This blog is something of a test to see if this ‘Full Season QandA Rundown’-style post is a better approach for the end-of-season reviews. Please leave your feedback in the comments on this more structured approach.
What’s the important information? ‘Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food From Another World’ is a Spring 2018 anime that aired for 24 episodes from April through September. It’s based on a Light Novel series by Natsuya Semikawa called ‘Isekai Izakaya “Nobu”’ and was also adapted into an ongoing manga series of the same name.
What’s it about? The series is about a traditional Japanese ‘Izakaya’ (that’s a pub that serves high-quality food) called ‘Nobu’ whose front door opens to ‘another world’. In this particular instance it opens to the pre-industrial Germanic inspired world of ‘Aitheria’. The series begins more or less as a showcase for animated food porn, but over the course of the 24 episodes introduces more characters and further develops the relationship between its staff and its patrons.
Why did you watch it? The series’ premise was initially familiar to that of ‘Restaurant To Another World’—a series I adored and was keen for more of the same. Though aside from the aspect of people eating unfamiliar food from our world (specifically Japanese food) and the fact that it’s got a magic front door—the similarities stop there. Every 15 minute episode spends 10 minutes with the ‘plot’ of the episode and 5 minutes with a live-action segment, which alternate between a cooking/recipe segment in the odd numbered episodes and a travel-style segment involving visiting different Japanese eating establishments in the even numbered episodes. My thoughts on Episode 1 & 2 specifically can be found here.
Did you enjoy the show? The first two episodes suffered from some technical teething problems—the screen was so inundated with text it was almost impossible to read at times—thankfully Episode 3 onward resolved these issues. The show is light entertainment and occasionally comedic with smatterings of character and world building throughout, and yes I did enjoy the show even if it wasn’t a substantial experience it still delivered a reliable good time every episode.
What was your favourite episode? It’s hard to pick because individual moments of greatness a scattered across quite a few episodes, Episode 7 “The Burglar” introduces the adorable homeless girl Olivia who ends up working as a dishwasher at ‘Nobu’, Episode 19 “The Female Merc” touches on some interesting gender issues in this other world. But for the episode that felt the most different and therefore most interesting it’d be Episode 12 “Beauty and the Abura-age” which has the only scene of the whole series that doesn’t takes place either in Aitheria or the Izakaya and also introduces a bit of Japanese mysticism which was kind of touching.
What were your most favourite things about the show? It may seem obvious to say the food, but the attention to detail on the food was incredible. Also the slowly growing connections between the patrons and the staff at Nobu was endearing.
Wbat were your least favourite things about the show? The show can feel very repetitive at times, which sometimes felt comforting and other times felt annoying. The episodes were released two at a time every fortnight and that absolutely worked in its favour as it gave enough time to miss the show but not too little of the show to feel like you weren’t leaving satisfied. I can’t imagine binge watching this show as I imagine it would grow tiresome quickly except for the most patient of viewers.
Who was your favourite character? While Nobuyuki, the owner and head chef of ‘Nobu’ serves as strong grounding figure there’s no denying that Shinobu, the head waitress is the undoubted highlight—not only my favourite characters but one of my favourite Waifu’s of the Spring 2018 anime season!
What’s something unique about this show? While the live-action segments were indeed a surprise, similar things have been done with other shows and so I’d hazard to say it was unique. The fact that these live-action segments were actually interesting however is probably something unique in of itself. Personally though the most unique thing about the show was the fact it was in part sponsored by the Japanese Tourism board which seems both inspired and odd; “inspired” because food is such a big thing about Japan that why not showcase it in an anime but “odd” because the show showcases nothing of actual Japan the place.
What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? As mentioned before ‘Restaurant To Another World’ shares some DNA with this show but rather than being a sibling series it’s more like an estranged cousin. Tonally the show is reminiscent of the café set scenes in ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ just with less CGDCT shenanigans. It’s also at least passingly similar to ‘Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family’—though I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of that show so bare that in mind.
Who would you recommend it to? Anybody who enjoys good food and watching people and eat and get happy about good food, and that kind of endearing food-culture that Japan has should enjoy this show. It’s certainly not a remarkable or life-changing anime but it does fill me with a warm familiarity and nostalgia that’s wholesome and appreciated. If you’re looking for plot or drama or heavy character development you won’t find it here, but if you’re looking for casual entertainment with personality and food porn you can’t go astray.
Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘Like your favourite comfort food, it might not seem anything special on the surface but it makes you feel good all the same’.
Final score? 74 out of 100.
If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!