Serious about noodling around
(Warning: watching this show on an empty stomach will result in embarrassingly audible stomach growling, noodle cravings on an abnormal scale, and making ramen plans with friends.)
Adapting the manga of the same name by Naru Narumi, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles follows a high school girl following a high school girl following her taste buds from ramen restaurant to ramen restaurant. The titular Koizumi, whose strands of thick blonde hair flow in the wind akin to noodles floating in flavorful broth, is as aloof as can be … until the topic of ramen comes up. Koizumi’s knowledge of noodles is more than one bowl deep, you see, and her enthusiasm for talking about ramen is surpassed only by the ever deepening blush in her cheeks after each and every slurp. And for as much as Koizumi loves ramen, people love watching Koizumi love ramen.
Chief among those who love to watch Koizumi consume consommé is her classmate Yu Osawa. She’s developed a slight crush on Koizumi and is determined to find some way to be by her side. This usually entails trailing Koizumi to the eatery/eateries of the day and awkwardly trying to strike up a conversation. Yu’s obsession does not go unnoticed by her friends, who also come to (re)discover the diverse wonders of the ramen world.
Each full-length episode is divided into at least two servings, where Koizumi, with or without friends in tow, sits down and narrates (to varying degrees) the history, ingredients, and flavors of a particular ramen style. You’d think 30 minutes of watching a young woman slurp bowl after bowl of noodles would be deadly dull, but the experience is quite the opposite. Thanks to the show’s love of the source material’s obsession as well as the inherent humor in that premise and willingness to play with formula, things change enough not only to keep things interesting but to elicit some fine chuckles.
Variations in eateries and eating environments also help keep things fresh. Ramen shops come in all shapes and sizes, and even instant options at local convenience stores are explored. Much like the izakayas in the ultimate eating/drinking appreciation manga/anime, Wakako-zake, the ramen shops in Koizumi’s world are down to earth in their detail but as unique as the dishes they serve. The art distinguishes each while keeping within the same general style—realistic but not photo-swapped advertisement. There’s a lot of name drops and visits to famous shops and regions, but thankfully none of that ever feels promotional. The only thing being sold here is the experience of tasting something wonderful, and the only fanservice paid is to the art in the bowls.
As any good OP should, Ms. Koizumi’s balances character introductions and premise with a backing song (“FEELING AROUND” by Minori Suzuki) as energetic as Koizumi is enthusiastic and Yu is smitten. The chibi-fied ED continues the bowl theme while emphasizing the more comedic aspects of the show. Neither the OP nor ED can be skipped if you find yourself drawn into this world (or, rather, drawn to watching this world), and both help, respectively, hype you up for and laugh you out of each installment.
Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, with a side of Takunomi, is a wonderful attempt at more Wakako-zake. The noodle-centric show is, in its own right, competent and fun and engaging and, in truth, really doesn’t require any comparison. But there are aspects that hearken back to that supreme foodie experience that beg the question: why have we not gotten more Wakako-zake? Still, this review, or its sister review of Takunomi, isn’t about why on God’s green Earth we haven’t gotten more Wakako-zake anime, it’s about finding acceptable substitutes in the meantime. To this end, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles is a success that falls just a bit short due to its run time. Recommended.
Rating: Not Rated