Tag Archives: Summer 2016

Berserk 2016: Episode 1

Karen recently informed me that the new season of shows was coming out and I should let her know if I was interested in covering any of them. I told her (in all honesty) that I hadn’t been following the schedule and was open to suggestions. She asked me what I was looking for, so I requested something light and breezy….

Berserk Ep1 Pic1

Ah yes, the opening scene of any cheerful and uplifting anime. Just the thing I needed to get myself into the proper, fun-in-the-sun mood for summer.

In all seriousness, I’m a fan of the 1997 series and ecstatic that Berserk is being animated again (albeit in a weird style that makes me feel nearly as uncomfortable as episode 25 of the previous series did). Episode 1 does not disappoint, but it does show that, once again, the anime will not always follow the manga. One of the things I’m most interested is how the writing will (or won’t) be interwoven with what was shown the 1997 series.

The first scene is clearly aimed as much at manga readers as first-time viewers: many important characters are revealed briefly. However, if I didn’t know better, I’d think the fine swordsman-in-black walking towards the camera was the Hawk of Darkness; odd segue. In a throwback to the 1997 series, the opening credits summarize the history between Guts, Griffith, and Casca. If I had to complain about something in this episode, it would be the decision to deform Puck’s appearance so soon after introducing him (not that I really think it should ever happen).

Berserk Ep1 Pic2

While left-Puck could use some pants, right-Puck seems to need a slightly larger slice of the budget (which should be available considering the money they saved on pants).

[Where…where are his BOY PARTS????-Karen]

At first glance, Puck seems out of place in what is otherwise a serious and violent setting where nothing is sacred. However, you quickly realize that Puck’s character is needed to balance against the endless waves of darkness and evil. Puck’s ability to revert to his happy-go-lucky self shortly after horrible experiences contrasts Guts’ method of dealing with adversity: be too much of a badass to ever get shaken.

One scene does show, however briefly, that there is still a shred of humanity within Guts. While it’s fun to imagine him as an unstoppable machine, he’s just a man who’s been to hell and back again (I dare say literally), and will most likely need the support of others both to help manage the road ahead and to help him with his own internal struggle. And he has a really big sword (the late in the episode reveal was a nice anime-only touch).

Berserk Ep1 Pic3

[Adam didn’t send in a caption for this one, so I’ll take over…except I don’t watch Berserk and I have no idea what’s going on. This looks scary; I’ll be over here watching New Game! and leave the rampaging, putrifying skeletons to you brave people. -Karen]

Puck: You should run!
Guts: You’re free to go, if you want.
Puck: Why? What’s the point? There are so many… you’ll get yourself killed!
Guts: That’s nothing new.

And that’s Berserk. Looking forward to episode 2.

Food Wars S2: Episode 1

Screenshot 2016-07-05 13.44.41Food porn is very important in my life, mostly because regular porn does nothing for me and I still need something to be deeply ashamed of. And when it comes to food porn, you can hardly do better than Food Wars!, everyone’s favorite anime where people are figuratively (and sometimes literally) assaulted by flavor. The only thing this anime is missing is an animated Anthony Bourdain to make snarky comments about overcooked veal…hmm, am I the only one who wants Anthony Bourdain: The Anime? I can’t be the only one.

Anyway, between this and the adorably delectable Sweetness and Lightning, I’m probably going to gain about 50 lbs. this season just from looking at all the animated food; I guess my perfect beach body is going to have to wait for next summer, once again.

In case you’re new to Food Wars, here’s the situation: Yukihira Soma is an upstart diner cook who lacks the fine-dining training of his fellow students at the prestigious Totsuki Academy. However, he does have the ability to make anyone who eats his food have extremely vivid hallucinations, and this capacity for mind rape, as well as an appreciation for the many charms of down-home cookin’, has gotten him pretty far in life. He’s probably going to end up marrying Nakiri Erina, known as The God Tongue for her ability to taste precisely which cave rock salt was mined in, and their kids are going to be able to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like you wouldn’t believe. Soma is now in the finals of his school’s Autumn Elections (what it has to do with elections, I couldn’t tell you), and his first opponent is molecular gastronomy whiz kid Nakiri Alice, Erina’s half-sister.

Screenshot 2016-07-05 10.59.02This is what happens to people who eat Soma’s food; they are transported into The Sound of Music.

Now, I have nothing against molecular gastronomy on general principle; finding new ways to prepare and serve food is fun, and it can add a lot of creativity to cooking. However, if I’ve learned one thing from Top Chef, it’s that everyone who practices molecular gastronomy extensively becomes, for some strange reason, a complete unmitigated asshat. Everyone who uses these techniques acts like they’re the second coming of Paul Bocuse, and it’s like dude, you took lentil soup and made it into a cold gel instead of a warm liquid; that’s nice but you’re hardly curing cancer here. True to form, Alice is an insufferable snob, and based on her creepy red eyes, possibly some kind of succubus as well.

Screenshot 2016-07-05 10.21.01They kept this shot up for about three seconds too long and it was hella creepy. Molecular Gastronomy is for vampires.

I was surprised to see that Alice was going to be Soma’s opponent in the first round, since the first season built her up to be a pretty serious adversary; I figured he wouldn’t get to take her out until much later on. Nevertheless, the two are assigned bento as a theme, and the potential to load the box with gimmicks seems to play right into Alice’s pale hands. I think it’s cute that Soma was like “Oh cool, bento, something homey!” only to get smacked down by Erina for not realizing that bento is a Unique Food Culture and thus Serious Business. Everything is low-class chow until food snobs decide they like it, then it’s all “culture.” I’m just waiting for dunking chocolate chip cookies in apple juice to be declared cultural, because I need more encouragement.

Moving on, Alice makes a sushi bento box that looks pretty damned delicious, and makes me want some good sushi. My personal favorite kind of sushi is a shrimp tempura roll, something Alice would probably turn up her nose at, but hey, that’s why she’s the enemy. She uses more hi-tech equipment than NASA has these days, and reactions to her insanely over-thought dish are favorable. The show wants us to believe that all of these technical bells and whistles Alice uses actually enhance the flavor of food rather than just looking cool, but I have my doubts that this works in reality.

Screenshot 2016-07-05 10.33.35I may not like Alice, but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t gobble this up. It’s been too long since I’ve had really good sushi. Why does it have to be so expensive?

Soma of course makes a down-home bento that has just enough sophistication to surprise the judges, but really succeeds on depth of flavor rather than flash. Interestingly, Alice pretty much says point blank “Is this the part where you’re going to tell me that food needs to have Heart?”, hanging a lampshade on where this story typically goes. However, Alice’s grandpa (who is also Heihachi Mishima of Tekken fame; there is no logic to this, he just is) points out that the issue isn’t heart, it’s understanding the essence of the dish. Soma’s bento was something that worked as a bento first and foremost, whereas Alice’s dish was just a box that happened to contain a bunch of tasty stuff. Which…kind of sounds like heart, actually. I do understand the distinction, where “heart” is a mushy feel-good concept that doesn’t really mean anything, but understanding the particular merits of a format is essential in cooking competitions. Still, Soma ends up winning because he celebrated the Soul of Bento, and Alice was too arrogant to fully embrace the format.

So…it’s all about heart, guys. Don’t listen to Heihachi when he says it isn’t. I just hope Soma finds more novel ways to defeat his opponents, because a whole bunch of episodes of “but only Soma truly CELEBRATED the form of the Turkey Pot Pie!” is going to get old. I honestly don’t remember how they dealt with this during the first season.

Next up, shy Tadakoro Megumi us up against…Goth Kid? Okay, I really don’t remember the first season all that well. I do remember Megumi butchering a giant fish that was bigger than she was, so I hope she does more of that; imagine they bring in a giant whale on a hook, and then people are like “you can’t cook a whale, they’re endangered!”, then Heihachi is like “LOL this is Japan you fools, if it’s in the ocean it goes in my face,” then Erina is like “Grandpa, put your pants back on,” and Soma is like “We used to serve whale sandwiches at my diner on Tuesdays,” and Soma’s dad is like “I’m going to let you in on a little secret, son: it was never really a diner. It was a haute cuisine restaurant in trashy diner clothing,” and Soma is like “Oh My God my whole life has been a lie.”

Ah…Food Wars! is back. It’s a good day.

Screenshot 2016-07-05 10.35.25

Here it is, the patented Food Wars! “assaulted by the FLAVA!” reaction shot! I missed this. Alice gets one too, and hers is topless…maybe I should have screencapped that one instead.