Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
Coming from the culture that created gefilte fish, which I fully admit has the smell and appearance of canned cat food (but tastes amazing with red horseradish!), I recognize that I'm not really in a position to point fingers, but natto looks disgusting to me. I think maybe it's the slime anime and manga always show oozing off it when someone lifts up a bite. Whatever the reason, “natto spaghetti” was not a title that gave me a lot of hope this week. Happily, I was in for a nice surprise – not only were there some beautiful fairy wing images, but the natto spaghetti section also picked back up with Fardania, the elf who went out on a food discovery pilgrimage, making her into more than just a one-off character.
The episode begins with a door to Nekoya suddenly appearing outside Queen Tiana of the Fairies' castle. Tiana's a hands-on kind of leader, so rather than fretting about it like her short-haired subordinate whom I shall call Mustardseed, she calls together her fairy minions and determines to open the door to figure this mess out. She not only summons a Green Man to open it for her, she also figures out who to talk to about the place (Victoria, the half-elf princess mage) and insists on eating first because if it is poisoned, as Peaseblossom (another fairy) fears, Tiana's magic renders her immune to poison, although she can presumably still detect it and warn her people off. She's probably the most proactive patron of Nekoya yet – she doesn't know what's going on, so she actually takes steps to figure it out rather than just standing around in amazement. I was impressed that she even sampled every single element of the mixed fruit crêpe, leaving nothing to chance when it came to the fairies' safety.
This is also a week that showcases patrons trying new dishes once again – when the fairies are preparing for a later visit to Nekoya, Peaseblossom and Mustardseed's discussion makes it clear that they've been sampling a variety of filled crêpes, and that someone has even developed a taste for the bittersweet, which is unusual for fairies. In the second half, Fardania is brought to Nekoya through a different door by her father's friend Christian to sample the aforementioned natto spaghetti – a new taste for the girl who had only been eating tofu steak. Fardania also instigates a first for Nekoya's otherworldly clients – she asks for a combination not on the menu. The dish she requests, natto over rice, is a pretty common Japanese food, but she has no way of knowing that – or knowing that because Nekoya is a western restaurant, such a dish might not be on the menu. The owner is visibly surprised by her order, which is another first, but he complies with the request. Could we be seeing a change in the menu to include more traditional Japanese dishes as well? It would be interesting to see the owner tinker with his menu specifically to suit the tastes of elves, fairies, and other non-humans. Perhaps the merchant could help him out.
Also interesting to note this week is that Kuro seems to freak the owner out a little as well. It may simply be because she moves silently – he was happily cutting a carrot when all of a sudden she was there, implying that she moves with fog-like stealth. Or it could be the whole telepathy angle, which we know has made other patrons uncomfortable. Could Kuro's reluctance to use her outside voice be wrapped up in her status as a dragon who sows death? It's an interesting concept to think about that we may eventually get some answers to, since next week's episode looks like it will feature Kuro and Red again.
I've reached the point where I'm looking forward to this show once more. Recent improvements in plotting and character returns have brought the restaurant back to a place where it can be used to explore cultures rather than just watching people discover cool new food. It's a shame this happens so late in the series, but maybe that just means Restaurant to Another World will be able to end with a bang.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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