Year-End Report: “Toriko”
I had planned on doing this review some time back, when this show reached 52 episodes, but it is now another three months beyond that, but better late than never…although I bet all the tasty hors d’oeuvres have been devoured, as I came late. Again.
The only thing that I am not a big fan of, aside from giant fighting robot shows, is long-run shows. Rare is the show that can keep up both interest and plot over the course of a year, especially since you lurch from arc to arc. This show does not succeed all the time (there is a major lag in the middle) but it has kept my interest better than most.
Toriko is that criminal in the center (well, I call him that, as he wears that orange jumpsuit all the time; like Naruto, but with a far better personality). He is one of the four Gourmet Kings in this world that they live (the other two are shown up there: Coco is in black and Sunny has the rainbow hair). They specialize in the acquisition of rare ingredients and animals. Toriko’s dream: to find the most precious foods in the world and create the Ultimate Dinner Menu. As one of the most skilled hunters in the world, he is regularly hired by restaurants and the rich to seek out new ingredients and rare animals. A man with inhuman ability, he utilizes his incredible strength and knowledge of the animal kingdom to capture ferocious, evasive, and rare beasts to further his ultimate goal.
He is paired with a pretty decent chef, Komatsu, that weak looking guy under Sunny’s hair. Everything Toriko is, Komatsu is not. Komatsu is weak, timid, uncertain of himself and lacking confidence. But, in the kitchen, he is really good. Together, they go on a series of quests to make this world a better place for food and eating.
You need to understand this rather weird and wacky world that they live in. Think of a planet the size of Jupiter, but without the massive gravity, so it is earth-like, and you can understand why there is some much out there that is unknown or unheard of. It takes days or even weeks to get to some of the more remote spots (and this place has it is spades). And a lot of it is off limits, as the IGO (International Gourmet Organization) is doing all kinds of odd tests and experiments or the creatures there are too, too dangerous.
The series covers three main plot points: Toriko’s quest for the Ultimate Dinner, Komatsu becoming a better chef (in this world, if you cook for a five-star restaurant, you might as well be running a hot dog cart!) and the search for GOD. No, nothing so mystical and spiritual; it is the ne plus ultra ingredient and the rival (and dangerous) Gourmet Corps, who will use any and all means available to obtain GOD.
This show has problems in that it gets too involved with its own whimsy. Every episode starts with you being introduced to some odd food (I mean, they have rivers of chocolate and candy trees and soda pop lakes and all kinds of oddities), as some narrator goes “There is a noodle that is sugar coated and is as fluffy as a pastry. The Glazed Udonut.” Thus, you are exposed to some food pun as the show starts.
Another aspect of this show that is a tad bothersome is the yaoi approach to things. Toriko is a manly man, with rippling biceps and 8-pack abs and gigantic pecs. He is always tearing off his shirt and flexing himself around other manly men to the point that you wonder if his boobs are going to explode from being too, too big. I realize that this silliness as part and parcel of the show, but it sure gets tiresome at times.
You also wonder how many more arcs you will have to travel on before you get to the Big One, the Search for GOD, as this will be a massive fight. Still, with the exception of the Ice Hell Story Arc, things have been pretty interesting to keep he awaiting the next episode.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (It gets a bit hokey with all those manly muscles bulging about)
Plot 7 (Getting a bit threadbare)
Pacing 7 (It works when it wants to)
Effectiveness 8 (It works for the most part)
Conclusion 0 (Not as of yet, but this is more a neutral comment)
Fan Service 0 (Unless you WANT those manly muscles)
Overall 8 (Again, the jury is still out for a total answer)
And remember, it’s first run until you see it. I thank you for this bounty.