Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
There's something to be said for a final episode that clears up at least a few of Restaurant to Another World's mysteries. The major one is the reason the restaurant exists in the first place – we've met Artorius and Alexander, previous heroes of another age, but this week we learn that they were heroes together, along with two others. While one of their companions has gone on to other things, Alex and Artorius get together on occasion to discuss the past, including their lost comrade Yomi. When Alexander shows up to ask Artorius about the whole dimension-spanning restaurant thing, Artorius reveals that Yomi didn't die all those years ago as Alex had assumed – she'd been transported to another world: ours. It is Yomi's descendants who have kept her restaurant going, spending one day a week cooking in their great-grandmother's original world.
Although we still don't know how Nekoya is able to open its doors to Yomi's homeworld, (she was a mage, so magic I guess?) having this little bit of information feels like it really pulls the story together, especially since Artorius is one of the few characters who's not only been in the show from the beginning, but also had a speaking part in multiple episodes. Things ultimately coming down to his knowledge makes sense, and the added bonus that Alex's relationship to Adelheid brings also gives a bit of closure. It almost feels as if this was really Artorius' story all along, rather than that of Nekoya or the master or even Aletta – he's known the truth the entire time, he's acquainted with multiple diners, and he's familiar with their histories enough to keep Alex and Adelheid from meeting at the restaurant. Even if he's not the point-of-view character, he's the wise old sage who records history and leaves it for future generations.
The lack of a solid ending speaks to this idea as well. Not that this was the kind of series to have a definitive finale – that largely goes against slice-of-life as a genre. But the final shot of Aletta, the master, and Kuro happily together in Nekoya's kitchen followed by a post-credits pan of the eatery after closing time give the impression of life continuing on unchanged but for the small things. Kuro's decision to talk verbally rather than telepathically to make the master feel more comfortable is a nice nod to her increasing satisfaction with her role at Nekoya and the gradual nature of change that allows all the patrons to relax in this restaurant.
Of course, food still plays an important role in this final week, and apparently I'm really missing out by not eating pork, because the pork soup for Meat Day (a Japanese pun on the number 29 and the word for meat) is clearly the most amazing thing anyone has ever tasted. It does feel odd that only one customer, Sarah, recalls eating a similar soup before, because it seems fairly basic – meat and veggies in a pork broth, I'd guess. But for both her and Wilhelm, the soup ultimately reminds them of home, so the implication is that its deceptive simplicity gives diners the taste they miss the most. It's homey and comforting, qualities I'd ascribe to chicken soup, so making it the key food of the final episode perhaps reinforces that no matter how unusual a cuisine, food always comes back to the basics of life and our need to feel safe while eating it.
Restaurant to Another World never quite lived up to its premise, glossing over a few too many details of its fantasy setting to feel completely developed. Patrons mostly remained one-episode characters in development if not in actual episode counts, and it didn't quite get off the ground with its descriptions and visual appeal as a foodie show. But despite this, it's been a relaxing half-hour once a week, and it succeeded in conjuring up visions of favorite dishes and their associated memories. I do hope someone licenses the original novels, as I'd be interested to see how much more detail is given to the story's background. As these twelve episodes stand, this was a solid dish, but perhaps one that could have used just a little more seasoning.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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