By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.
Again, it’s been a long time since I reviewed Toriko on the main blog as opposed to a Bookshelf Brief. Jump series in general tend to lend themselves well to a paragraph rather than four or five paragraphs, especially when the volume in question is ‘they fight for 10 chapters’. Luckily, there’s a lot less fighting and a lot more character development here, although we do get the daily required amount of huge fictional animals, death-inducing climates, and large muscled men beating things up, all things Toriko requires for its daily nutritional value.
It seems appropriate that the Ozone Grass, the astonishing vegetable Toriko and Komatsu had spent most of last volume climbing to, turns out to be a pointer to both of the major themes of this episode. First off, it’s something that requires two people to work together to eat it properly, showing off the friendship part of Shonen Jump’s traditional motto. Toriko and Komatsu have been close since Volume 1, but there’s always been a bit of a tagalong ‘normal guy’ aspect to Komatsu, with Toriko going off on some dangerous quests on his own when he didn’t think Komatsu up to the challenge. These scenes really show off how important Komatsu has become in Toriko’s life, and that he really is perfect as Toriko’s partner. (I’d talk about the BL subtext, but I’ve mentioned that in prior reviews.)
And then, amazingly, after one of the more heartwarming scenes in the entire series, Toriko promptly misses the entire point and goes off to Gourmet World on his own, something so amazingly stupid you want to smack your head. In general, we haven’t really seen Toriko’s youth and inexperience all that often in the series to date, and indeed I sometimes forget that he’s only about 25 years old or so. But then, Toriko is always after the big experience, and notably when Sunny finds out what he’s about to do he doesn’t say anything, knowing that Toriko is the sort who is only likely to learn through bitter experience.
And bitter experience is exactly what he gets, as Gourmet World turns out to be a hellish environment straight out of nightmares. The sheer scale of all these dangers when compared with Toriko (who, as has been noted, is pretty huge) boggles the mind, and you have to wonder how he’ll get out of there. The answer is ‘saved by a stronger character’, of course, but only in order to drive home the two important morals of this volume. 1) Toriko is not ready for Gourmet World yet, and 2) Toriko, needs a partner, REPEATED FOR ADDED EMPHASIS. Luckily, this time around he seems to get the point, even if this means we are treated to a sobbing Komatsu spicing up Toriko’s food with something he really doesn’t want.
Unfortunately, Komatsu’s cooking knife is broken, and they head off to get a new one from the amazing knife master Melk. Who looks… suspiciously bishie for a character described as scar-covered and a loner. I sense a surprise coming next volume. In the meantime, this volume gave Toriko some much-needed humility, and saw him finally form what will hopefully be an equal partnership with Komatsu. All this, plus lots of weird animals getting beaten up. What’s not to love?