Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
Last week's episode of Gourmet Girl Graffiti was fishy because of its unexpected swerve into fanservice territory. This week's episode is fishy for a different reason: the characters grill some fish! After a brief detour, it looks like the series is back to business as usual.
After half a season of mooching off Ryou's cooking talents, Shiina decides it's time to return the favor. She guilt-trips Kirin into helping her, and the two of them set out to grill some saury. Despite her frequent protests, Ryou is officially banned from helping out in any way. Apart from the cook and taste-testers swapping roles, this episode follows the show's basic formula to the letter.
Going back to basics comes with its share of pros and cons. The humor is par for the course, meaning that it's generally bland with a handful of amusing moments. Shiina's blunt assessment of Kirin's freeloading attitude is a highlight, as is Kirin's stunned reaction to the accusation. Their disastrous attempt at washing dishes at the end of the episode makes good use of both characters' personalities to create a comedy of errors, and Ryou's desperate need to help out is occasionally funny as well. None of this reaches the point where I'd recommend watching Gourmet Girl Graffiti for the comedy alone, but it's pleasant enough to help carry the episode.
As this week's starring meal, the grilled saury relies heavily on cultural significance. The dish is closely associated with autumn in Japan, and fits well with the episode's theme of transitioning from summer to fall. However, the only reason I know that is because I looked it up after I watched the episode. If it's part of your traditional autumn menu, then it probably does a fine job of capturing the feeling of changing seasons. If not, then it's basically a grilled fish on a plate. Without the assumed emotional significance, the whole scene loses much of its impact. The “last cookout of the season” feeling is still there either way, but it takes more than that to meet this show's standard for attaching a deeper meaning to the food it features.
The cooking may be a matter of personal experience, but the character development in this episode works no matter what you eat in September. Having the show's central trio change roles helps bring out parts of each girl's personality that haven't been apparent before. Shiina turns out to be more driven than her usual laid-back demeanor would suggest. After realizing just how much she's been sponging off of Ryou, Kirin finally shows a little responsibility. Ryou is the most interesting of the three, and we get a better sense of why she's normally so adamant about taking care of herself and cooking for the other two. There's some decent writing at play here, and it goes a long way toward adding some depth to the show's cast.
This episode requires a little research before the atmosphere can really work, but it still represents a return to Gourmet Girl Graffiti's area of expertise. It's not especially memorable, but it's an enjoyable source of distraction throughout its running time. Barring any further surprises, there's nothing stopping the show from coasting along 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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