Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
Another week, another case of Gourmet Girl Graffiti making me regret not eating before I watch it. If nothing else, this show is adept at making two-dimensional drawings of food seem extremely appetizing. I'll probably end up chewing on my keyboard before the end of the season.
The girls pay a visit to Shiina's house this week, though calling the enormous estate a house feels like a major understatement. After a tour of the grounds and a handful of comedic misadventures, the gang eventually gets around to eating some somen noodles. For an extra dose of visual drama, they also build an elaborate bamboo flume for the full nagashi somen experience.
While it's hardly unusual for a slice of life series to feature a hideously wealthy character, Shiina's massive house is useful beyond its comedic shock value. Gourmet Girl Graffiti has consistently excellent background art, but it can go unnoticed during scenes set in classrooms or Ryou's relatively simple apartment. With its elaborate architecture, vegetable garden, decorative pond, and seemingly endless bamboo forest, the big estate gives the series a chance to really go berserk. There's a mix of fine detail and artistic style on display here, and both add to the viewer's immersion in the scene.
This is a very pleasant episode to look at, but watching it is an exercise in patience. For a show that usually manages to deliver at least a handful of laughs, Gourmet Girl Graffiti came out lukewarm this week. Most its attempts at comedy feel recycled, either from previous episodes or from the genre as a whole. The humor isn't bad or obnoxious by any means; it's just sort of bland.
Part of the problem is that a full episode is more screen time than this series really needs. Each episode's story is mostly just an excuse to have the characters prepare and eat that week's featured meal, and that doesn't require a whole lot of setup to pull off. This leaves around seven to ten minutes of dead air, which the writers end up filling with by-the-book character humor. If someone either cut Gourmet Girl Graffiti's running time in half or had it run two stories per episode, I'm willing to bet that the result would be a stronger series.
The good news is that the show continues to keep thing interesting on the culinary front. Last week's convenience store snacks broke the mold by focusing on the meal's emotional component, and the somen noodles continue that trend of looking beyond the taste of the food. With a simple combination of noodles and sauce, the focus shifts to the experience of snatching them out of a flowing stream of water. The idea here seems to be that food can provide entertainment beyond the usual experience of tasting something good. I'm glad that the series is continuing to wander beyond the dinner table, as it's helping to keep the formula from growing stale.
It's becoming increasingly obvious that Gourmet Girl Graffiti isn't aiming to be the best or most entertaining title of the season. More than anything else, it's interested in making the audience slow down and think of food as more than just something that keeps us from starving to death. By the show's own standards, this episode is a success. I never wanted to fish a bunch of noodles out of running water before, but now I do. (Just not in the middle of winter.) Something tells me that the creators would be perfectly happy with that outcome.
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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