Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
Despite being in the same basic format as the previous four episodes, this week's Restaurant to Another World seems to be making an effort to expand its menu.
Although the first half, about Lionel the former gladiator and a pun on the word "katsu", is pretty much business as usual, the second half, which features half-elf princess Victoria, begins to move the series in a slightly different direction. Although we did see a group of regulars arguing over favorite dishes in episode one, interactions between customers has been slim in general, so to have one diner's story narrated by another regular feels like a nice change of pace. Artorius the elderly wizard turns out to have been Victoria's magic teacher in the past, and it's through him that we learn about why Nekoya is important to her. Her admiration is a little different than for the rest of the regulars, which is another nice change; because of her half-elf heritage, Victoria has taken on a background research role in her family's duchy, and discovering chilled desserts at Nekoya has led her to research a magic-powered ice box. She still loves the food, but it's a catalyst for her research rather than a weekly treat or a purely foodie-based inspiration.
The fact that Victoria is a half-elf sorceress is an important piece of world building. Artorius explains that half-elves are discriminated against by both humans and elves, so they're forced into the shadows. Two ways for them to function within society are to become magic users or mercenaries, professions for which they are well-suited. While Victoria went the mage route, in the first half of the episode we saw Lionel taken down by Alexander, a half-elf mercenary who clearly had a bone to pick with the world – his comment that he was both physically and sexually skilled despite the fact that “he may not look like it” speaks to a lifetime of being put down for his appearance. His bragging isn't so much obnoxious as a desperate assertion that he's more than what people have judged him to be.
Alette happily gets a little more time this week as well, and it's about time. She's clearly happy working at Nekoya, as she proves when she recites the menu and item descriptions from memory, and she's also actively trying her hardest, studying the written menu even when she can't read it. The whole job is clearly a learning experience for her when it comes to customers as well – she's shocked when Victoria orders a dairy-based dessert, as she either hadn't realized that she was a half-elf or didn't know that half-elves aren't obligate vegans like full elves. It looks like she may interact with people beyond just waitressing some more next week, and I'm definitely looking forward to that.
On a slightly different topic, how did everyone feel about the pudding a la mode this week? In my experience, only hot desserts (pies or hot sweet puddings) are served with ice cream. Is that a regional difference? It's interesting to think about, especially given the variation we've seen in the lands of Nekoya's own customers, from the prejudices Alette and Alexander face to the fact that people apparently dress like the average human in our world when watching gladiator matches. (I'm not willing to write that off as an artistic slip-up if only because we see it more than once.)
Perhaps I'm being too optimistic about this potential the show has to turn itself around and become less “same song, different verse” with its stories. Here's hoping that next week doesn't prove my optimism unfounded.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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