by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro; adapted by Hope Donovan
published by Viz; $9.99 US
Gourmet Hunter Toriko travels the world fighting outrageous fantasy beasts in order to capture exotic (non-existent) foods.
At first, I was interested in checking out this title because of the food connection, but I quickly discovered that this story had nothing to do with actual consumption (unless you count the various poop jokes). The things to eat are trees that grow seafood or a dinosaur-sized alligator or bacon leaves or a crayfish cod (a fish with lobster-like claws) — things that don’t exist, in other words, but weird-sounding creations that either symbolize exotic tastes for pursuit or set up immensely dangerous things for Toriko to defeat. The gourmet aspect is simply the latest gimmick covering over a standard exaggerated adventure series for boys.
Toriko is hugely larger-than-life. He can create flame by snapping his fingers. He will face down anything, and often eat it raw, because he lives for adrenaline-spiking challenges. He guzzles three bottles of champagne at once to prepare for a new quest. His bare hands, formed into knife (flat) and fork (curved fingers) shapes, can cut through living flesh. Plus, (and this one I don’t get) he lives in an edible candy house.
There’s a ranking system, just so the fantasy beasties can constantly be labeled at higher numbers than the ones he fought in the previous chapter. The four-armed super-gorillas are particularly intimidating. I’m not sure how readable this will continue to be, since Toriko can beat anything, sometimes with barely-foreshadowed magic devices. To stay appealing, the creatures and items sought have to stay creative. So far, that’s not a problem; there’s clearly lots of imagination on the page.
The art is typical of this manga subgenre: lots of exaggeration, both in expression and the physical. Big shots set up outrageous settings. Lots of closeups show Toriko’s power, in his muscles or jaws. His anatomy varies as needed, with his head sometimes ridiculously small against bulbous arms, with muscles on top of muscles.
Quibbles: A bottle labeled 50% alcohol is described as 50 proof. Wrong, that would be 100 proof. More disturbingly, there are absolutely no women in the book. Unless the person eating noodles in one panel in the introductory sequence is female. She might be a long-haired guy, though. (The publisher provided a review copy.)