The first time I watched Yu-Gi-OH, with the series largely revolving around a monster cards game, I remember wondering how or if the writers could ever make the premise of the game matter.
Because that is what I wanted; something that exceeded basic card game shenanigans. I don’t remember how that original series eventually managed to make the virtual world of Duel Monsters matter within the real lives of the characters but I have had similar thoughts about Toriko ever since I begun reading it.
A story about food? And Ingredients? Really? Exactly how is this going to work? How can that plot work outside of Komatsu’s kitchen? How could the mangaka make his story matter within the real lives of the characters beyond the boundaries of Indiana Jones style plots centered around food rather than artifacts.
Toriko recruits Zebra for a mission across the red desert. Within the confines of the Gourmet Pyramid, they will search for the fabled mellow cola, facing new dangers within even as Zebra begins to reveal his true face.
Power. That is what this whole food thing is about. I figured as much earlier on, but with each new arc allowing us to watch Toriko grow stronger by eating new and exciting ingredients, the idea has become that much more cemented.
Yet how good or bad the idea of food as a power source is will depend on the mangaka’s approach; where this Fairy Tail, I would have been worried about the future of the story.
Heck we have seen Fairy Tail go down this road already, with each new Arc seeing Natsu gather new strength by consuming a new type of flame. With Toriko, there is a sense of hard work that cannot be ignored.
Anyway, the Arc. Surprisingly managed to kick things up a notch. I am still uncertain about the primary thread of a plot that is winding through the manga. These arcs really remind me of One Piece, with Toriko and Komatsu heading to a new location for a new adventure every new arc the way the Straw Hats keep skipping from Island to Island, facing new villains and encountering fresh allies and even monsters each time.
Speaking of One Piece, this Toriko arc muddled by opinion of its slow progress even more. The Mellow Cola Arc spanned a paltry 18 chapters. 18 chapters during which we explored the prison, met the warden, zebra was released, his reputation and the impact of his loosing shown around the human world; the trio found some camels, battled the Red Desert’s many threats, found their target and finally engaged in a tense battle with, not one, but two powerful figures. And that isn’t even taking into account the stuff near the end that continued to expand the Toriko universe.
That is how you pace an arc; and this complaint isn’t anchored to the issue of length; the Mellow Cola arc could have been 50 chapters and it wouldn’t have mattered.
Why? Because with each chapter of Toriko, something of note almost always happens. I don’t think their was any one chapter in the arc that I could have called filler. The short adventure was tightly written and to the point.
Which is how a chapter of any decent arc of any decent manga should be.
I look at Acacia as the Hashirama of Toriko; just like Hashirama essentially built the Shinobi world as it was in Naruto, every new revelation about Acacia paints him as the progenitor of the Toriko universe, bringing to life many of the concepts that story depends upon.
Which is why all the images of Acacia do not match the image of the god-like Bishokuya I typically envision; this is Toriko we are talking about, where size and epic presentation are almost always synonymous with strength. I honestly expected these later presentations of Acacia to resemble Melk, possibly even larger.
This goes back to my question about how this story will make food and ingredients matter outsides the kitchen. How the hell can an ingredient lead to a world wide war?
I have a few theories.
God is like the One Piece. It’s not like the One Piece didn’t exist before Gol D. Roger mentioned it. But it was in confirming its existence that Roger initiated the Pirate Age, with anyone that could sail the seas suddenly determined to claim this mythical prize for themselves.
Following that Logic, food in the Toriko world is all about power, and if God is as powerful (or grants as much power) as many expect it to, confirming its existence will initiate a race for what might be essentially the WMD of the Toriko world. Hence, World War.
But this is an ingredient we are talking about. It’s not like the One Piece which, I presume, even if Luffy were to find it, we would still get an all out battle for its possession.
Someone finds God, they will probably consume it their and then. Hence no more God. So, no World War.
We have met a lot of immensely powerful but strangely mysterious characters ever since the Toriko story begun. And one thing that has always bothered me, not in any way that could ruin my enjoyment, but just a nagging thought, was the fact that all these people know one another.
Again, not a big deal. But I just thought it odd that, upon meeting him, Melk showed a familiarity with not only the IGO president but that Seseiya that Toriko met as well as the mafia boss Ryu.
I have always struggled to ignore egregious coincidences, which is why the introduction of a research center in the gourmet world that essentially employed most, if not all, of these ridiculously powerful individuals made a whole load of sense.
And the very fact that they existed as employees operating out of the gourmet world also explained their strength.
Again, no big deal. But I appreciated having that one thread tied up.
Zebra is a surprisingly pleasant addition to the cast; even when I was watching the anime I always paid very little attention to him.
His rough attitude perfectly complements Toriko, even while camouflaging a soft exterior that Zebra seemingly struggles to express.
It was actually fascinating watching him getting taken by Komatsu’s earnestness, even as his bond with Toriko seemed to grow. Though if am being honest, even more awesome than watching him protect Komatsu from kilometers away at a great cost to his own life, was the fighting he did, essentially proving himself to be the powerhouse Toriko proclaimed him to be in the beginning.
Diverse and destructive, I will not mind seeing more Zebra from here onwards. Though I have to admit, I felt betrayed on behalf of Toriko when Komatsu revealed his deal with Zebra.
Thinking on it, Zebra kind of reminds me of Kenpachi; just as heroic even while maintaining that dark sinister spirit.
The Mellow Cola Arc was fast paced, surprisingly so, yet it didn’t feel rushed. I thought the Zebra stuff was a little exaggerated, specifically the impact he supposedly has on economic matters.
More importantly, they could have handled his first appearance better. I mean, first Toriko boasts about Zebra’s power. Then Zebra is released at a time when the surrounding lands are over-run by dangerous beasts, just so Zebra could show us what he could do by single handedly defeating them all.
Really wish those first chapters had been more subtle. On the plus side, I found the warden highly amusing. Beyond that though, everything was largely smooth sailing. The well crafted bond (?) between Zebra and Komatsu.
The antagonism between Toriko and Zebra. The threat of the sphinx and the epic appearance of the Nitro. The desperation of the ensuing fight. Toriko and Zebra’s combos.
The Mellow Cola Arc gives me hope for the future; one step closer to the Gourmet World.
+HIGHLIGHTS: Toriko/Zebra vs the Nitro