Terrific fun with a batch of transitional arcs sadly bogged down due to budgetary restraints.
What They Say:
The excitement begins as Komatsu attempts to recreate the legendary Century Soup – and Toriko puts his all into growing a new arm! Next, the dynamic duo tackles the mystery of who devoured Toriko’s home! After the logistics of lodging have settled, Toriko and the gang battle Sharkbox Turtles, Honey Dragons, and a Chomp Urchin on a desperate mission to find food fit for a starving Seven-Colored Nessie. The best is saved for last, however, as Toriko and Komatsu set out to capture the elusive Ozone Grass. Flying Sea Lions and Air Gorillas plague their journey and to survive, our heroes will have to take their teamwork to the next level – forever cementing their status as lifelong partners in the pursuit of culinary bliss!
The audio presentation this time around is exactly the same as before. No hiccups or surprises from what I could tell. The dub is getting extremely competent at this point in the game with everyone comfortable in their roles and delivering their lines in a manner that befits the show. The dub only jokes and fake cursing continues much to my chagrin, but it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon so…live and let live.
The video presentation is about what we’d normally expect for a standard definition release here. Through my Blu-ray player, the 480p/i video was upscaled to 1080i video that averaged at 8-9 MBps. The upscale really brought out the flaws in the animation on this set. A lot of the episodes look extremely cheap, but just not slideshow cheap, and the HD upscale made each flaw very obvious. Whereas if this was an HD transfer in true 1080i, the resolution should have been smoothed over enough to display the detail in a more appealing manner. You can’t polish a turd, but upscaling from a SD DVD did not do any favors. A shame because the last set looked so beautiful!
The packaging again repeats the same styles and motifs previously employed. It is still consistent with the previous releases in every way, for better and for worse.
The menus on this set follow the exact same configuration and motifs used in the previous set. They are easy to navigate and use. One thing with this set that I hadn’t noticed on previous sets though, is that the menu looked extremely pixelated on my TV. Almost like the picture they used for the menu wasn’t scaled properly for the screen. Pretty distracting but, it’s just a simple static menus and not the show itself; I’ll live.
This time we get just a pair of audio commentary tracks by the English staff for episodes 40 and 46. We also get a video commentary for episode 42. I checked out the video commentary as it was at least something different from what we’ve gotten before. I am not a fan of the English Staff commentaries and this special video one didn’t work for me either. It’s a picture-in-picture video with four of the show’s voice actors sitting at a table and eating food they made which were inspired by some of the food in the series. I honestly lasted about 10 minutes and after I saw that it was just them sitting around eating and complimenting each other on the food, I had to just turn it off. I am not against the idea of commentaries but I would like actual information regarding the show. That is what disinterests me about English Staff commentaries, they have no insight into the show itself aside from the dubbing process. And this was even more of a waste for me. We also get the opening and both closing themes in textless form. There’s also some FUNimation trailers thrown in there for good measure.
The fourth volume of the Toriko anime is pretty much a grab bag with something for everyone to enjoy. The start off episode is the very last of the Century Soup storyline as it features Komatsu finally discovering the secret, final ingredient to his Century Soup. I won’t spoil, but it’s kinda gross and perfect for the Toriko Universe. We then spend the rest of the episode hyping up Komatsu’s soup with Toriko’s finally regenerating fully, and everyone getting together to eat said soup. It is a sweet and funny ending to the saga as you get to literally see the pure joy the soup provides to those who get to taste it.
Moving forward we get the rest of the DVD set, which bounces between quick one-off episodes, the series’ first true-blue filler arc, and entire main arc, a journey to the Gourmet World, and the first episode of a new arc. This set is just jam packed! There is so much movement in the story that these 12 episodes go down extremely fast and provide plenty of enjoyment. The weakest link here is of course the filler arc. Comprising of only two episodes, it is a dyed in the wool fluff piece. The story is about a super rich kid whose pet dragon, whom he’s had since birth practically, has stopped eating entirely and a contest is held to get people to discover the one ingredient the dragon desires so that it can eat again. That’s it. The whole crew is here for this one and the episodes bounce around from the different characters in their hunt for the ingredient they believe is the best for the dragon. Thankfully it is only two episodes and is over rather quickly; there just isn’t a whole here to really enjoy. Everything is so abbreviated that there is never any sense of excitement or adventure. There’s no threat or anything for our merry band of heroes on their quests. It functions simply as an excuse to not just fill time, but to also display more of the weird and crazy food concoctions the series is known for. Although, since I am now much further in the series thanks to the simulcast and the manga, there actually is a very nice bit of foreshadowing in this arc.The first piece deals with partnerships and the other is the first real hint that we get involving Komatsu’s ability to “hear the ingredients.” Both of these themes come into play in the very next arc included on this set and even more so further down the line. That little tidbit actually makes this filler kinda nice. It’s like a quick primer for events to come that just gives out enough to not dawn on viewers but also to expose them to some recurring themes.
After the filler arc, we follow Toriko to the IGO President’s estate. The President, Ichiryu, initially just wants to have a meetup with Toriko but it quickly turns into a pretty spectacular brawl between the two as Ichiryu tests Toriko’s abilities. It is exceedingly clear that Toriko still has a lot of room to grow and is not ready to consider entering the Gourmet World. It is also revealed that Acacia’s main dish of his full-course meal, God, is expected to come into existence again soon. Quickly changing the subject from Toriko’s enthusiasm to enter Gourmet World and capture God (seriously, I can’t make this stuff up…it’s priceless!), Ichiryu requests a favor of Toriko, to travel to Vegetable Sky and capture the Ozone Grass for him. Thus begins our next arc!
The Ozone Grass arc is a quick little four episode excursion that is paced perfectly in that it never feels rushed and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The journey involves Toriko bringing Komatsu along for the ride as he travails a treacherous beanstalk to the heavens, consuming crazy big (and delicious) vegetables, and learning how to capture the Ozone Grass. There are tons of great moments here that range from exciting to hilarious. It’s like an extremely compact version of what Toriko does best and all the benefits for that expectation are reaped.
Now, while all of the stories in this set are quite fun and pleasant to watch, there is a constant issue that drags down my enthusiasm for this particular set. After the gobstoppingly beautiful animation that prevailed throughout the Century Soup arc in the last set, it is painfully obvious here that Toei either ran out of money for the budget or is conserving their money for future episodes. There is a near constant feeling of cheapness to the animation here. Lots of static images, off model character designs, or just plain “fuzziness” to it all. Even when the story is popping right along it feels weighed down because of the animation quality. The soft edges brought about by this being a DVD release really don’t help matters much either and this really brings down the enjoyment levels of the Ozone Grass arc. The story is great! It’s fun seeing more of the world, seeing our guys gorge on food and have fun, and just intriguing in the new element that is introduced at the end of the arc. I immensely enjoyed this arc on a week to week basis and completely loved it when I read that piece of the manga here and here. It just starts to shows its seams more in marathon mode. The dip in animation also hurts the following two episodes where Toriko goes against everyone’s wishes and travels to the Gourmet World by himself. Those episodes aren’t poorly drawn or herky jerky, they just lack the visual flair and pop we’ve seen before for moments like these.
Anyway, the set is a worthy addition to your Toriko collection because it covers so much ground and provides terrific transitions between arcs. With the series moving a such a fast clip, it’s hard to not be excited and enjoy it. You aren’t languishing on a single storyline for once and the Toriko Universe is so vast and creative that something new is always popping up to expand ones enjoyment. My true sadness is that this is the last volume FUNimation has released of the series on DVD, at this point of this writing (more than a year since the first DVD set’s release). Not just because I want more of the show but because the final episode on the set introduces us to Melk the Cutler, a female cutler who is extremely badass and great in the few minutes of screen time she has, and kicks off the next arc of the series…and that’s it. It’s quite possibly the longest cliffhanger ever experienced and should, rightfully, fuel our passion to get more released on video.
Not really a whole else for me to say about this set that I didn’t already state. It falls exactly in line with the previous three DVD releases of the series, offers no surprises or bonus points in the extras department, and keeps on with that Toriko feeling. The series has been progressively improving and while we are 50 episodes in know it may seem like a lot to bother with, but it really is worth it. The stories featured in this set is where the manga took a sharp turn in the quality department and the series has been on the fantastic track ever since. The anime just came down from one of the best action arcs of most any series I’ve seen and it is just a damn shame that the animation quality suffered as a result. The story is going up but being held back due to budgetary reasons. Also, the fact that we have no idea if FUNimation will be releasing more of the series on video at this point is very disheartening. The pace is perfect and the world continues to be a fascinating place to occupy. I still recommend the series but be aware of the failing of the episodes in this set and the cliffhanger that we are still awaiting resolution.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 30 & 34, Textless Opening Song, Two Textless Closing Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Running Time: 300 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.