The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
Restaurant to Another World Season 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
Restaurant to Another World (TV 2) ?
What is this?
There is a certain restaurant in the first basement level of a multi-tenant building in one corner of a shopping street near the office district. The historical restaurant, marked by a sign with a picture of a cat, is called "Western Cuisine Nekoya." This restaurant looks completely normal through the week, but on Saturdays, it opens in secret exclusively to some very unique guests. During these hours, doors in various areas of a parallel world open to allow customers of many different races and cultures into the restaurant.
How was the first episode?
Full disclosure: this is the first episode I've ever seen of Restaurant to Another World. I've never watched the series before because I could tell from both the official description and what I had heard from fans that I likely wouldn't enjoy it. And to be frank, I was right—which makes this review rather hard to write.
Restaurant to Another World is not “bad” in any objective sense. However, it is most certainly an anime that doesn't align with my tastes. I like my shows with either overarching plots or a focus on character development. Straight slice-of-life—except in the rarest of cases—is simply boring in my eyes.
I had some hope in the first half of the episode with our crossbow-wielding cat girl heroine of the week. She is introduced to us as a loner—something which is leading her to miss out on the bigger, more well-paying jobs. I thought that perhaps she would be overwhelmed on her quest, escape to the restaurant, and in the end learn some sort of lesson about companionship through her food-filled adventure. Sadly, she didn't really have an arc. She worked fine alone, enjoyed her food alone, but left deciding to tell some fellow adventurers about the restaurant so that they would owe her one—which I guess is progress of a sort?
The back half of the episode focuses on one of the main characters—the waitress Aletta. While I don't know her backstory, her situation is easy enough to understand: she's basically a caretaker to an academic of some kind when she's not working at the restaurant. She clearly wants to do more for her friend and employer, but is happy with her life as it stands now.
However, none of this is really the focus of the episode. Rather, both the cat girl and Aletta are but narrative tools used to get the anime to its true goal: showing off as much animated cuisine as possible. This anime is food porn, pure and simple. And the moment the characters started gushing about the food is the moment I checked out. I just don't care about fictional people eating fictional food, and no matter how beautiful the animation or passionate the descriptions, this is unlikely to ever change.
Now, all this is not to say I was wholly uninterested by what I saw—the opening implies that the telepathic elf waitress isn't an elf but a dragon from space that lives on the shattered moon (which is the kind of crazy I can 100% get behind). However, if this episode follows what I suspect is the normal pattern for this anime—i.e., an adventurer stumbles upon the restaurant and food porn ensues—then I won't be watching any more of this. But if food porn is your thing, I suspect you might just enjoy this series.
It's been a while since I checked in on Restaurant to Another World, so I had to go and dust off my original preview from back in the day (over four years ago!) to refresh my memory. As it turns out, my opinion on the show has remained mostly intact since then: It's a really sweet and entertaining little show, when you get right down to it. Back in '17, I was maybe a little overenthusiastic with my praise, and I've since come to realize that it's just very hard for me to stay attached to any slice-of-life anime, no matter how many shots of yummy-looking cuisine it manages to stuff into its weekly runtime. I just tend to get bored with a series that doesn't have a clear plot and sense of direction, unless it's exceptionally good at holding my attention otherwise (which basically means Twin Peaks Season 3, and little else).
Restaurant to Another World isn't the type of show I am likely to keep up with in my own time, but it's about as good as any of these iyashikei anime are going to get for a viewer like me. The whole conceit of bringing Earth's finest cuisine to parallel fantasy worlds is a great one, and the central cast are all very likeable. I'm not quite sure what's up with the telepathic girl, but Alette is as charming as ever, and I dig her cute relationship with Sarah, which comes up in this premiere's third vignette. Also, Chef Guy is a cool enough dude; at the very least, he's definitely less strung out on cocaine and nicotine patches than some of the cooks I worked with during my years working in food service (Don't let this show fool you – working in the back of the house at any restaurant is a traumatizing and soul-crushing experience). The new catgirl character that we meet, Hilda, also provides a fun perspective for newcomers to the series, and I might have also related a bit to her crippling cheesecake addiction.
Speaking of which, the food is really the star of Restaurant to Another World, and it's as lovely to look at as ever—not quite at the level of Ghibli's animated cuisine, but darn close. Again, I'm the kind of guy who would rather spend his time making the delicious-looking platters that get served up at Nekoyama, but for folks who are lacking in either the resources or the patience to attempt Chef Guy's fancy-ass dishes, the visual sampling that the show provides is a nice treat. If you're into the kind of experience that these kinds of anime offer, then I highly recommend giving Restaurant a shot.
t feels weird to say I was excited for another season of this show. Partly because “excitement” is kind of against the spirit of this incredibly chill, laid-back type of series, but mostly because my memories of the first season are pretty vague. I recall the main characters and gimmick, and recognize some recurring cast in this season premiere, but other than the lizard guy who thinks his regular order is an ancient spell to summon omelet rice, I couldn't give you any specifics. But after the extenuating circumstances of the last 18 months and counting, I'm at the point where watching other people have a nicely prepared, tasty meal in a public space is now escapist fantasy, so I may as well embrace it.
If you're in the same boat as far as memory goes, or just never watched season 1 but are now hankering to watch fantasy characters eat diner food, good news: you can easily pick this new season up without missing a beat. The first vignette of this episode, in which a catgirl adventurer orders some cheesecake, gives a super accessible explanation of the entire setup, and while some minor bits of continuity are present they're pretty self-explanatory. It might be a little hard to pick up that the black-haired waitress who talks via telepathy is actually a transformed dragon, but that information is secondary to the much clearer fact that she really likes chicken curry over rice. That's just the kind of show this is, and if you're on its wavelength it makes for a perfectly relaxing time.
And I am decidedly on its wavelength, even if I still prefer eerier and stranger iyashikei on the whole. There's just something universal about the simple pleasure of sitting down for a nice meal – be it some new dish you've never tried, or a stalwart favorite that's never let you down – and this series' approach to it is particularly accessible. For a food show, everything on the menu is remarkably mundane, almost always something you could imagine finding at a local restaurant without much looking, and that unexpectedly makes this show's humble food porn way more engaging. Barring an unexpected inheritance from a wealthy uncle, I'm never going to sample the 5-star cuisine of Food Wars or the like, but finding a place around town that makes a good pork cutlet? That's a lot more doable, and makes the act of watching somebody chow down click without any need for over-the-top imagery or visual metaphors, which is perfect for the show's equally modest animation. Also if you are in a territory where one can legally imbibe in some, say, herbal supplements, this is the perfect show to sit back and relax with. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, or anything. Ahem.
All-in-all, this isn't going to set your world on fire, but it's not designed to. This is animated comfort food with a dash of fantasy seasoning for flavor, and if that sounds like your kind of meal, then season 2 will likely leave you full and sleepy like Thanksgiving dinner.
Welcome back to the traveling restaurant of a thousand doors where fantasy denizens come once a week to order the exact same thing every single time. Not that I have room to talk there; I often get the same things at my favorite restaurants, but it does remain one of the more striking features of a show where the selling point is lizardmen and elves getting to try Nekoya's combination of Japanese and western fare. And even if you missed season one and want to try jumping in here that part is made very clear, as waitress Kuro steadfastly refuses to try anything besides her beloved chicken curry and we see the red dragon wandering in for her weekly pot of beef stew.
That's partly why Aletta is such an important character, enough so that I was surprised when she didn't come into the story until the end of the first of the source light novels. Not only is Aletta present for almost every episode as Western Restaurant Nekoya's first and main member of the waitstaff, but she's also one of the few people we see being willing to try almost anything Master cares to serve her. Yes, she's disappointed when he hands her a bowl of what he calls “Chinese soup” rather than her favorite corn potage (which looks rather like corn chowder), but she tries it anyway, as well as the fried rice he serves with it, and finds herself very well pleased. Since we saw virtually no one else do this in the first season of the show, Aletta becomes a way for the series to introduce a greater variety of foods to rhapsodize about without throwing in too many new characters each time.
And my, do they wax eloquent about the food! No one in this show (or any other foodie show, really) can just take a bite of something and pronounce it good; everyone has to go on for at least five minutes about the tastes, textures, and ingredients, which they somehow magically are able to discern. If you're hungry, this can be torturous, but if you're not, it starts to feel a little ridiculous after the first dish. In this episode alone we learn the many virtues of soufflé cheesecake, corn potage, fried rice, Chinese soup, and toast with cheese, to say nothing of black tea with what looks like four teaspoons of sugar added. I love my grilled cheese as much as the next person who has a hard time remembering to eat lunch, but things do verge on the overdone here.
Our new character for the episode is cat-earred demon Hilda, an adventurer who discovers the door to Nekoya in a goblin nest she's just cleared. She's our tea and cheesecake fan, and unlike some of the characters from season one, she's thinking of introducing her friends Ranija and Alicia to the restaurant in order to have them owe her one. Since both of the other ladies are in the opening theme, I think we can safely assume that she will carry through with this plan, although next week appears set to feature Romeo and Juliet eating steak.
Restaurant to Another World is just the same harmless, foodie fantasy that it was in season one. I feel like the character designs have been prettied up a bit, but the food remains the real star, and I definitely wouldn't suggest viewing on an empty stomach.
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