With all the high-minded, exquisitely animated anime series out there, sometimes it’s nice to turn your brain off and watch something that’s just plain fun.
It’s from Toei, home to the likes of “Dragon Ball Z” and “One Piece,” so don’t expect high art. The animation’s bad, the dialogue is horribly stilted, and the story is ridiculous. But it all works.
At least in the five episodes I’ve watched so far. The set out this week, part one, contains the first 13 episodes. Parts two and three will follow soon, in February and March.
It’s the world’s Gourmet Age, a time of “astronomical variety and gastronomical splendor.” People love to eat, especially exotic fruits and the meat of dangerous monsters. Toriko is a gourmet hunter, one of the folks who track down those monsters and bring them to market.
But not only is he a gourmet hunter, he’s one of the four Legendary Kings. I don’t know what that means yet, but apparently it’s important to the mysterious bad guy the show keeps cutting to. Accompanied by his trusty chef companion Komatsu and sometimes under the auspices of the IGO (International Gourmet Organization), Toriko is on a constant quest to find the most dangerous, most exotic, craziest ingredients.
So far, we’ve also met Coco, another of the Legendary Kings, who helps Toriko and Komatsu capture the elusive and poisonous puffer whale. Three more important characters are coming, judging from the promo art and opening credits. The mysterious bad guy is watching, though, and thinks there’s more going on with Toriko. But Toriko seems pretty clueless.
If it all sounds silly, it is. That’s emphasized in the intro to each episode, with a cheesy paean to some mythical food locale. And like all good fight anime, the warriors have their signature, dramatically animated moves. In Toriko’s case, he has the Knife & Fork, a sharp attack, and his Spiked Punch pile driver. Ian Sinclair does his best Patrick Warburton-style voice for Toriko.
I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the show that’s so appealing to me. I couldn’t stand the episodes of “Dragon Ball Z” I watched (sorry, fans, I know you love it when I do a giveaway). “One Piece” leaves me cold. “Bleach” got old fast, even if it started neatly. I haven’t tried “Naruto.”
Maybe it’s the foodie angle that has me hooked. There’s something in it I can actually identify with. It reminds me a bit of “Get Backers,” another action series I enjoyed far more than I expected. The dynamic feels similar from what I can remember of the show.
The show is obviously aimed at 12-year-olds, and I gotta say: The inner 12-year-old in me had a lot of fun watching. He’ll be watching more, for sure.