Reviewby Christopher Farris,
Crazy Food Truck
GN 2 Review
Gordon and Arisa made it out of their close call with Kyle just fine, meaning it's time for another well-earned meal. And what goes better with the spices of curry than a hot bath? But a world after an apocalypse is still a big world, with other people making their moves in it. Kyle picks up his own powerful partner in Arisa's little sister Myna, while Gordon and Arisa will end up having to contend with people interested in this world's weird wildlife for reasons apart from the simple pleasures of cooking and eating it. And that's before Gordon's past formally catches up with him when they run up against one of the major world powers that's still active.
Crazy Food Truck is translated by Amanda Haley with editing by Jennifer LeBlanc. Lettering is by Phil Christie, with design by Jimmy Presler.
Despite the 'Crazy' right there in its title, Crazy Food Truck, by this second volume, really does seem to have settled into an easier, exploratory, travelogue-style story. Granted, it's one that still regularly has shootouts, explosions, and post-apocalyptic political intrigue, but that hardly seems to be the primary tonal draw on a chapter-by-chapter basis, you dig? There are handily more world-expanding revelations and developments of both the characters and story across this second volume than there were in that introductory first. But save for the last two chapters in the book getting an actual long-term story arc underway, it all continues to be presented in a contained, episodic style. That's fine, plus it's nice to see a series like this become more comfortable with what it is as it goes on.
That same sense the first volume had of Rokurou Ōgaki indulging his own interests in Crazy Food Truck persists into this second entry. Not content with only outlining post-apocalyptic culinary efforts, Ogaki reveals in the author's notes for this volume that he's developed an affection for saunas, thus we get a whole chapter at the beginning outlining the culture and mechanics of bathing. It's the most immediate indication of where Crazy Food Truck's priorities continue to lie, as that episode gets underway before we take a moment to flash back to how Gordon and Arisa got out of their cliffhanger from the first volume. Yeah, the 'crazy' fights are cool and all, but Ogaki really just wants to get down to detailing curry recipes and therapeutic water work.
That's apparent even in how the central 'plot' is presented in the story. Kyle, the former comrade of Gordon who's served as the pursuing antagonist thus far, gets his own super-powered girl sidekick in Arisa's little sister, Myna. But rather than launching into any sort of continuing chase or combat, we instead follow Kyle with Myna on reconnaissance, uncovering new environmental details about the post-apocalyptic worldscape, before settling in to illustrate Kyle's connection with Gordon through their shared appreciation for the power of cooking (as well as their indulging in silly songs while preparing the food). There's still a fight with a perilous plant monster in this chapter, so it's not like this is a complete commitment to lower-key construction. But it all still stands as a particular example of the priorities of the book by now.
The different chapters of this volume also work in different ways. One entry spends a chunk of its time introducing a new antagonistic character and detailing the biological explanations of a rare snail he's hunting, which all winds up being setup for seeing Gordon's turn at selling the appeal of escargot, before the whole affair wraps just a little too quickly for all its effort with our heroes cooly walking away from an explosion. On the other hand, some details alluded to with the volume's slow-roll pacing culminate in the effective revelation of Gordon falling ill, which provides an opportunity for Arisa to show how she's grown in her time with him, and even take a turn at food preparation herself. That's an advancement we can appreciate in a story like this, absent any more conventional action-series swerves. The unifying thematic focus on the joys of food is something that works, even if this volume disappointingly lacks the recipe write-ups the first volume had.
Things do pick up in more immediate ways with the last couple of chapters in this volume, though. More info has been doled out on Gordon's military past (and Kyle, by extension), with several characters from back then returning in the present. It sets up a bigger threat for both Gordon and Kyle to come together to oppose going forward, though it's also frustrating that in doing so Arisa had to be turned into a kidnapped damsel for them to rescue—and right off of her best batch of growth and character development, too. Two steps forward and all that, I suppose. Still, that escalation, and the titular food truck even receiving a power-up of sorts to contend with it, feels like the kind of charged-up climax Crazy Food Truck needed to make itself drive towards, especially with the understanding that the forthcoming third volume is the where this whole story actually ends.
Ogaki's art is still supporting the story just fine, anyway. The proportions of the characters, particularly Arisa, seem to have settled onto being more consistent across the volume. And elements like the reservoir tree in Kyle and Myna's focus chapter, Gordon's military-era flashbacks, or the derelict battlefield the food truck rolls through later on all let Ogaki flex his muscles in his depiction of varied background and setting elements. He's also presenting some strong visual storytelling, with moments like a detailed double-page spread communicating the impact of the sudden appearance of a massive tank. In another example, the paneling seems to momentarily break the 180-degree rule, before we quickly clock that as an indication of the surprise reveal of who actually pulled a gun on who. These brief indulgences in the 'crazy' compliment the more muted, almost relaxing depictions of this post-apocalyptic foodie road trip.
It was uncertain where Crazy Food Truck was going at its outset, but if you wound up jibing with its more deliberate pacing at the beginning, then this second volume will confirm that the whole series is absolutely for you. And for those who might have previously expected more outrageous action from the setup, this continuation makes its case for why the style it ended up going with still totally works. It's a tonal aspect that honestly makes the manga just feel even more unique, which is appreciated in any entertainment landscape. I was uncertain about Crazy Food Truck and where it was going at the beginning, but now it ironically finds me sad to see that it'll be going soon, with only one volume left after this.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+
+ Firmly settles into its comfortable, cozy pacing. Focus on other cultural and world-building details makes the story feel richer, Appreciable growth from both the characters and the artist
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