Restaurant to Another World Season 2
by Mercedez Clewis,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Restaurant to Another World (TV 2) ?
The first part of this episode, “Rice Burger” (Book 4, Chapter 62), is pretty straightforward: Fardania and Alice come to Nekoya on the hunt for tofu steak, only to find out that the day's shipment of tofu hasn't arrived. It's then that the master of the restaurant offers to make something elves can eat, which launches us into a bit of backstory before we get to the proverbial meat and potatoes of the episode. Now, long-time viewers will recognize Fardania from Season 1, Episode 4's “Tofu Steak” as a completely vegan elf who demanded a meal “free of meat, fish, milk, or eggs”. Only this time, Fardania has returned with a companion named Alice, which is pretty much the focus for this first part.
One thing the episode just doesn't have time for is the source material's exploration of Alice, a half-elf in a world where half-elf discrimination is common, and who I consider one of the most charming characters in the series thus far. Much like her namesake character in Tales of Symphonia, Alice is stigmatized, but in her personal life, it's not necessarily because of her heritage, because she does have two half-elf parents. It's because Alice is, most likely, autistic (or at least neurodivergent) though it's never explicitly stated: instead, there's mention of her not hitting certain milestones, of her being clumsy, foolish, and generally incapable of being “normal”. While this may simply be a personal reading based on my own lived experience, it does make Alice a much more interesting character in both source material and anime.
Where the episode beats the novel is simply the visualization of downright delightful Alice's first taste of otherworldly food is. The inevitable moment where Alice inhales the rice burger – which looks positively divine – is suffused by her pure elation at new food. The music drops out as she prepares to taste the food, and comes back full-force as she and Fardania dig in. Immediately, you know they're going to ask for seconds, like so many of the restaurant's visitors before them. This layered joy in the simple act of enjoying a good meal is delightful, and it's the key element that keeps me on tenterhooks each time I've watched an episode. Like I said, come for the food, stay for the food, as the rising action, twist, climax, and resolution around the consumption of each dish is almost as decadent as the food itself!
Yet most importantly in this first vignette is the simple fact that Fardania sees Alice as valuable, which is something that's apparent in both show and novel. I won't spoil the novel's (nor the episode's) ending, but trust me: this is a story worth revisiting if you want to know what happens to Alice in the far-flung future.
Of course, this swings us to “Pizza” (Book 2, Chapter 29), which, while not my favorite out of the two vignettes, is still enjoyable because… pizza, which I'm actually a fan of (in fact, I ate a mini-pizza as I penned this review). Sirius Alfade, our central character for this vignette, joins me and many others in the pantheon of Pizza is Very Good™ pretty much immediately, though not before we get a bit of world-building and setup. The episode is almost identical to its source material, give or take a few pages of exposition and character development on behalf of Siruius and Jonathan. As such, I actually prefer the anime this time: we get right to the good stuff, i.e. dropping Jonathan into the restaurant, and showcasing the food.
One of the delights of comparing Restaurant to Another World 2 to its source material novel is that the show heightens my enjoyment of the books. This isn't a “the light novel is better” kind of series: it's all good, in all its delightful decadent forms. True, the novel is much more descriptive, but your imagination has to do all the hard work, something a reader with aphantasia may not be able. That's where the anime excels: I can see Fardania and Alice enjoying rice burgers. I can salivate over slices of pizza. I can visually connect with the sharp scent of tabasco sauce, with the moreishness of a savory meal, with the crunch of tempura vegetables. I can see the characters I love enjoying foods that I also like and love too.
And that's why I find myself, once a week, sitting down to really sink into Restaurant to Another World 2: it's because no matter its form, it's really, really good, all the way to the very last second of the show. Episode 6 is no exception: even with a few more noticeable animation hiccups and more of a “just okay” back half, this series is easily one of Fall 2021's standouts, bringing some much-needed levity in a time of global unrest and uncertainy. But like I said before, that's the secret sauce of this series: the fullfilling blend of comfort, comfort foods, and community, and because it's all so well-executed, you can't help but want to come along for the ride.
Next week features Okonomiyaki and Green Tea Shaved Ice which… yes please. It's giving me summer vibes, which is perfect as the days grow short, the sunlight grows dim, and we in the Northern Hemisphere look towards Winter.
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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