Why You Should Be Watching: Isekai Shokudou

There comes a time in every Why You Should Be Watching when I come to the conclusion on whether or not the article I’m going to be writing will be nearly long enough to be worth posting. In other words, today’s editorial was supposed to be Tsurezure Children, but since it is a short-form show, there really isn’t that much to say about it.

However, I will be doing a video on it later this week, along with Aho Girl, so I did want to mention You Should Be Watching those two shows and you’ll find out more about that on my channel this Wednesday when the video releases.

So without further ado, today’s Why You Should be Watching is going to be Isekai Shokudou (Restaurant to Another World), a show about a restaurant in our world appearing in a fantasy world every seven days!

Check out my thoughts below the break!

What I’ve Seen: Episodes 1-5

Isekai shows are a dime a dozen, especially this season, and alongside Knight’s & Magic, which I’ve already made a Why You Should Be Watching on, and Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni, which will be a fute Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching, Isekai Shokudou stands above the meager crop of below average shows despite its genre in some cases, but because of its genre in others.

For an example of what I mean, Isekai in light novels and anime recently have been trying their best to stand out from the crowd, to become the next Sword Art Online, with Konosuba becoming a huge hit in the genre while others like Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash stumble their way across the finish line.

Shokudou is unique in the fact that it isn’t trying to be an adventure show, and in fact, most of the anime takes place in one location: the Western Cusine Restaurant Nekoya, as adventurers, slaves, lizardmen, and all sorts of fantasy creatures and races come together to eat one specific meal per character, with the main characters of the show being the chef and owner of the restaurant, Tenshu, and his half-demon waitress Aletta.

In many ways, Shokudou goes at its own pace, as if it doesn’t want to be compared to any other show in or around its genre. While it does focus on food, it doesn’t make it a competition or go out of its way to explain every bit of preparation that goes into the meal like Shokugeki no Souma.

There are several tropes involved in the show, with the elf who eats only vegetables or the dragon who guards her treasured restaurant greedily enough to offer it her protection and magic, but these tropes only serve as a vehicle to the connection they have with their respective meals and the restaurant itself.

There is a lackadaisical nature to the show, with each episode divided into two separate stories featuring a character and how they came across the restaurant’s magical door to eat their chosen meal. Several of these stories do as much as they can to connect the viewer to the plight of the characters they follow, and while some succeed to an extent, the tropes that come with it make it more difficult to truly care about what’s going on in their lives.

At most, the connection is just there to make you smile as they enjoy the food, because there are no deep lessons or stories here to follow. It is simply a journey of several souls finding peace in a place of food, and despite my words of ambivalence regarding the stories involved, I still have a sense of relaxation and contentment after every episode… along with a voracious hunger if I haven’t eaten prior, because while the animation isn’t spectacularly detailed like Shokugeki no Souma, the food is still delicious to look at and will torture you if you decide to watch the show on an empty stomach.

To return to what I mentioned before about why this show succeeds because of the genre it’s set in, I invite you to watch an episode and then imagine the show simply featured regular people from all walks of life entering the restaurant in our world. While this thought may be appealing to some people, the fact that Shokudou decided to treat with a fantasy world offers a much more culturally and racially diverse menu of characters than would spring from the real world.

I don’t mean that our own world has any lack of races or cultures, but the opportunity to pick from cultures that are nonhuman, such as the lizardfolk story, offers perspectives and logic that wouldn’t necessarily exist in our world, both because of the races involved and because of the door to the restaurant’s existence in multiple locations.

To whit, while the lizardfolk story could have featured a less developed, village-like culture that exists in our world, the physical location of the restaurant in Japan limits the ability for such cultures or characters to enter, especially in the way the show offers.

Magic is key to the influx of multiple characters, and while this magic could have also existed in this version of Earth, since it is an anime, I imagine the possibility of going to a different world instead is both more interesting to the creator as well as to any audience who decides to watch the show.

I consider this fact a variant of “Huey’s Law”, coined by BestGuyEver when he mentioned that most of the time dressing up your point to look and sound attractive is required to get across a legitimate point since most people won’t stick around if you’re not putting on a performance, no matter how good your point is.

That’s not to say everything about the show is fine and dandy, because as I mentioned before, the animation is only just serviceable, a trait that many shows this season share. Not a lot of combat is shown in the anime, and when it is, it is simple strikes and slashes in quick montages or one-two action scenes. This might turn some people off, but ultimately the show can still be beautiful if it wants to be, as evidenced by the OP of the show, which features lovely vistas of a forest and the inside of Nekoya.

Similarly, the designs of the characters are relatively simple, especially on the more animalistic characters like the lizardman or lionman. I did notice that the women especially are more carefully and beautifully animated than the men, especially when it comes to Aletta or the elves, but that may just be a bias since I am a male, myself. I could very well have not paid as much attention to the men, but it is something I feel like I noticed.

Ultimately, the show is a comfort show. It’s not as beautiful as something like Flying Witch or as funny as Non Non Biyori, but it works in a way that feels like a good way to unwind after a nice meal, perhaps intentionally. It’s not the best anime this season in any regard, but it does enough concepts well that I’m willing to put this in the Why You Should Be Watching category instead of the Why You Should Maybe Be Watching.

Regardless, that’s all I have on the show for today, so go check it out to get your own opinions on it. It’s not for everyone, but I think most of you will be content with the recommendation. If you enjoyed this look into Why You Should Be Watching this anime, take a look at my last one on Made in Abyss!

And if want something a little more verbal, you can take a look at my YouTube channel where I discuss issues, ideas, and more through the lens of anime while giving insight into why I enjoyed the show.

If you want to talk to me, you can always leave a comment down below or catch me @Croswynd on Twitter anytime.

And, as I always say, remember to enjoy the way you watch anime, because as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that really matters.

See you next time!