Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Having found the Jewel Meat inside the Regal Mammoth at a great cost, gourmet hunter Toriko and his friends escape the mammoth's gut and reunite with Sunny and Coco. After Sunny works some hair magic on his sister, the group heads home to taste their spoils. But one member of the crew isn't eating – Toriko's wolf Terry seems to be starving himself. Will the legendary BB Corn that grows on the Wool Continent whet his appetite?
How you feel about hunting may determine your sentiments about this series. The basic plot of Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro's adventure is that gourmands have taken to hunting down the most exotic and tasty of foodstuffs, regardless of appearance, endangerment, or other animal rights issues. This is a pretty unique concept, at least among works available in English, but one suspects that PETA might object to it rather more than they do to Mario. That said, this volume is fairly short on the animal butchery as Toriko and Terry demonstrate that other half of the food acquiring equation by doing some gathering.
But first we wrap up the Regal Mammoth Arc. When last we saw our heroes, Toriko had taken a bite of the fabled Jewel Meat that can only be found deep inside the Regal Mammoth and whose removal does not necessarily mean death for the mammoth. It was very nearly death for our hero, however, and this volume opens with his triumphant return. His muscles now not only bulge, but glow as well, like a shonen, badass Edward Cullen. It turns out that this is a side effect of consuming Jewel Meat, as Shimabukuro takes pains to show us when the group successfully returns to feast. In this context, “takes pains” means that he shows us bits of food entering the stomach and other organs while the characters narrate the feeling of joy that imbibing of the treat causes them. It's a bit odd, but not, thankfully, at all gross. The food is so amazing that it even cuts short a spat between Toriko and Sunny about who gets to place it on their menu.
One team member is not eating, however. Terry Cloth, Toriko's wolf companion, seems to have lost his appetite. After hearing a suggestion to the effect that perhaps Terry could be tempted with the oversized vegetable BB Corn, Toriko and his furry friend hop a heliplane to the Wool Continent, where the mysterious food grows. Lest you think that this section is all about walking through fields, BB Corn grows in one of the most dangerous jungles in the world, a place filled with vicious carnivorous plants. Terry and Toriko definitely have their work cut out for them, especially as the final chapters introduce a new villain with a powerful set of lungs and a straw to match.
It is hard to say whether the conclusion to the Regal Mammoth section or the introduction to the BB Corn section is more involving, largely because the majority of this volume is about getting from one arc to the next. It doesn't feel like Shimabukuro is padding the story with useless scenes, but it also lacks the urgency of a full-blown storyline. Toriko's concern about Terry's self-starvation doesn't have any emotional impact, which may seem an odd complaint for a series about hunting for food, but given the closeness between the two and the attachment most hunters have for their dogs, feels valid. Even when the corn is cooked (and cooking), Toriko seems more concerned for the food than for his lupine companion.
Regardless of other pesky concerns like plot, Toriko himself is still the heart and soul of the series. Shimabukuro has clearly devoted time and thought to crafting the story's world, as complex creatures, animal profiles, and distinctive landscapes attest. Toriko charges through this world like the alpha of a man pack, muscling his way along and devoting himself to the edibles. In that sense, this volume succeeds, as Toriko's determination to harvest the corn and his conclusions about its habitat, cohabitants, and the best methods to obtain it are far more interesting than they have any right to be. He's a little one-dimensional here, but still entertaining to follow.
On the artistic front, Shimabukuro's style is an odd mix of old school Jojo's Bizarre Adventures-style manly men and newer One Piece-style chibis. Rin unfortunately looks like a man with breasts (and in one shot a floating behind), but the animals are creatively drawn and fairly distinctive. Viz's translation is oddly old-fashioned in places, with unusual words like “securement” popping up and a vocabulary that is in general more advanced than most manga of a similar ilk.
All in all, this seventh volume is nothing spectacular. Toriko hunts, eats, harvests, and fights in all his burly glory. There's little depth to these actions, and Toriko and his friends aren't especially attractive to look upon, but the details that have gone into the world and the creatures lend this more interest than it might otherwise have. This isn't Viz's best Shonen Jump series, but it's also far from their worst. If nothing else, it will make you hungry.
Overall : C+
Story : C
Art : C+
+ Toriko is an engaging hero, the Regal Mammoth arc wraps up satisfactorily. Good vocabulary.
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