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 reviewing the second collection of the series released by FUNimation Entertainment. 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, for one recently voiced his distaste for the series. 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. Yet, 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’ll find the characters to be 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 invested in 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 whilst fulfilling their own personal objectives. It’s this very complexity of characterization that keeps me hammering away at the series at breakneck speed.
FUNimation’s release of Toriko: Part Two collects episodes 14-26 of the series, picking up right in the middle of the action where Part One left us, with Toriko’s gang and the Corp. descending on the rare Regal Mammoth in the hopes of securing its succulent, super power-generating, jewel meat. Like the collection before it, this set too frustratingly wraps smack dab in the middle of a compelling story arc, leaving you tugging at your hair in anticipation of the next collection from FUNimation… which is fortunately slated for release a little over a month from now. Special feature on the set are limited to episode commentaries, textless openings and closings, and trailers.