Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
Surprise! She's not an elf, she's a dragon! That's the big excitement of this week's Restaurant to Another World, and to be honest, it's kind of the most interesting thing to happen since the premise was introduced. It turns out that Kuro (or “black,” because apparently dragons aren't super-creative namers) is one of several solid-colored dragons who once banded together to defeat a Lovecraftian monstrosity, but since she kills living beings whenever she flies over them, Kuro's taken up residence on the moon. Her grand plan to avoid humanity is thwarted by the appearance of a door to Nekoya, however, and the next thing anyone knows, a naked elf girl is wandering into the eatery.
This marks the second attempt to have an episode with a single connected storyline throughout. As with last week's Aletta story, it isn't entirely successful – there's still a definite feeling of separation between the story of Flugel the shipwrecked admiral and Kuro the elf dragon. But thematically, there's a real effort made to link the two together, and that's worth a lot in a show that consists entirely of fantasy characters relishing Japanese-style western food. For both the admiral and Kuro, Nekoya represents human contact and nourishment when they're castaways – a giant octopus sunk the admiral's vessel and Kuro exiled herself to the moon. Nekoya's presence gives them both a chance to interact with others and actually eat (there's no indication that Kuro has been ingesting anything on the moon). In fact, the restaurant and its owner are so important to the admiral that he's reluctant to leave his deserted island because it will mean giving up his Saturdays at Nekoya. Fortunately, he does decide that playing Robinson Crusoe just for one good meal a week isn't a great idea, and he's smart enough to realize that he's seen a man in the garb of a Duchy knight at the restaurant, making him the first character in the series to actively seek out a second magic door. That's interesting in and of itself, given that most characters are wedded to their own entrances, which implies that they try not to go so far afield as to not be able to make it back for a Saturday. The fact that the admiral can reason it out and find a second entrance means that perhaps other characters will be able to do so as well – after all, if he could recognize a uniform after twenty years alone on an island, surely someone else could figure it out.
The dragon backstory tries to fill out some background on the fantasy world, although like the lizardman documentary, it feels a bit heavy-handed, particularly compared to the more narrative-like aspects of the admiral's story. It is intriguing to think that there are more dragons out there – would all of them receive the nice (if not precisely warm) welcome that Red gives Black? It doesn't seem like they've all had a lot of contact since the defeat of that monster, so a dragon fight over Nekoya could potentially be in the show's future. Even if that's too ambitious for this determinedly low-key series, things do seem to be making at least a small effort to change – someone even eats something new this week rather than sticking to their one dish, which may actually be more exciting than the smoother plot. Yes, it's true that a lot of people just stick with their favorites at restaurants in real life (I'm certainly guilty of it), but this is a case where adhering to reality may not be in the story's best interest, so seeing the admiral try a different style of curry (Indian rather than Japanese) is pretty damn exciting.
Of course, in a story about a transdimensional restaurant, “sticking to reality” oughtn't be a priority in the first place. Perhaps that's where this show went wrong, because the premise really has a lot of potential. We'll see what they do with the mermaid next week, but I've reached the point where I'm just sort of hoping for something a little different than waxing rhapsodic about a single dish in each half of the episode, so my optimism is limited even if this episode did try to expand the story's world a little.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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