FUNimation brings the next big popular Shonen anime to the North American shores. Does it live up to the hype?
The short answer is kind of, but not really, at least in Part 1.
Plot: Toriko takes place in the Gourmet Age; the Gourmet Age is an "age where the world's manliest heroes quest for yet undiscovered culinary delights." Essentially Gourmet Hunters find rare animals to use as ingredients to fill their full course menu of life.
The series centers around a young Chef named Komatsu who's dream is to become a master chef, in the 1st episode he tracks down one of the four Heavenly Kings, named Toriko, to enlist him for a mission from the International Gourmet Organization(IGO Corp). Toriko relates Komatsu's dream to his own(fulfilling his full course menu), & soon the pair become "bro's" & are off on the journey together.
Characters: Over the course of the 1st 13 episodes included on this set we're introduced to a few more main characters. Tina, the somewhat annoying newslady who follows Toriko around in hopes to get a scoop. Coco, the 2nd of the 4 Heavenly kings, who is immune to over 500 different poisons & who's skin itself is poison, he can also foreshadow death with a 97% accuracy(weird, i know.) Sunny, my personal favorite side character, the 3rd of the Heavenly Kings who tends to provide the comic relief, is an feminine man, who is obsessed with appearence & uses his hair fibers called "feelers" as his primary weapon. Terry Cloth, a Battle Wolf that Toriko adopts once his mother is murdered, & Rin, Sunny's sister who has a massive crush on Toriko.
Story: Here we get 4 Story arcs in the 1st 13 episodes. The Gararagator arc which tells how Toriko & Komatsu first meet is a simple episode. Followed by another quick 1 episode story called the Rainbow Fruit arc, which requires Toriko to battle through an entire nest of Troll Kongs to get his prize. Next we get a 3 episode story called the Puffer Whale arc, where we are introduced to Coco, who tags along with Toriko & Komatsu into the caverns to find a rare delicacy that can only be found once every 10 years. The Set finishes off with the first half of the Regal Mammoth arc where Toriko is hired by the IGO to get the elusive Jewel Meat.
The Dub Cast: For a cast of mostly newcomers & up&comers, Toriko has some very good acting. The definite standouts are newcomer in the anime world Aaron Roberts(the voice of Sunny), who captures the feminine heavenly king perfectly. I expect lots of great things in the future of voice over from this guy. The other standout is Ian Sinclair(the voice of Toriko, probably best known as Bardroy from Black Butler) definitely brings his A game as the loveable muscle bound glutton in a great performance that only gets better over time! The other core actors also do an admirable job in their roles.
The positives: The main positive is this show is a TON of fun, not much substance/plot, but just mindless enjoyable fighting fun. The characters all greatly compliment each other & they balance the screen time between them very well. The banter between some(Toriko & Sunny) of the characters is well written.
The Negatives: I only have 1 problem with Toriko. The pacing is all over the map. In this set we have 4 arcs, 2 that last only 1 episode, 1 that lasts about 3 episodes, & then the final arc that lasts the rest of the set plus a portion of the next set. Having seen the other sets, i can tell you it's not something that improves either. There are arcs that seem to drag(Ice Hell or the Regal Mammoth arc) & then there are arc's that should be fleshed out a bit better(the BB Corn Arc, Gourmet world arc) that just...end. It's not a major problem or anything, just a minor annoyance.
Toriko comes with 2 language tracks. Option 1: A 5.1 Surround English dub. Option 2: Japanese Stereo with option English Subtitles. I always prefer to watch anime dubbed, so i viewed it in English only. The dub cast was solid in this 1st set but get better as the sets go.
The 1.77:1 aspect ratio works fine. The color of the animation was vibrant & is surprisingly good for DVD.
The 1st set contains episode 1 & 9 commentaries, textless opening & closing themes, a US Trailer for Toriko & your standard FUNimation trailers.
The episode 1 commentary features Ian Sinclair(Toriko) & Josh Grelle(Komatsu), while the episode 9 commentary features Ian, Aaron Roberts(Sunny) & Leah Clark(Rin.) Both were fun to listen to.
Toriko is a unique anime that gets better with each DVD set. The series combines some laughs with lots of great action, quality acting from the cast, silly puns(what the fork!) & solid animation. DBZ + One Piece + Food = Toriko. Consider this RECOMMENDED.