Konnichiwa again, fellow spice lovers. It’s been a little while since I’ve done a thursday post and a lot longer since I’ve greeted you in japanese but, at least for the second of those, that’s because it’s been a fair while since I’ve felt the need to.
I’m a massive nerd and, as I’m sure you’ve seen from my youtube channel, many of my friends come from the local anime community. I watch a tonne of the stuff myself, alongside my (board, card and video) gaming, but it’s rare that it ever crosses over into my main hobby. My sauce tasting.
Shokugeki no Souma (AKA Food Wars) was an exception. A glorious blend of absurdity and inspirational cooking that was so visually impressive and well described that I simply had to try my own hand at it in recipes. And I had to share my love of it with you.
Nothing since has quite captured the same thrill of culinary experimentation or tackled that crazy combination of Shōnen and cooking show genres.
Nothing has showcased the same burning passion of teenage chefs under pressure but the winter of 2017 and 2018 has given us plenty of food related anime all the same. One of which in particular I got very passionate about.
So, now that it’s finally stopped snowing and it’s starting to feel like summer, I’d like to look back at the winter anime season and discuss which foodie shows will and won’t be inspiring my cooking in coming months.
Let’s start with Yuru CampΔ.
Yuru Camp Delta, or Laid Back Camp, to give its english title, is what’s known as a “moe” show. Which is to say that it revolves around cute young girls going out and doing cute young girl things.
It’s a genre that’s easy to misunderstand but, while a few fans will claim that such characters are attractive, that questionable minority will exist in any fandom and are not what it’s about in the slightest.
The moe genre is a wholesome one about childhood innocence. One that brings back memories of younger days while playing upon older viewers’ innate desire to protect the young and naïve.
Characters therein are designed to be cute and snuggleable, like a younger sibling or perhaps even a fluffy pet, and the setting itself tends to support this. It’s often cosy, with bright pastel colours and an excuse for thickly padded clothing.
For Yuru Camp, that excuse is camping off season in the middle of winter and that’s all that the show is really about. It’s just a steadily growing little group of friends hanging out and chatting in their small tent or around a campfire. Taking in the beauty of nature while enjoying a simple meal.
It’s not as food-focused as I had hoped, honestly, and doesn’t seem to hold much inspiration for my cooking but it’s such a lovely, gentle and friendly show that I feel obliged to mention it anyway.
And there is a mild chilli hot pot in the third episode that reminds me just how good a little heat can be in the cold of winter.
But what if you want your food at home? Well I’m afraid I can’t really recommend Fate/Stay for Dinner.
Fate/Stay for Dinner or, to give its actual name, Emiya-San Chi no Kyou no Gohan (Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family) was a highly anticipated slice of life show focusing on Saber, one of the main characters of Fate/Stay Night.
Specifically, it’s about her settling into life in modern japan, giving us an outsider’s view into both the culture and the home cooking of the people she stays with.
It was suggested I watch it by surprisingly large number of people but, after a single episode, I stopped. As someone with a rudimentary understanding of japanese culture already and no pre-existing interest in the Fate cast, the slice of life elements here did absolutely nothing for me and the cooking felt like it was straight out of a recipe book.
The show was just so bland and slow that I couldn’t continue. Sorry Fate fans.
But it still had more to do with food than our third show: A Place Further than the Universe.
Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, more commonly know by its english title, the abbreviation “YoriMo” or simply the word “Antarctica”, is another moe show in spirit but it’s definitely one with a slightly older-looking cast.
It follows the life of a highschooler named Mari who yearns for adventure yet always chickens out at the last minute and it begins with her finally breaking free from that habit. One thing leads to another and she ends up on the first civilian trip to antarctica with a girl who’s mother disappeared there and several other new friends she made during the preparation stage.
It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that antarctica is not the focus of this show – The journey to it is. It’s about a shared goal and the hard work that makes it happen. It’s about going on an adventure with friends and realising your dreams. And yes, there is a little tourism along the way.
A Place Further than the Universe isn’t really a food related show but it does show a little as part of the tourist experience and the 5th episode has convinced me to try durian again.
The fruit has a reputation for being a real shock to the senses and, while this show doesn’t quite give it the attention it deserves, it still shows the light-hearted but totally evil fun that one can have with it. Something that I, as a self-proclaimed mad scientist, thoroughly approve of.
I would love to have a mild green chilli and durian sauce of my own to provide a challenge that doesn’t rely solely on heat.
That inspiration is why A Place Further than the Universe has made it onto my list of winter food shows and, while I can’t say it’s holds any particular appeal for spice lovers or foodies outside of that, I’d still recommend it to anyone likely to appreciate the cast’s wide-eyed sense of adventure.
Finally, though, this is the big one:
Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-San, or Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen. A show that was recommended to me as an anime about food.
Upon reading the basic synopsis, though, it became clear that Koizumi-San was actually about the girls who enjoyed the food and watching it pushed that one step further still.
Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-San isn’t about ramen or girls who like ramen. It’s about girls who like girls who like ramen and, weirdly enough, I find that quite relatable.
The main character, Yuu Oosawa, has a horrendous stalker-type crush on the titular Koizumi that starts out as a joke but acts as her entire motivation and goes on a little too long to be funny. Yet her dream – To spend her life cooking for someone she cares for – is something that I feel would please any chef. And the target of her affections has a genuine interest in good food.
It’s a worthy goal, I’d say, but I can’t approve of her methods and I have a similar love/hate relationship with the entire cast.
Koizumi is a knowledgeable food lover and her genuine apathy towards Yuu is a definite plus but she expresses the same apathy towards everyone and everything that isn’t ramen. She just comes across as too cold for me to like her as a person, even if her descriptions of the two or more dishes each episode are really well done.
Misa Nakamura, their pink-haired classmate seems more than a little better in her first episode (number 2) but she goes way down hill after that.
She’s the popular pretty girl but, when we see things from her point of view in that episode, we see that she’s a real person who’s put effort into that role and not just the shallow diet freak she looks like on the surface. They’re cheap feels but we do actually feel sorry for her when that popularity backfires and the reason that segment gives for her love of chilli is genuinely insightful.
Yet her shallow exterior returns with a vengeance later on and she never feels as good again.
And Jun Takahashi, while best girl in the eyes of a friend of mine, doesn’t really appeal to me either. She’s a decent student representative, if a little poor at dealing with confrontation, and her easily flustered or panicked nature can be mildly endearing at times but at others she just seems annoyingly indecisive.
Aside from Koizumi, she’s probably the most reserved of the group and the interest that brings her out of her shell – reading – is rather more of a solo activity. This, in my eyes, makes her not a worse character but simply less of one.
Raimen Daisuki Koizumi-San is, in my opinion, at its worst when it’s exploring its characters and at its best when it focuses on the Ramen. It has some genuinely nice moments here and there but even they are overshadowed by the shear variety and quality of dishes on display.
Most of which Koizumi herself does an amazing job of explaining and all of which are metaphorically sold to the viewer with a blushing reaction. One that shows just how divine the meal is without resorting to the clothes-ripping extremes of Food Wars.
Unfortunately, though, the descriptions do suffer a little when the story demands that someone else makes them. Especially if it’s Misa trying to talk about chilli and its supposed weight loss effects – Effects that are generally considered negligible compared to extra food intake.
All in all, I don’t know exactly how I felt about this show. Some weeks I was thoroughly enjoying it as it aired and even awed by the unique and exciting takes on ramen it showed me. Yet others had me shouting at my screen from the wasted potential.
This show got me invested in a big way but it wasn’t always in a good way. I’ll definitely be using it for inspiration in coming months and I’d definitely recommend the food in it but would I recommend Koizumi-San to someone without an interest in asian cuisine? Hell no!
Best girl from this series, in my opinion, is Hannah. A lost child who mistakes Koizumi for her mother and makes episode 6 the cutest, most heart-warming episode of the whole show.
While best boy, not that there are many to choose from, is probably Takagi, a purple-haired guy who I don’t think was even named outside of the Manga. He features only in one of episode 8’s three segments and isn’t the most talkative of Yuu’s brother’s friends but his knowledge and understanding of weird ramen combinations is second to none. He provides the most interesting ideas out of anyone and seems the most open to experimentation with is food.
I have no idea what the rest of his character is but the same goes for the vast majority of the male cast. They’re all just side characters, after all, in this girl-dominated show.
A show which I’d say deserves an
age rating, since it’s mostly harmless but probably shouldn’t be shown to easily influenced kids before they understand what’s wrong with the main relationship that it teases.
And I’d say lower still for today’s other three.
Again, perhaps not to anyone too young, since we wouldn’t want impressionable youngsters to think that they can travel the globe like the cast of A Place Further than the Universe or go it alone in the woods like the girls of Yuru CampΔ. Not without suitable preparation.
So I’m going to give them all a tentative
with the additional understanding that kids around that age aren’t likely to be reading this or to seek the shows out on their own.
If you’re the parent of such a kid, by all means take my rating into account but do remember that you know your child better than I do and are therefore in a better position to judge what they are and aren’t ready for than me.
That’s all from me today and I’ll see you for another thursday post whenever I next feel the need to share something of impact. Until then, please keep reading my tuesday reviews and enjoying spice.
Your friendly geek freak,