Gourmet Girl Graffiti
by Paul Jensen,
The average slice of life anime series is pretty easy to watch. Nice people are pleasant to one another in a pretty location for half an hour at a time, offering the escapist appeal of fiction without the emotional rollercoaster of an actual plot. Being good-natured and sentimental to a fault, it's unusual for shows in this genre to court any kind of controversy. After all, what's there to argue about when a story consists entirely of likable characters doing mundane things?
I bring this up because I'm not so sure Gourmet Girl Graffiti is an “average” slice of life series.
While the premise is simple (girls hang out and eat good food), there's one element of the execution that will likely fuel a season's worth of arguments. Every time the characters eat, things get, well, sensual. There's certainly an emphasis placed on the taste and texture of the food, but there's also an unexpected amount of sexuality at play in the girls' reactions to it. The show even calls itself out on the practice during the first episode by having one character describe another's eating habits as “kind of sexy.”
Viewers' reactions to this unusual detail are likely to be all over the map. Depending on your personal tastes, you may see it as not a big deal, amusingly bizarre, kind of unsettling, or sleazy to the point of being a deal-breaker. Heck, you might even agree with the script's assertion that it's kind of sexy. Personally, I just find it odd and distracting. There's nothing truly explicit to call out, so your best bet is to watch an episode and judge for yourself.
Assuming that your reaction to its unique quirk is neutral or better, Gourmet Girl Graffiti makes for a reasonably pleasant experience. The food itself looks fantastic, and viewers with an interest in cooking will likely get swept up in the details that go into each dish. The show also has a lot to say about the value of eating with other people, a sentiment that seems to be shared across a wide variety of cultures. There's a fair amount of character humor, but it typically aims for smiles instead of outright laughter. The background art is frequently gorgeous, with some beautiful festival stalls and cherry trees on display in the second episode.
It's worth noting that Gourmet Girl Graffiti has some yuri undertones, especially in the relationship between Kirin and Ryou. It's there if you look for it in the first episode, but it's pretty hard to miss in the second. It seems unlikely that the script will take any of this beyond the blushing, unstated friend-crush level, but anyone with a side job in the shipping industry is liable to have a field day. Unless you really love or hate this sort of thing, it's unlikely to affect your opinion of the series as a whole though.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti is an oddity, and its unique approach to fanservice won't suit all tastes. If you prefer your slice of life shows served without a side of sex appeal, you'll be better served elsewhere. If you don't mind the combination, then there are some fairly compelling reasons to stick around. The culinary appeal alone is worth giving it a shot. Just be careful not to watch it right before you make a trip to the grocery store, lest you return with a bunch of ingredients for dishes you don't actually know how to make.
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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