Toriko: Part 2 Review

Anime

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Toriko: Part 2
Studio: Toei Animation
Publisher: FUNimation
Format: DVD
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Price: $39.98 – Available Here

Overview:
Anime series of the shōnen genre tend to be rather formulaic when it comes to story progression and nearly every single one of these shōnen series tend to feature humans fighting against one another in some form. However what happens when you take a shōnen series an base it on food instead of politics and survival? Well you have the series Toriko that’s what. Now while this unique series may have started out slow in Part 1 (the review of which can be found here), will Part 2 of Toriko fare any better?

Story:
Before we begin, let’s go over a bit of recap on the anime’s story so far. The world of Toriko is in the “Gourmet Age” where the only time anyone fights is to fight against monsters to eat them, not because of starvation but simply because their meat is so delicious. The people who fight against these exotic animals are called Gourmet Hunters and in their quest to find the most delicious ingredients they travel the world in search of a “Full Course Menu of Life.”

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After going on a mission to track down a rare ingredient, the young chef Komatsu quickly becomes friends with Toriko, a Gourmet Hunter so skilled he is called one of the four “Heavenly Knights.” Since their meeting the two have traveled to a number of areas and gathered a large number of exotic ingredients from strange creatures and many members of the main cast have been introduced along the way.

Now Part 2 picks up immediately where Part 1 of Toriko left off, in the middle of the anime’s first major story arc as Toriko and his allies battle against the Gourmet Corp’s robots in an attempt to find the rare Jewel Meat inside of the Regal Mammoth.  Throughout Toriko Part 1 nearly every fight or plot point felt inconsequential thanks to the fact that Toriko and the rest of the Heavenly Knights were so strong that any fight they entered would ultimately result in their victory.

This changes in Part 2 where Toriko, Sunny and Rin are pushed to their limits in combat as their reason to fight changes from simply reaching the Jewel Meat first to trying to stay alive against these devastatingly powerful robots. Their desperate actions and struggles to survive make for tense combat sequences that the series has been lacking up until now.

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Unfortunately it is worth noting that most of the fighting this time around focuses more on human vs human/humanoid type combat as both the hunt for the Jewel Meat and the consequential mini-arc for BB Corn and cliffhanger story for Century Soup see the inclusion of the Gourmet Corp now that they have begun moving in the open against the rest of the Gourmet world.

One thing that Toriko Part 1 lacked was explanation and exposition. Not only were characters underdeveloped but viewers were left with little knowledge about the Gourmet World and the powers these Gourmet Hunters possess. Well thankfully Toriko Part 2 remedies that fact by not only explaining a number of factors as to why the Gourmet Hunters do what they do and why the world is how it is, but also outlines the final goal that everyone in the Gourmet Age is looking to reach, including why the Gourmet Corp is finally moving in the open.

Unfortunately this final goal does seem to be absolutely ridiculous at face value and it is very easy to scoff at unless the viewer finds themselves really engrossed with the premise of the series as a whole but in the end the goal fits the entire premise of Toriko perfectly. That being said, there is a bit of character development here as Komatsu finally begins to stand up for his ideals and try to accomplish a few things on his own rather than simply tagging along on Toriko’s adventures.

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Ultimately Toriko Part 2 improves upon the almost non-existent story and character development of the first part of the series by not only offering actual difficult enemies for the group to face off against, but placing a clear, albeit slightly ridiculous, goal in front of the heroes and villains. As far as cliffhangers go, Toriko Part 2 leaves viewers off with another new enemy introduction which bears striking similarities to a certain transforming alien whose entire family tree involves cold temperatures in the middle of an interesting environment where they have more to worry about than just the beasts roaming the land.

Visuals:
Toriko Part 2 continues to impress with its vibrant color palette and gorgeous food designs. Unfortunately it also continues to disappoint when it comes to even the most basic character animations. While every piece of food that is highlighted or creature that is shown off may look stellar in appearance and the environments that the characters venture through are lush and detailed, the character design and animation quality struggles to remain consistent and usually dips drastically at times.

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While Toriko is always given quality animation detail, the character’s often fluctuate on size and at times there was even some noticeable color shifting between scenes. Any time that group shots of characters are presented the artwork drops significantly unless the viewer is watching the opening or the ending animation sequences. Thankfully, the series’ battle animation remains consistently high and the odd designs of the Gourmet Corps forces will certainly take viewers by surprise.

Audio:
Just as with Part 1, Toriko Part 2 features both the original Japanese dub as well as FUNimation’s new English voice track. It should come as no surprise that the English cast remains the same from the first half of the series and they continue to deliver an impressive and over-the-top performance that fits the over-the-top nature of most of these characters. For example, Ian Sinclair’s over-enthusiastic voicing of Toriko fits the muscle-bound glutton perfectly. It is also worth noting that the number of fresh voice actors have been placed into main roles for this series, such as the Narrator and Sunny.

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As far as background music is concerned, Toriko Part 2 continues to feature the same forgetful background music that is common for the shōnen genre. The opening theme continues to remain “Gatsu Gatsu!” by Akira Kushida which is fine thanks to how fitting it is for a series such as this while the “Satisfaction” ending by F.T. Island is used for most of Part 2 it is replaced with “Deli-Deli- Delicious” by Sea A which matches the series better than the former ending song.

Extras:
As far as bonus features are concerned, Toriko Part 2 contains a basic collection of bonus features such as the US trailer for the anime, trailers for other FUNimation releases, the clean opening and clean ending songs and actually three episode commentaries. The first commentary is for Episode 15 and features Ian Sinclair the voice of Toriko as the host, Heather Walker who actually voices Kruppoh, the bird, Morgan Garrett the voice of the bird’s owner Tina and Scott Freeman who handles Starjun. This busy voice over is quite funny thanks to the show discussion and the number of opinions passed around.

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The episode 20 commentary sees Ian Sinclair once more, Chris Rager the voice of Grinpatch and Chris Guerrero, the rookie Narrator, discuss various topics including food once again, which is actually discussed on every commentary track in Part 2. Finally the third commentary for Episode 26 features Ian Sinclair yet again, Kyle Phillips the ADR Engineer and Zongeh Goon A voice, Tyler Walker the anime’s director and voice of Zongeh Goon B and Bryan Massey who voices Zongeh himself. This larger group focuses on the episode a bit and continues to discuss various foods and how the series’ voice work and translation needed more bro in it bro.

Overall:
Toriko: Part 2 manages to pick up where Part 1 left off rather successfully by taking viewers deeper into the Gourmet Age by not only offering actual character development and story progression but explaining previously unknown aspects and setting a goal paired alongside impressive fight sequences. However where it has improved in narrative, the animation quality and visuals continue to drop to even lower levels than what was found in Part 1. Toriko: Part 2 continues to feature exuberant English voice work partnered with a better prepared narrative, the series’ animation continues to sour what could be a refreshing shōnen experience.

7-5-capsules-out-of-10

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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