Easily my favorite part of reviewing media, is getting to experience the many offerings that I normally would pass over. As crazy and outrageous as some of the anime is that I have seen, you could undoubtedly classify my collection as somewhat myopic in scope. Sure, I have numerous action, sci-fi, and fantasy themed shows, but I have never realized the breadth that the medium has to offer. Previously, I reviewed Yuru Yuri, which was my first foray into the “slice of life” anime genre which has every episode mostly self-contained instead of there being any overarching story. When Section 23 sent us Gourmet Girl Graffiti I had much less trepidation about watching an anime outside my norm than I had previously.
The Show (3.5/5)
Gourmet Girl Graffiti follows Ryou, a young University student who lives alone following her Grandma’s passing. Her parents work in the United States and don’t have much impact in her daily life, but often send her gifts through the mail. Ryou has (or rather had) a passion for cooking, but everything just isn’t tasting as good lately. She can’t begin to fathom what happened to her skills and is saddened that she can’t recapture her former passion. Luckily, her Aunt asks Ryou if she wouldn’t mind hosting her cousin Kirin on Saturday night as she will be taking Sunday morning classes at the same University. She meets Kirin, who is the same age as Ryou but much shorter and often gets confused for a primary school student. Ryou rekindles her love of cooking once realizing that Kirin devours everything she makes and keeps complimenting her cooking.
Each episode has a different flavor or dish to focus on. Ryou finds creative ways to cook for Kirin and often makes too much. With the basic premise, you would think after 2 or 3 episodes the show would become stagnant, but that is often not the case thanks to the imaginative and quirky writing. My favorite episode was when Ryou was alone and goes to the library to find some new dishes to make. What she discovers is a very different side to her grandmother that she never knew about through stories and anecdotes from others. Along with Kirin, their classmate Shiina joins for feasts in some episodes. The banter and growth between the girls feels fun and real. The dishes they made were quite fascinating and were intriguing enough that after the episode I would search online for pictures and see how it compared. I will admit there are a few dishes from the episodes that I want try out.
The problem with Gourmet Girl Graffiti is, I am unsure of their target audience. Most of the episodes minus one and part of another would be perfect for grade school children. It runs into fan-service territory and adds in a more traditionally ecchi style for a short time, which doesn’t seem to fit the overall tone. The worst part is it adds nothing of value to the show and hinders what could have been a nice little anime for younger children with it’s themes of family and friendship. I think it would be difficult as a parent to let your children only watch certain episodes. For others, the decidedly lack of action and dialogue heavy interactions may be a turn off.
Visuals/Picture Quality (4.5/5)
The picture quality is excellent, as is normal with most Sentai Filmworks Blu-rays. Colors are very bright and detail is excellent. Generally the picture is only inhibited by the talent of the artists. It’s easy to check out the type of animation prior and get a good opinion if it is something that fits your aesthetics. There are a few small spots where some of the frame looks darker than it should, but those are rare.
There isn’t much to the audio, being a dialogue driven show. Everything comes through clearly in the 2.0 mix. Potential buyers should note that this disc only has Japanese audio and no dubbing whatsoever. If you aren’t used to reading subtitles or don’t know Japanese this might be a potential deal breaker. I’ll assume this has to deal more with the budget and potential sales, but with the MSRP on some of these collections you’d think dubbing would be included. Personally, I prefer subtitles and found no issue with reading along.
Special Features (1/5)
- Clean Opening
- Clean Closing
- Other Sentai Trailers
- Disc Art
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Runtime 300 Mins
I have fully come around to the “slice of life” anime genre. Gourmet Girl Graffiti shows that good writing and dialogue with the right amount of comedy can be a joy to watch. It gets a lot right with just a few missteps along the way. Unfortunately, those missteps could push it from something child friendly and accessible as a first anime to more in line with the teenage bracket. Had they kept the same thematic tone for every episode I could easily recommend for any age group. Even with the stumbles I liked the presentation and felt engaged throughout the series. It also helps that the food looks delicious and gives me some cuisine to try that I have never heard of or imagined. The animation is spectacular though the lack of features and English dubs may hurt its overall appeal.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti is available to purchase from Amazon here.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.