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food

Sankt Gallen Sakura photo
Sankt Gallen Sakura

Kick off the cherry blossom season with Sankt Gallen's sakura beer


Petal Dance Type Booze
Feb 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
There comes a time when you just want to bring out the booze to commemorate a joyous occasion. Of course, it's important to do this responsibly. With the cherry blossom season hitting Japan, Sankt Gallen is making sure that e...
Love Kome photo
Love Kome

Anime about a rice-themed Idol group is a thing that is happening


Like Love Live but with rice
Feb 21
// Red Veron
"In a world where people are losing interest in eating rice, five students will come together to save their school, Inaho Academy, from shutting down by getting people to eat rice again." Sounds wacky, huh? Well, that's a real anime that is coming out in April for the spring anime season.
Norigami Tacos photo
Norigami Tacos

Norigami Taco's sushi tacos sound like an intriguing combination


The East and Southwest fuse together
Feb 19
// Salvador G Rodiles
I might've said this before, but I'm a huge fan of cuisines that combines things that many people would classify as a terrible mix. One of these special combos is Norigami Taco's tacos that feature shells made out of fried te...
Rice ball holder photo
Rice ball holder

Keep your rice balls safe with Arataya's onigiri holder


No more crushed rice balls
Feb 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
If you were looking for a compact way to bring your rice balls with you, Japanese Leather Items Creator Arataya came up with an onigiri holder that'll keep your rice ball's shape intact. That way, you can enjoy this...
Kit Kats photo
Kit Kats

Sushi Kit Kats are now things that are real


April Fools joke GONE REAL
Feb 04
// Red Veron
In April 1st of Last year, Kit Kat Japan joined in on the April fools festivities and "promoted" Kit Kat Sushi as a joke for fun and to tease us with another weird yet intriguing Kit Kat flavor that the west will never see i...

Japanator Unboxing: TokyoTreat - December 2016

Jan 30 // Red Veron
There are three tiers for TokyoTreat: Small, Regular, and Premium. Check out the images below to get an idea of what each package might look like: More details at the TokyoTreat site (Don't forget to use the code "Japanator")! Small - About 5-7 full sized Japanese candy and snacks (note: There were two of those red things on the right but I are one LOL) Regular  - About 10-12 full sized Japanese candy and snacks with DIY candy Premium - About 16-18 full sized Japanese candy and snacks with DIY candy, special item, and drink. Use the code "JAPANATOR" to get $3 off your first order of the Premium box! Free shipping included! 
Tokyo Treat photo
Sweet and Savory Christmas
[TokyoTreat provided the box and the reviewer has an affiliate partnership with TokyoTreat] One of my favorite activities is where I venture to the local asian supermarkets to pick up some snacks and candy to satiate my crav...

food photo
food

These kimono design-themed chocolates are too beautiful to eat


Why do these sweets have to look pretty?
Jan 24
// Salvador G Rodiles
I may be a fan of delicacies that are crafted to look like works of art, but there's something sad about seeing one's favorite food being turned into a masterpiece. While it looks amazing, one might have second thoughts since...

Gems of Japan: Handmade Onigiri or Onigiri From a Convenience Store?

Jan 23 // Lindo Korchi
After some time, I saw an onigiri in Kyoto. But this was no ordinary onigiri from the convenient store. Instead, it was a handmade onigiri that was prepared on the same day. Time itself had paused and there was only one thing to do: purchase the handmade onigiri, as well as the convenient store onigiri, and have them battle it out to determine which is the supreme onigiri. The battle would be done by a taste test. [embed]35504:6030:0[/embed] Handmade onigiri: It was huge. It seemed like 1 1/2 convenient store onigiri's put together. I was quite glad about that, until I took my first bite -- it was only rice. The ratio between rice and salmon was disproportional. Now, the salmon was great and tasted super fresh, but the amount was so miniscule. The seaweed was moist, which I didn't enjoy. A moist seaweed is chewy and tough to eat. The reason it's moist is because the onigiri is warm rather than cold or cooled down. It's a battle and I don't like to battle with my food. (Konbu onigiri) Convenient store onigiri: It was small and had a cool temperature. Opening it felt like a work of art, as you need to pull the wrapped down, then up, which tears the plastic in half. Then you pull right and left to free the onigiri of plastic. After, the corners of the seaweed sheet blossom a bit, in which you need to lay it across the onigiri in order for it to stick. Finally, the rice ball nearly becomes covered with seaweed. The first bite is full of crunch (since the seaweed isn't moist) and cooled down rice, along with a taste of salmon. Now the ratio between rice and salmon is also disproportional, in my opinion, but not nearly as much as the home-made onigiri. It's as if the homemade onigiri contained the same amount of salmon, but had an increase of rice. Japan Full Course Menu: Before tasting them both, I secretly rooted for the homemade onigiri, as I love homemade food. I also cook, thus I appreciate it as well. But with such a noticeably unbalanced rice-salmon ratio along with moist seaweed, I couldn't add it to the menu. The convenient store onigiri has made it instead. It taste delicious, fresh, crunchy, and cool. It's awesome. But I do hope to find a home-made onigiri that is supreme. (Yes, it's true: I purchased this manga simply because of the onigiri.) I asked a Japanese friend and tourist about their opinion. The Japanese person said they prefer the homemade onigiri, but it's a little more expensive and not as convenient to get as the one in the store. The tourist said he likes the home-made onigiri for its moist seaweed and warm rice, rather than the cool and crunchy one at convenient stores. That, I found interesting. What about you?
Gems of Japan photo
Which will be in your Full Course Menu?
My first encounter with an onigiri was at a convenient store located in Tokyo, Japan (huh, why does that sound so drastic? It's as if a showdown is about to occur). I looked directly at the well packaged rice ball, and saw...

Weekend Japanatainment: Cooking with Dog Edition

Nov 13 // Red Veron
[embed]35384:5942:0[/embed] Steak with Garlic Sauce Here is the latest and possibly final video with Francis. An easy steak dish with a garlic sauce made with some really good looking garlic. Just look at the garlic that Chef got, they're so pretty.   [embed]35384:5946:0[/embed] Hamburg Steak If you've never heard of Salisbury steak, it's basically a beef patty not unlike a burger patty with gravy and mushroom bits. It's an easy recipe that beginners might find not hard to make since there aren't much ingredients.   [embed]35384:5947:0[/embed] Omurice - Omelette Rice This is a recipe for "omurice", which is a omelette and rice put together with some chicken and tomato sauce. A simple and staple dish that we see in many anime and manga because mangaka are simple people with simple tastes. Also, Omurice is super delicious too.   [embed]35384:5948:0[/embed] Gyudon - Beef Bowl Beef bowl is an easy dish that is basically thin strips of beef that melt in your mouth cooked in a sweet and salty sauce with onions topped on rice. It's so good and simple.   [embed]35384:5949:0[/embed] Sukiyaki - Japanese Hot Pot The first ever video from Cooking with Dog and it shows how the show has come a long way since 9 years ago. Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish where meats and veg are cooked in a large and wide pot, similar to that of "hot pots",often at a dinner table for people to enjoy immediately after the food inside finishes cooking. Best eaten during wintertime for providing that warm deliciousness.
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Thank you, Francis
YouTube has countless channels on cooking all kinds of food and we love Japanese food here at Japanator for obvious reasons. There is one channel about cooking Japanese food that is very recognizable to many fans of Japanese ...

Food photo
Food

This Japanese cat-shaped water cake sounds like a purrfect dessert


It's refreshingly ameowzing
Nov 12
// Salvador G Rodiles
I've always been a sucker for foods that are shaped like other things since their creators took the time to create an edible artistic piece. One of these impressive treats is Mithiruka's water cake that's shaped like a c...
Sugar Cookie Cuteness photo
Sugar Cookie Cuteness

Tiny Japanese meal cookies are too cute to eat


Bite-size Beauty
Nov 10
// Josh Tolentino
Japanese food can be known for its presentation, and in some cases its carefully considered portion sizing, but this might be going a step too far...if we're talking about actual food. Japanese artist Masako (known as "chi___...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Delicious

Nov 03 // Red Veron
Loot Anime is a monthly mystery subscription box featuring items related to your favorite anime and manga. There will be 4-6 items with each box, about $60+ in retail value, licensed, and most are exclusive to Loot Anime. If you are interested in signing up for next month's themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off first your order at Loot Anime!  
Loot Anime photo
Sweet Tooth for some Sweet Anime Loot
My monthly craving for some anime goodies just got satisfied with the latest Loot Anime box! The lovely folks over at Loot Anime HQ provided us with this month's Loot Anime, and the theme is "Delicious". This month's Loot An...

Review: Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy

Oct 17 // Josh Tolentino
[Photo by Hiroshi Suga] Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy (Paperback) Written By: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Masuhiro YamamotoPublished by: VIZ MediaReleased: October 11, 2016MSRP: $14.99ISBN: 978-1421589084 One thing should be made clear right away, for any prospective buyers of the book: Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy is NOT a recipe book. It's not even a book about sushi, at least not "sushi" in the general sense as a field of Japanese cuisine.   Instead, Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy a book about the sushi served at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Specifically. That makes a significant difference. In some ways, one could see the whole book as something of an extremely elaborate menu or catalog for the restaurant itself. The contents of the book consist of pictures of the various types of sushi served on each , with the opposite page containing information about the dish from Jiro himself. The short paragraphs - blurbs, really - are written in a more anecdotal style, conveying insights ranging from why a given piece is served before or after other types of sushi to things like cooking methods or marketing times. In essence, each entry is a window into a Sukibayashi Jiro staffer's experience of creating and serving that type of sushi. Other, more sobering impressions can be gleaned from the otherwise brief notes, such as the occasional mention of increasing scarcity of fish available for some pieces. These admissions inadvertently highlight ongoing crises with overfishing, oceanic extinctions, and sustainable fishing practices. It might not be long before some of the celebrated pieces detailed in Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy disappear from the menu. The specificity of it all makes the book feel like a journal, a series of notes rather than a carefully organized, comprehensive guide. If Sukibayashi Jiro had a gift shop so that visitors to it could pick up a memento of their reservation, this book would be on the shelf. From the cynic's view, VIZ Media is publishing and selling a promotional brochure for a restaurant that many people will never visit.  That view might hold, if not for the quality of the book itself. [Photo by Hiroshi Suga] Putting aside concerns about the nature of its contents, Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy is an utterly gorgeous physical object. Despite the fact that it's a pocket-sized paperback, the book is constructed like a decorative coffee table centerpiece. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, reading the book feels like a genuine aesthetic act, something beyond the information contained in the text and pictures alone. The endpages are carefully textured and the whole thing gives off an aura of classiness largely absent from genuine travel guides or food books. Those readers who want to make the case for keeping and buying physical books in an age dominated by screen-based readers can file this one into evidence for their side. The content also extends past just the sushi. The main section is followed by a subsection detailing best practices for eating sushi, as well as a how-to guide for making reservations at Sukibayashi Jiro itself. In all honesty, the information detailed within isn't much more than one would get on the occasional website article. That said, having it come directly from the horse's mouth gives it an air of authority and authenticity. [Photo by Kenta Izumi] In the end, we have the answers to the dilemmas I posed earlier in the review. The purpose Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy is to be an elaborate, if heartfelt and earnest, bit of self-promotion for an expensive  very earnest, heartfelt bit of self-promotion. As for its intended audience, the gift-store patron crowd are the best fit. Beyond them, perhaps a friend who's a mega-fan of Jiro Dreams of Sushi and is planning a visit sometime soon. Genuine sushi afficionados or those less enamored of a famous little restaurant may want to hold off.
Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy photo
Slice of Life
It wouldn't be too much of a stretch at this point to declare that Jiro Ono - head chef at Tokyo's Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant - is one of the most visible Japanese culinary professionals in the world. Thanks to his and his r...

KFC photo
KFC

Ladybeard and KFC team up for wacky sauce music video


Chicken Sauce Showdown
Oct 06
// Red Veron
Wacky food commercials are considered to be a tradition in Japan, and we never cease to be surprised of what them crazy people in the far east will think of next. Well, KFC Japan just thought of something that will make you a...
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Weekend Japanatainment

Weekend Japanatainment - US Fast Food in Japan Edition


Supersized Selection!
Aug 06
// Red Veron
Here's another helping of Weekend Japanatainment! This time it's about US fast food in Japan and how something so familiar can be so different. If you've never been outside the US, American fast food places have spread across...

Japanator Eats: What's Japan's best rice?

Aug 02 // Lindo Korchi
Hakumai (white rice) is the staple of Japanese cooking and most popular. While genmai (brown rice) is healthier and more nutritious than white rice, it isn't considered as delicious as hakumai. Japanese rice is also sticky when cooked, though not mushy. However, mochigome (glutinous rice) tends to be stickier than regular Japanese rice and is mostly used to form rice cakes. Beyond the traditional format of how we view and consume rice, there's a unique form that the Japanese have taken upon, and that's mochi (rice cakes) – rice on a whole new level. It's made by pounding the mochigome into a paste and molding it into whatever shape desired. Typically, it tastes extremely bland and chewy; it's a traditional food widely consumed and served in soups during the week of New Years in Japan. Thankfully, mochi is also available year round in a variety of ways, including sweets. If you've ever had mitarashi dango, a popular Japanese sweet sold in many convenient stores, grocery shops, and popular hot spots, then you may have eaten rice without even knowing it. With the continuing rise of mass production, many Japanese continue to opt for fresh ingredients. If the rice was harvested, processed, and packaged beyond that same year, then it cannot be sold and labeled as shinmai (new harvest rice). But what's the difference between shinmai and komai (old rice)? The grains of shinmai contains more moisture than komai, resulting in an immediate difference in taste. It's like comparing moist chicken to dry chicken; though both well, it's quite a noticeable difference. While a larger percentage of the Japanese enjoy shinmai, many do prefer komai as it's dry and not as sticky. When it comes to fresh rice, moist rice is the freshest form. The purest way to try shinmai, or any form of rice, is to have a plain bowl of it. However, I typically enjoy adding something to it, may it be nori (seaweed), furikake (dry Japanese seasoning), or salmon. Because of its nature, shinmai is more expensive than other forms of rice that you can purchase in a shop. This would also apply to various forms of dishes that are made using shinmai, such as onigiri (rice balls). You'll notice that homemade, shinmai onigiri are more expensive than the “same” onigiri found in the convenient store. The best way to try shinmai and komai for yourself is to point to a rice product (either a pack of rice, onigiri, pre-made rice, mochi, etc.) and ask “Kore wa, shinmai desu ka?”, which translates to “Is this new harvest rice?” Or, have a Japanese friend who can recommend you places that serve either shinmai or komai. As you can see, there are a variety of styles of rice, including mochi, and they're all pretty good. Currently, one of my personal favorites is onigiri made of komai. It's not too sticky, it's pretty firm, and the nori isn't moist. A common dish is tamago kake gohan (a bowl of rice mixed with a raw egg). It gives the rice a creamy texture and is quite a treat. What type of rice do you prefer, along with your personal favorite rich dishes? [Photos provided by Myself]
Japanator Eats photo
Gohan no Showdown
Interested in the tasting the best rice of Japan? Well, you may be disappointed. Unfortunately, the word “best” is an undefined word that people continue to try to define. It can't be defined because it relies ...

Weekend Japanatainment photo
Weekend Japanatainment

Weekend Japanatainment - Japanese Curry Edition


Far East Curry
Jul 30
// Red Veron
If you've never had Japanese Curry, I honestly feel bad for you. Japanese Curry is a culinary curiosity, it isn't as exotic as its Indian or Thai cousins and comes in different varieties from sweet, hot & spicy, fruity, o...
Japanese Ice Cream photo
Japanese Ice Cream

Cool off from the summer heat with some Japanese Ice Cream


Beat the Humid Heat
Jul 28
// Red Veron
If you've ever lived anywhere that has some crazy humidity, then you know how summer can just completely ridiculous where it feels like being in a sauna every single time you're outdoors. Japan just happens to be one of those...

Gems of Japan: Tasting Yakisoba & Okonomiyaki in Asakusa

May 14 // Lindo Korchi
When checking online, it didn't take long for me to discover that the most popular Okonomiyaki shop was Sometaro, located in Asakusa, Tokyo. I decided to begin my journey there.When I arrived at the shop, there was a queue that lasted for 40 minutes. After, I went inside. It was small, cozy, and warm. After viewing the menu, I gravitated to the noodle dishes and saw "yakisoba", or fried buckwheat, and decided to give it a try. I had yakisoba from the convenient store and didn't like it; a friend told me that I had to have one from a restaurant to really enjoy it. Which persuaded me to order. [embed]35014:5607:0[/embed] I believe I ordered the gomoku yakisoba. I was amazed to see that one of the staff members brought out all the ingredients and cooked my meal right before me. As for the taste? Although I like Japan, I'm not going to kid myself into liking something because it derives from the country. At the end, it was so-so. On top of that, it wasn't filling at all and I was still left hungry. However, the presentation was good. A couple of days later, I returned. This time, to order the dish that Sometaro is most famous for -- okonomiyaki. [embed]35014:5608:0[/embed] I believe I chose the gomokuten okonomiyaki. As with the yakisoba, all the ingredients were brought and cooked right before me. As for the taste? It was pretty good. I would've needed two or 1 1/2 to be full, though. The presentation was also extremely well, as it had more ingredients. Overall, I'd recommend okonomiyaki as it's really tasty. However, the most popular okonomiyaki is associated with Kansai, or to be more specific, Osaka. So if I choose to eat okonomiyaki in Osaka, I'll be interested to see if there's much of a difference, overall.When you try either one of these dishes, regardless if it's at the same shop or not, let me know your thoughts on it and which dish you prefer.
Gems of Japan photo
There Can Only Be One Winner
During my first trip to Japan, I heard a lot of people talk about Okonomiyaki. I didn't know what it was, except that some people labeled it the Japanese equivalent to pizza. I don't agree. It's more of a pancake than anything else. Nonetheless, I was interested in this pancake-pizza.

Gems of Japan photo
Gems of Japan

Gems of Japan: Find golden sweets at this awesome Akiba pastry shop


Put This On Your List
May 07
// Lindo Korchi
When it comes to Japanese sweets, it's difficult to taste ones that aren't satisfactory. Unless we're talking about anko (sweet red bean paste), which I still haven't gotten quite used to. But during my first couple of days r...
McDonald's photo
McDonald's

McDonald's Anime Commercial makes minimum wage look fun


I'm lovin' this Commercial
Mar 19
// Red Veron
McDona'd's isn't doing so hot lately in the US but I think they are doing better in Japan with interesting gimmicks that has captured the attention of the public such french fries drizzled with chocolate. Weird food was one t...
Ramen photo
Ramen

Chocolate Ramen is here for Japanese Valentine's Day


Savory and Sweet
Feb 12
// Red Veron
Japan is one of those places synonymous with odd and interesting food science with their culinary products and here we are again reporting on just that. Chocolate is the common staple for Valentine's day in Japan, and now swe...
McDonald's photo
McDonald's

Watch people try out McDonald's Chocolate French Fries


Sweet and Savory
Jan 27
// Red Veron
Japan has always been associated with weird and unusual stuff, and the food they come up with is usually what turns heads when they come up with something new or different. McDonald's Japan, taking something so American as Fr...

Final Impressions: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Oct 07 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, the Autumn Election preliminaries were nearly over. Group B finished their turn and Alice Nakiri, Arato Hisako, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadakoro are the first four to advance to the actual competition. When we last left Group A, Ryo Kurokiba made his mark by taking first place with 93 points and the rest of the Polar Star dorm, while good, struggled to reach that height. At episode's end Akira Hayama stepped up to serve his dish,  weird curry souffle looking thing that spewed all sorts of tantalizing scents when punctured (that he called a "fragrance bomb"). And with the finale, we learn why it's so effective. Thanks to a mix of holy basil and yogurt (to balance out its pungent nature) his curry throws the judges for a loop. After some reaction shenanigans, they give his dish 94 points, with two of the judges giving a max score of 20 (it's important to note the spread was 18/20/18/20/18). But right as Akira was celebrating his win, Soma revealed that he too worked on a "fragrance bomb" type of meal.  Learning from his past losses and mistakes (such as losing to his Dad a few episodes back and nearly failing the buffet task with his omelets during the boot camp), Soma slyly combines the two efforts as a way to get back at his past self. Serving curry rice inside of an omelette pocket, he's managed to learn all about spice from the few days he learned about curry from Akira. Like how Akira balanced his spice with yogurt, Soma made a mango chutney in order to give it a bit of sweetness. Unfortunately, the dish wasn't enough to earn the top spot and Soma nets 93 points. But three of the judges rated his dish higher than Akira's, however (so it's 19/18/19/18/19) thus deepening their rivalry. That brings Group A to a close, and seven students are confirmed for the finals. Then the kids all celebrate, though Soma vows to work harder in order to claim victory. There's an eighth student to be revealed later (though the episode doesn't say this), and he's such a huge part of the semifinals, I'm sure they're saving his reveal for the next season. If there is one.  Although I had a lot of fun with the series overall, I'm pretty worried about the future of the show. Community members MSJ and RoboYuji pointed out that my complaint of cutting everything short was unfounded, and I'll admit that I didn't consider that the show would need filler in order to give the manga time to get further ahead. I'd hate to see what a filler arc would like since the official filler here (whatever the heck the "Karaage Wars" was) was pretty garbage. But since the manga has gone far past the Autumn Elections already (and has a more natural endpoint) it feels like we've been shafted since we're cut off before the actual fun of the show starts. But then again, that's just me being greedy. I just like the premise so much, I wanted more of it. I mean, what's the point of having two completely different title sequences if you're going to cut it off now?  There are bigger elements at play here since the show most likely didn't have the biggest audience (and a sequel season rests entirely with secondary sales), it's been rife with budget problems from the get go (as lots of shortcuts were taken with the animation and sound design was particularly spotty early on), but the property's so much fun. It just feels like Food Wars is ending right when it hit its groove.  But given my biggest problem with Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was there wasn't enough of it, I guess it wasn't so bad after all. 
Final Food Wars  photo
"Happy to serve!"
I first found Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma through manga. Although I fell out of touch with the anime for several years, I've been periodically reading manga through that time. One of my favorites turned out to be Food W...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 21-23

Sep 29 // Nick Valdez
Episode 21 After waking up from his brief nap teased at the end of last episode, Souma reveals he's been cooking some kind of rice and spice dish, but that's all we really see before the episode cuts to Group B and Tadakoro. As the crowd begins to turn on her due to her nervous demeanor, she pulls out her cout de grace, a difficult monkfish she showfully butchers. She learned how to cut it back home in order to help her family, and seeing them here in support has given her the confidence to nail it. But the brunt of this episode was devoted to the fierce rivalry between Erina Nakiri's aide, Arato, and her creepy stalker introduced two episodes ago, Nao. The judges in Group B have been especially tough as no chef has gotten over 20 points, but Nao and her super smelly laksa and kusaya curry manages to get 84 points (resulting in the header image). But Arato, with her focus in medicinal herbs and spices, manages a healthy curry which cleanses the judges of all previous flavors and basically got the taste of Nao's curry out of their mouths. She scores 92 points as the episode's close draws attention to the Aldini brothers.  It's a shame the show's going to end soon because I'm loving the anime's adaptation of the reactions. They're the best thing from the manga, but seeing them play out on screen adds an entirely new level.  Episode 22 As we join Group A's proceedings, Miyoko Hojo (the character who hates Tadakoro for relying on men and feels she needs to be stronger than all the men in order to succeed in the field) has started things off with a strong Chinese and pineapple infused curry and nets 87 points, Polar Star Dorm resident Yuki nets 86 points for her wild game curry, but then the Aldini brothers take the stage. Both present Italian inspired dishes with the younger Aldini, Isami serving a curry calzone scoring 87 and the older Aldini, Takumi serves a pasta curry and gets 90 points thanks to his putting cheese inside the pasta noodles. then Alica Nakiri blows the judges away (and shows her chops) with her science cooking as her deconstructed curry gets a hefty 95 points. Then, finally, we have the best girl Tadakoro. After everyone hilariously forgot about her, she serves the result of her hard work and love of her town, monkfish dobu-jiru curry.  Tadakoro manages to score 88 points (earning her new rival Hojo's respect) and earns her place in the top eight along with Alice Nakiri, Hisako Arato, and Takumi Aldini. Yay Tadakoro! Episode 23 We're back in Group A as the judges continue giving low scores (with some giving no score at all). But Ryo Kurokiba, Alice's aide with his shifting personality, manages to break that rhythm with a lobster and cognac curry (which he tells the main judge to slurp like a savage, hilariously) and 96 points. But none of the other chefs let that get to them as Polar Star residents Ryoko, Marui, and Ibusaki all net 86 and 88 points respectively with their dishes as Nikumi gets 86 with her meat don (which she's crafted thanks to her early shokugeki with Souma). But as the episode draws to a close, the arguably strongest student (since we really haven't seen his skills yet) Akira heads up to serve his dish and directly challenges Souma with his taste. As Souma begins to eat, he realizes there's a delicious scent pouring out.  Well, that's it. The final episode is up next and this is what I mean about terrible sequel series. Now we're stuck here until Food Wars 2 or something like that comes out. Hopefully it's gotten enough support overseas to warrant a second season. But until then, I totally recommend the manga. It's pretty good. But this show's been pretty entertaining in its own right (and I'll get into that with the final impressions after I see the last episode), and I can't help but love the exaggerated world. I hope there's more. 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Sexy curry
I hate how some shonen series are handled. If a shonen manga doesn't have the audience or allotted budget of a big Shonen Jump property like One Piece or Gintama, then its anime adaptation is doomed to "seasons." Instead of c...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 17-20

Sep 09 // Nick Valdez
Episode 17 When Souma goes back home to the Yukihira Diner for Summer break, he finds out his hometown has been struggling a bit thanks to a super shopping center, Mozuya, opening close by.  After re-reuniting with his childhood friend Mayumi (who has a crush on him, of course), Souma learns a little bit more about the Mozuya shopping center. Thanks to its specialty karaage (a type of meat chunk covered in different spices and sauces) recipe and ability to cater to tons of different people by the train station, Mozuya has been stealing his hometown's business. Mozuya's manager, Kinu, realized they were scoping the competition and completely revealed the recipe to Souma since she was so confident that they'd never be able to beat out her karaage. Seeing her so cocky, Souma directly challenges Kinu and states that not only will Yukihira make better karaage, but his hometown's shopping district will take back all the business.  Souma enlists the help of Ikumi Mito since she's the meat master, and must figure out a recipe that not only grabs traveler's attention but represents his shopping district as a whole.  Episode 18 After going through several types of karaage types and delivery systems, the trio devise a way to wrap the karaage into some kind of mobile burrito. The shopping district beats Mozuya and gets all the business. That's really all there is to the episode. The "Karaage Wars" arc is short, lame, and only serves to introduce a new key player, Eizan Etsuya, the ninth seat of Totsuki's Elite Ten and his mastery of the business world. It also serves to completely introduce the Autumn Elections as Souma's told he was one of the sixty chefs selected.  As you can probably tell by how brief this is, I really don't like this arc. It felt unnecessary then, and it's unnecessary now. Makes even less sense in an anime adaptation since there's very little progress involved. Characters don't move forward, the ninth seat isn't at all interesting, and Souma's just being Souma so he succeeds with little challenge. Let's just move on.  Episode 19 The Autumn Elections finally begin! Totsuki's Elite Ten sat down and handpicked sixty students, separated into two groups of thirty, to compete in front of the culinary world's elite. All of the main characters are obviously selected along with a few new rivals: Miyoko Hojo (who forms a rivalry with Tadakoro based on the news of her Shokugeki and disappointment that she was helped by Souma), Nao Sadasutka (a creepy girl who stalks Erina), Kurokiba Ryo (Alice Nakirki's right hand), and Akira Hayama (a chef with a specialty nose who can cook just be scent alone). Only the best eight dishes will make it to the next round, and with the task of making a curry dish, Souma and Tadakoro seek out the help of someone his dad recommended, Professor Shiomi, since she's good with spices. After some hilarious introductions and posturing, Hayama pretty much becomes Souma's biggest rival to date.  I love how Food Wars! pokes fun at the genre. It constantly interrupts big posturing (and has made ridiculing Takumi Aldini's rivalry a running gag) and undercuts a lot of the show's serious tone. You never forget how ridiculous all of this is, and I'm glad the anime has embraced all of this. Sure the constant chibi reactions reek of a smaller budget, but it's still good.  Episode 20 After taking a month studying different spices and curry techniques, the Autumn Elections finally, finally start up. Students are separated into two groups of thirty and only four from each group will advance. Group A includes hopefuls like Souma, Hayama, and Kurokiba, while Group B has the Aldini brothers, Alice Nakiri, and best girl Tadakoro. Nothing much else happens since this is also pretty much filler, but we at least get introduced to the judges, the Sendawara sisters, who're huge in the curry business, and there are some spots of notable prep work that'll come into play later on (like Nao's super toxic brew and Kurokiba's personality shift). It also pushes Hayama into the spotlight again since he's labeled as the strongest contender. It's a bit of a lark considering we haven't met him until now, and all this pushing rings false but whatever. It's such a shonen trope I just can't stand it sometimes.  Finally, finally, the good stuff is picking up. Next chunk of episodes we'll find out why Souma was asleep, see some crazy dishes (and their reactions), and the tone of the entire series is about to shift to something a bit quicker in pace. Can't wait. 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Spice of life
In the last annotated recap, I couldn't stop talking about how great the next arc, the Autumn Elections, was going to be. It's the manga's best to date, and if the anime plays its cards correctly, it's going to be the show's ...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Would you like some fries with your Yo-kai?


I need these!
Aug 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
So, I haven't actually watched a full episode of Yo-kai Watch or played the games. I have just ended up buying gobs of toys for my nieces and nephews, as they are insane about the highly successful series. In some weird way ...
Suntory photo
Suntory

Two words: Space Whiskey


Drinking finally reaches space!
Aug 06
// Soul Tsukino
In one small step to getting closer to anime space travel, Japanese distillery Suntory Holdings has announced they will be sending various whiskeys into space to age aboard the International Space Station.

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 13-16

Aug 03 // Nick Valdez
Episode 13 For the final day of Totsuki's survival camp, students are challenged to serve some kind of egg dish to 200 people within 2 hours at an all you can eat buffet. The major push of this episode goes toward introducing two new rivals, Alice Nakiri and her henchman Ryo Kurokiba. Since Alice is related to Erina, they have quite a fierce family rivalry (which leads to some funny introductions between the two and Souma), but Souma pays them no mind and ends up developing an egg souffle. But Erina quickly looks down the idea and notes Souma is making a huge mistake, When Souma gets placed next to Erina in the serving area, he's quickly dominated by Erina's eggs benedict dish covered in dry fish egg powder. The other students seem to be faring well, but Alice's egg dishes are completely ignored since they look like plain eggs served different ways. But Souma's dish is also struggling. No one seems to be choosing his souffle and they're collapsing fast.  Episode 14 Finally realizing what Erina was talking about the episode prior, Souma stumbles when he sees his egg souffles crumbling and ignored (since buffet goers usually don't eat every food when they're prepared, a souffle was a bad idea since they don't hold form for long). After taking a brief pause, Souma decides to draw in 190 customers within the final 30 minutes of the task. Jumping into this impossible task, Souma decides to live cook each of the dishes in order to draw attention. This episode had the slickest cooking animation I'd seen yet. To reflect his massive task, and how fast he was going, Souma was accent with speed lines, quick edits, and it was the right kind of flashy. This show has trouble at times since it wants everything to look slick (since cooking isn't exactly full of action), but thanks to this sequence we get all the action we need. Souma was able to complete his servings barely before the buzzer sounds. As we check in with the rest of the students, we learn Erina served something like 400 dishes, Alice (whose egg dish actually was meticulously calculated through science cooking) served 300, and everyone else managed to make it through the task. After some celebration of the final task of camp, about 2/3 of the students who first attended camp made it through the week. Souma then realizes he's glad he came to Totsuki Academy in the first place.  Episode 15 With the Totsuki survival camp over, it's time to head into the next arc, The Autumn Elections. After Souma and Erina miss the bus home, they have a chat about the Autumn Elections which will serve to get their name known to restaurant owners and chefs. That's also why the survival camp exists as sort of a preliminary exam for the Elections. But as the gang returns to the Polar Star dorm, an unexpected guest shows up, Souma's dad Joichiro. Souma then learns some interesting things about his dad: he travels worldwide and cooks, he was a former Elite Ten member at Totsuki (the ten best cooks in the school), and he and Dojima were once members of the Polar Star dorm and their Shokugekis helped expand the dorm to what it is today. At the end of the episode, Joichiro challenges Souma to a Shokugeki in order to see how much Souma has/hasn't grown.  And with a new direction for the series, we also get a new opening sequence. Highlighting some folks we haven't met yet, and playing around with how wacky its visuals get, this opening is fun and intense at the same time. But I think I prefer the first opening's song. Also, maybe because the show's spent a huge chunk of its budget, there were plenty of shortcuts here. The animation surely taken a hit, but that's okay given that it's not necessary until we get to bigger scenes.  Episode 16 As Souma and his dad enter a new super early morning Shokugeki, they get the household caretaker Fumio, the nudist Isshiki, and a poor sleepy Tadakoro to be the judges. To reflect how early it was, Fumio decides the challenge will be a breakfast dish that invigorates the three for the day ahead. Souma creates an apple risotto, an interesting choice given that apples would be hard to cook within a risotto. But thanks to some apple juice, the risotto is filled with the right kind of flavor and ultimately leads to the image above. But Joichiro unleashes his worldly strength and produces an all vegetable ramen (one he perfected working with a vegan monk), and resoundingly wins the challenge. Which makes that 0/490 for Souma, and it also explains why Souma's never nervous for anything since he's been trying to overcome his dad's strength all these years.  Remember when I mentioned how action lines can be used weirdly two episodes above, that happens a ton here. Have fast moving backgrounds clash with the static characters in an attempt to make them feel like they're being adequately animated is a cheap ploy. And it's certainly a lack of budget seeping through. I hope it's being saved for the Elections themselves. If it's anything like it is in the manga, it's gonna be sooooooooooo good.  I'll try to keep these closer together once the Elections start, so hope you'll keep reading! 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Eggcellent
Shokugeki no Soma is quickly turning into the highlight of my week. The only problem with covering a Shonen-type series like this is that each episode isn't very substantial on its own, but the overall package is compelling e...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 9-12

Jul 06 // Nick Valdez
Episode 9 Since the Aldini Bros did so well in the test (and used duck as their main ingredient rather than fish like the rest of the students), this motivated Souma to try something completely off the wall. Exploiting the rule that they could use any ingredient in the area, Souma decides to use Chef Inui's bag of chips. After some ingredient rummaging, Souma and Tadakoro (the best) make up some fish using the chips as breading. But as Chef Inui proves to be slightly absent minded, the two never find out whose dish was better. After some levity, we find out everyone from the Polar Star Dorm made it through the first day but then a harsher challenge appeared. Each student was tasked with serving fifty bodybuilders within an hour or they'd be instantly expelled. Souma naturally finishes the task quickly (thanks to all the experience of serving in his family restaurant), and ends up colliding with Nakiri as they both were humming along with the anime's ending theme. I love when shows break the fourth wall like that. It was a good sequence all around.  Episode 10 The first half of the episode dealt with fallout from the first day's challenges. The entire Polar Star dorm survived the evening test, and everyone is trying to rest a bit. Tadakoro's (the best) not confident in herself, so she's always afraid she'll mess up the dishes. We also learned a bit more about God Tongue Nakiri from Chef Doujima (who Souma meets in the bath), as we learn her skill is setting her out to be the top of the school. The second half kicks off Day 2 with Chef Shinomiya, the harshest of the Totsuki alumni judges for the camp. He's already expelled 30 students, and even expelled a student for using a scented shampoo on the first day. He's assigned them a recipe they have to duplicate, a highly technical French dish called the Terrine of Nine Vegetables (with nine veggies stacked on top of each other in a little cube with the same kind of texture).  He also forces them to work alone (and think of each other as "enemies") which hurts Tadakoro even further since she's relied a bit of Souma to this point. So she's left with some cauliflower that's begun to oxidize and fixes it with wine vinegar. But because she's changed the recipe (even if it tasted great), Chef Shinomiya fails her. When Souma calls him out on the poor ingredients, Shinomiya admits that he purposefully added spoiled ones to limits the students that'd pass. Then Souma challenges Shinomiya to Shokugeki and it gets mad intense! Ugh, Tadakoro is so cute though.  Episode 11 Although Tadakoro will always be my number one, Chef Inui is strongly vying for that top spot. Essentially a more evolved Tadakoro, she adorably argues Shinomiya's decision. As Chef Doujima hears of the Shokugeki, he forces Shinomiya to accept and now Souma and Tadakoro have to cook for their lives in an unofficial cook off to keep Tadakoro in school. As per Doujima, the Shougeki is set at two hours using leftover ingredients from Day 2's challenges with the Totsuki alumni deciding the victor. And more importantly, Tadakoro is made head chef who will decide the recipe. After some panic, Souma was able to calm her down and Tadakoro decided on a recipe. Thanks to some much needed levity (as the other alumni pick on Shinomiya) we learn a bit more about him too. After graduation he went to France and opened several restaurants and earned the moniker "The Magician of Legumes" because of his good use of vegetables.  Shinomiya serves his dish first, and it's a basic cabbage roll with high end ingredients. It's so good it leads to this week's header image. The last few episodes have been tense, and this one follows suit, but there's a good balance of comedy here. I laughed much more thn I have in the past. It's this kind of episode that brings me back week to week (and keeps me writing these chunks of summaries, haha).  Episode 12 Tadakoro serves her dish, a rainbow terrine (in order to show off her terrine recipe) with seven different combinations of vegetables and flavors. The alumni all like her dish so much, they alike her to a household yokai that delivers vegetables (since Shinomiya is the "Magician of Legumes") but unfortunately vote in Shinomiya's favor. But Doujima convinced Shinomiya to try Tadakoro's dish in order to understand why they favor her so much. Because her cooking comes with heart, which is something Shinomiya lacked and caused him to stagnate in his growth. So basically, the Shokugeki was all crafted by Doujima in order to give Tadakoro some confidence and to show Shinomiya that he can't continue coldly ignoring others if he wants his cooking to improve. It was a nice, light hearted ending to the arc.  Although Souma really didn't appreciate the loss. He hasn't lost anything to this point and it got to him. But seeing as how Tadakoro was happy, he'll let it slide.  That's it for this chunk! Next heap of episodes continues the camp and the start of Day 3. You know how we always have a few screencaps of each episode for you? Funny thing was that since I like Tadakoro so much, and that these episodes had a heavy focus on her, these were almost all Tadakoro faces. She's so adorable and the team always gives her good reactions. As for the little things, I don't notice them as much anymore. Now that the show has settled into a nice arc, everything seems more focused. The background noise isn't as wily, the characters are more developed, and there's far less intrusive fan service bits. Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma has definitely come into its own. 
Food Wars 9-13 photo
Tadakoro now, Tadakoro forever
Last time we left off, Souma and the other chefs were taking part in an annual Totsuki Academy camp where they have to pass a few tests. We're currently in the middle of the first test as Chef Inui wants pairs of chefs to coo...


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