If you felt a little underwhelmed by the first set, never fear, Toriko is here! In a vastly improved set of episodes that’s sure to make entertainment the main dish. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t reach its latent potential.
What They Say:
The next step in Toriko’s quest to create his Full Course Menu of Life involves a run-in with the ferocious Regal Mammoth! Beneath this behemoth’s brutish exterior lies the legendary Jewel Meat, a magically magnificent morsel that makes mouths water all across the galaxy! Toriko is determined to make the beast his next carnivorous conquest, but he’ll have to take the fight inside the mammoth if he hopes to sink his teeth into a humongous hunk of Jewel Meat! And that’s not all! The Gourmet Hunter faces stiff competition in the form of a GT Robot. This seemingly indestructible mechanized menace is controlled by an unseen evil, and it wants the Jewel Meat all for itself! To save his friends and quench his heroic appetitie, Toriko must level up his punching power and turn the bad guy into a bucket of bolts!
The audio presentation here is again pretty standard as we get the Japanese language track in 2.0 stereo and a 5.1 English language track. For the purpose of this review, I watched the episodes with the English Dub. The audio mix is perfectly serviceable with no noticeable dropouts or distortions. I like to watch anime DVDs dubbed because I most likely have already seen the show in Japanese. This is the case with Toriko as I have been following it week to week for almost two years now. The dub on this batch of episodes is way better than it was on the previous set. Just as I had hoped, the cast became much more comfortable with their roles and became more focused on delivering a good performance rather than imitating established FUNimation voice actors. Thank you! However, the re-versioning still gets extremely annoying. The jokes and puns have actually calmed down quite a bit. The jokes and basic dialogue are much more natural than before and this allows these episodes to go down much smoother. Unfortunately, someone decided that is would be “cool” and “funny” to imitate TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and “pretend swear” throughout every single episode. Almost every single character begins cursing a lot more frequently than they did before. However instead of committing and just saying “Fuck” or “Shit”, the dub script is riddled with food based puns used to substitute the cursing even though the intention is clearly there. For example, “Son of a Bisque”, “Fudge”, shit like that. I’m only going to say this once FUNimation…THAT SHIT IS NOT CLEVER, FUNNY, OR EVEN REMOTELY ENTERTAINING! PLEASE STOP!! I mentioned Battlestar Galactica before because the incessant overuse of the word “frack” to try and sound cool and edgy was possibly the worst thing to ever happen to televised programming in the history of ever. Having the same effect but using food puns instead is simply insult to injury. Otherwise the dub shows a marked improvement that should only get better as the series progresses.
The video presentation is surprisingly good for a standard definition release. Through my Blu-ray player, the 480p/i video was upscaled to a crisp 1080i video that averaged at 8-9 MBps. This provided an extremely smooth visual presentation that did not present any anomalies that I was able to catch. In fact, the video looked so good through my setup that some scenes where like I watching the show for the first time. Much better than the simulcast streams!
The packaging is exactly the same as the previous DVD set. It has the O-card, the dull red packaging, everything. The only difference between the packaging is the characters used on the cover and discs. I think the artwork works a lot better this time around though because of the choice in characters. The focus this time is Toriko, Coco, Sunny, and a couple of GT Robots. It gives the packaging a bit more punch to it to help draw in customers, but the overall blandness repeats itself here making the series look like another show with nothing special about it.
The menus on this set follow the exact same configuration and motifs used in the previous set. They are easy to navigate but just seem so uninspired.
This time we get more than a pair of commentary tracks by the English staff, we get three! The commentary tracks included are for episodes 15, 20, and 26. We also get the opening and both closing themes in textless form. Very standard with no surprises.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This second DVD set of Toriko covers quite a bit of ground in its 13 episodes, but first thing’s first…we need to wrap up the Jewel Meat arc! With the Jewel Meat arc consuming approximately 8 episodes on the last set, it is quite surprising that the story wraps up very quickly in just three episodes here. The overall pacing of this arc has been extremely uneven since our heroes set out for the Regal Highlands and only really started to settle into a comfortable rhythm at the very end of the first set. The three episodes here that conclude the arc follow in the footsteps of the latter episodes of the last set. There is a very strong focus in each episode that allows the viewer to become interested in what is transpiring on the screen instead of just watching the story happen. It may seem like I am being too critical here, but that is a very fine distinction to make; it is the difference between watching a show and enjoying a show. The first episode focuses on Sunny’s fight with one of the GT Robots. Sunny came out of the gates being one of the most interesting and pure fun characters in the series, so it is no surprise that watching him get into a serious fight that requires him using his powers and abilities is terrific. It expands on the character in so many ways that you would be forgiven if you just thought of them as typical tropes. Sunny is a great character and his quirks, habits, and personality are extremely far-reaching; the fact that they are conveyed to us mostly through this single fight is very exhilarating and worth our attention.
Well, that was just the first episode on this set! The next two episodes finish of the Jewel Meat arc with the confrontation between Toriko and the Gourmet Corps.’ Vice-Chef Starjun. This is the moment this arc was waiting for this whole time. I’ve seen these episodes multiple times in various manners now. I watched them week to week during the simulcast, now with the DVD sets, and in the manga multiple times. It is with high respect that I say that this is where Toriko starts to get really good. It was always good in the manga but the anime finally understands how to properly pace the show and frame its events in such a manner that actually pull a response from the viewer. I still got all teary-eyed and full of rage during these episodes when a certain event occurs. The fact that the anime was able to pull this response from me when the previous episodes have been so rushed and then slow and then boring but then exciting is an interesting occurrence. The monster-of-the-week style of the first five episodes didn’t give us anything to grab onto, the Jewel Meat arc previously seemed to have an identity crisis on what it was trying to do, but out of nowhere we get an extremely large increase in quality that allows us to forget the issues the show had previously and completely absorb us into the story. Even the world’s most annoying filler character plays an important role here and simultaneously doesn’t make us want to kill her. However, once our emotions have been messed with, our rage raised, and our involved made…it’s over. It’s extremely satisfying how the arc ends but it is so quick that we don’t have too much time to relish in the victory. Sadly, this is a negative to the high positives I’ve thrown out so far. It feels a little cheap that all this drama and suspense is cut short with a Super Saiyan power-up that ends everything in 5 seconds. So much for really figuring out that whole pacing thing.
With the Jewel Meat arc now concluded, we get another complete story arc in this set: the BB Corn arc! The basis of this arc is pretty simple but much more natural than any of the arcs before. Terry, Toriko’s new friend, the cloned Battle Wolf, refuses to eat anything he is given. Beginning to get worried about his friend, Toriko begins to quest for a food that might finally be something Terry wants to eat; a food from the Gourmet World, BB Corn. The reason this arc feels more natural than the others is because Toriko wasn’t randomly called upon by somebody to accomplish a task. He is just relaxing in his house made out of sweets and enjoying the spoils of the long hard fight at the Regal Highlands. Terry is a Battle Wolf, an ancient legendary creature from the Gourmet World; of course it makes sense that normal Human World offerings may not be what his body requires for sustenance. It is this simple method of thinking that very easily draws the viewer into the storyline. We aren’t bombarded with “Oh boy, ANOTHER request! Wonder what trouble will happen this time!” cynicism attached to it. Already the arc is off to a great start.
The BB Corn arc is actually extremely good overall. Toriko and Terry’s adventures to the Wu Jungle, the building of trust bonds between the two, the discovery and subsequent capturing of the BB Corn…it is all extremely entertaining and is paced perfectly to allow us to enjoy it fully. However, there is an anime-filler arc running alongside the BB Corn arc. This filler story involves the national leader that was imprisoned and impersonated by a GT Robot to gain access to the Coliseum in the previous arc. There is a Gourmet Summit being held and he is so upset with the IGO that he plans to fight against the proposition being held in the summit. It becomes, of course, up to Komatsu to prepare a special dish that will restore the President’s faith in food and the IGO and convince him to vote positively in the Summit. Well, doesn’t that sound exactly like everything I just got done saying the BB Corn arc was not!? It’s the exact opposite of what makes the BB Corn arc refreshing and enjoyable. Interestingly enough, it isn’t that bad. This filler arc is spliced into the BB Corn arc at just the right intervals to allow the BB Corn story time to breathe and pace itself out just right while still providing entertainment value to the viewers. That’s a shocker! However, once Toriko captures the BB Corn and travels to the Wu Volcano to pop the corn and make some Gourmet World style popcorn…this combination begins to fall apart.
At the volcano, Toriko encounters a, quite frankly, terrifying man named Grinpatch. Grinpatch is one of the Gourmet Corps.’ Vice Chefs. A beast of a man that uses a straw made from a giant mosquito to use his extremely powerful breath powers to their most deadly potential. The interactions between the two, the palpable menace that hangs in the air, and ensuing fight is all praise worthy. It’s very exciting and well-constructed. However, the Komatsu storyline that was working pretty well alongside the BB Corn arc before becomes the final two episodes in the arc’s downfall. We continue to cut between Toriko and Grinpatch’s fight and Komatsu, and Tina…sigh, racing back to the Gourmet Hotel so he can finish his dish in time. The scenes with Komatsu and Tina are very plain and quite frankly boring, despite Sunny being present. The scenes only exist as a means to convey historical exposition that was just simply ‘there’ in the manga in a more conventional method for anime. But since this whole arc has been built up just to have a valid reason for the exposition, we still must follow through with that story. It just stops working. The exposition is handled in an extremely clumsy manner, we get no enjoyment from the story at all anymore, and worst of all it completely distracts us from the real story that is happening with Toriko. Nothing screams “shooting yourself in the foot” like intentionally sabotaging an interesting and involving storyline for the sake of filler. ARGH!!
With the conclusion of the BB Corn arc, we spend the final five episodes in the set beginning a new story: The Century Soup arc! The arc gets off to a pretty rocky start as we follow Toriko and Komatsu as they enter Gourmet City, a cross between a Food Court and Disneyland, to keep a meeting with the living legend Chef Granny Setsuno. The time spent introducing us to the city is a lot of fun as well get our first real glimpse into the world of Toriko and the daily operations of its inhabitants. Everything is extremely quirky and strange but never is it not conveyed that the world is healthy and fun. Sadly, this first episode trails off into filler land and just becomes too bogged down with mindless, needless side adventures within the city. It’s just no fun at all once we stop learning about the world! Thankfully that’s just one episode and the next episode gets right back on the horse with our heroes meeting Granny Setsuno and going to her Diner. One thing Toriko has displayed a deft understanding with is how to make interesting characters. Granny is no exception and we, as viewers, thoroughly enjoy every minute Toriko and Komatsu interact with her. She’s eccentric, wise, and extremely talented. It’s just the right combination to fit in around these parts. The story being set up involves Granny letting Toriko and Komatsu eat her Century Soup. Century Soup is a legendary dish that happens naturally in the wild only every 100 years. Granny has spent her life trying to replicate the soup but always comes up with “something” missing in it. She informs Toriko and Komatsu that they have proven themselves worthy or accepting her task. Find the Century Soup, taste it, and recreate it for the entire world to enjoy.
The rest of the set embarks our heroes on their journey as they discover an extremely wealthy man is holding an expedition to Ice Hell, a frozen continent where the Century Soup is reported to be located, and has opened the expedition up to all Gourmet Hunters that dare take the risk. We subsequently travel to Ice Hell and start traversing the continent. The episodes where we are simply travelling to Ice Hell are not very good. We get to be introduced to a whole new slate of interesting characters; but the method of which we are introduced to their skills and personalities is very ‘ho-hum’ the entire time. The presence of Tina and Zonge continue to also be a bane on this show’s existence. However, once everyone lands on Ice Hell the quality significantly increases. We feel peril, the minutes click by like seconds, we see some mysteries laid out that are quite interesting, and we get introduced to a trio of very bad dudes that are not your normal bad guy material. It is extremely frustrating that once we get introduced to the bad guys, see one of them strut their stuff, see this mysterious man who the camera has been eyeing the whole time take off his mask only to reveal a slightly familiar haircut…the set is over. IT WAS JUST GETTING GOOD!! I’m talking really good here. It is on the level that the second to last episode of the Jewel Meat arc is on. On the level of all the good stuff of the BB Corn arc without everything that ruined those last couple of episodes. The Century Soup arc had a rough start but boy oh boy, is it shaping up to be one terrific arc! Is set three out yet!?
This DVD set of episodes shows a marked improvement over the previous set. Where the previous set transitioned from Monster-of-the-week to long form storytelling with extremely mixed results, this set maintains a strong focus on how the series wants to tell its stories from this point forward. Each piece included here is great in its own way and thoroughly enjoyable. However, the series keeps shooting itself in the foot. It almost reaches perfect status and then intentionally does something to break the quality of an individual or group of episodes. It is extremely frustrating to see something with such tremendous potential and just fizzle out due to bad planning on behalf of the anime staff. I am a gigantic Toriko fan, you all know this. I am still watching the anime on simulcast and it is one of the best shonen series I have ever seen. It is on the level of One Piece and there is no hyperbole in that statement. But it’s so tough to try and get someone interested in the series when the anime continues to have these problems 26 episodes in and when starting its third real story arc. The manga is a million times better but the anime is no slouch. We just haven’t gotten to that point yet. Revisiting these episodes in marathon form has only exploited their flaws to me much more so than when I first watched them. It’s good! It’s almost pretty great! But it’s just so damn frustrating at this point. Thankfully, the positives far outweigh the negatives in this set when compared to the first one.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 15, 20, & 26, Textless Opening Song, Two Textless Closing Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: C
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony BRAVIA KDL55EX720 55-Inch 1080p 3D LED HDTV, Sony BDP-S580 Blu-Ray Player via HDMI cable set to Auto.