When I first heard about Toriko, I swore I’d have none of it. There was no way it could possibly work. I’d only be wasting my time. I mean, a fighting anime centered on food? That’s a bit of a stretch. Yet, here I am, a devout Toriko fan, and I’ll be damned if I’m not loving every minute of it! The series, adapted from Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s manga of the same name, combines elements of Hunter x Hunter and Fairy Tail, two series I’m incredibly fond of, with a heavy dose of testosterone-fueled fisticuffs a la Dragonball Z for good measure.
Admittedly, not everyone will find Toriko’s stylistic potpourri wholly palatable. (FilmMonthly’s Senior Editor, Ruben R. Rosario, voiced his distaste for the series some time back for example.) After all, as an audience member, a series with super powered fighters who derive their abilities from gourmet cuisine is a hell of a thing to have to swallow. But if you’re willing to go along with it and give yourself a good five or six episodes to get settled in to Toriko’s world, you might be surprised to find the characters far more complexly invested in the series’ action than in other such fighting-centric series.
Rather than fighting purely for the sake of the world as in, say, Dragonball Z, Toriko and the other Gourmet Hunters cultivate their skills as fighters in the interest of improving themselves as individuals, individuals who have devoted their lives to fine cuisine. After all, only the most capable of Gourmet Hunters will be able to experience the rarest and finest of cuisines the world has to offer. This makes their trials far more personal than those of so many other shonen heroes. And given that the characters already have goals set for themselves, the additional, physical conflicts that arise between Torkio’s gang and the evil Gourmet Corp. become all the more interesting as our heroes attempt to quash the Corp.’s nefarious plans even as they fulfill their own personal objectives. It’s this very complexity of characterization that kept me hammering away at the series at breakneck speed.
On August 26, 2014, FUNimation Entertainment will release Toriko: Collection One on DVD. Collection One collects the first 26 episodes of the series, which were previously available in two sets of 13 episodes each. At the core of this collection is an adventure in which Toriko’s gang and the Gourmet Corp. race to harvest the succulent, super power-generating, jewel meat of the rare Regal Mammoth. It’s one hell of an epic quest that finds the characters venturing inside a city-sized mammoth and battling for their lives in the process. Like most of the 13-episode collections of Toriko before it, be aware that Collection One frustratingly wraps smack dab in the middle of a compelling story arc, leaving you tugging at your hair in anticipation. So it would pay to have Part Three on hand when you tackle Collection One. Special feature on the set are limited to episode commentaries, textless openings and closings, and trailers.