What They Say:
Toriko, Komatsu, and a host of hopeful heroes bundle up and begin the treacherous trek into the chilling confines of Ice Hell! The prize that awaits them, Century Soup, is among the rarest of gourmet treasures – and the most divine delicacy ever to grace a bowl and spoon. Toriko and his super-chef sidekick are determined to slurp up the sweet rewards of their adventure, but something evil stands in their way: Tommyrod, a Gourmet Corps henchman with insects on the inside!
Should they survive this bugged-out battle for the ages, their next target will be the elusive Ozone Grass. Flying Sea Lions and Air Gorillas plague their journey, and in order to savor the sweet taste of success, 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!
Contains episodes 27-50.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 192kbps as well as the new English language track in 5.1, encoded at 448kbps. The series is one that works a decent blend of action and dialogue, though it tries to do more dialogue since the action budget is high, but the dialogue track for both languages works each aspect well. There’s a lot of fun in the way the cast has to talk so admiringly about the food in both languages and the kind of general admiration and enjoyment of the work. The action side plays in a familiar way where it goes for the loud and simple with some basic kind of directionality at times that works well but doesn’t really stand out all that much. It’s a kind of serviceable action mix that does things right but it won’t stand out in a way that really makes it memorable. Both mixes work well overall and it serves the material right and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2011 and 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This release has twenty-four episodes of the series using the same discs as the original half season sets, so it’s spread out across four discs with six episodes per disc format. Animated by Toei Animation, the show captures the look and feel of the manga pretty well while upping the color quality and depth in obvious ways. The struggle with a show like this isn’t what the animation in general looks like or the smoothness of the animation either. It’s in trying to make the food itself look succulent enough to make you want to eat it. And for the most part, it does accomplish it here as the colors are strong, there’s some really appealing aspects to the vibrancy where appropriate and it can get a little mouthwatering at times. Most of the show is fairly standard stuff and you can make the Dragon Ball Z allusions easily enough, but it has its own style and the transfer captures it well with little in the way of problems outside of some occasionally noisier than normal backgrounds and a touch of line noise in some busier sequences.
The packaging for this release is pretty neat even if simple as we get a slipcover over a standard sized clear keepcase that holds all four discs across a couple of hinges. The case artwork in the front is really, really simple as we get Toriko with his mouth wide open as he’s shirtless while set against a bland brown background. What makes this work is that the die-cut slipcover has just his upper half visible as the bottom half of the slipcover shows off a whole lot of succulent food. The combination of the two works really well to make for an eye-catching and memorable cover. The back cover of the slipcover and case are the same as it extends the brown background. It’s here that we get a couple of good full color shots from the show and a clean and accessible summary of the premise. The extras are clearly listed as is the collection number and the number of episodes. Technical information is a bit small as usual when it comes to DVD packaging from FUNimation though making it hard to see the audio and subtitle selections. Though there are no inserts with the release, the reverse side breaks down the episodes by number and title with each disc.
The menu design for this release is definitely simple and easy to build off of and work through over the course of its run. Using the same reddish brown as the cover with a bit more brightness and light applied to it here, we get the logo through the middle and off center lightly which has the navigation below it that’s familiar to most FUNimation releases. The right side is given over to character artwork that changes from disc to disc as more characters are introduced and they look good but it all falls under that kind of simple but solid approach rather than something really involved. Everything is quick and easy to access and setup is a breeze.
The extras for this release certainly favor the English language fans as we get multiple episode commentaries across all four discs that lets the cast and crew talk about the experience. These are the same ones as on the original releases so they’re welcome pieces here. We also get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences relevant to these episodes. One extra that’s also fun to watch is we get a video commentary for episode forty-six which has the voice actors enjoying a meal together while commenting on the show. It’s the same as a commentary in general but there’s fun in seeing the facial expressions and the physical banter along the way as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second collection of Toriko episodes brings us another twenty-four episodes of the series as it progresses along the overall arc that has been set for it. In a lot of ways, as much as I hate to do it at times, it does feel like it’s trying to be the One Piece of food anime with a grand scale to it in design while also going the lengthy arc route in order to do it. But it’s also got its own quirks to work with while still largely being a familiar old style long running shonen show. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely a niche kind of show in a way, even as popular as it was in general. Going into this second set of episodes – the last that FUNimation licensed for home video release as of this writing – there’s a lot of simple fun to it and you can see what it wants to do, but it also still feels kind of shallow.
The first half of this continues the storyline that began in the previous set where we had the group that came together with Toriko heading to Ice Hell in order to find the Century Soup and all the ingredients of it. The show certainly played to familiar ideas from what it established in the first set with the Mammoth meat arc and how that unfolded, though it changed up the characters a bit here as well. Going to the cold climate, we get to see the fun of the group trying to find the bottom of the ice spire in the mountain in order to find the Century Soup itself since it’s such a time limited piece and, as it turns out, there’s so little of it left at this point that it’s going to be gone from this location. What complicates things, as always, is that it’s not just Toriko and his group looking for it but rather others such as the Gourmet Knights that are there and the mysterious Gourmet Corp. and what they represent. This one also gives us a little more with a Gourmet Reviver on the scene, which have their own agenda that doesn’t involve dealing with others unless the situation warrants it.
Taking up almost a dozen episodes here, it is a long, sprawling piece that’s going on as we get the group split into smaller groups, one that actually has a nice change of pace with the Gourmet Reviver, Teppei, heading deeper into the caverns with Komatsu to see what they can find. This leaves Toriko to deal with the Gourmet Corp. character of Tommyrod, who plays to ridiculous kinds of powers and abilities here with his 4,000 bones that lets him reshape his body completely as well as giving him the ability to get inside of larger creatures to take control of them. With a goofy look and goofy powers, it’s a silly kind of fight that you have to try and take seriously because Toriko is challenged by him and what he represents. Having seen him take down others along the way with his abilities and other members of the Gourmet Corp. sneaking about to go after the Century Soup themselves, there’s a lot of activity going on throughout the arc. And that’s without dealing with the less goofy but still goofy mafia group that’s there for their own agenda with the Century Soup as well. It’s pretty much your standard bit of controlled chaos as everyone goes at it while the Century Soup itself is disappearing.
I do like how the Soup itself is resolved in the end and the way it all comes together since it allows Komatsu to really step up his game at this point. Having tasted the soup, he goes to master it and create it from scratch himself with the ingredients, which could take years. At the same time, Toriko has gone off with Teppei to see his master of the Gourmet Revivers in order to get his arm healed, since he lost it outright in the fight against Tommyrod. When told that it’ll heal through some special procedure, but that it’ll take twenty years to grow back, you basically expect things to flash forward down the line and we’ll get some different stories. Instead, it feels like both sides of the story here accomplish their goals in the matter of hours, which takes the real threat out of things – even with what Toriko has to go through – and that just makes the whole show even, yes, goofier.
This set does give us a number of smaller stories that stand alone, which is nice, as we see Komatsu and his fame after recreating the Century Soup and we also get a weirdly comical story of Toriko finally heading home only to see that his candy based house has been completely eaten and gone. So that gives him a chance to call in a favor or two in order to get a new house made for him from a gifted architect. There’s lots of little moments like that which help to bond the characters together, with a few changeouts at times, and there’s a kind of weird charm about it as it unfolds. We also get some decent time with Toriko and the president of the IGO, who is revealed to be Toriko’s father, which explains some of the things Toriko gets away with from time to time with the group.
Where the show does get a bit more interesting is that we get the forward push towards greater things as Toriko has been hearing more and more rumors that the GOD ingredient is likely to show in the next few years. That has him wanting to master the Gourmet World itself so that he can add it to his Full Course, which has grown a bit over the course of the first fifty episodes. What he’s told by his father is that he needs a real partner in a chef, which we know is Komatsu, but Toriko is intent on doing things on his own and not endangering his friend. That gives us our first look at the far more dangerous Gourmet World briefly but it also gives us a look at Toriko and Komatsu off on a mission together to find Ozone Grass, which makes him truly realize just how much he needs him as a real and formal partner.
Toriko is a series that I spent some time with on the simulcast front but opted to wait for the home video release because I felt it would work better in marathon sessions. And it does, because it goes for that sprawling shonen style and being able to absorb 12 or 24 episode chunks at a time makes it feel like it clicks better. I’m still not a huge fan of the show or anything, but I enjoyed the fifty episodes that I’ve now seen of it. But I can also understand why, with low interest in the series overall and it being a DVD only release, that FUNimation would abandon it. It’s not the most compelling thing out there, but it’s a series that knows how to have a kind of fun that you don’t see in a lot of shows with its wacky sense of style, food and characters. It’s charmingly old school in a lot of ways while still being a bit modern, but it suffers from the sprawl and decompressed style that keeps it from feeling fulfilling. For what these two releases offer and the pricing, it’s a no-brainer to check out and savor aspects of though.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Feast with the Cast of Toriko: Episode 42 Video Commentary, Episode Commentary (30, 34, 40, 46), Textless Opening and Closings
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.