The “premiere” of animated Toriko was technically the crossover movie with One Piece, but now that the official series has begun, we can dig into the adaptation proper and see just how it compares to Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s Weekly Shonen Jump manga (reviewed here and here).
For those just joining us, Toriko follows the manly man of the same name, an extremely skilled Gourmet Hunter who can tackle just about any prey and turn ’em into chop suey. Komatsu, on the other hand, is a fairly meek but skilled chef on the lookout for some rare ingredients. Thus does he end up paired with Toriko, thrust into a world of exotic savagery with danger around every corner as the two embark on their first hunt together: the Garara Gator.
This production by Toei Animation cuts right to the meat of things (pun almost entirely accidental), wasting little time on setting the stage. Perhaps they’re planning to reveal things at a later date, but jumping directly to Komatsu’s first meeting with Toriko could potentially leave those that haven’t read the manga longing for a little more introductory context. Having read the first couple volumes so far, I personally appreciated the nonchalant way the two meet and quickly commence their first journey, but the setup is certainly lacking something.
Almost everything else about the Toriko anime—directed by Akifumi Zako (Fresh Pretty Cure)—is spot on, despite some things being oddly toned down or omitted. Yes, proud puff-chest’d men and women of the world, Toriko has been a tad bit juniorized, but it doesn’t detract enough from the overall quality of the show to turn me away from the series completely. I think I can handle Toriko’s introduction sans him huffing on a large stick of wood like its a fine cuban, as awesome as I think that is. His fancy finishing moves are also significantly less violent than I recall them being in the manga.
I have to admit some bias, though, as I’m pretty much instantly chained to any series with an opening theme—by the inimitable Akira Kushida (Space Sheriff Gavan, Kinnikuman) no less—that kicks off with the GUTS! chant of chewin’ chompers. Even without that tantalizing kick-off, Toriko is a solid production with decent animation and a dazzlingly colorful palette. Sure, there may be a case against the show if you’ve got a bleeding heart for fictional species that may or may not be on the verge of extinction, but I personally find it kind of difficult to shed one single, dramatic tear for the likes of “Friday Monkeys” or “Toro Eels.”
Toriko currently airs on Fuji TV in Japan. It was recently confirmed that the series will stream via both Funimation and Hulu starting on April 14 at 6:00 p.m. PDT.
© Mitsutoshi Shimakuburo / Shueisha • Toei Animation