by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro; adapted by Hope Donovan
published by Viz; $9.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Toriko is a world-famous gourmet hunter. He lives in a world where the most incredible monsters are also the greatest delicacies. His ultimate goal is to create the perfect seven course meal. To pay the bills, he’s working as a freelance hunter for the International Gourmet Organization (IGO). This volume continues the story begun in volume 2.
This is an over-the-top series. Toriko is a man who can easily lift a two-ton creature over his head, roast it, and then eat everything but the bones. He lives in a world with Bacon Leaves and Underbite Dragons. You’re either going to find this excess charming or silly.
Toriko is your typical Shonen Jump hero. He’s insanely strong, and each challenge only makes him stronger. At first glance, he come across as a bit of a brutish glutton. Once you get to know him, you discover he’s good natured and has a deep sense of honor. He only kills a creature if he’s going to eat it. Also, don’t mistake the quantity he eats for lack of quality; his palate is as refined as his hunting skills.
The most impressive aspect of the series is the variety of creatures and plants that populate Toriko’s world. Take, for example, the focus of this volume, the Regal Mammoth. It’s a whole elephant the size of a skyscraper with two trunks, six legs, and tiger fur. Many of the creatures in this manga simply can’t be described. You will have to flip through the book to experience them. Plus, it’s amazing how quickly this series has developed a following. Shimabukuro tells us a few of the creatures in this volume have been designed by fans.
Shimabukuro is a decent artist who uses the classic Shonen Jump style. The gourmet hunters are hypermuscular and look like Mr. Universe contestants. You really can’t call any of them attractive, Toriko included. The fight scenes are dynamic and fun. It’s visually interesting and quick to read.
In many ways, Toriko is a paint-by-the-numbers Shonen Jump series. It’s only the world building that makes it stand out. Shimabukuro knows how crazy this manga is and so never lets it get too serious. It’s almost the perfect summer read. You will need to read volume 1 to get the needed background to understand Toriko, but a bag full of manga isn’t a bad thing to have on vacation. (The publisher provided a review copy.)
Reading Viz Manga With Their iPhone App
Getting sent a review copy of volume 5 gave me an excuse to try out Viz’s iPhone app. I wanted to read volume 1 to get a sense of the series’ setup. So I downloaded the free app and was able to get book 1 on sale for only $2.99. Unfortunately, I found the reading experience unpleasant.
There were three key features missing from Viz’s app. First, there was no landscape mode. This meant when I zoomed in on a panel to read the dialog, I no longer was able to see the full panel. For panels that stretched across two pages, I couldn’t see the whole panel, even in normal view. Second, there was no panel-by-panel reading option. Other comic apps have this ability, and it’s easier than having to zoom in and manually moving around the page. Finally, a two-page view is needed. There were a few dual page drawings where you couldn’t see the entire image on the screen. Until Viz corrects these problems, I won’t be using the Viz iPhone app.