Gluttonous Part 1 and Part 2 (of 1) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, February 12, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Through an accidental meeting, Mantaro suddenly finds himself no longer a salaryman but a competitive food fighter on the side of right.

What They Say
They'll swallow anything... except their pride! How do they do it? Why do they do it? You've seen them on TV: Japanese competitive eaters, eating unbelievable amounts of food in record times. It's the outrageous comedy about a brutal world where the only gags allowed are the jokes!

The Review!
This feature is like just about all other Switchblade Pictures releases at this time as it features juts the original Japanese stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. The feature is a very standard stereo mix that doesn’t have any frills about it, which is probably good since I don’t know that I’d want full surround sound for a movie about eating food. They could probably be far too creative about it. The forward soundstage mix is quite good though as it handles dialogue placement well as well as dealing with the few areas of depth that occur. It’s not a standout sound design to begin with, but they did a good job with what they have. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of this feature.

Originally released in 2007, both features are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but not enhanced for anamorphic playback. The two features run about ninety minutes each so they fit easily here considering how little there is in terms of the size of the video being displayed. Bitrates are about average and that sums up the presentation as well. In general, it looks decent and comes across more like a film than a video which most of what Switchblade Pictures has released has been like. The downside to the presentation is that there is a fair bit of cross coloration sprinkled throughout both films. The second one makes out a bit worse for it with more jagged edges as well, but these are pretty budget flicks to begin with so it’s not a surprise that the source doesn’t look better, especially since they’re non-anamorphic films as well. They aren’t terrible looking, but there aren’t shows that people have high expectations for either.

Unlike all that Switchblade has released so far, this feature uses manga artwork to sell it since that’s where the films originated. The front cover has the image of what I presume to be Mantaro shoveling food into his mouth with ease. It’s an old looking design to be sure, not something that looks current or fits in with the 2007 release of the films themselves, and likely doesn’t help it in the slightest. But it’s hard to imagine what kind of cover they could have used that could have made this appealing since it’s about speed eating. The back cover is kind of campy in its design with a simple black border similar to other Switchblade releases while inside is a group of shots in circles of various characters eating or of food itself. The summary, set against white which stands out too much, covers the basics in the usual PR kind of way. The remainder is given over to a basic set of production credits and a decent looking technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

There isn’t a real menu here, but when the disc does start up, it provides you with an option to choose either the first or second movie after the FBI warning. Menu buttons do NOT take you back to this however, so if you want to change after your selection, you need to restart the disc. You can’t get back to it after either movie is over either. When the first movie ends, it dumps you into the second. When the second one ends, it dumps you into the disc production credits.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Shigeru Tsuchiyama, Gluttonous is presented here with the two features that are available as a double feature. With it being a manga adaptation, one that isn’t released in the US, I have no idea how well it adapts it. In fact, finding actual information about these two features online produced hardly any mention of them at all outside of the solicitations of the Switchblade Pictures releases. The work appears to have very little known about it among western readers as does the movie. So much so that nothing even shows up in the Internet Movie Database either.
The movie revolves around one simple thing, and that’s eating food. In fact, after watching this, you may not feel like eating for quite a bit or at least eating less than you usually do. Gluttonous revolves around the world of competitive eating where “food fighters” take each other on for prize money. These eccentric types find themselves all over the nation where they take on various competitions that are for big money or those that operate out of small restaurants and such. As time has gone on, there are two main organizations that exist now, both of which were started by friends who grew up in the time after World War II where food was scarce and enjoyment of food important.

The first is Tange’s Food Fighters, a group led by Tange who believes that competitions like this are quite good as he wants to make it a sport that would rival that of sumo wrestling. His opinion is that it has a strong connection to the gods of the past and that when you participate in such events, it’s mean that you enjoy and savor the taste of the food. This flies in contrast with the OKFF, the other group started by a longtime friend who has since died. His wife now runs the group and she’s in it for the money and to destroy Tange for whom she harbors a grudge with. The people she brings into the group are often dirty in their methods of winning and in that they don’t actually enjoy their food. They eat to win and to crush the competition.

A young salaryman named Mantaro stumbles into a restaurant competition where one of the ranking members of the TFF decides to show everyone who a real eater operates. The man, Hunter Joji, is impressed with what he sees of Mantaro and tries to recruit him for the TFF. Mantaro is unsure of all of this, but with his past and the way he seems to excel at eating, he starts to fall in with Joji’s line of thought, especially after he gets caught up in a business oriented eating competition by his company’s president with another company president. These few incidents introduce Mantaro to a world he didn’t know existed, but one that he finds himself rather drawn to.

Once he agrees to participate in an upcoming competition, after which it’ll be determined whether he becomes a formal TFF member, his training starts under the guidance of a man named Inumarnu. Inumaru is the research man of the TFF and helps Mantaro understand the basics of how to eat, the kinds of foods to avoid and the way to prep himself for each competition. As a guide, Inumaru is spot on as he’s patient but firm and he works well with Mantaro. And Mantaro wants to do good at this since he’s realizing that it is the one thing that he can really excel at and master, so he takes it on with gusto. Unfortunately, he’s also really new to the whole scene and is easily taken advantage of by the OKFF’s less than honest members who want to take him down and cause a scene before the big Sendai competition.

Gluttonous is all about eating. They eat constantly, and you can easily see where the budget for these two features went. It’s all right there on the screen and in the bowl. Much of the first film is spent at various restaurants and interiors, but the second one moves out a bit as Mantaro goes on a journey of discovery to hone his abilities by traveling to distant towns where he takes on local talent. Of course, he’ll run into the OKFF there as well, so the whole competitive side is very much a part of things. In fact, once it shifts to the scenes where Mantaro is off at a fishing village, it’s a lot more interesting than the drama created by those back in the city who want to build this massive organization revolving around eating. Mantaro’s travels are, surprisingly, pure in feeling.

In Summary:
Gluttonous is still just a show about eating. It works at times, mostly in the second film, simply because Mantaro’s actor gives him something of a real personality. Beyond that, this is sort of a hard film to stomach, simply because I’m not a fan of such contests or the mentality behind them. I understand it, I appreciate it and I can grok the difficulty in figuring out how to win, but there’s something that just feels incredibly wasteful about the whole thing, even in less dire economic times and all. Gluttonous is admittedly a fun campy piece to watch, and there’s three hours of it here for a good price, but it’s a pair of features that seem to play things too seriously and what little quirks there are just don’t work that well. In the end, it’s all sort of there and it left me wanting to walk away from the table when the meal came.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: No Rating
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Switchblade Pictures
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 185
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen Letterbox
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gluttonous