Food is life. Food makes the world a bright and beautiful place, and, as a foodie, watching anime that revolves around cooking and recipes are some of my favourite types of things to watch. As I was browsing CrunchyRoll’s Spring catalogue, I came across a show called Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food from Another World. It at once reminded me of another show that I had watched last year called Restaurant to Another World, a series that I liked quite a bit. So, on a whim, I figured I would check it out. While the food part of the first episode was very interesting, I could barely savour it due to the terrible way that the show is constructed.
Isekai Izakaya is about a small, old-school style Japanese restaurant whose doors open to different dimensions, or different fantastical worlds. People from these places visit the izakaya in hopes of trying unique cuisine that is unlike anything else they have ever come across. Each day, the owner creates a special dish to serve to his customers.
The ONA (original net animation) is being produced by studio Sunrise, directed by Katsumi Ono, and is an adaptation of the shōnen, fantasy light novel series originally written by Natsuya Semikawa. So far there have been two instalments released without any indication that more shall follow or not.
If any of you watched Restaurant to Another World, you will notice that even the synopsis has an uncanny resemblance. While there are some creepy similarities, the one thing that Restaurant has that Isekai Izakaya does not is quality content.
The episodes are approximately 10-minutes long. At the end, there is an extra that cooking-enthusiasts will appreciate as it is a real-life person sharing a special variation on the dish showcased in the episode, called Nobu Plus, providing a full recipe and cooking directions so the audience can try their luck at making the dishes at home. This rounds off the episode to 13-minutes, followed by an ending song. The length in and of itself is not a terrible thing, as the time is spent on getting to the point (talking about the meals) and stopping for the day. But very little to no information is given on the world that the restaurant has visited, or how these people discovered its location. Maybe I am spoiled from Restaurant to Another World, and because of the similarities I cannot help except compare the two. I am open to this being a very real possibility, but whatever the reason, I was left wanting more than I got, and while I did appreciate the human at the end sharing fun ways to cook stuff, I would have preferred the extra time be spent on the anime itself.
I could deal with the vague fantasy elements and lack of world-building for tasty food. I am not above admitting this, but the biggest and most frustrating part of the watching experience was all the goddamn text splayed all over the screen the entire time! The title of the show and episode were constantly at the top of the screen. Constantly. Additionally, other types of text kept popping up, most of it covering the food. It occurred when the characters talked about the strange names of what they were eating, and it occurred as sound effects when they made noises of decadent pleasure while swallowing (well, that sounds wrong). It was so unbelievably crowded that I completely lost focus on what was happening between the characters, or what food was being shown, and instead tried to keep up with the text. It catches your eyes easily and is so fucking distracting. I hated it so much.
I wish I could comment on how well the animation quality was or what I thought of other aspects, but honestly, it was too much of a hot mess for me to even try. From what I did gather, before my frustration got the better of me, the animation for everything other than the food was subpar at best.
As it stands, I do not recommend Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food from Another World. If you enjoy anime food and do not believe that you would be bothered by all the unnecessary UI text, which is pictured in the screenshots, then I say go for it. It helps that it consists of very short episodes. But all in all, this is a case of too much. Just too bloody much.
You can watch Isekai Izakaya on CrunchyRoll on Thursday evenings. So far only two episodes have been released, and I am not sure if more will follow as it is an ONA.