The culinary arts have been explored in anime and manga for years, but no anime or manga has ever managed to inject the same testosterone fueled madness of Dragon Ball Z or Fist of the North Star into cuisine, until Toriko. Serialized in Shonen Jump, Misutoshi Shimabukuro’s Toriko explores a world where cuisine is king and people wish to eat rare and exotic ingredients, made from strange animals and exotic creatures. People that spearhead the quest in furthering these foodie obsessions are called Gourmet Hunters, people that can actually hunt down these beasts and craft a variety of meals. One of these men is Toriko, a mountain of a man and one of the “Four Heavenly Kings”, Gourmet Hunters that personify a heightened human sense. Funimation has released Toriko, in the same vein as their One Piece Voyage sets, with part one containing the first 13 episodes.
The world of Toriko is most certainly an interesting one, full of cool looking creatures and absurd looking characters. Not only this, but a highly stylized shonen adventure series about cooking is one of the last things I would have ever expected and yet here we are. While the presentation and overall style of the show was very interesting, I had an incredible time trying to stick with Toriko. I love both anime and cooking, but for some reason the show tested every bit of my patience, even in the first episode. I’m not sure if it was due to the stereotypical plotting of an average shonen series or the fact that the animation could be pretty bad at times. As it progressed, the show did get a bit better, but just like like Tite Kubo’s Bleach, which tested my mettle for the first 13 episodes, it took some time to get a knack for the quirkiness of the characters and their fighting styles to make me want to invest more time.
The performances in both the English and Japanese tracks were both really good. I found myself leaning more towards the Japanese tracks, but both Ian Sinclair and Josh Grelle give some solid performances as Toriko and Komatsu. There’s next to little features, with the exception of some English language commentary on episodes 1 and 9, textless intros and outros and trailers for other Funimation shows. While it’s not completely terrible, I found myself wanting a whole lot more out of Toriko. With it being as popular as it is, I’m sure that it gets better as it goes along. But with many shonen shows following the same formula, I find myself not being too distraught if I never watch another episode again.