thing left is to clean herself… Sorry, we’re not getting this kind of fanservice. Ryou makes oden and soba but can’t help herself to eat some. Too delicious to resist. Better leave some before Kirin gets here. Speaking of her, she’s been lazing around watching TV instead of preparing. And when it’s time, you can see how chaotic she gets. First, she really gets up after hearing how her crazy uncle is coming soon. She didn’t book train tickets in advance thinking a countryside like here isn’t crowded. How wrong she would be. Looks like she will have to wait for the next train. That will be in the next hour. So she had to make an apology call to Ryou. She’s regretting not doing all those stuffs earlier. Yeah, the food is waiting for her, right? So when she finally gets there, you can see how relieved she is. How she misses Ryou (and the food) and how she smells so good (like oden and soba). After having her fill, it is time to make the visit to the shrine. Kirin tries to remain her composure as she does not mix well with adults (I guess Tsuyuko and Shiina’s mom are exceptions). Akira is here and probably she isn’t in her exception list so her face rubbing gives her the creeps. At the shrine, Ryou lets her taste sweet sake. It tastes so good that she acts and gives her natural honest opinion, making the adults laugh and think she is really an amusing person. Did she just embarrass herself? The girls head home first since Akira wants to continue drinking with the rest. What was it about her resolution to finish work early and spend more time with Ryou? Back home, they have nabe and this brings back lots of fond memories since this is the first food they eat when Kirin came here. It was the first time Kirin thought her that food tasted good while eating with someone else. Time passes by so fast, in a blink of an eye. Even if they’re grown up as adults, Ryou hopes to continue sharing and eating together like these times with Kirin.

Episode 10
If you’re wondering about that character, Ryou’s downstairs neighbour making short cameos in earlier episodes before ‘vanishing into oblivion’, well, she’s making her ‘debut’ here. Yuki Uchiki seems to be having self confidence problems as well as mixing with others. It is the season of worrying with lots of things occupying Kirin’s mind. Seriously, this girl thinking about anything else but food? Jokes aside, while talking this out to Ryou, the latter remembers she left the futon out on the balcony to dry. That is when they hear Yuki’s conversation (her window is open) and eavesdrop her sad condition about her pessimism and how much she wants to go back. It is probably bad to eavesdrop on people they can’t help it when they hear something about belly dancing. She sounds pitiful. Kirin slips while trying to grab the futon. Amazingly she lands on her feet on Yuki’s veranda (albeit in a funny position) and both girls scare each other. So in Yuki’s room, everybody is apologizing about everything. Yup, even Yuki who thinks leaving the window open was her fault to begin with. However Kirin sympathizes with Yuki and her earnest ways impresses Yuki. This has her mention her only friends are cats. Kirin thought Yuki ordered pizza for them (please don’t be rude) but this is her usual dinner alone. Ryou suggests they eat together in her room. Yuki’s depression starts working up the moment she enters Ryou’s nice apartment. Better do something fast to suppress the queen of darkness. The girls had a nice time discussing the kind of toppings to try on the pizza. Pizza lovers rejoice! Ryou can somewhat relate Yuki’s loneliness since she used to eat alone before Kirin came. For the first time, Yuki felt happy at the end of a meal (meal times are always a sad lonely affair, huh?). As she leaves, this experience her feeling confident and she feels her dwindling courage has been revitalized. Kirin also doesn’t worry that much now as she’ll eat her way through school and exams! That’s her best skill, right? Next morning, Yuki leaves for a meeting in a nicely dressed suit. Yes, she is an adult. What? She looked like a school student their age? Yeah, I thought so too… And it seems she takes her first brave step into a certain familiar arts school.

Episode 11
This is what happens when you love food so much and didn’t pay proper attention to your stomach. Because Ryou that ominous roar of a monster turns out to be her growling stomach! She receives another package from her parents. This time, instant noodles with a variety of flavours. Kirin can’t wait to eat them now but Ryou points out this is for late night snacks when they’re studying. Kirin wonders about Ryou’s parents because her mom certainly didn’t say much except that the city will stop functioning without them. They even had bodyguards at one time! Woah. Very important people, aren’t they? Kirin decides to cook the noodles for them and when she is done and goes to call Ryou, that girl was half asleep and sleep talking about how she misses her mom. She clings on to Kirin thinking she is her mom. A few parts seem to have shrunk… Of course she gets embarrassed when she comes to her senses. After meal, Kirin finds a note in the package addressed to her. Top secret? It is from Ryou’s mom thanking her for being by her side. But more mind boggling, she mentions about wanting to hire bodyguards for them! No thanks! Kirin will be Ryou’s bodyguard! This has Kirin curious about her parents’ job so she asks Ryou herself. She can’t delve deeper and just says they are very important people. I guess some things are better off not known for your safety. As the girls pray at the shrine, they are surprised Shiina is wishing for wealth when she should be wishing for exam success. This is when she lets out her secret. She secretly took an earlier entrance exam to the high school they want to apply and is accepted! You can see a person’s true colours here. Kirin frustrated and calling her a traitor while Ryou happily congratulates her. Kirin is eventually ‘forced’ to congratulate her. Shiina becomes the light of enlightenment by telling how you should be diligent before praying to God for success, etc. Can’t argue with that. Now it’s time to take a break. This time they are having pork cutlet sandwiches that Tsuyuko made. These sandwiches are what gave Shiina the strength and motivation to study and take that test. So when it is time for Ryou and Kirin to take their entrance exam, Shiina hands them those sandwiches that Tsuyuko taught her. Little do they know, this is how the good luck that Shiina is trying to imbue in the sandwiches. She is making a fervent-cum-passionate silent wish of good luck. I don’t know. It sounds like a curse…

Episode 12
Good news! Ryou and Kirin pass their entrance exam! On a side note, Yuki has also made it becoming a teacher. So Kirin is saying her ‘farewell speech’ to her parents but her father is the one crying and regretting this. Studied in Tokyo, worked in Tokyo, married in Tokyo… He really thought that far, eh? Ryou puts on her school uniform for one last time. Can’t zip up… Gosh, did she put on some weight? It is an emotional graduation day for Ryou and her friends and a slightly embarrassing fact is that her stomach is ‘crying’ too. Kirin could hear it all the way from the back! As Kirin goes back to the train station to collect her stuffs, Ryou heads home first and Akira thought she could scare her but got the door slammed in her face. She gives Ryou grandma’s apron. Grandma let Akira hold on to it and was told only to give it to Ryou when she graduates. But why didn’t she pass to her directly? Oh silly, do you know where grandma is now? Perhaps she foresaw this. So the first meal Ryou cooks with the apron is a celebratory meal that grandma cooked for her when she entered middle school. Kirin just arrived in time to feast on this lovely meal. Great timing, great taste. Ryou learns another lesson from Kirin when she says she can make new memories with grandma with the apron. This is true as despite the fond memories, it is time for her to stop looking at the past and look forward. But Ryou didn’t expect what is in store next. Kirin is going to move into her place and live with her. Eh? Nobody told her about it? Even disheartening is that Ryou is the only person who doesn’t know about this! Shiina knows about it (and thus the prawn sandwiches upon her arrival), Kirin’s parents are helping with the moving in and Akira has already done the paperwork for this arrangement. Feeling left out? Of course Kirin begs for forgiveness and gets emotional when Ryou does so. I don’t think Ryou isn’t the kind to hold on to grudges. After unpacking and cleaning, it is of course time for a big hearty meal. Ryou looks forward to her days with Kirin. Here is to more happy memories and delicious dishes to come!

Itadakimasu! Food Porn Never Tasted This Good!
Gochisou-sama! Let me be honest. This is actually a boring show and the only ‘exciting’ moments are when the foods are displayed and when the girls eat them. Food porn is definitely the theme here and the reason why we watch this series. There is no actual plot about this anime if you think about it. Every episode, the theme gives that episode a reason for a certain food-of-the-episode or food-of-the-season to be shown and eaten so stimulatingly by our girls. That is why at the beginning of the episode, they ‘entice’ you with those arousing food eating scenes just to ‘work up your appetite’ despite that same scene will be exactly shown somewhere in that episode. That is not such a bad thing, right? I mean, is there any other reason why you are watching this show? Heck, even the episode titles are juicily laden with delicious terms like sizzling, chewy, melty, moist, piping hot, crunchy, fluffy and bubbling. Yum!

Who needs pantsu fanservice when you already have cute girls eating stuffs like that? Of course it would have been much better if we see them eating in their lingerie for double fapping stimulation but I suppose there is only so much that we can fap to per episode. Right?! Therefore seeing the girls themselves eat in such an erotic manner is already orgasmic itself and even more if you do have a dirty mind. It’s pretty normal I would say because we’re just being humans. Yeah, an excuse to say that this is okay and to have more!

Character wise, they are ‘boring’ and lack any serious development. But like I said, that is not what you come here for nor you should expect to see some when you have already read the synopsis of what this show is about. The main trio are total opposites from each other and each bearing some sort of unique personality that could easily identify them. Like Ryou who is ever the gentle and responsible soul. Sometimes she feels lonely and it is evident as you can see this when she sleep talks. With Kirin by her side from now on, no more lonely nights? Whereas Kirin is the livelier and the more ‘mischievous’ one of the pack (though, I think childish is the better word). If Ryou is a gourmet girl, then Kirin is the exact opposite being a glutton girl because she devours anything and everything. Iron or endless stomach if that is what you call it. Whatever Ryou makes, she is fine with it. It is good to have someone eat your cooking but it makes me wonder if Kirin is the kind of person who lives to eat instead of eats to live. Yup, I think so. And she feels more like a freeloader living in Ryou’s house just to get free food without even lifting a finger to do anything until subsequently much later in the series. Mostly, she is quite an amusing girl with her honest speak-her-mind personality although she does have her polite side. Mind boggling question: If Kirin is scared of being around adults, what happens when she grows up into one? Will she be afraid of herself? Maybe it is all just about getting used to because some grownups she isn’t afraid like Shiina’s mom, Tsuyuko and yes, her own parents. Shiina gives off this atmosphere as a mysterious girl because she lacks displaying lots of emotions all of the time but can sometimes be scheming and witty too.

Other supporting characters are so-so and don’t expect anything much. Like Ryou’s kind grandma who has brought up her granddaughter with full of love. Lively women seem to be amusing characters such as the ever-busy-with-work Akira who lets loose her serial hugging spree once she gets a chance to be with her niece and the equally energetic Shiina’s mom who looks young enough to be her sister. It boggles me how the personality of mother and daughter can turn out to be so different like night and day? Don’t tell me that Shiina got it from her father. Then there is the gloomy Yuki, so depressing that it could affect your day but with the right food and friends, you can see her frown turn into a brilliant smile. You don’t need an energy drink to get motivated, right? I am very curious about Ryou’s parents. Ironically the ‘more’ you know about them, the lesser you know because with such ambiguous words like very important people and bodyguards will definitely play around with your mind to figure what kind of people they actually are. I hope they are not aliens from another planet pulling the strings in the background in running this world! But I would like to think they have something to do with the food industry because they keep sending foodstuffs back to Ryou and could be researching vital crops or something to find a cure for world hunger. Considering if they were that famous and really important, isn’t it dangerous for Ryou to be living all by herself like that? That’s why you have Kirin around…

SHAFT producing this series makes me wonder if they are diverging into many other themes. They did Hidamari Sketch for art, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei for the darker side of life and culture, the Monogatari series for a supernatural theme, magical girls in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, vampires for Dance In The Vampire Bund, lesbians for Maria+Holic, weird hobos for Arakawa Under The Bridge, the extra-terrestrial in Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko and even Nisekoi as a romantic comedy. Now we have Koufuku Graffiti as a food (porn) theme. However the art and drawing style of SHAFT’s trademark isn’t as obvious as you would find in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei or Monogatari series. There are cameo hints of their trademark like that neck tilt and zoom-ins but those are quite infrequent and it is like as an Easter egg if you get to spot them. Even with the character art and design looking like your conventional Japanese anime characters, at least Nisekoi had more SHAFT-like trademarks compared to this one. Otherwise had I not spot those intermittent trademarks, I would not have actually thought or this studio’s name would cross my mind. Is it me or am I seeing shades of Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso’s Kaori in Shiina?

But the art and animation of the food is gorgeous enough that you might want to suddenly take a chomp out of your monitor. Even more so if you are hungry. Okay, they do not look that all perfect but at least they give you such an effect. Unless of course you are not a foodie person at all. The art style and effects are ‘greatly enhanced’ when the girls start their erotic eating. Because suddenly you can see how luscious their lips, their big beautiful pretty eyes and all that sparkling sparkles around them complete with slow motion effects. Wow. Eating food like that turns you into a beautiful person for the moment? Well, it proves that they are enjoying and appreciating their food. Heck, I think if I try that in real life, I am going to attract a lot of stares and people would start thinking the weirdo I am. Will I be even reported for public indecency?!

But something tells me that sometimes they are breaking the fourth wall. Because there are scenes whereby after they cook the food, they show it like as though they are presenting it to us. I mean, from that kind of angle and perception, who do you think they are talking to? But the mind boggling thing is that the angle that we see is from a higher ground. Like as though the girls are showing the food to a CCTV on the ceiling. Maybe it is symbolism to show us viewers as the ‘king’ watching from high above? But if it really was a CCTV on the ceiling, it would be creepy to think that there is actually one fitted inside their apartment. Who the hell is watching them? I hope this isn’t some recording for Ryou’s overseas parents. Speaking of creepy, I am not sure in the initial episodes but later on I come to realize that grandma’s picture at the altar changes! I know it is just symbolic to ‘show’ that grandma is around (not talking about flashbacks) but unless Ryou changes it every minute or she has some sort of digital picture frame, doesn’t it feel spooky that the picture changes itself?

I think it is just a coincidence but somehow I think that this series draws a handful of comparisons with Hidamari Sketch. For example, the characters in both series go to an arts school. Hidamari Sketch in one season had some sort of food porn too (spamming of food pictures, not eating them). The apartment that Ryou lives in looks suspiciously familiar with the one in Hidamari Sketch although such double storey apartments are not uncommon in Japan. Then there is that pizza delivery woman. I thought the bike she rides reminded me of the same one that the Landlady in Hidamari Sketch travels in too. Is it me or does Yuki have this very uncanny resemblance to Hidamari Sketch’s Yuno? Don’t you think Kirin also look pretty close to Chika of that said series?

Nothing much about the voice acting except it is fun to recognize a handful of recognizable seiyuus. For instance, Rina Satou as Ryou reminds me of Haruka of Minami-ke series. Brings me back to the days of hearing her in such gentle voice compared to a certain Biri-biri. At first I thought Kana Asumi was behind Kirin’s voice but something felt that it wasn’t so. Turns out it is Asuka Oogame instead (Mikazuki in KissxSis, Mana in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru). Ai Nonaka’s ‘craziness’ as aunt Akira reminds me of Tiramie in Amagi Brilliant Park and speaking of this crazy voice, although Yu Kobayashi is recognizable as Tsuyuko, I felt it is such a waste that she had to voice a gentle sounding character. This isn’t the first time she voiced such characters because she also did like Matabei in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls and Rio in Sora No Woto. Another thing that reminded me of this series close to Hidamari Sketch is Miyu Matsuki. As Shiina’s mother, that distinctive liveliness in her voice very much resembles Yoshinoya sensei of Hidamari Sketch. So much so I thought that this is an alternate universe and version of that crazy teacher. Really. Yuka Iguchi is yet another recognizable character although her worrisome voice reminds me so much of Yama No Susume’s Aoi.

I may need some time to recognize Mikako Komatsu because as Shiina, I felt there was something familiar in her voice but couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I gave up and look it up and instantly realize it was her behind this character. Looks like hearing her as Shione in Sora No Method, Miuna in Nagi No Asukara, Tsugumi in Nisekoi, Neko in K, Murao in Ao Haru Ride, Marika in Mouretsu Space Pirates and Inko in Aldnoah.Zero wasn’t enough. But thankfully when I heard my all-time favourite Mamiko Noto as Ryou’s mom, suddenly I jumped back to life just when I was about to doze off into slumber land (because it was that other usual scene that is not food or eating it) and felt happy just to hear her voice despite just for a few seconds. It’s like being stimulated all over again. In addition to food porn, then I get to hear this awesome seiyuu as extra added bonus! Surprise, surprise. It is just like finding bits of little extra pieces of something that you don’t normally do in your main dish. And for the record, other casts include Tamie Kubota as Ryou’s grandma (Sui in Hanasaku Iroha), Akeno Watanabe as Watanabe (Rito in To Love-Ru) and Ryou Hirohashi as Kirin’s mom (Kyou in Clannad).

The opening theme is Shiawase Ni Tsuite Watashi ga Shitteiru Itsutsu No Houhou by Maaya Sakamoto feels like some of the other songs she sing like the one in Kobato. Although I wouldn’t say that this piece is entirely appealing but at least it is pretty decent to hear. The ending theme is a duet by Ryou and Kirin’s seiyuu, Egao Ni Naru and there is this fun and bubbly feel to this upbeat jazzy piece. The way they sing it makes it sound cute. Not bad actually. There are a couple of background music I noticed and they have this fun feel to it and mostly played to fit perfectly during the food eating scenes. However my most favourite tune of all is the outro played or rather sung during the next episode preview. Now, the doo-wop style is very infectious and catchy because the voices humming the piece are so much in harmony and synchronization that it is just hard to concentrate on anything else. Each time I remind myself to hear the next episode preview’s narration again, only to be tempted to focus on this pitch perfect accord. Therefore I can never know what the next episode preview is about, whether it is about what is happening in the next episode or tips about certain foods or just some random ramblings. I am still having that song stuck in my head up till now (as in typing this blog). Adding to the cute effects of the song is the chibi-like characters doing some fun dance, bopping or jiving.

Overall, to cut a long story short, if you want to watch this show, just stay for the food. The ‘porn’ is nothing. It isn’t even close to being ecchi. The perversion is all in your mind. ALL IN YOUR MIND… This series isn’t exactly a cooking themed genre so you can’t really make direct comparisons with it but it is the food that is the major focus and if you love food, you should at least check it out. Food is love, right? And porn is lust. Haha! I guess if you can’t taste all the dishes featured in this anime, poor people can only be content with just watching the great food instead. Of course you can cook them yourself but like yours truly who is a horrible cook, I think I’ll just be happy watching others eat. Oh, I think it is rude to watch others eating…

So are you hungry after watching this series? Hungry for food? Hungry for porn? Or both? Meal times do not necessarily be something boring and mundane. Just like how mothers decorate their bento kyara for their kids’ meal, adults could try eating in such sexy manner to give the food more taste. But do only try this alone or with close friends. I know it is all the same when it enters your stomach but it makes it more palatable especially eating food you dislike. At least you feel less revolting in eating your vegetables. Just like how this anime is subtly teaching and reminding us, remember people, do not waste food. Always be thankful and appreciate them. Spare a thought on how the food is processed from its source to its preparation. Most important of all, hope you enjoy your food (porn). I know I can make many food and porn jokes but that will just make it quite distasteful.

Ben-To

September 9, 2012

Where in the world can you find a decent meal that is good and cheap? Well, I’m not a foodie expert but according to Ben-To, you can get delicious and tasty Japanese box set lunch at just half the price! Woah! What a bargain! But wait! There’s a catch to it. If you noticed you don’t see old ladies or mommies queuing up to buy those bento sets at half its price, then something wrong. Hey, how come there are young people fighting out and staking their lives over half priced bentos?! Yabai yo! Looks freaking dangerous just to get into a massive brawl with others just to get a cheap meal! Do you dare step in? Well, that’s the price you got to pay if you want your good food at a cheaper price. Like they say, it’s a dog eat dog world out there.

Of course this isn’t going to be a mindless brawl over the leftover bento sets that couldn’t be sold throughout the day at the supermarts. Many of those people who fight for their right to purchase the bentos at half price have their own code of honour and set of principles that they stick to. These are called Wolves. Then there are those who don’t give a damn and break every damn honour just for their own selfish gain. We have other names for that but you’ll find out as we go along. So as long as you want to eat your bento at half price, make sure you have good martial arts so that you’re not always at the receiving end. It’s sometimes good to ‘give’ too. And yeah, lots of endurance and stamina to take in those painful punches and kicks. Man, who’d know that just trying to get a decent meal would be so tough.

Yoh Satou is a high school kid. A poor kid. One who will soon be getting dragged into the world of fighting for bentos at half price. So what better way to get your money’s worth of food by buying those half price bentos with your limited funds, right? Seems okay. Wait till he sees the fierce competition that comes along with it. Oh, don’t forget the pain too. So it’s either you shape up or you don’t eat. Simple. And thus, begins Satou’s journey from just a mere filling his own stomach to the thrill of getting involved in such battles and yeah, some other conspiracies and powerful opponents he’ll face along the way.

Episode 1
The series opens with Satou getting beaten up. Real bad. And worse, he doesn’t know what hit him. How did he end up so messed up? Badly bruised and with nothing to eat, he collapses outside the mart. Next day, he begins his second day of school by walking out from the emergency room. On his way, he meets a girl, Hana Oshiroi. She was one of the many that observed Satou getting pummelled at the mart. Of course he doesn’t remember who she is. Initially she was shocked but soon gets excited thinking he is the kind of man who has abandoned his past. In school, he sees Sen Yarizui taking out the trash. He thought she looked familiar and realized she was also the girl at the mart that kept staring at him. He thinks she is in love with him! Dream on! Under Satou’s nose, Oshiroi gets kidnapped by Ume Shiraume! Satou is made to help Yarizui to take out the big bag of empty bento boxes. In class, Satou is eating his consolation fish cakes he bought at the mart when Shiraume confronts him. She gives him a hard slap since he unwittingly made fun of her name. Hope he doesn’t lose more memories as he already had. She warns him to stay away from Oshiroi. Satou narrates Karasuda Private High School that he transferred to have a dorm and though it serves breakfast it doesn’t serve lunch and dinner so students usually have to cook themselves or go out and buy their own. With his limited budget of course Satou makes his way to the mart again and Oshiroi is happy to see him here. Stepping inside, he also sees Yarizui who had earlier warned him not to come. After some guy puts the half price label on the bentos, Satou thinks it is his lucky day and rushes to get them. What he didn’t expect is to see a crowd of hungry brawlers behind him and gets beaten up. Again. So now do you remember how you ended up like that? Satou’s consciousness is fading but he notices how many of the brawlers called Yarizui the Ice Witch and speaking of her, she easily won her bout and got a bento.

Satou wakes up in the employees’ break room as the store owner known as Abura Kami (Oil God) was kind enough to let him and Oshiroi (still unconscious, though she didn’t get beaten up like him) sleep here. He wants Satou to escort Oshiroi home once she wakes up and says that he is a Dog. He further adds that though this is an ordinary supermarket, there are some that stake their pride by testing themselves in battle. He warns if this is all Satou has, don’t bother laying his hands on the bento. Plus, this store, Hoki Mart is the hunting ground for Ice Witch. Next day in class, Satou gets more slaps from Shiraume for defying her warning to be with Oshiroi. Yeah, she slaps him first and then asks if she could get mad. It’s like shoot first, ask questions later. That night, Satou and Oshiroi try their luck again at Hoki Mart. Now they are wiser and observe the crowd who are waiting for the God of Discounts (Abura Kami in this case) to mark the half price bento. Once he disappears to the back, it’s the beginning of the mad dash and brawl. Satou observes the many people turning into savages once the half price sticker is attached. Then he goes in but gets beaten up though he fares better this time. Yarizui enters the fray and easily overpowers her bigger and stronger opponents. Satou thought he could finally get one but Yarizui kicks him out. He lost again. Yarizui tells him if he wants to survive this ordeal, come to the clubroom 501 at 7.30am tomorrow. Satou finds it is the clubroom of Half Pricers Association. First he heard something ambiguous coming out from the room. Turns out to be Yarizui giving Oshiroi a back massage with her feet. Yarizui introduces herself as the only member and president of Half Pricers Association.

Episode 2
Satou also learns Oshiroi is from the novel club and is writing a novel and since she spends too much time on the computer, Yarizui was giving her a much needed massage. First thing, Yarizui is forcing Satou to sign an application paper to join this club! She’s rubbing her boobs against his back! Can he resist it? Nope. Welcome to the club. Oshiroi already lost a long time ago. To start things off, Yarizui shows them the wall of all the half price stickers she got from the supermarkets in the western territory. Hell, that’s a lot of stickers covering the entire wall! Describing some of the marts in their territory and those that will make better training. Then she explains some of the basics when entering the fight. For instance, you can’t start until the God of Discounts has left; One must also hunt for only 1 bento and not more; Have manners and wager your pride. This is how Wolves fight. Trying a different store tonight, Tokiwa, Satou and Oshiroi meet other Wolves: Bouzu (literally means monk but I would’ve preferred to call him Hage – Baldy), Agohige (literally means Goatee but I would’ve preferred to call him Headband) and Chappatsu (literally means Brown Hair but I would’ve preferred to call her Oppai – Boobs). The God of Discounts for Tokiwa is an old grandpa named Jiji. Before Jiji could finish putting the stickers, an unruly lady termed Big Boar ignores all the rules to grab all the half price bentos. She even reprimands Jiji in applying the stickers too slow. The Wolves try to stop her but are no match for this Pig who has no shame in baring its ‘fang’s in front of others. Because of that, all the Wolves line up to but instant noodles. Satou and Oshiroi share their little meal together. But soon, Satou gets into trouble because Shiraume confronts him. She’s threatening him about bringing Oshiroi around stores to fight for half price bentos. Despite Satou mentioning she is tagging along on her own free will, she doesn’t believe him and slaps him, followed by a kick.

Next day Satou asks Oshiroi about Shiraume. Seems she is her only friend since elementary school. She read her novel and had always been nice to her. Before Satou knows it, that overprotective b*tch kidnaps Oshiroi once more. Now you see her, now you don’t. Satou visits Tokiwa again but the other Wolves notice the arrival of The Tempest: A group of unruly rugby players. In addition, the Big Boar is also here. The Wolves give up and are about to head to another store when they see veteran Wolf, Wizard coming in. Satou remembers Yarizui’s words that those who have tasted blood cannot return to being Dogs and those who can’t handle it become Pigs. As Jiji starts putting the stickers, Big Boar scoots right to him. Alas, Satou uses all his might to stop her advancement. He is no match but sees Wizard easily reading her strategy and made the charging Pig crash into an aisle. Jiji has finish putting the stickers but now they have to deal with The Tempest. Wizard is going to teach those Pigs a lesson and though they play dirty, the other Wolves join in. Once they’re done, the Wolves stake their pride among each other. Did Satou win? Oh yeah. Elsewhere Yarizui wins hers easily as Satou gets a threatening call from Shiraume to prepare himself tomorrow. She blames Satou for being the cause of Oshiroi’s depression. Satou makes his way back to the club room and sees Yarizui waiting for him. Yarizui notices a laurel wreath on his bento as it denotes a bento that’s been handpicked by to God of Discounts. Many Wolves seek this laurel wreath because the one who gets it is deemed the victor for that day and territory. For Satou to get a laurel wreath on his first win, he must be something big. Sure, it’s not just luck? Mentioning about Wizard, he is Yuu Kaneshiro and is a third year in this school. Showing a scrapbook with all his sticker and victories containing the laurel wreaths from both Wizard and Ice Witch, each with their own stories to tell, Satou places his sticker inside the scrapbook. Before they dig in, they say grace for the food and the ingredients as honour and gratitude to those whom they had overcome. Yummy. Bento had never tasted so delicious, eh?

Episode 3
There’s this rumour that a first year student ran around in his boxers and jumped into the incinerator. This was how it all started. Without shame, Shiraume strips Satou right in class to confiscate his handphone as said in her warning last night. Everyone is turning a blind eye… Then at the club room, Yarizui has him strip again so that she could sew back his clothes. Because Satou wasn’t listening to her about the upcoming quality bento that involves sushi, once she finishes sewing, she throws all his clothes out the window! Then Shiraume comes in. She apologizes to Yarizui for her rash behaviour last night and learnt from Oshiroi that she was fighting for bentos as part of her research for her novel. Oh, Shiraume is also the student council officer. She approves the club since it has now 3 members. Satou then remembers his clothes and rushes out to get them. However a pair of girls found them lying on the ground and think they’re junk and burnt them. Kids, don’t try this anyhow because Satou jumped into the incinerator just to retrieve them! Yeow! I’m not having roast buns… Meanwhile a group of Dogs set their target on recruiting Satou and Oshiroi into their group known as Gundogs. The duo are at Tokiwa when the leader from Gundogs, Tomoaki Yamahara introduces himself. He offers them to join and by doing so, it will guarantee them a bento. As tryout, he gives them their jersey and when it’s time for the brawl, their Gundogs members set up a human barricade and make way for them to easily obtain a bento. Satou relishes in his bento but still feels he needs more time to think before joining them. The other members feel this is a lost cause since they are reluctant to join but Yamahara notes they can’t resist the lure of an easy bento.

As Satou heats up his bento that is coveted by others he notes that it doesn’t taste as good though it was easily obtained. Something doesn’t feel right. I can think of a reason why. He didn’t put in effort to get it, right? So for the next few nights, Satou and Oshiroi continue to obtain easy bento but each time, Satou doesn’t enjoy his meal as before. Hearing one of Yarizui’s stories of how she overcame 10 Wolves to get the last laurel wreath bento in an icy cold place and it made her victory sweet, Satou came to realize that the stronger your opponents, the more exciting it is. He has decided. That night as he meets Yamahara, he is going to give his answer later and his way. Once the brawl starts, Satou didn’t grab a bento but pushes away a Gundogs member. This is his answer. Doing it this way is boring and getting a bento with no effort isn’t interesting. The taste of bento that you desperately battled with Wolves to win is so good that you could cry. He returns the jersey to Yamahara and is going to get a delicious bento tonight. Satou fights his way for the bento when Dandou sensei lands a punch on him. Luckily Satou blocked it and since he already had a bento in his hand, it’s game over. Oshiroi sneakily grabs one too. Dandou tells Yamahara that Satou isn’t like one of them. His eyes are not of the likes of Dogs but of Wolves. Satou wonders if Oshiroi is okay being a member of Half Pricers Association. Ever since young, she was called a weirdo but Satou and Yarizui never did. She is glad she to have met them that’s why she is a member of this club. Back in the club room, Yarizui notices Satou had a good fight and asks him is a half price bento just a bento that didn’t sell. The duo reply it is something more than that. Yarizui hands them the key to the club room.

Episode 4
Another Wolf, Ayame Shaga AKA Beauty of the Lake racks up an easy victory over her bento. But what is this hot babe sleeping next to Satou in his room?! She is Satou’s cousin and what is she doing here? Does she need a reason to see him? Satou knows her tricks well enough not to get seduced. She wants to play one game of Virtua Fighter and if he wins, he can do anything to her like touching her anywhere. He’s trying hard to resist but eventually agrees to play. Unfortunately he lost. Now he has to do as she says. She needs a spare uniform of his school so Satou borrows it from Oshiroi. This is so that Shaga can enter Half Pricers Association and confront Yarizui. Shaga is a Wolf from the eastern territory and when a title bearing wolf enters another territory, a battle will ensue. Yarizui will be waiting for her at Hoki Mart tonight. Shaga continues to molest Oshiroi but she manages to escape after she can’t take it anymore. Then she reads the novel she is writing. Oh… Seems like yaoi fiction and Satou is the main lead! Saitou? Oh God… Shiraume barges in and blames Satou for harassing her Oshiroi but realizes the real culprit is Shaga. But when she gets to link Satou to it all (he got the uniform for her, right?), it was enough for her to kick him. Then she is going to prepare a warm bath for Shaga and drags her into it. Late that night, Satou is surprised to find Shaga in a frilly dress. Somehow she barely escaped from Shiraume. She tried to give excuse that her harassing on Oshiroi was to deepen their friendship so Shiraume too wants them to deepen theirs and stripped her to bath together. Shaga couldn’t handle it and ran out taking any dress she could find on her way out.

The duo meet Yarizui at Hoki Mart and it seems Yarizui and Shaga are aiming for the same bento. Yarizui also notices that Shaga is well informed about the marts in this territory. Then as the brawl begins, Yarizui and Shaga face off but the former has the edge. Shaga hasn’t given up yet and continues fighting with a pair of chopsticks. Yarizui notes she won’t win because she is focusing on her and not the bento. Since the desire for bento doesn’t drive her actions, they are no more than senseless violence. In the end, it is Shaga’s loss. Yarizui reminds Satou not to get his heart clouded and focus on the thing he should be thinking about. He faces off with Ren Nikaidou for the last bento and gets it. Shaga hoped Satou could eat with her but he says he’s going to do so in the clubroom. Yarizui can see how frustrated Shaga is and tells Satou to go with her. Satou still insists so she says she hates guys who don’t do anything when a hurt girl is in front of them. She asks if she was crying, would he do nothing? Nikaidou reports to his boss, Tadaaki Endou about putting their plan into motion before they can realize it. Endou doesn’t care how many Wolves bite the dust for this plan. Satou eats with sulking Shaga though she apologizes that she was also at fault. Since Satou lost the rock-scissors-paper game, he has to apologize too when Shaga steals a big chunk of his hard earned bento. In return she gives him a big hug. Meanwhile Yarizui is reading Oshiroi’s works but she’s reading it without emotion! So funny! Does she understand what she is writing?

Episode 5
Nikaidou notes that Shaga hasn’t leaked anything of their plan yet because if she did, they would’ve taken action. Endou wants Nikaidou to keep silent about this and continue observing Shaga. Nikaidou narrates his group is called Gabriel Ratchet. A pack of unsightly Dogs who have restricted their own way of life. Shaga patiently waits for Satou at her dorm but it seems that guy has been stripped down to his boxers by the officer for interrogation! He doesn’t care what reason Satou has because he’ll never let him or any guys approach Shaga. She’ll beat the crap into him to make him understand. That includes shoving up a battery up his ass!!! WTF?! So Satou makes a run for it before he gets screwed while the officer and his military men chase after him! Shaga manages to sneak Satou into her room and since she has no other clothes, she lends him her uniform. Actually it’s from her roommate, Asebi Inoue. Before Satou could shake hands with her, Shaga sends her to buy coffee at the vending machine. She warns Satou that coming into contact with Asebi means a terrible misfortune will befall on him. She gives him a protective charm just in case. Then it’s time to get some food and Shaga thought of going to a different mart: Ralph Store. As for Asebi, they don’t have to worry about her as she’s having trouble at the machine. Yeah, all the cans are flowing out! The good thing is that she doesn’t realize how unlucky she is. Shaga distracts the officer and tells Satou to head to Ralph Store firs. Of course everyone sees him in a girl’s uniform and especially Nikaidou who is somewhat disappointed in him. So disappointed that he held high hopes in him that he would rather see him get crushed by the Monarch. And for Oshiroi, she totally gives the thumbs up! Satou asks Yarizui who this Monarch is and as she explains, this store is one of this territories and he is not afraid to use dirty tactics to win. Shaga is not pleased to see Yarizui here since this is Monarch’s territory. She’s here because of a flyer that states a rare Hokkaido fair. The God of Discounts for this store, Kiku Matsuba AKA Macchan puts the stickers on. Until a year ago, she was a well known and active Wolf.

The brawl starts as Yarizui and Shaga face off. Yarizui emerges the winner again while lucky Oshiroi lands one without getting hit. With the last bento on the line, Nikaidou and Gabriel Ratchet surround Satou. Then Endou who is known as Monarch comes in to beat up Satou. Yarizui tells him he has already won but he asserts Satou will become a sacrifice to an all-out war between east and west to determine who is the strongest. He further insults Shaga as a useless mongrel. Satou wakes up (in his boxers again) in the employees’ room and he thought he ascended into adulthood with Macchan. He wonders about his performance (sexual) but she notes it’s satisfactory (the brawl). Yeah, he thought he should make it up in terms of quantity since he still has a youthful body! Till Yarizui and Shaga come in to pick him up. They are getting so close over him that Oshiroi got inspiration for her work when she saw this. Now if the ladies were only men… Before they start eating, Yarizui asks Shaga’s connection with Monarch. She says he wants to rule all supermarkets in the city and that operation begins 3 days from now. Gabriel Ratchet will launch an attack on all stores in the western territory and Monarch intends to settle an old grudge. Apparently the strongest Wolf of the east lost to the strongest Wolf of the west. She meant to tell Satou this but decided to keep it a secret a little longer (that part of hers sulking). Bringing him here today was just a coincidence. Yarizui feels she shouldn’t act alone as she may be targeted. But Shaga is not worried since she is just a pawn in his hands. Besides, he called her a mongrel and can’t let that pass. Nikaidou reports Yarizui has started contacting other western Wolves so Endou tells him not to let anyone close to this room where he is isolating himself. Three days of starvation will give him the ultimate power to crush Yarizui.

Episode 6
While Oshiroi gets inspiration to write more on her twisted yaoi story, Macchan sees Wizard. He tells her he is going overseas to study. Macchan feels she should’ve stopped Endou’s plans but Wizard assures her the Wolves will stick by their honour because those who don’t will be weeded out. Yarizui meets the other western Wolves and discuss about the impending invasion. But she’s going to Ralph Store because she heard a laurel wreath of a bento made by Macchan tastes superb. Meanwhile Shaga finds out more information from a retired Wolf. She learns Macchan’s title as a Wolf was Wanderer Butterfly. Every eastern Wolf admired her and was hailed as the strongest in the east. Till she battled the strongest in the west known as Wizard. Wizard won and since barely had the strength to go home and eat his bento, ate it all on the roadside before he lost consciousness. Yeah, he finished it clean. Endou was Macchan’s younger college classmate and when Macchan got married, he and his gang took over east in a blink of an eye. So ruling the west is just a facade as they want to recreate the ultimate battle a year ago for their own generation. Endou considers himself as the successor of Wanderer and wants to defeat Wizard’s successor: Ice Witch. While Gabriel Ratchet prepares to face off with the Wolves in western stores, lone Yarizui gets assaulted. Shaga takes Satou away from Tokiwa to tell him what’s going on. Seems Endou has an attachment to the name Monarch and he wants to become Monarch Butterfly because Wanderer means that said butterfly. So by defeating Ice Witch, he thinks he’ll become the ultimate successor in both name and fact. Satou needs to go warn her but it’s too late because they hear word in the streets that a certain girl got brutally attacked. Well, they didn’t see her body but just a pool of blood. When Yarizui limps into Ralph Store bloodied, Macchan understands what Nikaidou and Gabriel Ratchet are doing. By mobilizing the group, so that they could vacate eastern territory and even feign an all-out war. Though she is not a Wolf anymore, she finds them loathsome. Do those words hit a conscious nerve, buddy?

Endou is ready to beat up Yarizui to claim his title as the strongest. But Nikaidou stops him. He tries to make sense to him that he won’t be the same person he yearns to since it’s not the title of the strongest he has been pursuing but the free and beautiful form of the butterfly. Endou doesn’t care and beats the lights out of him. Then he tells Macchan to finish her labelling. Satou and Shaga come in and Yarizui is surprised to see him here. He reminds her about that ‘not doing anything in front of a girl’ line from her. They tell off Endou that he is not even a Wolf let alone a Dog, but a rat. Then the fight begins. Endou claims that his 3 days of starvation makes him the strongest but as Yarizui points out, as long as his target is her and not the bento, the power of a hungry Wolf will do him no good. Endou couldn’t get the better of Yarizui and resorts to using the trolley. Satou, Yarizui and Shaga combine their skills to knockout Endou and Gabriel Ratchet. Yarizui passes up the chance to take the laurel wreath so Satou and Shaga fight it out. Satou won. Yarizui is glad to see Oshiroi who tells her they have successfully defended their territory. Nikaidou wakes up in the employees’ room and he settles everything with Macchan. As of today onwards, Gabriel Ratchet is dissolved. Satou and the rest are enjoying their bentos but as usual, Shaga steals some from his. Oshiroi gets her fill by writing up her fantasies. Shaga wonders if she’s a wolf seeing Satou is always in the spotlight and she has never beaten Yarizui. For one thing, Satou thinks she’s not a Dog and something greater. Then talking about Wolf titles, Yarizui says as soon as he catches up being a great Wolf, he’ll earn a title of his own. Finally Wizard leaves the country for good.

Episode 7
Shaga shows the gang free tickets she got courtesy from Macchan to the Hawaiian themed pool run by Ralph Store’s conglomerate. Taking a train there, Satou seems to be the ultimate loser. Losing in the card games (because he’s got his mind focused on seeing Yarizui in a swimsuit), carrying all their luggage and guess what? Shaga realizes she is short one ticket and who is the one left out? Yup. That guy has to pay for his own ticket. He’s so darn poor already… Even worse, his Wolf title is Pervert! It doesn’t help that Nikaidou is also at the pool and has helped spread this around. I guess Satou lives up to that name as he can’t hold himself back to peep when he hears the girls changing in the opposite room. So pool, babes, bikinis, fun. You get the picture. Satou asks Yarizui how Wolf titles came about. Yarizui remembers her coming from when she grabbed a beer and it’s not that she wanted to drink it but she was attracted to its design. As for Shaga, when she won her first laurel wreath bento, she ate it all and ended up sleeping on the bench at the lake. Yeah, the titles don’t seem glamorous as they sound. Meanwhile Asebi’s rotten luck has her rolling off the truck (she’s sleeping on top of it?!) right to the pool. But she got to enter since she has one of Shaga’s lost tickets. So that’s where it went. The pool isn’t just what the Wolves are here for. Every Sunday, an hour before closing time, they also sell half price bentos. So for Satou, he still has hope to get some food after spending an awful lot today. The God of Discounts turns out somebody to be in a penguin suit. Since he can’t properly put the stickers, he rips the costume arm to do so! To make things more interesting, the bentos are put in a capsule and float in the pull, making battles harder to predict. Ready, on your marks, begin! If you haven’t done your warm up, you might experience some muscle cramps. Nikaidou wants to get some twin rice omelette because it is made by Macchan and they resemble her boobs… Unfortunately that lapse in concentration means Yarizui beats him to it. During the brawl, Asebi unaware of her surroundings fools around but doesn’t get a bento. Maybe she brought bad luck to others? Satou easily gets the laurel wreath bento because he is steering through the pull via ‘rudder’. Is his ‘thing’ that big?! Okay, it’s not his ‘thing’ and some board. While he is bragging in his victory, his pants drop. He wouldn’t have guessed Oshiroi was here too and she beats him up for showing his indecency in front of Oshiroi. Shaga also gets one that was surprisingly unguarded. So as the winners enjoy and share their meal, all is not lost for Nikaidou because Macchan made a special bento for him. As for Asebi, she felt she had so much fun but somehow ended up coming out from the sewerage.

Episode 8
A pair of twins who are also the president and vice president student council, Kyou and Kyou Sawagi hold a meeting with the student council body. Wait a minute. Kyou and Kyou? How can we tell them apart? Well, their name may sound the same but they are written differently in kanji. But still, how can we call them apart… Yarizui may be the best fighter in reality but in the gaming world, she sucks. She even lost to Satou. Then she asks how much this old video game console is worth. Why? Because she throws it out of the window! Sore loser?! Satou jumps out to save it!!! Kids, don’t try this anyhow. Now everybody sing, “I believe I can fly/I believe I can touch the sky“… Satou falls like a rock but this gives inspiration to Oshiroi who is experiencing writer’s block. Older Kyou can’t seem to hold her feelings in ever since they saw her in action that day. They decide to do some detective work and start by logging in to the Gabriel Ratchet’s website. It’s still operating? Anyway Older Kyou plans to sneak into the hospital and has Younger Kyou tag along. Because Satou cannot fly, he ends up in hospital covered with bandaged. Yeah, he’s like a mummy. What do you expect? He jumped from the fifth floor. Yarizui is alone with Satou in the room and to repent what she did, she’ll give him half her bento. The twins have infiltrated the hospital and it seems Older Kyou wants to meet Ice Witch whom they believe is hospitalized here. Older Kyou goes into Satou’s room thinking he is the Ice Witch while Younger Kyou observes with a laptop and all other gadgets they have prepared for this. Flashback reveals they heard about Ice Witch defeating Monarch and wanted to meet this powerful western Wolf. Older Kyou goes in to take measurements but Satou starts fantasizing that this might be his dream come true. A hot nurse babe seducing him? Yeow! Don’t want to wake up from this dream! However Older Kyou sometimes screws up so she had to switch with Younger Kyou to continue the measurements. I’m sure Satou won’t mind the nurse running riot over his body, right? The twins nearly had their cover blown when the head nurse comes in but she thinks they are trainees and wants them to change the bandage. Plus, Older Kyou can’t seem to contain her excitement and has this penchant of squealing loud enough. So back to the bandaging part, Older Kyou is puzzled to find ‘Ice Witch’s muscular legs. Then she realizes… It’s a guy! She got so panic that she ran through the halls screaming pervert. Yup, that’s his title. Satou chases her down but the further he goes, the more his bandages come off. Ooohh… He’s totally naked… Then Asebi accidentally spills hot milk over him. Guess what is Oshiroi’s reaction when she saw this scene? More sick inspirations…  Yeah, she’s nose bleeding. The twins regroup and realize they had the wrong person. However they feel a burden has been lifted off their shoulders and for the first time in 3 years, they race down to the supermarket to have a taste of what they’ve been missing. Shaga notices the president and her vice of her university coming out of the mart. She is further surprised to see every Wolf out cold. Speaking of food, where’s today’s bento?!

Episode 9
Asebi’s morning is another of her usual bad luck. One bad luck chain leads to another so when her kitty stuffed toy goes flying out of the window, she did a Satou. Miraculously she didn’t end up in hospital. Later she meets Shaga and intends to make a bento for Satou. Shaga sees Shiraume coming into her university and has a bad feeling about this. Satou tries out the bentos Asebi made. Let’s say it does not taste what it seemed. It gets weirder and weirder that he doesn’t know what he is eating. He has to finish it all? God help him. Meanwhile Shiraume is summoned by the twins as Older Kyou gets cocky showing her a clip about semi-naked Satou trespassing their grounds and wants and apology. However Shiraume plays cool and shows them a video how Shaga too trespassed her school grounds and also seeks their apology. So they settle it that they both apologize to each other and let this incident to further enhance their school relations. While Shiraume later tears up the letter, Older Kyou can’t help let out her squealing frustration that they had to apologize. That’s what you get for being arrogant. It backfired. Shiraume confronts Satou and thanks to him, she got humiliated. Guess what comes next for that poor chap? In her room, Shiraume sees Oshiroi and her heart is at ease. But she got riled up when she sees Satou joining her. Oshiroi is on fire! She’s typing down her yaoi fantasy like nobody’s business. Shiraume calls to check on her and since Oshiroi doesn’t want her to see her work, she tries to give excuses but clearly her body action is a dead giveaway. So much so she accidentally spills her coffee on her laptop. There goes her work… More accidents for her when she tries to fix the situation. Goodbye Saitou… Shiraume got cut off and fears something has happened.

The next time Oshiroi opens her eyes, she is surprised to see Shiraume on top of her! In bed! Warning! Yuri scenes ahead! Seeing Oshiroi is a little hot, Shiraume stays by her side (rubbing, touching her body…), makes porridge and then get them both naked for some yuri action in the name of cleaning her sweat. Oh Oshiroi, isn’t this what usually happens in your novel? Only thing is that they are men and somebody else? Oshiroi got so embarrassed and told her to stop. It accidentally bumped a magazine off the shelf (the background voice of the manly “Let’s get it! Let’s get it, let’s get it, let’s go!” sounds so hilarious!). Shiraume got curious and picks it up. I guess she didn’t like what she sees and leaves in a huff. So poor Satou… Another confrontation. It’s bad enough his perverted buddy is trying to get him to like some masochist porn, Shiraume shows him the magazine from Oshiroi’s place and inside it are pictures of macho men but Satou’s picture is overlapping each of their faces! Super impose?! Shiraume accuses him of harassing Oshiroi so when Satou explains Oshiroi is writing a weird novel involving macho men and that one of the characters is modelled after him, Shiraume slaps him with the magazine. She says she has read her works and it was nothing of this sort. She cannot believe Oshiroi would make a collage of him and would have a character modelled after him. The abuses get worse and worse, do they? Yeah Satou, maybe there is some appeal in all this… As if Shiraume wasn’t spiteful enough, her actions are making her climbing up the ladder of most hateful b*tches in history. Oh speaking on bento, where is my bento for this episode?!

Episode 10
The twins see Shaga to get submit her video game club activities or else the club will get no funding next month, though she doesn’t even know a thing. Then they ask her about trespassing Karasuda in their uniform so she says she wanted to meet the Ice Witch then. This excites Older Kyou but Younger Kyou plays it cool and tells her she’ll be receiving a summon before the student council soon. Satou checks out of hospital and he is 9,580 Yen poorer. Shaga meets Nikaidou and learns about the recent appearance of Orthrus. They have begun defeating notorious Wolves in the east one by one and it seems Endou was badly beaten up. There are any eastern Wolves that are able to take on them. Those who once fought them are too scared to even say anything. The only common thing the defeated Wolves remember is that they were plunged in darkness before their defeat. Everything else they don’t remember. Shaga tells Satou about this and wonders if he would come to the eastern territory mart for once. However he has been told by Yarizui to head to Kamoshida Mart as part of his rehabilitation and return. Oshiroi again is with a writer’s block (seems all the cliches she used are getting old) but then she gets an idea of a duo and heads back to pen it down. Satou is at Kamoshida when he sees the twins. They greet him as pervert but he doesn’t remember them. When Shaga comes by, she is shocked to see a basket over Satou and he is badly beaten. Satou recuperates outside and it seems he doesn’t remember what happened. The twins are disappointed that Pervert didn’t live up to his hype since he defeated Monarch. But Older Kyou feels the need to apologize to him seeing she overdid it but Younger Kyou reminds her their attacks have rendered him unable to remember. They will continue to scour marts near Karasuda in their search for Ice Witch.

Satou sees a Greek mythology book in the club room and is surprised it’s from Oshiroi. Greek mythology as her reference material? Turning to the page of Orthrus, he learns it is a twin-headed dog, the brother of Cerberus. Unlike Cerberus that guards the gates to hell, Orthrus guards the cattle but was killed by Heracles who had come to steal them. Satou’s thoughts wandered when he thought Yarizui would finally want to ‘do it properly’ with him tonight. Well, dream on. She wants him to come with her to a store instead and properly celebrate his victory. At Hoki Mart, Satou meets the twins once more. They apologize but he doesn’t remember for what purpose so the twins introduce themselves. When the brawl starts, a strange darkness engulfs the Wolves. Actually it turns out to be the twins using the basket to cover the visions of the Wolves. As you wouldn’t have guessed it already, they are Orthrus. When they hear Ice Witch, they get excited to know she is no other than Yarizui and fight her. She is no match for the twins’ perfect combo as Older Kyou is even cocky enough to taunt her if this is all she’s got. With their adeptness in using the baskets to their every advantage, the other Wolves see a sight that they would never see in their lives: Ice Witch has been defeated and lying unconscious in her own pool of blood! Gasp! Say this is isn’t true! Older Kyou taunts her and puts a basket over her head.

Episode 11
Nikaidou who has barely enough strength to stand, confronts the twins. They thought he wish to exchange contact information with them so they give him their contacts as they view it would only be polite to inform the supermarkets that they plan to visit. Back home, the twins are relishing in excitement about being Wolves. They remember the time when they were young and first saw Wolves brawling it out. They were so taken by it that when the teacher asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up, they replied honourable Wolves. However Older Kyou feels she didn’t do something honourable because she said something terrible to Satou last night. Or it might be just her dreaming and feels the need to apologize. Satou is too bothered by what happened last night that he couldn’t give a hoot to Oshiroi ranting about her novel. Yeah, he didn’t realize she got kidnapped by Shiraume in broad daylight in public! He learns Yarizui is absent from class since she is sick so he pays her a visit at her home. Sure, he got carried away with some pervy fantasies but back to serious business, he apologizes for letting his guard down last night. But it’s no big deal as Yarizui mention the Summer Solstice festival the day after tomorrow at Audrey Supermarket. To keep the freshness of the eel bento, they are made every hour and that means they can get some fresh bento during the labelling. Satou and Nikaidou meet the twins at Tokiwa and Older Kyou apologizes and since Satou doesn’t remember a thing, she flusters and Younger Kyou calls for a timeout. After a short discussion, Older Kyou changes her colours and acts cocky, calling them lowly mongrels huddling together. She ran out of what to say so Younger Kyou had to interject and looking around her surroundings, relays to Older Kyou that the duo should be called Two Dogs. They are going to beat them today too. And true enough, the duo lost.

Shaga meets the duo and informs them about what she has found. In a neighbouring town called Yumehiro, Sonic Store is managed by Sawagi Corporation and its president is the father of the twins. They were in Yumehiro till 3 years ago they quit being Wolves and left town. Nikaidou is heading there to get more information. Satou is also here to let the twins know about the eel bento. But since he sees the security officer holding up batteries in his hand, it’s that traumatic memories once more so he leaves it to Shaga to relay the information. The twins will gladly be there since they get to fight Ice Witch again. However they remember exactly on this day 3 years ago they tried to obtain this eel bent too. Satou is not happy that Yarizui is worse than before. Seems in her attempts last night to get rid of her cold, she took a hot bath. Then she got out and dressed lightly while blowing herself with the air-cond… Typical blunders… But she is adamant that she is game for tomorrow night and sends Satou to the pharmacy to get her some medication. Meanwhile Nikaidou talks to a Wolf of Yumehiro. He has asked lots of other Wolves but they are reluctant to give out any info and as a last resort, he called Macchan and she recommended him. Since this town has its own customs, by doing so he may lose his Wolf status tomorrow. However hearing the name of Macchan, who was his old friend, brings back nostalgic memories so he tends to ‘talk aloud to himself’. He says that a pair of Wolves used to prowl this town till they met their downfall via the Club of Heracles. Speaking of which, Older Kyou is experiencing a bad nightmare on that dreaded day. Younger Kyou thinks they should withdraw but Older Kyou feels they can’t let this chance slip since Ice Witch and Two Dogs are in this town. The Yumehiro Wolf continues that since word of Orthrus’ appearance has reached this town, he is sure ‘he’ will make his move too. And speaking of which, that guy has just arrived in town to take down Orthrus like he did 3 years ago. He hopes they can save Orthrus. Back to Satou, seems the only medication the pharmacist recommended is the suppository type. Who is going to insert it? Someone has got to do the ass job, right? Satou calls Oshiroi but it is Shiraume who picks up! Oh great. He tries to explain the need for Oshiroi to help insert the suppository but you know, Shiraume always cuts him off and thinks he wants Oshiroi to do it to him! Even if he manages to say Yarizui’s name, Shiraume tells him off to let her to it then onto him. Not only he has to prepare himself for her wrath, the pharmacist then recommends an oral version that works as fast as this one too. Damn…

Episode 12
Yarizui is still adamant that she wants to go to Audrey to defeat Orthrus and will use this remaining time to rest up. However Satou knows she is in no shape to do it and changes the setting of her clock. Besides, once in a while he wants to look cool and promises to get the eel bento. On his way he meets Heracles and is surprised by the things he said. He knows everything to even his intention to treat Yarizui with an eel bento. The usual Wolves see Satou in front of Audrey. Then he runs away. Could it be that he chickened out? Heracles meets them and tells them the story. Shaga and Nikaidou pass by Satou running the opposite direction and as they enter Audrey, they sense a very unpleasant atmosphere. Finally when the twins make their entry, they are shocked to see Heracles. He quickly reminds them they have no place here and to leave before the tears start falling. Of course they refuse despite being scared to their pants (or skirts rather). Heracles in unfazed since he has told every Wolf about their story. Orthrus was so strong then that they undermined the balance of the battlefield. He is going to bring their downfall once more. Older Kyou believes there are people who will fight them like Satou and Yarizui but their hopes are dashed when they learn Satou had just run away. Heracles continues to seek everyone’s cooperation to save this sacred supermarket from Orthrus. Giving an example if a nail sticks out too much, one must pull it out. Flashback 3 years ago when the twins once again made their regular visit to Audrey. Heracles greeted them and when it’s time for the brawl, he tells them off that they are a nuisance. Day after day, they are the only ones who win and all the rest got were leftovers. A fight like that is no fun and thus everybody decided not to fight them anymore. He tells them to take any half price bento they want and scram. So once they took what they want, the rest happily start the brawl. The twins are shocked and saddened as Heracles added more insult to their wounded pride as everything is the same as usual. The difference is that they don’t pummel them first. And thus this led to their ‘downfall’.

The final batch of fresh eel bentos comes out and they have only 1 hour to get the 6 bento boxes. Heracles flexes his muscle as he tells them to hurry and take what they need while the other Wolves could only stand around and look on. The twins prepare for their sealed fate when Satou comes running back, seemingly out of breath. The labelling is done and Shaga wanted to move in but Satou tells her not to be hasty since words are meaningless between Wolves. At times like this, they should let their gut do the talking. Suddenly there is a huge rumbling in the supermarket. OMG! Is it an earthquake?! No! It’s the growling stomachs of the hungry Wolves!!! Shaga understood why Satou ran away as it was his plan to wear himself out hungry. With them hungry, all they have to do know is obey their instincts. In that instant all the Wolves start fighting each other. Some Wolves realize that if they grab a half price bento after letting the strongest Wolves go, it wouldn’t taste good either. They regret listening to Heracles. Heracles isn’t happy his plan is ruined and joins in the fray to show his true strength. I guess he isn’t called Heracles for nothing. He really is strong but with cooperation from other Wolves, they still can beat this guy. Satou couldn’t give a sh*t about Heracles’ balance preserving ideal because to him if the nail is sticking out too much, he needs to pummel it down with force! Satou tells the twins to come fight them if they want the bento and this brought them to tears. With them back in the action, they let loose their usual stuff. Oshiroi who has been lacking inspiration on her works waltzes in to the mart to see everyone fighting. I guess all that thinking made her hungry, eh? In the end, I don’t even know how Oshiroi got the half price bento and the twins didn’t. But still, bento or not, food tastes good when you’re hungry, right? The usual gang minus Satou sit down and eat together. That guy rushes back to Yarizui and presents her with the laurel wreath eel bento he got for her. On his knees. He’s got all this figured out, eh? Yarizui shares it with him and lets him taste first since he earned it. So good that he doesn’t even want to talk. Yarizui is amazed at how he got this laurel wreath bento. Since so many amazing things happened, he himself isn’t sure. But one thing he does know for sure, that a supermart is not a place for tears of sadness or tragedies. Yarizui agrees that smiles suit the place best. Well, if you’re winning maybe. Things return to normal as the Wolves continue their half price bento brawl. This time the twins come to Hoki Mart.

Food Fight!
Okay, it was fun while it lasted. On par with other food themed animes like the Chinese cuisine of Chuuka Ichiban, the pastries in Yumeiro Patissiere and the breads in Yakitate! Japan, I enjoyed this one too. Wished they had more servings, if not desserts to go by. They make it look like as though buying a bento isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not like you can just waltz into the store, slowly take your pick and decide which bento you would like to have for dinner and in the midst probably do a little analysis what your palate and stomach would like to have tonight, take the nicely wrapped bento to the counter and pay for it. There, simple? But nooooo… Now you’ve got to fight, punch, kick and do whatever it takes just to fill your stomach for the night at half the price. Yeah, half the monetary price but at the same time you get bruises all over. Is that all worth it? It won’t be if you’re the one at the losing end and go home without food. Probably that’s why the half price bento brawl is only placed at night. A time when innocent children and family people are back safely in the sanctuary of their homes. This is a time where hungry Wolves prowl. Eat or be eaten. It’s the basic rule of survival. So if you’re thinking that a bunch of teenagers are stupid to fight each other over food, you must be one person who always had dinner served on a silver platter at the time you want, when you want. Like they say, a hungry man is an angry man. Ironically with them so hungry, their punches and kicks pack lots of power as compared when they are full. It’s odd, right? Probably that’s what you call desperation and iron will. That’s what separated the winners from the losers.

For a short series, I guess the flow of the story was pretty okay. We see Satou getting introduced to this world of bento brawl and as he gets used to its customs and traditions, he gets involved in other plots. From Endou’s scheme to seek revenge and gain the ultimate title he wanted to the salvation of the Orthrus pair. It’s great that he has his own principles that he sticks to and in no time, he’ll become a respected Wolf if he keeps this up and proper grooming from Yarizui. Just that his nickname may be a little bit of a problem. His would probably be the first that doesn’t sound so glamour. The way he ‘earned’ that title was already a big misunderstanding, now that name sticks to him. This will be messy… Another messy affair would be that he is modelled after in Oshiroi’s works. I’m sure he will know what it means to be gay seeing that security officer would love to stick batteries up his ass! Traumatic! Another ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feature of Satou is his ability to take in lots of beating. This is good because he needs all the endurance he needs to withstand the punches and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It is bad because after taking so many knocks to his head, he’ll have some health problem when he grows old. Because he constantly gets beaten up in every episode, to me it sometimes yo-yos between amusing and annoying. Of course I feel pitiful for him initially for getting trashed as a rookie and those that come from misunderstandings especially Shiraume. But he gets whacked so often that the ‘joke’ has become stale. Of course it’s different if he is in the brawl. You can’t always be having a perfect victory like in video games. You take some, you give some.

Despite Yarizui’s lack of emotion which probably helps explain the other half of her Wolf title, she is quite a considerate and kind senior. It’s not that she never smiles. She does. I was hoping there would be a final showdown in the final episode between Yarizui and the twins. Unfortunately she went ‘out’ with a whimper. Maybe it’s time somebody else hogs the spotlight instead of the strongest Wolf of the west. Speaking of Orthrus case and hers, if Orthrus were ousted because they were too strong, then shouldn’t people like Yarizui become targets too? I mean, as far as I can see in this anime, Yarizui has always been winning her brawls. If she can accumulate so much of those half price stickers in her room and even have a scrapbook containing lots of laurel wreaths, this shows she must have been winning every, if not most of the fights, right? Wouldn’t then there be other Wolves like Heracles who will feel it’s always the same ol’ winner and do the same thing? Maybe for a different town, yes. Shaga feels like a secondary character and someone who is just there to support Satou albeit she teases him a lot and steals a big chunk of his hard earned bento. Just like Yarizui, Shaga’s fighting skills are no laughing matter so think twice if you feel like going easy on them just because they are girls. As for Nikaidou, he is someone who has fallen and tries to redeem himself after Endou’s failure.

Both the twins are an amusing pair. Despite being twins, their personality is like day and night. Older Kyou is the most amusing one because she displays a range of emotions depending on the situation. When it is in her favour or trying to stamp an impression or authority, she acts very cocky, proud, arrogant and haughty. The kind of words that would make your heart feel small. Then when she’s nervous or ‘lost’, she’s like getting panicky and frantic. Of course she also bears the scar of the traumatic past when the twins were forced to retire from becoming Wolves. Younger Kyou on the other hand is calmer and displays lack of emotion which could surpass Yarizui. She is more level-headed and the one who always supports her older sister whenever she’s at a loss of words or ideas. I just wonder why when they attack as Orthrus, nobody initially remembers their face. It’s not like they’re wearing a mask and just use baskets to cover your head. Their beat down techniques that will render you to have amnesia? So why subsequently when everybody knows them, nobody gets this amnesia service anymore? Maybe they lost their ‘fang’? As for Heracles, I think he has some grudge over Orthrus and is using this scheme of his not to fight them as a cover up. For something bigger I don’t know. I mean, he came all the way to a different town just to stop them. Maybe the fact that they always win has diminished some of the Wolves’ morale but not fighting the strongest means that you are taking the easy way out and not proving your worth to earn that bento. The twins are not that bad as portrayed. Maybe because of Older Kyou’s tendency to get a little excited but all they wanted was a chance to live and experience the brawl like any other Wolves. On to the other minor characters, the other Wolves like Bouzu, Chappatsu and Agohige even though they are regular Wolves, feels like they are just there to make up some numbers for the Wolves that support Satou. As far as this anime is concerned, I don’t think I’ve seen them win a bento brawl except the final episode when they fought with the revived Orthrus. Finally they manage to get some hot and good food in their bellies, eh? Say, now that I have noticed it, I have never seen Chappatsu’s face before… Don’t you agree?

Asebi’s role may be comical and so minor that I feel without her, the series can still move on. She may be cute with bad luck following her everywhere but her presence lacks any impact that it made her character forgettable. Hey, even her bad luck has reached this level, huh? Oshiroi the yaoi lover can never get enough of her fantasies involving her Saitou. I suppose that this is her ‘fuel’ instead of the bento. I think the reason she follows Satou to the brawls is just to draw inspiration on her twisted novel. Currently she’s in a slump so maybe she needs to eat more brain food. But when she’s on a roll, see her typing down in her laptop like as though the words are naturally flowing through her, her actions make it feel like this is like sex to her. Get what I mean? If Asebi is what this show calls bad luck, then I suppose Oshiroi must be the opposite with lots of good luck. That’s because she has never gotten a single scratch during the brawls. Amazing, isn’t it? I don’t think the hungry Wolves would differentiate and treat differently cute innocent girls. As long as they step into the fray, everybody is their enemy. Thus it is mind blowing to see her ending up with a piece of half price bento at the end. Sure, she sneaks up to the bento when everybody else is pretty much busy stuffing each other’s face with each other’s fist. But hey, she did follow the rules too, right? No foul play. I wonder what happened to Wizard. I know he left for overseas and in the final episode’s ending credits, he makes a short cameo appearance just to assure us that he is still alive and kicking (and I don’t mean literally brawling for bentos in a foreign land). So how significance was his role in the first half, I don’t know. Maybe it’s to assure that Yarizui has a worthy successor before he leaves? Then what about those Gundogs? Are they still around? Finally, not to say saving the best for last, the character that everyone would love to hate goes to… Shiraume. I really don’t like her hitting Satou and blaming him for being a bad influence to Oshiroi. It’s like almost every time she sees him, she wants to whack and abuse him. And she does it before asking him. It’s as good as not asking in the first place, right? If she really wants Oshiroi for herself, lock her up like a doll in your room forever. Her yuri fetish on Oshiroi is equally bad as Oshiroi’s obsession for yaoi. Weird girls and they’re not even straight. But one thing bugs me about Shiraume’s knowledge on Oshiroi’s works. If she has claimed she has read them and not the yaoi kind of works that she recently came to know, what kind of novels did Oshiroi write anyway? Does she even know Oshiroi likes macho men x macho men? Maybe Oshiroi does a fine job in hiding it away from her. Very tightly concealed till it’s “Let’s get it! Let’s get, let’s get it, let’s go!”. Haha! Still love that part.

I won’t say the fight scenes are totally mind blowing awesome but you get to have your fix of some action. Not to say that each of the Wolves have their own special exaggerated moves but it’s fun to see Wolves like Yarizui twisting, tossing, turning and somersaulting through the air and landing her kicks in her opponents face like as though she is defying gravity. If she was real, she could be the female version of Jackie Chan. But something about the brawls do bother me. You know how messy a fight is, right? How come at the end of it all, the aisles of the store are still clean and tidy?! It’s like either everybody was kind enough not to fight ‘outside’ the designated ‘ring’ or the fighting place is hell of a big. Very big. Enough space for you to punch a big fat guy and send him flying a few metres across the room. Still, notice no foodstuff fell off the shelves? Amazing. I don’t know, the supermarkets in my country especially the locations that sell this kind of fresh food which are right at the back of the store, the place is pretty small and sometimes tight. So much so you have to manoeuvre and make way for others. So when a big brawl that involves many people commences, are they fighting in a time-space dimension? I’m not too sure about the rules of the brawl but if Shaga can use chopsticks and the twins’ baskets to aid in their fight, wouldn’t other Wolves also at least take something in hand as ‘weapon’? Certainly if Orthrus does it, it must mean it is legal, right? So you wouldn’t mind if I use the trolley or the salmon? Don’t play with food!

As food is one of the main attractions of this show, I must say that watching some of the half price bentos on offer made me want to taste them too! Hell, I’m not a martial artist so I won’t break a limb to savour such taste. Boo hoo! No pain, no gain for me. Really, I really would like to have a taste of those mouth watering bentos. Oddly in a way some may not be popular since if they were, they would have been sold out instead of being left as leftovers for the night brawl. So as to know which bento will be the ‘main star’ of that particular episode, you can see that bento’s name being featured after several minutes into the opening credits animation. Yeah, each bento comes with calories too. Hmm… I’m not a foodie or nutritionist expert so does a sticky natto okara rice bowl bento with juicy cheese topping that is worth 440kca a bad thing? What about mackerel boiled in miso bento which is worth 674kcal? Would Ginger Fried Pork Bento 852 kcal be considered as guilty pleasure? Oh, and the highest calorie of them all has got to be the western and Japanese food mix amounts to 2,910kcal! Better do a good workout after chowing all that. Yeah, maybe that’s why we all fight to work up a good appetite, eh? Even with episodes that don’t feature a bento, at least they feature some of the other food like the bottle drink Yarizui loves drinking from and the porridge Shiraume made for Oshiroi when she’s sick. Then there’s one episode whose title is so damn long that it’s like Yarizui being nostalgic about the taste of her grandma’s dish. Oh wait. It is that. It’s worth 480kcal if you want to know.

On a trivial note, the next episode preview feels like a movie take. A character is supposed to narrate the next episode preview but I guess some went off tangent like Shiraume doing what she loves best to Oshiroi, sleepy Shaga not interested in doing so but would rather continue her video game with Satou, Yarizui reading from the wrong script (she read Oshiroi’s sick novel instead), Oshiroi giving her own episode preview of her Muscle Detective work in place of the preview and Older Kyou bragging too much on how she memorized the script but ended up with no more time for the preview. The mid-intermission shows the characters fitting in the bento box while we hear somebody screaming or sexily moaning the word “Bento”. There are also a handful of trivia to spot albeit not much and that is just Satou’s video game posters like Sonic the Hedgehog and the Virtua Fighter game that he loves playing. He is still having a Nintendo NES system which means he is an old fashioned kid when it comes to video games. Or either that, he must be one poor kid that he can’t afford to upgrade his console. Heck, he can’t even afford proper dinner. I have watched a couple of specials called Picture Dramas but they weren’t interesting. If they are the so called ‘desserts’ as to the anime as the ‘main course’, this ‘dessert’ isn’t as sweet as I hoped to be. As its name suggest, they are still pictures while we hear the characters blab away. The first one is about Oshiroi as she rants about her yaoi fantasy involving Saitou and others for over 8 minutes! Eight freaking long minutes! I don’t know. I didn’t want to stick around to hear her twisted story because I feel if I do, she’ll add me into her story and make some fictitious modelled character ‘stick it in’ to me too. Then there’s this part where she starts moaning like a crazy sex maniac like as though she’s totally turned on as she writes her novel (which was what happened). Maybe she climaxed herself. Till Oshiroi interrupts her with a call then she stops her deep breathing and puts away her work since she’s coming. Good riddance. For the second Picture Drama, it’s that loathsome Oshiroi beating us viewers for trying to take unauthorized pictures of her and Oshiroi. She can be a good interrogator, you know. And the way it is shown, we are supposed to like her beating?! NO WAY!!! If this girl is your wife, you die straight away, I tell you! Thank goodness she’s a yuri… Seme type most probably.

The best voice acting has got to go to Yukari Tamura who does Older Kyou. I love the way she uses her voice to portray all sorts of emotion from her character. Her trademark squeaky high pitch voice doesn’t disappoint and she’s like the food version of Katanagatari’s Togame. And since Yui Horie (Kotori in Da Capo) is deadpan as the Younger Kyou, this is the other major difference (apart from Older Kyou’s longer hair to Younger Kyou’s short hairstyle) why I could tell the twins apart without breaking a sweat. In many animes that involves twins (like the one in Ouran High School Host Club and Kimi To Boku), I can never seem to tell the other apart. Other casts include Hiro Shimono as Satou (Akihisa in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu), Mariya Ise as Yarizui (Riko in Hidan No Aria, Aruka in Needless), Emiri Katou as Shaga (Kagami in Lucky Star), Ao Yuuki as Oshiroi (Tooru in A Channel), Ai Kayano as Shiraume (Ayaka in Kamisama No Memo-chou), Ayana Taketatsu as Asebi (Azusa in K-ON!), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Nikaidou (Tasuku in Seikon No Qwaser), Sayaka Ohara as Macchan (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Hiroki Yasumoto as Endou (Sado in Bleach), Akira Ishida as Heracles (Zeref in Fairy Tail) and Mamoru Miyano as Wizard (Death The Kid in Soul Eater). The opening theme by Aimi, LIVE for LIFE ~Ookamitachi no Yoru~ is a rock outfit that perfectly suits the action and brawl nature of this series. Even the lyrics are about being a Wolf and fighting as one. The ending theme, Egao No Housoku by Mariya Ise sounds a bit Chinese and despite being a moderate slow pop ballad, it doesn’t sound as bad. Why is the animation solely on Yarizui? There is a special one-episode-only opening theme for Shaga. The lively rock beat of Treasure by Emiri Katou describes best the kind of character Shaga is.

Despite the violent nature we see from the Wolves, the deeper meaning is that we should be grateful for the food, the ingredients and the people who made it. We should give thanks to everyone involved down the line in making such a delicious meal. There are many more subtle lessons we can learn from the Wolves. Don’t waste food. Don’t take more than you can chew. Food tastes better when you’re eating with your family and friends. You appreciate food better when you earn them the hard way. Shows that money can’t buy you everything, eh? Even so at half price lah :). And even if you have won the right to your food, that doesn’t mean you cannot share it with others. You can be stingy on money but not on food. If there is going to be a sequel, I’ll definitely want to watch it to see the development in the characters, plot and of course the food. Yummy, yummy bento. If so, I hope to catch it while it is fresh and hot and not near its expiry date. Oh dear. Typing this long has made me hungry. Now I just need to get some chocolates for my sweet sugar rush and watch more animes to feed my need. Hmm… Food for thought: Would I actually fight all out if I am ever that hungry? Let’s just say it’ll be safer for me to get a boring cup noodle than getting waste on the battlefield. Well, food no matter how plain or extravagant is all the same when it goes down into your stomach, right?