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Toriko: Part 2

FUNimation // Unrated // February 5, 2013
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted February 20, 2013 | E-mail the Author
The Show:
A mere two weeks after the first volume was released, FUNimation brings otaku more food-hunting goodness with Toriko Part Two.  This volume of 13 episodes features more outrageous fun and excitement:  Toriko and his friends search for Jewel Meat inside a ginormous Regal Mammoth, travel to the incredibly dangerous Wul Jungle in search of some popcorn, and go on a quest to find Century Soup in a place aptly named Ice Hell.  Fans of the first volume will want to make a point of picking this one up too.

Series background:
As the narrator reminds viewers at the beginning of every episode, "the world is in the Gourmet Age!  An age in which people quest for yet unknown culinary delights."  People in this world really appreciate what they eat, and vast fortunes can be spent on rare ingredients. To feed the world's insatiable demand for new tastes and textures a new profession has sprung up:  the Gourmet Hunters.  These are strong and tough fighters who are willing to risk their necks traveling to the farthest reaches of the globe to bring back tasty eats.
One of the strongest and most famous Gourmet Hunters is Toriko, one of the Four Heavenly Kings, a title reserved for the best of the best.  Along with his massive muscles (and an equally massive appetite) Toriko has a very acute sense of smell that allows him to track just about anything.
In the first episode a young accomplished chef, Komatsu, has been requested by the IGO (International Gourmet Organization - apparently the government) to obtain and cook a Gararagator and he hires Toriko to get the animal.  The two set off for the swamps and over the course of the two become pals and their skills supplement each other, with the hunky Gourmet Hunter taking out rare creatures and the chef preparing them.

The series soon picks up some other interesting characters.  Coco is another one of the Four Heavenly Kings and has a gentle and refined manner.  He's taken innumerable weak doses of poison to make himself immune to venom, and now he's able to withstand over 500 toxins as well as exude poison from his skin.  He also has incredible vision and is able to see much more of the electromagnetic spectrum than normal humans can which allow him to predict the future with a 97% accuracy (yeah, I know it doesn't make any sense... just go with it).
Another of the Kings is Sunny, an effeminate man who is obsessed with looking good.  He has thousands of super strong hair fibers that are prehensile.  Each one is capable of lifting 500 pounds and he uses them as his main weapon.  There's also Rin, Sunny's younger sister, who has a crush on Toriko and Tina, a reporter who hosts the show Gourmet News, who follows Toriko around to get the latest scoop on what he's hunting.
This volume:
The collection starts off with Toriko and company still inside a Regal Mammoth searching for Jewel Meat, a rare piece of meat that has all of the best properties of every other cut.  Things are looking bad; not because they are inside a giant animal, but because a powerful GT Robot sent by the Gourmet Corp is also searching for the elusive ingredient.  The GT is tough and merciless.  It massacres Rin and when she confesses to Toriko with her dying breath that she's happy to have had the chance to fight along side him, it sends the Gourmet Hunter into a rage and even that isn't enough to defeat the monster.

After that adventure, Toriko notices that his Battle Wolf (the only one in the world), named Terry, hasn't been eating.  He has a feeling that the food in the modern world isn't suited to the Battle Wolf's ancient palate so the pair travel to the Wul Jungle, a land ruled by ancient plant creatures that are incredibly deadly, to obtain BB Corn in the hopes that the wolf will be able to consume popcorn made from the rare plant.
The collection ends up with a quest for Century Soup, a dish that occurs once every hundred years when the island of Ice Hell partially melts and the water, combined with the frozen remains of ancient hunting expeditions, makes a wonderfully delicious meal that has never been accurately recreated.  The journey is filled with peril (what do you expect from a place called Ice Hell?) but there are more than just the natural dangers to worry about.  The Gourmet Corp has sent an agent to get the soup first, and he's willing and able to kill anyone who gets in his way.
I have to admit that I enjoyed this collection even more than the first.  Now that the characters are established and the world that they inhabit has been explained it's easier to not worry about the nonsensical aspects of the show and just go with the absurd and entertaining action. 

The program moves quickly too, especially when compared with Dragon Ball Z, arguably the best show of it's kind.  The battles rarely last more than an episode or two, and the subplot of Toriko's full course meal is actually progressing.  This 13-episode collection contains a the ending of one adventure, a full story, and the beginning of the next.  In addition there are a couple of transitional episodes too.  It's nice to see the show speeding along at a good clip.
The DVD:

The next 13 episodes of the series, 14-26, arrive on two DVDs stored in a single-width case.
Viewers have the option of watching the show in the original stereo Japanese with (optional) English subtitles or with a DD 5.1 English dub.  I screened this in the original language, but I watched an episode in English too.  Both tracks were very good, and though I preferred the Japanese language audio the English dub was very good.   Then fight scenes in particular were more forceful on the dub track, which isn't surprising since that's the only option where the rear speakers and subwoofer are active.  Fans watching either dub should be pleased.
The 1.78:1 image was pretty good.  There were some minor aliasing issues, but nothing significant.  The colors were strong and the lines were tight.
The set included a commentary track on two episodes by the English staff.  I'm not a huge fan of English anime commentary tracks, but if you enjoy these 'party' tracks where a group of people joke around while watching an episode you'll probably be happy.  There's also a clean opening and closing as well as some trailers for other FUNimation shows.
Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed this set even more than the first.  It's still not as off-the-wall wacky as One Piece and the fights aren't as exciting as the ones in DBZ, but it's still a strong show that will entertain adults and children alike.  It gets a strong Recommendation.
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