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Toriko Volume 1

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Toriko Volume 1 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, from Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media

Toriko Volume 1

© 2008 Mitsukoshi Shimabukuro / SHUEISHA Inc.

The Bottom Line

It's the golden age of gastronomy in a world where the most delicious and rare delicacies are also extremely dangerous to capture and bring to the dinner table. When the stakes are high and the monster steaks are rare, there's only one man with the appetite for danger: Toriko, the gourmet hunter.

Packed with over-the-top action and gleefully absurd plot twists, Toriko serves up cooking comics spiked with shonen manga flavor. Sure, it's violent, apologetically macho and kind of silly, but Toriko's good-natured gourmet adventures makes food fun again.

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Pros

  • Gleefully goofy, with lots of over-the-top action and improbable plot twists
  • Toriko is a happily hedonistic hero who loves good food and a good fight
  • While his appetite is boundless, Toriko has a strong code of eating ethics
  • Loaded with imaginative monsters and (somewhat) true tidbits about nature science
  • Simply oozes with a boundless love for food and exotic flavors

Cons

  • The drawing is exaggerated and hyper-masculine, like superhero comics on steroids
  • Toriko's gluttony is so over-the-top, his feasting can make you nauseous
  • Includes references to smoking, drinking and taking a really big dump

Description

  • Original Title: Toriko (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1421535098
  • Cover Price: $9.99 US / $12.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: T – Teens Age 13+ for violence, monster gore, drinking and smoking
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: June 2010
    Japan Publication Date: November 2008
  • Book Description: 208 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Toriko Volume 1

On the cable TV, there are shows devoted to finding the strangest food ever eaten in the world. Fans watch in amazement (and sometimes horror) as the intrepid hosts of these shows gulp down stir-fried insects, stinky fruits and fermented fish guts, or watch "Iron Chefs" wrassle a writhing octopus into submission and turn it into a 5-course meal, including dessert.

If you love those types of shows, then you'll get where Toriko is coming from. Toriko takes Japan's national fixation with eating rare foodstuffs, then gives it a shot of shonen manga steroids. The result? Toriko is an action-packed, over-the-top adventure with a hyper-masculine hero who loves a good fight almost as much as he enjoys a good meal.

Toriko is set in a world obsessed with gastronomy; where rainbow fruit with "flavors that fluctuate through seven different colors and flavors" and fearsome but tasty creatures like a 30-foot cod with crayfish claws can be found. In Toriko's world, a foodstuff's deliciousness factor goes up in relation to its degree of difficulty to capture. As in the real world, when a commodity is both desirable and rare, it's very expensive.

That's where a "gourmet hunter" like Toriko comes in. This muscle-bound adventurer is known for his ability to take on any critter and bring to market. For taking these risks, Toriko is richly rewarded, which is a good thing because Toriko likes to EAT, and it ain't cheap to keep him well-fed.

Toriko is no navel-gazing wimp or snobby gastronome. While some pretty boy shonen manga characters ponder the meaning of friendship, sportsmanship, life, death, good, evil or how to get the girl, Toriko has a single-minded pursuit of food that's kind of refreshing. There's a fair amount of violence as Toriko battles critters who come between him and his next meal, but this he-man hunter is also an ethical eater who won't kill a creature unless it's destined for his dinner plate.

Almost all of Toriko's friends are muscle-bound he-men, and his adversaries are monstrous creatures.The only wuss in this series is Komatsu, a gourmet chef who accompanies Toriko on his quests. Komatsu really doesn't do much except sweat, drool and marvel at Toriko's strength, but well, I guess every alpha dog needs an omega in its pack, and every nature documentary needs a narrator.

The art in Toriko isn't very refined - in fact, it's almost grotesquely goofy. But Toriko gives manga creator Shimabukuro an excuse to draw lots of way-out monsters and some imaginatively mouth-watering, albeit improbable dishes like roasted snake-pigs and banana cucumbers wrapped in bacon leaves. Toriko even lives in an edible house filled with fudge trees and ice cream cone lights. It's like a fairy tale for food-lovers... with monsters.

Like an improbable mix between Oishinbo, Pokemon, WWE wrestling and an episode of Bizarre Foods, Toriko is packed with strange creatures, wild flavors, fighting and hedonistic fun. Dig in, and don't forget the Tums.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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