In this world, there exists monsters called Kajiki. They are huge and scary, for they were created to be eaten by gods. However, they are also very delicious…! Let the battles between monstrous food and a young chef begin!
Source: MANGA Plus
This manga took the idea of gourmet hunters which was alluded to in the beginning of Hunter x Hunter and which was fully fleshed out in Toriko, and took it in a whole new direction. A direction which is noticeably less interesting. One of the biggest hooks in Toriko is that the monsters being hunted are all fantastical and made-up. We as the readers have no idea what we're going to see next. But this manga removed that fantastical element to the ingredients and instead just had the kajiki be giant versions of real-life fishies and sea critters that swim through the sky instead of swimming through the ocean. Like, that's alright, I guess, in concept and it does allow the manga to shine a spotlight on actual real-life recipes and cuisine, but it's just not quite as interesting. And for a world with kajiki swimming through the sky, there isn't nearly enough emphasis placed on the physics or the ecology of that. We don't see unexpected secondary consequences of having giant creatures floating around, which is a huge missed opportunity for better immersion into the world. The fantastical hook of the manga has largely hinged on the tsukumogami instead of on the kajiki. While the kajiki have always had real-life parallels, the tsukumogami are given a much wider breadth of possibility for what they can be. They are basically old objects which have gained sentience from their old age. They have transformative powers which are guided by the wielder's willpower and imagination. It's basically like superpowers, and it allows the different kajiki hunters to have different power suites (which in theory is nice, but in practice has just come across as shounen chaff). In the most recent chapters, another twist on the tsukumogami has been introduced and I don't think I like it very much. I honestly didn't really care for the tsukumogami from the get-go, but this new development rubs me the wrong way even further. In many ways, this is a story about two childhood friends who have come to love one another, but who struggle with transitioning from a dynamic of friendship to one of lovers and who are basically just awkward and blushy whenever situations start veering in that type of direction. In other words, romance has been a central component of the story. And I don't care for the romantic elements of this manga. It's too boring and on-the-nose. It plays into cliches and tropes and is very self-aware of doing so, but doesn't know how to actually play off of those things in interesting ways. I don't care about Toya or Iza as individual characters and I also don't find their interactions or relationship dynamic to be endearing. I find the whole thing bland. But the romance is likely intended to be of secondary importance to the fighting. The fighting is also corny and largely uninteresting. I find the fact that Toya's hair changes color when the sword transforms to be dumb. I think the premise of this manga could've potentially been cool if the author wrote it in a less trope-y and box-checking type of way--if it had less corn in the shounen casserole. [Reviewed at chapter 23]
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