Toriko 6

August 20, 2011

Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro – Viz – 2011 – 15+ volumes

I have a hard time believing this ran in Shounen Jump. It reads a lot like a “do whatever manly thing you feel” Shounen Champion series. Actually, it reads a lot like the love child of Iron Wok Jan (a Champion series) and Saint Seiya (a Jump series whose current incarnation runs in Champion). The only thing that it’s missing, something integral to every Shounen Champion series, is an element of poor taste. There’s no mean-spirited protagonist, no slapping women around, no penises drawn into the background, no serving people their own pet dogs, no messily exploding heads, no panties, nothing like that.

But it has everything else. Nonsensical manliness to the X-TREME. I like Iron Wok Jan better, because I’m a terrible person who thinks poor taste is hilarious, but Toriko definitely has potential.

It’s set in an alternate world, with manly animals that are hunted by manly men. The manliest of these manly hunters is Toriko, but he’s followed by “Four Kings.” In this volume, two of the Four Kings fight off shaggy birdmen who are unstoppable in the Saint Seiya sense. Toriko is literally in the digestive system of an enormous mammoth, searching for something called Jewel Meat.

I liked the fights for the same reason I like the fights in Saint Seiya. Much time is spent by the birdmen berating the heroes, telling them how strong they are and how the heroes can never hope to defeat them. Then the heroes use their ultimate technique. Then it’s revealed the birdmen are even stronger than they were letting on. Luckily, the heroes were only bluffing about the last attack being their ultimate technique, so they get to attack again. Repeat for 160 pages.

It’s better than it sounds, because in order to do this and not put the reader to sleep, you have to be awesome and over-the-top. Toriko pulls this off. Not only because the heroes seem to bask in their manliness, but also because they seem to use powers that have little to do with cooking. One of them has a poison body, for some reason. Hilariously, his poison is strong enough to kill a robot. One of them has “sensors” in all his hair that make it come to life and attack things. His final attack is also worth seeing. Toriko transforms, which seems way less awesome to me, but the fight that happens when both parties stumble onto the Jewel Meat overrode any concerns I had about this. Also, the fact that many of the fights are between half-naked buff dudes.

Granted, there’s not a whole lot of “meat” to this series, despite the fact that a lot of what they’re doing is hunting and consuming raw meat. And the insanity is more contained than I would like, which is likely a product of the fact it ran in Shounen Jump. But it’s exactly the sort of entertaining nonsense I like to read. I would totally read it from the beginning. It’s definitely not for everybody, though.

I also love that it is a “cooking manga,” but the covers never seem to reflect this. Possibly because not a whole lot of cooking happens. But it’s definitely about food culture. In its way.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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