I know, it might be a little bit of a stretch, but why not review an anime that revolves around delicious food this week, eh?
The original Japanese title is Isekai Shokudō, and it roughly translates as “Otherworld Restaurant.” I might have translated it more as “Otherworldly Restaurant” or “Restaurant of/in Another World,” but the official translation is: Restaurant to Another World. A little off, I think, as none of the characters actually go to another world, and neither does the restaurant, really, but I just get finicky over titles sometimes.
The basic premise of the show is that of a modern-day restaurant in Japan, the Western Restaurant Nekoya, which closes its doors every weekend, especially on Saturday. It’s a nondescript place, in an undisclosed location in some shopping district in Tokyo. But it has a secret: it’s actually open on Saturdays, but not here in our world. Through some mystical means, the door becomes a gateway to another world, a fantasy world with magic, elves, dragons, and other fantastic creatures. The door appears out of nowhere in all sorts of locations across the world simultaneously, allowing its inhabitants to enter the restaurant and enjoy the food of our world.
Most of the episodes are divided into two shorter stories, each telling the story of a patron, two of which become part-time employees. It tells the circumstances surrounding their first encounter with the restaurant, then relates their experience within, including a detailed description of the food they are consuming, and then they go on their way and become regular customers, but their experiences there sometimes help inspire them to reshape their little corner of the world in some way.
While the food descriptions do fairly little for me – I am an entertainment blogger, not a food critic, so long as it’s tasty I don’t care about anything except eating it – I rather enjoy how each customer has their own story. It’s a little repetitive, perhaps, but still enjoyable. Each story was unique, as was each individual. The importance of this food from our world, and how it quietly influences the fantasy world for the better, was intriguing and fascinating as well.
Occasionally, not often, the patrons are shown interacting with each other. With how they are quite the cross section of this fantasy world, that can be even more interesting, and adds something extra to the formulaic structure. Most of the earlier episodes were spent solely with introducing the latest character, but in the later half, we began to see some developments between them, and this, too, was intriguing. I wanted to see where these forming relationships went! Especially when it turns out that there is some method to the madness, there is something of a narrative at work here, albeit subtly.
Thus, my disappointment that we only had a dozen episodes! 😦
I mean, it’s not like I was riveted by the show, but I was interested in each new episode as it came out. In similar manner, I’m not rabid in my interest for more, but I am interested, and would certainly watch a second season if it were produced. I would watch it regularly, fairly certain I would enjoy it. In short, I would follow it to the end. Which, really, isn’t that the objective, to produce something that is profitable because people like it? Objective achieved!
So, if you want something epic and gripping and following a single, central story, this isn’t it. If you want something simply hilarious or romantic, this isn’t it. If you want to try something new, and sweet, and offering a cornucopia of related short stories, just to relax for awhile, then this, I think, is worth a look.
Restaurant to Another World is a fresh, unique anime, a collection of stories about believable, lovable people from every corner of a fantasy world, as they enjoy the food which we take for granted, but which is miraculous to them. It’s simple, it’s charming, and it’s surprisingly interesting at times. I highly recommend it.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.