Restaurant to Another World Season 2
by Mercedez Clewis,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Restaurant to Another World (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.5
Restaurant 2's finale kicks off with a good deal of merry-making, picking up immediately from the events of the penultimate episode with preparations towards the celebration of Princess Adelheid and Prince Shareef's nuptials. Everyone's in a festive mood, including Nekoya's Master… that is, until a strange, old woman enters Nekoya's delightfully-scented halls. Only she's not entering from within. Instead, she's entering via the front door, with a key in hand, and knowledge of the other world's denizens.
“Pork Loin Cutlet” comes from Book 4, Chapter 80, and reveals that our mysterious woman is Koyomi, the Master's grandmother. What makes both episode and chapter interesting is that Nekoya's master doesn't immediately reveal this information: in fact, it comes right at the tail end of the vignette. However, Art (Altorius/Alt in the novel), the titular “Pork Loin Cutlet” and the only other customer in the restaurant, knows her because Koyomi is a denizen who traveled from the other world to ours. Because of the episode's runtime, there's not enough time for the story to really delve in Koyomi's otherworldly history. Rather, we see her here as an everyday woman in her seventies enjoying a pork loin cutlet drizzled with lemon juice and sauce, a pile of cabbage, and an extra-large portion of rice. It's enough to get even a full stomach grumbling, and is certainly satisfying ahead of a big celebration.
“Pork Loin Cutlet” is a solid choice for a penultimate vignette, as it presents this interesting bit of lore that adds more flavor to the world in, around, and outside of Nekoya. Like a soy sauce made by a skilled craftsman, there are layers here: on the surface, you have Nekoya, then Koyomi, then the fact that she's from the other side, then the unknowing Master. I'd honestly expected this episode to stretch out the party plans from episode 11 into a full twenty-four-minute run. However, I think if Resturant 2 had chosen to go this way, it would have been a waste of a really neat story that has me primed for Restaurant 3, and heck, maybe even Restaurant 4.
This brings us to “Buffet”, which is the final vignette for this season. It's a full-blown party story, bringing together dozens of familiar faces from both seasons of the show. And at first, it seems serious: that is, until stomachs start rumbling in the wake of Nekoya's tempting smells. Then it's time to chow down as the episode revisits various dishes in new forms. It's a true feast for the eyes as Nekoya's customers live their best life through the wonderfully communal experience of sharing a meal. Characters break free from their typical dishes, sampling friend shripe (shrimp) instead of cheesecake, different kinds of pizza, and of course, a towering wedding cake that's almost too pretty to eat.
One of the last messages the show leaves us with is this: "Delicious cooking trascends country and race to make people happy." In the context of Resturant 2, this is in reference to all manner of fantastical races, but... for me, as a Black journalist, it really hit home. Cooking – and food – have been an essential part of my upbringing and who I am: I grew up in kitchens, first smashing together peanut butter and jelly on honey wheat, then alongside my parents, learning how to cut, dice, slice, mash, and prepare all manner of ingredients. Once older, I took to cooking the dishes of my people, to learning the flavors that were passed down to me through the blood in my veins and the honeyed umber of my skin. In college, I cooked for sustenance: nothing grand, lots of pasta, very few decadent dishes because roommates. In Japan, I took cooking classes and learned how to make all manner of homestyle meals. Now, I cook for comfort, to push back against the anxiety of the pandemic and to self-soothe in a time of uncertaintly. In the future? I'll cook for joy, which permeates all my dishes and desserts: joy, and for a heck of a good meal. That's kind of the throughline of Nekoya and Resturant 2 as well, and it's a wonderful message to end this season on.
Restaurant to Another World 2's finale is everything I hoped for: it's filled with all of the best plot beats the show's had thus far, culminating in a bunch of otherworldly foodies coming together to celebrate love, community, and most importantly, food. It's the best the series has ever been, full of pleasant twists and turns and dollops of information.
Is the finale reinventing things for the series? No, not at all: in fact, I would even call it a retread of old grounds. But that's what makes it so good. It's a merry send-off to the cast done right, reminding viewers of what's so attractive about this series and why slice-of-life anime are some of the best in the medium. If the finale had done something unexpected – outside of showing a member of the Master's family – it would have fallen flat. Instead, it feels more like a “see you soon!” than a “farewell”, quietly ushering me out of Fall 2021 into future seasons where Nekoya's doors might open again on the Day of Satur. I certainly hope that this isn't farewell: this series deserves at least one more season, if not more.
Restaurant to Another World 2 is easily one of Fall 2021's best series, and one of 2021's best sequels. What started out as the animated equivalent of a heated blanket has become a hearth, with a big, bubbling pot of stew hung over it, bread baking near the coals, and the faint scent of pinecones coated with cinnamon wafting from its merry, orange flames. It's a show so delightful that sometimes, I wish I could dive into Nekoya as a new viewer once again. That said, I really enjoyed my time with Restaurant to Another World 2, and feel sufficiently suffonsified closing the door on another season, whether or not a third season comes about. For now, there are the memories and my time writing these reviews: that's more than enough to keep me full.
Whether you're a regular at Nekoya or a newcomer entering its toothsome halls, Restaurant to Another World 2 is a series to seriously consider adding to your watchlist. You'll get a lot out of it regardless of if you've seen the first season, though of course, YMMV here: and I do encourage you to start from where the story begins with either the satisfying sub or equally enjoyable dub. I found it just as enjoyable as my time with the novels: in fact, I'm going to go dive back in from where it all began, with wishes of more seasons to come in my favorite otherworldly restaurant.
Restaurant to Another World Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization Editor & Proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where she's a staff editor, and for But Why Tho?. She's also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, she's devouring Restaurant to Another World bite by delicious bite. When she's not writing and reviewing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she's always up to something.
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