I realize this anime is based on a long running manga that I haven't read, but as I watched it one word came to mind -- "goofy."
Not that there's anything wrong with goofy. The one thing I have to give "Toriko" credit for is how entertaining it is in its goofiness.
STORY -- Toriko is a Gourmet Hunter -- his job is to find the hardest ingredients to catch and bring them to market. He is often accompanied by Head Chef Komatsu, who wants to learn more about the food he gets to cook.
This past season, storyline arcs have included the search for the mythial Jewel Meat, and is currently on the hunt for BB Corn.
It's basically a cooking show on steroids -- you watch the show and you wish the food was real. But at the same time it's a really goofy concept for a show. But yet, it's entertaining.
ANIMATION -- The animation of the show is very crisp and clear. There's a lot of action and not a whole lot of room for a character to just stand around.
SOUND -- The voice actors match the characters perfectly, giving special credit to Ryotaro Okiayu as Toriko and Romi Park as Komatsu. There are times that the music adds to the goofiness of the show, but it fits the overall vibe.
CHARACTERS -- Along with Toriko and Komatsu, some of the characters such as the very pretty bishounen Sunny and the GT Robots are well thought out for the different arcs within the show. I'm still trying to figure out the purpose of Tina (other than screaming and getting herself in danger), but all the other characters fit within this universe very well.
Overall, it's a goofy show. But in that goofiness it's fun to watch.
When Bleach got a rushed ending, millions of shounentards were crying in agony for not seeing all the damn bankais. When Toriko got a rushed ending, nobody gave a damn. Why is that when both of them are long running and follow a specific action/adventure formula that shounentards love so much? You can easily say explain it as Toriko never being as popular as Bleach, thus never having a big enough audience to care about it, but it still doesn’t explain why it wasn’t popular when both of them follow said successful formula.
To the most part, it has to do with the adaptation of Toriko not being liked by the majority of the target demographic. The animators didn’t care much, it looked cheap, people lost interest very fast, and it was never promoted much in the west. Since adaptations are vital infomercials that affect the sales of the source material, it meant that Toei messed up its chance to make a goldmine, something which wasn’t a problem with the far better adaptation of Bleach.
If we go deeper, we can find ever more reasons, one of which being how bizarre it felt. It’s about chasing weird looking animals, so you can eat them. Is it about adventure, or is it about cooking? And then some scheming villains appear and it became a fighting shonen with lots of joking around. Is it about action, or is it about comedy? You just never knew what the focus was in that show. Variety is good but when you mix so many genres, nothing sticks out at the end. The adventure fans were quickly bored with it because it didn’t have much of what they liked. They might as well be watching One Piece. Same with the cooking fans who would rather watch Food Wars, the action fans who would rather watch Dragon Ball Z, and the comedy fans who would rather watch Gintama.
And since I mentioned all those titles, another issue is how derivative it felt right away. Everything about it screams of ideas found in other famous franchises. And I am not saying other shows are not doing that; after all Bleach was stealing concepts from Yuyu Hakusho, and Naruto from HxH. Toriko went overboard and was stealing too much from all over the place. The protagonist is essentially the second Jojo with Son Goku clothes, travelling in the world of One Piece. Even the very pilot episode is about him meeting the Straw-hat Pirates. This is not a standalone series, it’s crossover fan fiction. And yes, I know it was just a lame promotional trick, since it doesn’t exist in the manga, but what does it say about the credibility of a brand new show when it tries to get a piggyback by the most popular anime of all times? It sets the bar too high, it tells you it has no identity of its own, and on top of everything else, it’s not even well-animated.
It’s even heavily censored. How do create an anime about constantly slaughtering animals without ever showing blood? This is not My Little Pony; it is a show where muscular dudes massacre huge monsters and then roast them and eat them. It should be raw, brutal and relentless; yet all you see is cartoony violence and grilled corpses look like candies.
And it’s not like the writing was ever good, so it can at least make up for all its problems. There was never something smart or special about it, it was always playing out as another Fairy Tail, minus the fan service (which by the way is another show everybody would rather watch instead of Toriko). Not that the few fans of it would admit to that, since as you see from the comments I got from them, they are yapping about how amazing the plot it.
The perspective of a Toriko fan is that it’s a great parody of fighting shounens and cooking series, about a guy who thinks hunting and cooking is a secured way to manliness. There is nothing funny about slaughtering rare animals. Nobody liked the concept and it’s something WWF would go ape shit about. Furthermore, there is nothing manly in cooking; the best cooks in the world are not muscular, they are fat and feminine. And that is why it was never popular, why nobody gives a shit of it ending prematurely, and why I was right when I was calling it shit from the very beginning.
Story- Original concept with lots of heart and inherent humour. I loved seeing all the new places, creatures, and ingredients. All of the challenges the characters face kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to see what would happen next. One of this show's greatest assets is its unpredictability. But, most of all, it is a story of loyalty and brotherly love. I have to take points off, however, for the abrupt ending. What could have been a great story arc was set up and dropped. There is so much left to be explained. So many more feels to be had. Also, I just want to see the gourmet world. We've been waiting all this time to see it. Went through so much crap. And we are left fruitless!
Animation- Though Toei one of the most popular studios, their animation has been criticized and scrutinized over the past few decades. Toriko, however, has to be one of their finest examples of animation, and this show includes many things that could not have been easy to animate (otherworldly creatures and ungodly masses of hair to be specific), and they pulled it off almost flawlessly. Having said this, what the hell is wrong with Toriko's face in the intro!?! I mean, there is a close-up shot where his face looks like it's melting. They could have at least tried to hide it or fix it at some point.
Sound- The acting in the Japanese is top-notch. Great casting. I'm sorry I can't say the same for the English dub. I normally love Funimation's dubs--sometimes their casting runs circles around the original. In this case, I see why the dub was dropped. No one took their role seriously. I mean, I know it's a silly show with a silly premise, but actors should act like their character's problems are real. Or, at least, like they are not acting. Now, what really gets me about this show is the soundtrack. The themes fit the series better than most others. You can tell they were written especially for the show. The other songs on the show are great. And the score is not too repetitive, unlike that of shows of similar calibre. I almost like the soundtrack as much as Digimon Adventure's.
Characters- This story is full of colourful characters, each with his or her own goal and skill set. Despite this, they work together like a dream. The only thing this series is missing--character-wise-- is a truly ruthless villain.
Overall- Great start. Didn't think I would enjoy it this much. Now, where's the other half?!?!
I'm only writing this review now after I've read the manga in full to get a better understanding of the implementation and the overall picture.
To everyone interested. !
- Anime has a lot of fillers and even some non-canon characters.
- An alternative non Canon ending with "Joa" as the final antagonist.
- Huge censorship of fights, the manga is just as brutal as the final arc in Bleach Manga in terms of brutality and fighting.
- The manga has a much more extensive and appealing implementation and is much less drawn out.
Toriko has by far one of the best World Buildings among manga and anime and is roughly on the same level as One Piece in this area. Likewise, the creative approaches of skills, powers, developments and various imagined imaginative creatures and preparation methods. Also the concept of the "gourmet world" and the "background" <- which can only be seen in the manga, since the anime ends from the "Food Tournament Arc".
And to be honest, this was the point that fascinated me the most about the anime and the manga, the wonderful creativity, and attention to detail of the World Building.
Unfortunately, that was all positive about this anime adaptation.
Toriko is a title that uses almost all sorts of stereotypes and has some of the most sluggish and boring fights I've ever seen in a shounen. Especially since Toriko is extremely monotonous. You spend 90% of the time with Toriko traveling around and putting things on his menu while also fighting against a few bad guys and defeating them after he has received a power-up from his gourmet cells. And this process is maintained almost until Chapter 250 in the manga and until Episode 110 in the anime. From then on, not many changes, but the process becomes slightly more individual.
Furthermore, there is a massive negative aspect of the series, the characters, and the dialogues. They are not even part of the average, they almost scratch the bottom of the barrel. The characters are flat, monotonous, have a strict and simple personalities without fluctuations or development. Your conversations are always copied and paste the same. They argue or talk about the delicious food for 300 chapters. Komatsu always cries and says Toriko's name, Toriko does the same without crying.
Worst of all is Komatsu's general personality and all of his scenes. They're frighteningly clichéd and humiliatingly badly written. Especially when everything he does is justified with "I hear the voice of the ingredients" or "The voice of the knife". Nice, that with the ingredients can somehow be interpreted in the course of the manga. However, almost everything he does is more plot armor than the battles of Toriko. Especially the fight against Four Beast and when he found an alternative for the antidote. I would not have expected such a banally bad explanation from the author, even though he pays so much attention to detail. Just an "Oh so and so did he do it? So and then so? I understand I wouldn't have thought of it" <- Given that this dialogue was said by the world's best chefs.
But this is only part of what you have to experience.
Only the 2 main antagonists had some depth and personality, unfortunately only at the end of the manga.
Animations fluctuated from being fluid in some of the main moments. Up to flat, dull, and mostly poorly drawn. Especially just before the end.
Toriko is a work I would rather recommend the manga for, even if it reflects most of the negative points from the anime. So much wasted potential when this work could have turned out well.
Great anime, which anyone who likes One Piece should definitely enjoy. It's original concept makes watching worth of every second spent.