Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the foodgasms from Food Wars. Were they over-the-top and sometimes way too sexual? Yes, but at least they provided a visual representation of the way characters felt about each new food that they sampled. Restaurant to Another World's characters don't even shiver in delight and if they curl their toes with glee, we don't get to see it – instead we're burdened with excessive amounts of narration in an attempt to make us understand the texture and flavor of the food. In the original novels, I can see how this would have worked; in a visual medium like anime, it renders the key scenes a little dull.
This week's lizardman portion is an unfortunately strong example of that. The show does get props for trying something a little different in terms of structure – rather than seeing the episode through a specific character's eyes, in this case the lizardman hero Gaganpo, we instead get a Discovery Channel documentary about lizardmen, from their bathing habits to their environment and normal diet. (And is anyone else a little weirded out that they eat lizards and other reptiles?) All of this is the setup for Gaganpo, who won the contest to be named the best warrior in the village, to go to Nekoya and get take-out for the others – three different variations of the ubiquitous omurice. It's kind of interesting world-building, because the lizardmen's culture clearly sees the door to Nekoya as a divine manifestation rather than a dining opportunity. I'm not entirely sure why all of this needed to include so much naked lizardman fanservice (with multiple opportunities to see that male lizardmen don't appear to have external genitals). Maybe they were trying to liven up the endless narration with musclebound blue guys? I can't fault them there, especially since so many other shows do the same thing with female nudity, but it does kind of suggest that they expect viewers to have a thing for lizardmen.
Luckily the documentary style doesn't last through the second half of the episode, which acts as a return to form. This time, an elf woman finds her way into Nekoya only to be disgusted by the smell of human food – it seems that elves are obligate vegans. (It's implied that she can't eat animal products rather than that she chooses not to.) This causes her some anxiety that interestingly manifests as the fabled elven superiority – we're privy to her inner thoughts, so we know that she's really worried about appearing rude, but if you just listen to her words, it sounds like she's being haughty. That's probably the strongest part of the episode. Seeing the disconnect between elven and human cultures does conform to basic high fantasy standards, while also giving us the opportunity to think about how those differences are related. Of course, the elves really do think they're superior; the end result of the visit to Nekoya is a quest to produce better-tasting elf-made meals, but the disconnect between spoken and internal words is worth noting.
I still like the premise of this series, but I shouldn't be starting to find it dull only four episodes in. That's definitely concerning, especially since next week's offering looks to be more of the same, this time with the beastman and a different elf. There's definitely potential for a meeting between both elf ladies that I hope will be explored, and I'm also hoping we've seen the last of Derpy Deer and her Angry Fawn, because those were some real artistic low points in the second half of this episode. Restaurant to Another World isn't really making the most of its potential, and it needs to get on that soon.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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