Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
I've said it before, but it's worth reiterating: Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a bizarre little series. Its slice of life elements drive each episode's plot along, but the story acts mainly as an excuse for the characters to cook and eat mountains of delicious food. It's almost as though the producers really wanted to make a cooking show but were told that they had to make an anime series instead.
Omelet rice is the dish of the week here, as the heroines make and taste several varieties of the old anime standby. Shiina joins Kirin and Ryou for the taste test, adding a third personality to the show's dining dynamic. There's a minor subplot in Ryou stressing out over exams, but this story is so inconsequential that it's put on the back burner as soon as the cooking utensils come out.
The omelet rice sequence contains a repeated visual that seems to indicate what this series really wants to be. Each time she finishes preparing a dish, Ryou holds it up, looks straight into the screen, and talks about what makes this variation unique. She's ostensibly talking to the other girls, but it's hard to shake the notion that Ryou is addressing the audience directly. In these moments, Gourmet Girl Graffiti feels even more like a daytime cooking show than it normally does. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the side of the show's personality we'll see the most of as the season goes on.
If that is the case, then at least the series will be leaning on its biggest strength. The food in Gourmet Girl Graffiti continues to look absolutely gorgeous, especially in motion. The ingredients interact with the cooking utensils with a staggering fluidity of motion. The food is clearly getting the lion's share of the animation budget here, perhaps even to the detriment of the characters. It's the sort of approach that could only be justified in a show as specialized as this one.
The series continues to take a very sensuous approach to the act of eating, but it's less obnoxious in execution this week. The camera still lingers on a variety of blushing close-ups, but it doesn't dominate the tasting scenes to the extent that it has in the past. It would be nice if Gourmet Girl Graffiti could continue refining that particular quirk. If food is going to run the show, the fanservice needs to take a step back out of the spotlight. There's nothing wrong with depicting a character's reaction to eating something delicious, but I don't think it's necessary to convince the viewer that it's something sexy.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti will still appeal mainly to fans of cute girls doing cute things, but it may end up being more memorable for fans of detailed animation. There's a “labor of love” quality to the way this show depicts the cooking process, but that may not be enough to carry the series for the many viewers. It does one thing extremely well, but is merely average at just about everything else.
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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