Gourmet Girl Graffiti Episode 4
by Paul Jensen,
Gourmet Girl Graffiti has a pretty simple formula as far as storytelling goes: girls do a thing, girls eat some food, girls are somehow always surprised by how delicious the food is. It works reasonably well, so the decision to have only one girl do a thing and eat some food this week is pretty bold. I'm mostly joking, but it is interesting to see how well Ryou carries this episode on her own.
With school out for the week, Kirin spends the weekend with her family instead of crashing at Ryou's place. Without any hungry visitors to entertain, Ryou finds herself sitting around with nothing to do. She eventually heads to the local library for a change of pace, where she stumbles across some childhood memories. It's not a fast-paced episode, but this isn't a fast-paced show.
There's something universally relatable about Ryou rolling aimlessly around her apartment on a rainy day. The scene does a good job of capturing the strange feeling of exhaustion despite not having done anything. The only problem with depicting that feeling so accurately is that it's pretty boring to watch. Ryou is too calm and quiet a character to carry the scene from a comedic standpoint; she never goes stir-crazy enough to draw any laughs out of the audience. There's a brief pang of loneliness when she cooks a meal for two people out of habit, but the show doesn't do much to capitalize on that emotional angle. If I'm going to share in a character's emotional state, I'd prefer something other than boredom.
Things pick up a bit at the library, and the discovery that Ryou's late grandmother learned to cook in order to take care of her is a nice addition to the show's backstory. It adds some emotional depth to Ryou's own love of cooking and helps make the grandmother more of a character and less of an abstract idea. The cashier at the convenience store across the street makes a nice addition to the story, providing a welcome bit of comedy relief. Compared to this episode's listless opening, the whole library outing is much more engaging.
In a series so focused on homemade meals, it's surprising that this week's highlighted dish is a collection of snacks from a convenience store. A pre-packaged cream puff and a container of fried chicken get the same detailed visual treatment as the more elaborate creations seen in previous episodes. There seem to be a few backhanded compliments mixed into Ryou's praise of each item's taste, but the emotional component of the meal is the real focus here. There's a sense of nostalgia that comes with the familiar junk food, though I could've done without the trippy dream sequence. It's interesting to see Gourmet Girl Graffiti branch out in terms of its featured dishes, and it bodes well for the show's ability to keep things fresh over the course of the season.
The food itself still looks incredible, and some shots of the characters eating it are still a little weird. Anyone who's kept up with the show this long is already used to its unique take on the notion of “food porn.” It is what it is, and it's unlikely to change any time soon. I've been finding it increasingly less distracting with each passing episode, though that may just be a matter of growing numb to the show's particular quirks.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti seems content to go on being its strange little self, and that's fine by me. It doesn't ask much from the audience in terms of emotional investment, and it's fairly consistent from one week to the next. It's the sort of series that can easily be watched over breakfast before the caffeine kicks in. Of course, given its subject matter, you may have to step your breakfast game up a notch.
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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