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Gourmet Girls Graffiti Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Gourmet Girl Graffiti Blu-ray Front CoverThe sumptuous beauty of food delivered into middle school girls’ mouths.

What They Say:
Like many Japanese middle school girls, Ryo Machiko is fascinated with cooking. Unfortunately, both of her parents work full time overseas, so she’s spent most of her time living alone since the death of her grandmother a year ago. Ryo’s still practicing and learning, of course, but without someone there to appreciate the fruit of her labors and offer constructive feedback, it’s just not the same.

Things have a way of working out, however, and when it turns out that Ryo’s artistically inclined cousin Kirin intends to attend the same Sunday cram school, it only makes sense for her to room with Ryo over the weekends. And that means that Ryo will be gaining more than just an enthusiastic new audience. Together with Ryo’s friend Shiina, she’ll be learning the most important lesson of all: No matter how fancy or tasty the food may be, it’s even better when it’s shared in Gourmet Girl Graffiti!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is about as expected as we get the original Japanese language track only, which is encoded in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is all about the dialogue and some of the more detailed sound made while eating food, so it’s a very low key but well put together mix. There’s not a lot that it really has to work with but it handles the quieter moments with the incidental sounds and the cooking elements pretty well while the background score helps to keep things moving and with a bit of life and atmosphere to it. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and while little really stands out it handles it all well with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Shaft, the transfer is top notch here with the details and colors just oozing off the screen as they need to. There are a host of familiar design choices here that Shaft fans will recognize and while it avoids going over the top in terms of character quirkiness, we do get a lot of well-detailed backgrounds and an immense amount of attention paid to the details of the food – particularly in the prologue where it’s given even more importance by being done in letterbox form to elevate it. The colors are gorgeous and the look of it overall is strong with great detail. Fans of the show will love how this looks, especially on larger screens.

Gourmet Girls Graffiti Image 4Packaging:
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs inside against the interior walls. The front cover works with the familiar key visual of the three girls together with a dish of hot and delicious food in front of them with expressions that kind of sums up their personalities to some degree. The background has a nice picnic table kind of approach to it while the character artwork is colorful but muted rather than vibrant and over the top. The logo along the bottom is kept simple but effect with the nice bit of the spoon and fork and there’s a clear listing of how many discs and episodes are included. The back cover is a bit busier with the color design of it with the polka dots and all and there’s a lot of shots from the show spread across it that add to the kind of color chaos of it. The character visual of Kirin and Shiina is nice along the right and the premise, as simple as it is, is given the right amount of space to be dealt with. The discs extras are clearly listed and we get a good breakdown of production and technical information that’s accurate and problem free. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is nicely done though a touch simple as we get the key visual artwork from the front cover for the first volume and a different grouping for the second. The background is done up the same as the cover and it’s interesting that the colors here have a bit more pop to them that gives it a little more life. The navigation along the left has some basic button designs to them along with a nice in-theme cursor element as it breaks down everything by number and title. With no language selection menu here or extras on the first disc, it’s kept very simple with just episode selection and that’s it.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga Kōfuku Gurafiti by Makoto Kawai, Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the winter 2015 season. The original manga kicked off back in 2012 and has six volumes to its name as of now, so there wasn’t exactly a ton of material to work with, though more than enough for a season to get underway with. I suspect the folks at Shaft really just wanted to make more Hidamari Sketch but saw the potential with all the popular food related shows out there and combined both worlds together. You could easily envision this crossing over with Hidamari and not missing a beat, and part of me would actually like to see the Hidamari gang given this level of character design detail and attention – as much as I love that quirky little show and its look.

Gourmet Girls Graffiti Image 3The premise of the show is very straightforward and it’s the kind of series that will utterly delight fans of this particular subgenre with what it does. And it’s a show that I really do recommend spacing out and enjoying in smaller single episode morsels. The series revolves around a second-year middle school student named Ryo who lives in the big city as her parts are Important People that work overseas and are little more than an occasional mention. She was living with her grandmother for the longest time but she had passed away a year or so ago, leaving Ryo to handle things for herself in the same apartment. It’s definitely a good place that feels lived in and you can understand how Ryo is struggling with the loneliness a bit and that her passion for cooking has faltered some as she’s been cooking just for herself for so long. Ryo’s spending her time going to school and taking prep courses for high school entrance exams as she wants to get into an art oriented one.

What ends up breathing some life back into her is the arrival of Kirin, who is something like a second cousin or something of Ryo’s that wants to go to school in the city as well and is taking the same prep courses. Since she can’t commute daily and can’t live in the city due to her own schooling, she’s coming in and spending a day or two and ends up living at Ryo’s for a while. Kirin is the same age but probably a foot shorter, full of physical strength, and a very outgoing personality. She’s a whirlwind of energy and interest in things but also has her own worries and insecurities to deal with that flesh her out a bit with things that a lot of kids deal with when it comes to exams and moving from middle to high school. It takes a bit for the two to really click, but with it being a weekly thing at first and then spending a bit more time together, and Ryo really getting into the whole cooking thing again with how it makes her feel, the bond is forged well and you wouldn’t be surprised if the two of them live together as high school students by the end of things. With the show taking place over the course of a year or so, it has all the right elements.

Gourmet Girls Graffiti Image 2While you could do a show about just two people and their experiences like this and there have been, Gourmet Girl Graffiti introduces us to a third character in Shiina. Shiina’s just as laid back as Ryo, which is why they’ve been casual friends in the prep school side, and the addition of Kirin brings them all together more into a stable trio. Shiina’s a little bit of an introvert to some degree but more aware of her actions and how they impact others, whereas Kirin just enjoys herself without thinking of what others are doing that may be for her. Shiina’s the type to help draw Kirin into understanding how she needs to help more while Kirin helps to bring a lot of life to the table. Shiina also gets to be the odd character in a way as she comes from a home that feels out of place in the city with its bamboo forest, very old style house, and a servant that takes care of her. These are familiar cliches to be sure within anime but they actually manage to not come across as forced and badly as some other series do as it’s not a constant. Shiina’s out living her life and just gets an assist or two when home. Granted, Shiina’s mother is kind of the wacky type, but again, she’s kept limited and is more of a brief spectacle than an ongoing problem.

A lot of the show is exactly as you’d expect. Small character moments where they go through their daily routines and just enjoy the simple things in life together. There’s a real charm in that to be sure, but we’ve seen it so many times that there’s little here to really distinguish it against the others in terms of characters. The biggest positive, weird to say, is that these are all fairly normal characters instead of massive caricatures. What helps to set the show apart is the beautiful detail and design work with the animation itself. The characters are fairly standard but they put so much into the locations, creating the mood, and building something that feels engaging and lived in that you can’t help but to enjoy it. They also really go big when it comes to animating the food and with the way that’s been a huge thing the last couple of years there’s definitely payoff for it. You really, really, believe that these girls enjoy it with the way they savor every bite through the visual of it. Which, for some, may be an uncomfortable viewing experience when it comes to watching middle school girls.

Gourmet Girls Graffiti Image 1

In Summary:
Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a cute show with some nice elements to it that builds a relationship between three young women over the course of a year or so. They’re all nice and problem free kids who don’t have any boys to deal within their lives, significant others, or even much in the way of parental issues, though at least those crop up from time to time. Largely, we get to watch them go about their lives on an irregular basis over the period where they bond and become very close friends trying for the same kind of goals and being there for each other. It’s a beautiful looking show that’s captured wonderfully with this transfer and fans of this particular sub-genre will likely adore it. It simply didn’t click with me as a whole as I wanted something more out of it in terms of story and character growth than it wanted to deliver.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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