OP: 「Kōfukuron」 (Theory of Blessed Light) by Qaijff
「夢を継ぐ者」 (Yume o tsugu mono)
“The Inheritor of a Dream”
I had the delightful opportunity to watch and preview Shin Chuuka Ichiban. From doing my research, I realised that this is something of a predecessor to Shokugeki no Soma, a mainstream cooking shounen back in its days that captivated the hearts of many Japanese people. But does it stand up to the test of time? How does it compare with its modern successor?
First off, this would actually be something of a continuation to the first anime/manga following the same protagonist. Think along the lines of Tokyo Ghoul (and re) or Naruto (and Shippuden). However, I don’t think this requires prior context to be enjoyed, because it takes on a formulation not dissimilar to Mushishi. You can start from pretty much anywhere in Mushishi, without context, and still be able to enjoy Ginko’s adventures, thanks to the episodic nature of this series. The same could be said about Shin Chuuka Ichiban. In this episode, Mao and his friends visit a village renown for its high quality chicken. They meet a young girl whose brother died trying to raise black chickens in the hopes of establishing a reputable restaurant, causing people to think they were cursed. Also, going back to the Mushishi parallels, Ginko is a person who goes around helping people with their problems thanks to his knowledge as a doctor in Mushi. The protagonist of Shin Chuuka Ichiban, Mao, is rather similar. He uses his extraordinary cooking skills to resolve problems thus spreading happiness and joy. He is able to bring the most out of the black chickens by incorporating them into a minimalistic dish, subverting expectations and turning around the negative stigma associated with them by winning the local cooking competition. But here’s where he makes a stark departure from the protagonist of Mushishi. Unlike Ginko, he has an outgoing and bright personality, drawing people to himself through strength of will and innate charm. Much like Soma, actually.
In terms of comparing it with a contemporary series, I would say that this modern adaptation easily holds up a candle to Shokugeki no Soma, being on par with both the story telling and cooking techniques – although it comes nowhere close to being as shamelessly explosive with the fanservice. So fans of foodgasms might be disappointed to see that the foodgasms you get in this show are incredibly tame and easily suited for a child audience. Anyway, that was about everything I wanted to discuss. I would wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who loves cooking and food anime. Especially Shokugeki no Soma fans – you guys will be in for some real disappointment soon enough, and it’s better to jump off the bandwagon before you get hit by that tragic hurricane of a clownfiesta. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you next week to see how Mao goes about cooking up some dim sum creations!
ED: 「Paradigm Shift」by Brian the Sun