Today let's explore just a few anime that bring the joy of food viscerally home!
Hey all, and welcome back to Why It Works! I’ve been enjoying Laid-Back Camp all throughout this season, as my numerous articles to that effect probably make clear. But during its most recent Christmas camping trip, Laid-Back Camp managed to pull off a new kind of appeal entirely: that of the dedicated food porn spectacular, where the gorgeous presentation and ravenous consumption of food is all designed to make the audience’s own mouths water. As Rin put it, Nadeshiko is extremely good at making food look delicious. In fact, Rin and Nadeshiko’s mouthwatering adventure ended up forcing me to splurge on a delicious lunch of my own, and if savory anime food is gonna cost me, it’s gonna cost all you folks too. Jumping off from Laid-Back Camp, today on Why It Works, let’s highlight some shows that make eating look great!
First off, if you’re looking to combine your delicious food tableau with some terrific father-daughter family material, Sweetness & Lightning is an absolute must-watch. The show focuses Kohei, a single father, and Tsumugi, his adorable daughter, whose desire for more time with her dad runs neatly alongside her desire for better meals than packaged lunches. Together with Kohei’s lonely student Kotori, the three of them discover fantastic meals and even better company at Kotori’s mother’s restaurant, where each new episode brings the three together on a delicious cooking adventure. Tsumugi acts as an ideal food tester, demonstrating the joy of both food and family through her love of their shared meals. Sweetness & Lightning is a terrific mix of compassionate family drama and savory food highlights from first episode to last.
Of course, it’s not just kids who can understand the appeal of a good meal. If you’re more interested in the working professional’s approach to food appreciation, Wakakozake is a charming short anime centered on Murasaki Wakako, a woman in her mid-twenties who likes nothing more than to settle down with a nice meal and beer after work. Each episode of Wakakozake promises a new combination of food and drink, as Wakako checks out some new local restaurant and enjoys its finer points. There’s something uniquely calming and very satisfying about enjoying a meal out by yourself, and Wakako’s contented “pshuuu~”s capture it extremely well.
Moving on to a different genre entirely, I’d feel negligent in my duties to not mention Food Wars!, the current champion of the food-preparation-as-shounen-battle subgenre. Food Wars! is less interested in conveying the parsable joy of eating than it is in elevating that joy to the level of orgasmic climax, as larger-than-life chefs compose dishes so good they pretty much entirely overwhelm their eaters. Food Wars! is walking along a path that’s been well trod by shows like Yakitate!! Japan, and smartly combines the propulsive, tactical appeal of a shounen action show with the savory fun of a cooking show. If you want your dishes served with a side of fierce competition, Food Wars! is the venue of choice.
With time growing short, I’ll finish off with two recommendations that each flavor their meals with their own distinct spices. If you’re looking to match the sensually charged delivery of Food Wars! with a more conventional “girls find friends” slice-of-life narrative, Gourmet Girl Graffiti is precisely that combination, balancing itself between traditional friendship drama and over-the-top food reactions. On the other hand, if you’d prefer your meals accompanied by charming middle-aged men in spectacles, Ristorante Paradiso marries the alluring atmosphere of a true Italian restaurant to an engaging cast of characters brought to you by top-rate mangaka Natsume Ono, an artist who clearly understands the appeal of a sharply dressed man. If you enjoyed the meditative storytelling of her recently adapted ACCA, you should definitely give Paradiso a try.
Alright, I’d say that covers a fairly reasonable range of the gosh-food-sure-is-great genre spectrum! Whether the appeal is the food itself or the company it’s shared with, and whether food is framed as a grand competition or a gentle escape with friends, anime is very good at making me want to absolutely demolish my own food budget. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m pretty sure it’s time for lunch.