Looking to get away this summer? Two of our latest simulcasts are waiting to whisk you off to worlds of magic, dragons, and... beef stew?
This week in The Hook, we're looking at Restaurant to Another World and In Another World with My Smartphone, two summer anime that put a different spin on journeys to fantasy realms. What are the first episodes like, and what will get you hooked? Let's find out!
Restaurant to Another World
Usually when a restaurant closes once a week, it's so the owners can have a break. But the owner of Nekoya doesn't even let up on his days off. Once a week, the Western-style restaurant closes to its regular patrons, opening instead onto an alternate world of elves, dragons, demons, and other magical beings.
In the first episode, we meet many of these beings, but two in particular. One, simply known as the Red Queen, is a shapeshifting dragon who considers Nekoya -- and everything in it -- a part of her personal horde. Her regular order? Beef stew. And if she's to be believed, it's really good beef stew.
The second isn't technically a customer. Alette is a half-demon whose demonic nature manifests only via a pair of goat horns. Not enough to make her powerful, but more than enough to make her lose her old waitressing job. Fortunately, the owner is in need of some help around the restaurant, and she's got the enthusiasm and the skill set for a part time job.
The Hook: Remember the Red Queen? She may only stop in for beef stew, but she has very strong feelings about her "treasure." And when there's a new piece to her treasure, she's going to react in a very interesting way.
Who Is It For: Is there a "food anime" fandom yet? If there is, this might be for you. So far there's more talk about the nature of the food than the specifics of the recies (as with, say, Piacevole or Yakitate! Japan), but you do get an eyeful of some super tasty looking treats. So you might want to make sure you're not hungry before you watch.
In Another World with My Smartphone
All things consider, Touya is pretty chill about the fact that God accidentally killed him. It probably helps that God has offered him a second chance: a new life in an alternate world (can't be Touya's own world cuz Them's The Rules). To make things a little easier on him, God has offered to boost Touya's basic abilities, and grant him a request. Which, in this day and age, is an easy one: Touya wants to be able to use his smartphone.
The world Touya wakes up in is straight out of a fantasy MMO -- almost literally. There are guilds, grinding missions, and very specific sets of magic rules. Which... do not apply to Touya. He's quite literally God Moding his life in this new world, mastering all forms of magic in a matter of seconds.
His first new friends are Elze and Linze, a pair of adventuring twins who teach him the ropes after he rescues them from a couple of bad customers. Though, judging from the credits, they're due to meet a lot more people.
The Hook: There isn't a cliffhanger or shocker per se in the first episode. Touya's "hacks" are a known element, so seeing him open interdimensional gates and wield six elements with zero training isn't terrible surprising. But there's something odd about the whole thing that makes one want to watch on and see what's going on.
For starters, Touya is really calm, and there's only so much you can write off as being either his personality or things "not feeling real." For another, this new world really does feel very much like an MMO. That's not just a comparison. Everything from the "go out and kill five wolves" quests to the structure of the guilds to the way they talk about the way the world works just feels like a game. Perhaps that's simply the story's conceit, but something about this second chance feels a little off.
Who Is It For: If you can't tell from the title, the perfect male protagonist in an alternate dimension, and the gaggle of girls -- this is definitely based on a light novel series. (Specifically, a web novel series distributed on syosetsu.com). If you're over light novel adaptations, this might not be your thing. But if you're interested in something lighthearted and silly -- or if you're into MMOs -- then give it a try!
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.