Toriko is my kinda dude. Like the TV dinners of the same name, he is most definitely a Hungry Man™. He makes his living as a "Gourmet Hunter," but don't let that create images of prancing deer and other such relatively harmless game in your head. A Gourmet Hunter nets the wildest of the wild; beasts of legend with capture level rankings that correspond to the difficulty of reeling 'em in. This is all a means to an end, though, as Toriko's true ambition is filling the blanks of his ideal "full course menu," and he can only accomplish this by sampling all the wild has to offer.
Did I mention that Toriko also lives in an honest to goodness gingerbread house made entirely of candy 'n treats? He is my hero.
With a lead this close to the "Brawny Man" zone, it's fitting that we must view him through the eyes of true protagonist Komatsu. A five-star chef employed by Hotel Gourmet, Komatsu is the type of sheepish and reserved character that most readers will find more relatable than Toriko himself. He's not a total wiener, though. His curiosity and enthusiasm for his craft compels him to join Toriko on his hunt for the Garara Gator, which has a capture level of five.
This hunt marks their first excursion as somewhat of an oddball team, but it certainly won't be their last. The formula of Toriko is apparent right from the start in true shonen fashion—the first hunt may be explained as an absurdly high-level catch, but we know it's just the beginning. Tougher and tougher creatures will quickly follow, some of which we get a taste in the first volume when Toriko takes on his next goal: making it past a large group of four-armed Troll Kong monkeys to nab the coveted Rainbow Fruit. See, not all the concoctions here are for the carnivores.
These first few chapters serve up an incredibly strong start for Toriko, so I'm totally ready for this formula to mix and expand. It's already been established that Toriko isn't the only Gourmet Hunter out there, and it's taking all my strength not to peek into the dark depths of Wikipedia or some other fine well of (mis)information just to see what else we may have to look forward to as the series progresses.
Mangaka Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro exercises the perfect, boisterously masculine style for Toriko's wild antics. Some aspects of it bring to mind a sort of hodge-podge of elements from other series; Toriko's face is practically a smorgasbord of protagonists past. Take some Akira Toriyama, throw in a light dash of Tetsuo Hara, sprinkle in perhaps a smidgen of Takehiko Inoue—not to get all Emeril on you, but BAM!
The action, of prime importance within the genre, is pulled off fantastically. If simply hunting and catching these colossal beasts doesn't impress you, wait'll you see how Toriko disposes of them, when necessary. It's like some alternate universe Kenshiro with a penchant for utilizing kitchen cutlery imagery in all of his attacks.
With all Toriko
has going for it, perhaps we can forgive Shimabukuro for what this ANN headline
dubbed a "schoolgirl sex romp." At nine volumes strong, it would appear he got his "ya-yas" out prior to starting Toriko
in 2008, so here's hoping he doesn't dance with the devil before our culinary crusader's efforts conclude in the distant future pages of Weekly Shonen Jump
. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Publisher: Viz Media
Story & Art: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
© 2008 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro/SHUEISHA Inc.