Restaurant to Another World
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Restaurant to Another World ?
It's nice to see an increase in the way the customers of Nekoya are interacting with each other, a trend that truly began last week with its plot about Sarah and Aletta and looks like it will be a theme through the series' end. The second half of the episode this time introduces Shareef and Renner, the prince and princess of a desert country, and notes that Shareef has developed a major crush on the parfait-eating princess over the course of their visits to Nekoya. His visits have inspired him to make diplomatic overtures to her nation in the hopes of eventually securing a match, a course of action that stands to have worldwide repercussions.
Now this is the show making use of its potential! As one of the few places where multiple people from various nations can meet on short notice, Nekoya could very easily become a politically safe space for people to form alliances, to say nothing of simply getting to know one another. Never interacted with a fairy or a mermaid? Come to Nekoya and learn that they're not so different from elves or humans! Countries not getting along and face-to-face meetings in palaces are too fraught? Why not bond over a dish of curry at Nekoya instead? The effect this restaurant could have on the fantasy world is enormous, and Shareef's crush is merely one small example of how things stand to change.
Of course, I wouldn't want it to turn into “Politics at the Diner: The Anime,” but it's nice to see the show acknowledge the world that exists beyond its walls for the second week in a row. Although the usual bland food discussions are part of the Shareef and Renner section, they feel more like they're there because the show has established them as a necessary fixture of each episode. The people, for a change, are the real focus.
That's also true of the first half of the episode, albeit to a lesser extent. The first story sees two dwarves venturing into the mountains to where one has built a cabin to house Nekoya's door. He wants to introduce his friend to Japanese beer, whiskey, and what I'd call a fisherman's platter – multiple fried seafoods on a plate. (As a point of reference, most fisherman's platters that I've seen involve shrimp, clams, scallops, and haddock, as opposed to the show's scallops, octopus, and mystery fish.) What's sort of fun about this part is the way that we're shown these two men as fantasy-world dwarves without the word even being spoken until most of the way through their segment. They have beards and stockier builds, prefer an axe to a sword, there are a couple of shots of them swinging their legs on the too-tall human-sized chairs, and their love of giant mugs of beer all indicate what fantasy race they come from. Even without the Scottish-like accents most of us have come to associate with fantasy dwarves thanks to Tolkien, these are clearly dwarves after the father of high fantasy's model. Not explicitly telling us that allows fantasy fans the fun of putting the pieces together while still ensuring that viewers who may not be so well-versed are aware.
Regretfully, there's still some very sad animation going on, with a lot of faces and bodies not so much off-model as looking straight-up unfinished. This is especially clear with the scenes of the dwarves talking across the table, but Renner's body model suffers as well. Despite this, episode nine is still one of the more promising; it talks about the outside world, has characters who interact with each other rather than just stuffing their faces, implies that one of the dwarves has actually tried everything on the menu, and even hints at what happens if you're not supposed to be there when Nekoya vanishes – the dwarves appear to wake up in their cabin in the exact positions they were in when they passed out in the restaurant. Apparently the restaurant's magic boots you out the door you came from.
So that's one question answered! Maybe next week we'll learn why the author apparently loves tartar sauce so much that it gets a mention in two separate episodes.
Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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