Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
Gourmet Girl Graffiti has had some bizarre and inexplicably self-indulgent moments over the course of its season, but at least it's never been boring. Unfortunately, that streak ends here. This week's episode holds the dubious honor of being one of the most forgettable things I've watched this year. It's the anime equivalent of lukewarm cafeteria food.
Armed with her newfound knowledge that it's all right to ask your friends to help you with things, Ryou enlists Kirin to help her train for an upcoming sports meet. In between jogging around town and spiking volleyballs against the side of an apartment building, Kirin decides that she's also going to make a boxed lunch for Ryou. She pulls an all-nighter to get all the food ready in time, but will it turn out as delicious as the meals Ryou makes? Of course it will. This is Gourmet Girl Graffiti, gosh darn it.
I've complained several times that this series has trouble maintaining interest when it isn't waving mouth-watering cuisine in front of the viewer, and that flaw comes through in a big way this week. The script tries to serve up some comedy during the training scenes, but it's amazingly bland material. There are a handful of amusing moments, but even those small laughs have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of a pit of dullness. The humor isn't especially bad, it's just utterly predictable and delivered without any hint of originality. Ryou is terrible at sports, Krin is a lousy cook, and both of those facts are funny for about fifteen seconds apiece. It takes a lot more than that to carry an episode.
There's some emotional appeal tied up in Ryou's memories of her grandmother and Kirin's desire to make the lunch taste good, but the episode comes up short here as well. Nobody expects a slice of life series to pull off heart-pounding dramatic tension, but it does occasionally help to make the audience feel something. It's as though the show is just plodding along on autopilot, cranking out plot points without bothering to infuse them with any perceptible emotion. The thoughtful sentimentality that so many titles in this genre bank on simply isn't there this week.
Even the food in this episode is kind of uninspired. Gourmet Girl Graffiti is at its best when it finds a deeper meaning in a particular meal, but boxed lunches are a topic that far too many shows have over-analyzed already. Their significance is so well understood within the anime world that there's very little left to say. When every romantic comedy ever made can match a specialty show's level of insight, it's time to find a more obscure subject.
Nothing in this episode stands out as actively bad, stupid, or in poor taste. On the other hand, nothing stands out as clever, fun, or compelling either. The whole thing just floats lazily along, eating up half an hour without offering anything in return. Within a day or so, you'll forget you even watched it. I'd sooner bring back the creepy fanservice than sit through something this yawn-inducing.
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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