Isekai Shokudou – 05

While Gaganpo was primarily a hunter, this week’s demi-human is a warrior who ends up crossing swords with the famous half-elf Alexander, who sells him into gladiatorial slavery. While preparing for an arena match against a manticore that may well kill him, the door to Nekoya opens.

He goes through, is greeted warmly, and treated to not one but five pork cutlet rice bowls, which he wolfs down with gratitude. Because “katsu” means victory, he returns to his world and makes short work of the manticore, which is just as well, as he must win 99 more fights to win his freedom – as well as pay his restaurant tab.

Like our liony warrior, the next customer, Victoria, has a very limited niche in society in which to operate. Because she’s a half-elf, she had the choice of becoming a sorceress, an adventurer-for hire, or the resident of a remote village of her own kind. Vicky chose sorcery, and quickly rose to the upper echelons of magic users, tutored by the venerable Sage Artorius.

Both Victoria and the Sage are regulars at Nekoya; Artorius ordering his fried pork cutler, and Victoria preferring pudding a la mode, in contrast to the full elf who won’t eat anything from an animal. She also takes some of the soft, velvety, delicious, springy pudding to go, storing it in a magical mini-fridge she keeps in her bedchamber. As noble a use of ice magic as I can imagine!

Isekai Shokudou – 04

The first of this week’s two new visitors to Nekoya is a strange one: Gaganpo, a Lizardman and Hero of the Blue Tail Tribe. His visit to the restaurant is preceded by an almost David Attenboroughesque nature documentary, in which a soft-spoken woman narrates everything he does, carefully bathing and suiting up for what is, in his tribe, a great honor.

Upon entering the restaurant, Gaganpo says the “magic words” that get him what he wants: omelette rice, and lots of it. Omelette rice is one of those ultimate comfort foods, and it’s like nothing the marsh-dwelling Lizardmen have ever tasted before and is beyond their ability to replicate.

The fact neither Aletta nor the Chef bat an eye at the presence of the blue behemoth show you that Nekoya is a super-diverse and accepting place. Gaganpo returning home, with three “party-size” omelettes of three distinct varieties for his fellow villagefolk to enjoy, is certainly a sight to see.

The next customer is a little more conventional: Fardania, a wood elf from a village carved into massive trees. But because she’s an elf, she’s also a vegan, so when she enters Nekoya and sees everyone eating animals, she’s a little turned off and very dubious of the human chef’s ability to cook her something she can actually digest, let alone fine tasty.

Of course, this is the nearly omnipotent chef of Nekoya we’re talking about, and it’s not like there are no vegans in human society, so he whips up a delectable tofu steak with veggies and rice at which even a carnivore wouldn’t necessarily turn their nose. Of course, Fardania takes this delicious meal as a challenge to make even better food for her widowed father.

This was an episode that, at times, looked like it was animated by a grade-schooler, as Gaganpo and his cohorts were particularly inconsistent in their design and proportions. Fardania faired better, especially in close-ups. But I was able to mostly overlook the uneven production values thanks to the mouth-watering depiction and description of the food….which is, at the end of the day, what this show is all about.

Isekai Shokudou – 03

When tuning in to Isekai Shokudou, I find it’s best to come hungry. I actually altered last Thursday night’s dinner plans, so enticed was I by the depiction (and description) of some nicely fried shrimp. In the first segment, the chef simply throws some stuff together—cream, pancetta, mushrooms, parsley—and serves over pasta. Aletta calls it “Knight’s Pasta.”

This week’s first customers are Thomas Alfade (far from his first time) and his grandson Sirius (his first). Thomas is known in his world as a culinary genius, but the fact is he merely lifted all the recipes for pasta and pasta sauce from Nekoya and its chefs.

Is he a fraud, and his legacy a sham? Sure, but who cares? He did it so he could enjoy Nekoya’s food in his world. At any rate, it looks like spaghetti and homemade meat sauce may be on my menu in the near future…but I never thought to add toasted nuts to my gravy…

The next customer is Princess Adelheid, who like Sirius also first visited with her grandfather, who just happened to be a “Grand Emperor.” It’s a memory she barely remembers, and in the present day she’s all but alone and suffering from a tricky illness that’s hard to shake.

One day the door appears, and Adelheid visits Nekoya for the first time in years, and knows exactly what to order; the same thing she got the last time: “clouds,” i.e. a chocolate parfait. Turns out that’s what it takes to restore her energy and vitality, and upon returning home her maids are shocked to see her outside and feeling much better.

A parting shot of the Nekoya dining room shows us all of the customers whose little stories we’ve heard thus far—including Sirius and Adelheid—along with a couple whose stories we’ve yet to hear…and simple-yet-delectable dishes we’ve yet to hear described in loving detail. I’ll be back in seven days!

Isekai Shokudou – 02

When treasure hunter Sarah finds a door in a cave, she finds the “final treasure of the ultimate treasure hunter”, William Gold: the door to Nekoya. The late Will turns out to have been a regular at the restaurant.

While initially weary that the food in this otherworldly place won’t be up to snuff, one bite into the succulent daily special of fried minced-meat cutlets sends Sarah straight to Flavortown.

I enjoyed details like Sarah’s amazement even with the lemon water, bread, and soup, and the exquisite detail with which she described her wonderful dining experience. Definitely shades of Food Wars, without the wars! It’s also good to see Aletta doing well in her new role as waitress.

As a matter of habit he started with William, the Chef prepares take-out cutlet sandwiches for Sarah to take with her. Thus “Minced-Meat Cutlet II” is born in the eyes of the other regulars; William Gold—likely Sarah’s father or grandfather—was MMC I.

In part two, one of the grizzled regulars, the master swordsman Tatsugorou, visits a knight-captain in his dramatically-perched mountain fortress, bearing a sword the knight thought he lost three years ago on a desperate mission to save the Duchy.

In his haste to complete his mission, the knight, one Heinrich Seelemann, neglected to pack any food. When his horse collapsed, he had to continue on foot, until he simply couldn’t go on. Just then, he spotted a cabin with the now all-too-familiar door to Nekoya.

Like Sarah, Seelemann was initially weary of the sudden new, strange surroundings, but the Chef has a way of winning people to his side with his incomparable down-home cuisine. In Heinrich’s case, it’s the friend shrimp that remind him of his hometown delicacy.

He was so hungry he forgot he had no money, so left his sword with the Chef (who refused it, but Heinrich insisted). When he returned to the cabin later, the door was gone, but he was missing one key piece of the puzzle: the door only appears once every seven days.

Tatsugorou leads him back to the restaurant, where we see Sarah already enjoying Minced-meat cutlet, and Heinrich knows exactly what he wants: the simple-yet-sumptuous meal that ultimately fueled the success of his mission, the saving of the Duchy; after which he was rewarded with the mountain fortress. Pretty spiffy!

After two episodes, we now have a fairly stable pattern of two separate people from another world finding the door to the restaurant and having life-changing meals. Whether the show will choose to alter that pattern or not, I already think I prefer this to Youkai Apartment.

Working!!! 3 – 02

work321

Family, vision, and dating are the three main themes of this week’s Working!!!, starting with the Takanashis who are neither royalty nor do they possess superpowers. They’re a pretty fun and eclectic bunch, however, so the occasional episode where Souta deals with his four sisters (and in his case, his masochistic former brother-in-law).

Souta’s talks with Minegishi as the authorized representative of the family, along with the sight of the somehow-still-twelve Nazuna pushing her shut-in sister Izumi along on a cart, were both highlights of this segment.

work322

When back at work at Wagnaria, Popura and Takanashi collide, and Popura and Yamada remark on how strong and durable Takanashi’s glasses are to have survived not only the occasional collision, but countless punches to the fact from Inami. Unfortunately, when Yamada play-taps the glasses with her stuffed animal, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s glasses.

Takanashi’s attempts to work despite not being able to see, resulting in a very hazardous situation in which he gets far too close to Inami without warning her first; fortunately for him, she faints on her feet rather than clobbers him into the stratosphere, a nice subversion of the usual bit.

work323

Finally, Satou continues his meandering, half-hearted courtship with Todoroki, who mentions she’s never had alcohol but would like to try it, if only she had someone to drink with. Souma can’t believe it when Satou adds “sometime” to his offer to take her out for a drink, rather than setting a place and a time.

Unlike Minegishi, Souma isn’t the kind of masochist who likes watching this kind of persistent futility, nor am I: we need an episode/segment in which Satou and Todoroki go on a legit date. For that matter, I hope this season allows Takanashi and Inami a date, as well, building off the first two seasons of character work rather than leaving it to gather dust on the shelf.

7_ses

Working!!! 3 – 01

work311

I’m not going to do a First Impressions on this, because it’s the same show with the pretty much the same cast as the last two Workings!!, all working in the same restaurant. The only difference is the stories and situations they find themselves over the particular few days of their lives the episode covers.

Working!! has been a favorite of mine and of RABUJOI in general for its earnestness, simplicity, and a quirky brand of comedy that gets better the more you know the characters. The show’s following of unusual people with unusual traits working in an otherwise normal, even generic family restaurant has been a winning formula, and I’m glad it’s back for a third season.

work312

Working!! isn’t deep, and it’s not meant to be deep. Like the food served at Wagnaria, it’s simple, tasty, and comforting fare. Both the restaurant itself and its employees lends a distinct feeling of being welcomed home after a long hiatus (which included the run of Servant x Service, which may as well take place in the same setting. A crossover would also be fun.)

work313

It hits all the familiar beats: Everyone is eccentric in one way or another. Takanashi likes small things and little girls, but not in the wrong way, and maintains his senpai-kohai relationship with Popura. The would-be romance between him and Inami remains obscure, but that’s not altogether surprising either.

work314

Working!! is the kind of show that could probably go on far more than three seasons, whether or not it punched up the serialization level (such as having relationships grow and progress). It’s just got that kind of formula. And it never fails to surprise a couple of times a week, such as when Inami and Kirio find a housewife in the woods. As it’s developed its shorthand and gradually built up its dynamics and fully organized its quirks, the show has gotten better and more refined.

8_ses