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TORIKO Gave Me A Tummy Ache - - DVD/Blu-Ray REVIEW

Get out your knife-edge chop and fork fist, 'cause we got giant elephants to kill! Sam lays out a 7-course meal of judgement on this highly-touted anime box set.

  • RECENT REVIEWS: SHAKUGAN NO SHANA *** FREEZING *** SHANGRI-LA *** ERGO PROXY
  • STRIKE WITCHES *** KING OF THORN *** STEINS GATE *** GA-REI-ZERO *** DEADMAN WONDERLAND
  • TENCHI UNIVERSE *** ONE PIECE *** WOLF CHILDREN *** RUROUNI KENSHIN *** [C]-CONTROL
  • BLACK LAGOON *** SERIAL EXPERIMENT LAIN *** MASS EFFECT *** BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM
  • A CERTAIN MAGICAL INDEX
  • Can't say I've ever wanted to kick ass and consume mass quantities at the same time. Watching TORIKO inspires me to do just that; but then it winds up being just as messy, chaotic and hilarious as that cramp-inducing double-task probably would be.

    The show has one of the most truly unique settings- - a vision of Earth in a so-called “Gourmet Age”, where giant, unbelievable beasts roam the land and harbor miraculous food products in their every cut and giblet. These rare animals are pursued by Gourmet Hunters who seek out only the most delectable (and dangerous) ones. And these already-crazy hunts get tied up in crazier plots involving gene manipulation, deep-sea spelunking and even a Colosseum where world leaders bet on rare animal fights.

    I vote Regal Elephant as MVP (Most Violent Pachyderm)
    I vote Regal Elephant as MVP (Most Violent Pachyderm)

    Our blue-haired lead Toriko is one of the Four Kings, an elite group of muscle men who possess unbelievable powers provided by “Gourmet Genes”. Early on, he's joined by Komatsu, a tiny man who works to be a famous cook. Toriko brings home the bacon, and Komatsu cooks it - - so they have something like the perfect platonic, domestic partnership.

    (And with the amount of times Toriko says “Bro” in the dub, the crew really wants you to think, “Hey bro, this Hulk Hogan-looking guy is relatable, dude!”)

    The show's equal parts Animal Planet adventure and shonen martial arts, so it sounds like it should be an over-the-top, insane, cool anime, right? Well... maybe only just a pinch.

    If Bert was ripped and Ernie was a shrimp.
    If Bert was ripped and Ernie was a shrimp.

    See, TORIKO is mercilessly earnest about what it’s presenting. It wants you to laugh, of course, but then it wants you to immediately get super serious about its stakes. It's an uncomfortable balance between comedy and drama that DRAGON BALL was able to pull off pretty flawlessly. This, though? Well... let's just say it struggles blending those flavors together.

    Pacing is also a big issue. Occasionally, the storytelling is swift and breathless. Most of the fights are quite exciting and fun. The animation is amazing near all the time. But then it plods for no reason - - other than allowing characters to rattle through all the exposition, perhaps - - and certain moments seem just plain lazily-directed. I found myself asking more than a few times how a character arrived where they were, or wondering if I missed something.

    And when it comes to cliffhangers? The show's approach to hooking you for the next episode basically boils down to it saying, “Hey, come back because... I don’t know... come back to see what happens next!”

    "I&squot;M NOT FOOD!"
    "I'M NOT FOOD!"

    Any time the show strays from the simple, core concept of Toriko venturing out in big crazy world and searching for exotic meats, it starts to lose its way. This is especially evident in the Colosseum arc, where everything - - including the powers and plot points - - seems randomly generated.

    Toriko himself is a great and intriguing protagonist (played with over-the-top aplomb by Ian Sinclair), but other characters like Mansom, the Lois Lane-esque reporter, and even Komatsu seem totally disposable. Really, Komatsu's only there to play the Krillin role of being constantly scared by everything and look up to Goku... *ahem*... I mean Toriko, all the time.

    Actually, it really is relevant to bring up the Z-Fighters here. The box cover wants you to believe - - needs you to believe - - that because this is from Toei Animation, it's guaranteed to be the same kind of shonen powerhouse as a DBZ or ONE PIECE. To the contrary, it's TORIKO’s blind adherence to tired tropes that ultimately weakens its powerful originality.

    From top left, clockwise: Maximillion Pegasus, Piccolo, Amaterasu, Ouroboros, Bulma, Haiya Dragon, Krillin, and Kenshiro... or Goku. Whatever.
    From top left, clockwise: Maximillion Pegasus, Piccolo, Amaterasu, Ouroboros, Bulma, Haiya Dragon, Krillin, and Kenshiro... or Goku. Whatever.

    If I could take the ingredients of TORIKO out of the "Over 200 Episode Shonen" food processor and parse them down into a 26 Episode, two season slow cooker, I would. This is only Part 1, of course, so the jury would still be out for the long watch... but... I still feel kind of full, already.

    For all it’s talk about taste, food, and proper ingredients, TORIKO is an oddly bland dish. And to extend the metaphor even further, it's really like a pizza joint offering pies with purportedly novel flavors that are ultimately empty and fattening. I’d only ever go back when they add something new to the menu.

    Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam

    Petiewon Jan. 24, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.
    The premise of this always interested me, but I didn't want to commit to another 10 year+ long shonen jump series.
    When you mentioned a colisseum arc it made me glad that I didn't bother. The gourmet stuff seems really wacky and inventive, but I guess it just boils down to powerlevels in the end?
     
    It seems like the next big Shonen Jump series however. There was some Jump PS3 game announced, and Toriko was the 3rd character on the cover and advertisments, along with Goku and Luffy.
    Representing the biggest series' of the past, present and future, maybe?
    FoxxFireArt moderator on Jan. 24, 2013 at 6:18 p.m.
    I've been reading TORIKO since joining SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, and I'm terrible confused. Though, what can one expect jumping in 200+ chapters in and in the middle of an arc.

    I understand that Eiichiro Ora and the TORIKO creator are pretty good friends. The two animeseries have had a few crossovers, but those have never been officially streamed for whatever reason.
    Kino88on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:12 p.m.

    sorry can't coment too hungry now Lol,

    Bigheart711on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:44 a.m.

    I can't comment here either 'cause I'm too full.

    ...But seriously, I thought of checking this out too, but it would also take me into years of watching and reading. I already got enough manga to keep me going anyways.

    Killer_of_trollson Jan. 29, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.

    @FoxxFireArt: They also crossed with One-Peice. Also, Toriko is simpler than Naruto or One Peice.

    Dig Deeper into Toriko

    In the world filled with mysterious and truly delicious foods and ingredients, Restaurant Owners and affluent people hire "hunters" who specialize in the art of obtaining the most exquisite ingredients from the most dangerous environment in the world. These people are known worldwide as "Gourmet Hunters".

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