Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
Something about Gourmet Girl Graffiti has been bothering me for a long time. It's a gaping plot hole that I've poured endless amounts of curiosity into week after week. Well, after ten weeks of suspense, I've finally gotten my answer. Brace yourself, because it's time to learn the identity of the lady who lives in the apartment below Ryou's.
This episode introduces Yuuki, a terminally shy college student with an apparently endless appetite for pizza. She openly admits to ordering delivery every single night and doesn't really have any friends. Ryou and Kirin overhear Yuuki venting her frustration on the phone with her parents, until Kirin tumbles over the rail and onto Yuuki's balcony. It's all good though, because the three of them have pizza together back at Ryou's place.
Anyone who finds the main characters in Gourmet Girl Graffiti odd is definitely not prepared for the typhoon of social ineptitude that is Yuuki Uchiki. Her shyness comes across as a comedic exaggeration, but there are several moments in this episode where I can't help but think that it's also meant to be a genuine character flaw. It's too absurd to take seriously, but her interior monologues are sad enough that it feels wrong to laugh. Going further in either direction would probably have worked better than the uncomfortable middle ground that Yuuki ends up occupying.
The execution may leave a lot to be desired, but this is one of the better story ideas that Gourmet Girl Graffiti has put forward. Yuuki's tendency to order takeout and eat alone creates a stark contrast with the elaborate meals that Ryou and Kirin typically share. That plays into the show's theme of eating with other people, and sets up a nice moment when the three of them sit down at the dinner table together. The anxiety that Kirin and Yuuki share over starting new chapters in their lives will also strike a chord with many viewers, even if the writing isn't exactly subtle. For once, it doesn't feel like there's too little content to fill this episode's running time.
If, like me, you adhere to the New York school of pizza snobbery, the contents of Yuuki's pizza box will make you want to break out the torches and pitchforks. The thing's buried under four different combinations of toppings, most of which aren't remotely traditional. Heresy, I say! Issues of taste aside, I like what Gourmet Girl Graffiti does with pizza in this episode. Rather than having Ryou blow the delivery food out of the water with a home-cooked dish, the show allows the pizza to act as the episode's starring meal. As we've seen throughout this season, this series isn't interested in championing one kind of food over another. The point isn't to get everyone to sign up for cooking classes so much as it is to get viewers to appreciate the food that they eat and the people they eat it with. That theme gives the show a solid leg to stand on, even when the characters are inexplicably awkward and the meal in question is an affront to the concept of “pizza”-- (Sorry, I'll stop now.)
It doesn't quite work as well as it should, but I'm glad that Gourmet Girl Graffiti is showing a little extra narrative ambition with this episode. I'd much rather see the show mess up a new idea than coast along on autopilot for the rest of the season.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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